Big Bang Theories: The Countdown To Super-Conferences (Part 1)

As the power brokers of the college football world steered their sport toward a brave new world featuring a four-team playoff, it was widely believed that most conferences would slow down a bit on the expansion and realignment front.  Instead, the Big Ten craftily nabbed Maryland from the ACC and Rutgers from the Big East last month, setting off yet another wave of changes, long before the new playoff format and revenue split had even been fully fleshed out.

After the Big Ten’s shocking move, it was only a matter of time before more dominoes began to fall.  And with seven Big East basketball schools deciding last week that they would break away from the Big Whatever, we believe the Big Bang is here.  We mean the big, Big Bang, too.  Super-conferences rising.  Small leagues folding or partnering with one another for survival.  A super-division of the richest four or five conferences separating itself along a haves and have-nots border.  Television executives dropping stone dead from exhaustion as they negotiate, renegotiate, and then renogotiate again major TV deals worth billions of dollars.

In other words, we’re on the brink of a full-on, A-1, top-drawer madhouse.

We’ve examined conference expansion at dating back three-plus years now.  We’ve taken a by-the-numbers approach each time because that’s what all this mess has been about — numbers.  Last October we put together a 10-part series on the math of conference expansion/realignment and you can find the final summary to that series here (as well as links to all the other nine parts).

But this latest burst of expansion is an even simpler breakdown.  This time, you can just follow the money.  Schools are looking for new homes because they want to guarantee themselves larger revenue streams.  Many would like to find some stability, too, but the key factor is the cash.

A seat is nice.  A comfy throne is better.

Meanwhile, conferences are trying to cash in on television deals and playoff revenue.  With the Big East on the verge of being adios’ed, it’s already been snipped from the list of major football conferences.  Instead of six big conferences splitting the lion’s share of postseason cash, in the future just five leagues will dominate the playoff era.  And that’s only if the ACC survives.  If it gets picked apart a la the Big East — and money suggests it will be — then there will be but four big-time leagues to horde the majority of playoff cash.

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