Will the big conferences cut back next time?

This guy thinks so, due to cordcutting and the imminent death of the current cable TV model. I have to admit this scenario makes sense. Instead of 16-team megaconferences, the Power 5 might just simply cease to exist, at least for football.

Fortunately for us, in a cutback to 32 elite programs feeding into the CFP, we’d make the cut under this scenario. Stewart Mandel did a similar piece last year cutting down to 24 elite programs. We made his cut too.

<LINK_TEXT text=“https://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/arkan … -like-nfl/”>https://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/arkansas-football/next-round-college-football-realignment-look-like-nfl/</LINK_TEXT>

And Mandel’s version:

<LINK_TEXT text=“http://www.foxsports.com/college-footba … ame-051616”>http://www.foxsports.com/college-football/story/college-football-expanded-playoffs-10-years-alabama-ohio-state-notre-dame-051616</LINK_TEXT>

I’ve been thinking about this for several years now - when is the bubble going to burst? Costs/expenditures can’t keep spiraling up at the same rate as they have been over the last 30 years forever.

One aspect is the cable cutters - as this article does a good job of discussing; the revenue gravy train ESPN has enjoyed for decades is in obvious decline already. That will force the distribution onto different platforms.

Beyond that, I’ve also wondered what the “college experience” - in general (not just athletics) will look like in 20-30 years. Already, one is able to get a reasonably good education 100% on-line, and more and more options are available for that as time goes on. Personally, the “old school” person I am thinks that there is nothing quite like the experience of being in a “real” classroom, where you can directly interact with your professor and classmates - as I did in the 70’s. But a child born today, who might be at University in, say, 2035 will have grown up in a dramatically different world than I did. His/her world will be much more “remote” and digital than mine is even today - and that will have been the case their entire lives. Also, by then, who knows what the state of the art will be in terms of technology to experience the classroom remotely. 3-D presentations/holograms? The ability to interact much as you might if you were physically in a classroom?

I think there will remain some things for which physical presence will be required - i.e., labs. But will the sprawling campuses we see today still be needed? Will the number of students on campus decline as the on-line enrollment continues to grow? Will it still make sense to pay for the on-going maintenance of all of those buildings/facilities when only a fraction of today’s student body numbers are using them?

The entire paradigm of college eductation is about to undergo a major transformation, IMO. Selfishly, as I’m getting older, I hope the entirity of college sports doesn’t collapse as it happens - at least, not until after I’m gone.

But I wonder.

You’re absolutely right about the potential changes in colleges, Wiz. I’m pretty sure I won’t live to see them, but the possibility of major changes over the next few decades is real.

As for conference contraction vs. expansion, well, on that I’m not so certain. I don’t want more expansion at all, but I can’t imagine a mere 32-40 team super power league. I can envision something along the lines of a 60-75 team league. It just wouldn’t be that hard for the P-5 to separate themselves from the lesser leagues.

I also agree the money flow has to end at some point. Clearly attendance is down & cable TV isn’t the draw it was. However, it’ll take some major cultural shifts for college football to stop being incredibly popular. I won’t say “never”, but I’m pretty sure I won’t live to see such a thing.

I think we were fortunate that JFB had the vision and moxie to get us into the SEC. JFB got us into the SEC as College Sports and ESPN entered a golden age of cash flow. We are fortunate to have had 20+ years of big annual $$$$ distributions from the SEC to build our facilities to high levels. I think we have to recognize that we are now in an age of diminishing distributions if ESPN continues to trend down. I think we would be better off in a national conference so that we would not be handcuffed to SEC schools.

Sure the money has been great in the SEC but LSU and AU churned coaches because they can’t win like they did in the past. Bama and the surging OM cheaters created a perfect storm in the SEC West. Add in a Dak Prescott Miss St and a pretty good A&M team to create a nightmare division in an already crazy tough conference. Tennessee, UGA, UF are prime example of a school like us that has had a hard time competing in the Bama domination. UGA fired Mark richt? UT fired Fulmer and started a carousel. UF has had numerous coaches too. Those fanbases did not recognize the futility of the conference and held the coaches responsible. Is the SEC worth it if the money isn’t dramatically better than other conferences anymore?

The SEC has trended towards the old SWC with one team dominating on the field AND at the conference office. Unfortunately there are other teams that are charter members of the SEC that are more powerful than we are thus we pick up their scraps of power and support. UF, LSU, UGA, AU, and now the power and money of A&M are a tough layer below Bama’s power and influence. We didn’t have 5 burnt orange schools in the SWC to fight at the conference office. Is the SEC worth it if the money isn’t dramatically better than other conferences anymore?

My guess is that ESPN will start negotiating much less valuable TV contracts but the SEC will still get a relatively good deal. Like many others, I also think that distributions will be much less to SEC members going forward. The disconnect will grow with schools like UofA that loved the money and tolerated the insane conference office environment and crazy competitive environment on the field. Our older fanbase remembers being in a more balanced SWC where we performed and developed a winning history. How Long will A&M tolerate being an 8-4 team in the SEC while UT returns to 10 win seasons in a weak Big12? Tenn and AU are cheating more but still can’t win big in the Saban era. Look what happened at Ole Miss. Is the SEC worth it if the money isn’t dramatically better than other conferences anymore?

Our fanbase is growing tired of having some of our best recruiting classes yet still being ranked the 9th or 10th class among the SEC. We have a coach that took Wiscy to 3 Rose Bowls, knows how to win, and is respected nationally yet it is difficult for us to win the Saban era. UT, UGA, UF, LSU and AU have changed coaches in the Saban era. UGA was accustomed to winning 10-11 games a year but that has changed the last 5+ years. Other SEC members are encountering what we did when we left the SWC to come to a mini NFL. 5 years ago other fan bases would be loyal to the SEC and cheer for everyone INCLUDING BAMA. The last 2 years I have recognized my SEC alum friends in Memphis and Atlanta turning against Bama.

Is the SEC worth it if the money isn’t dramatically better than other conferences anymore?