It was announced last week that the Big Ten and SEC would be partnering to create an “advisory group.” According to talking points, the advisory group wants to address the College Football Playoff (CFP), name, image and likeness (NIL) rules, and the not insubstantial amount of lawsuits facing college athletics - not the least of which (House v. NCAA) alleges that former athletes were unduly damaged by not having NIL during their time in college.
So, on the face of it, it would appear that the two top conferences are trying to hunker down and weather any financial and legal storms, before coming up with a more concrete set of rules to cover NIL and the CFP moving forward.
But man, doesn’t it just look like the first step toward seceding from the NCAA?
Step one: form a partnership with the top two conferences to make sure that legal woes don’t sink them, and they help set up favorable rules for NIL and the CFP - which they already dominate.
Step two: when the other Power 4 conferences (ACC and Big 12) can’t or won’t follow suit, and pending Florida State’s own legal action against the ACC’s grant of rights, poach whatever remaining teams make the most sense (read: will pull in the most money).
Step three: leave the NCAA and the remnants of the other conferences behind, and form your own athletic group, free to eschew as much of the academic requirements of college as you’d like.
Some optional steps include partnering with the NFL to become a minor league for the pros, and perhaps set up a NFC/AFC style league with Big Ten vs SEC in the Junior Super Bowl. They could also consider knocking on the doors for the other pro leagues to see how Big Ten and SEC athletes could be set up as farm leagues for the already-existent minor leagues.
Now, all of the talking heads are currently saying this is NOT what they’re going to do, and they simply want to find a path forward for college athletics, and perhaps help weather some of the aforementioned storms (see Step one, above).
But the cynic in me sees two leagues that are becoming increasingly powerful - while leagues like the Big 12 are gobbling up whoever they can to try to stay relevant, and leagues like the Pac-12 are ostensibly shuttering after being cannibalized - and finding it hard to believe that such a partnership is anything other than an initial move toward power consolidation . . . and ultimately separation.
But what say you? Will the Big Ten and SEC ultimately break away from the NCAA as they garner more and more power? Or do they mean what they say in trying to help all of college athletics move forward, together.