ESPN's Bottom Line - Version 2.0

Monday, February 25, 2013

UNC to the B1G

UNC doesn't want to get left behind.  A look back to the future here as UNC takes on future B1G rival Rutgers.

UNC might be entertaining the B1G. While the ACC has some good rivalries and "name" schools it doesn't have the football goliaths of the B1G and the SEC. Those cornerstone programs like Michigan, Ohio State, Florida and Alabama are going to be the backbone of college football and will ensure staying power over the long haul for the conferences that they are in. When the best pure football school in the conference, FSU, is essentially begging to get out, there is trouble brewing for the ACC.  If FSU and (rumor would have it) NC State leave for the Big 12 and SEC respectively the ACC is in really big trouble because then they'll be forced to pick up UConn and someone like Cincinnati or USF.   

The more a conference resembles more Big East and less ACC the less stable it gets as evidenced by the Big East's near complete collapse over the past 3 years. Notre Dame who threw the ACC a bone last year by leaving the Big East and agreeing to play a few games every year with other ACC teams, will not be happy about playing in the "New Big East" and will most likely look to back out. For all the tradition the ACC has in basketball the NCAA still takes a huge chunk out of revenues from the tournament, so let's be clear here this is all about football because that is where the money is for these schools.  

If FSU and NC State leave then ND starts wavering, the best teams in the ACC are Clemson, Miami, L'Ville, VA Tech, and UNC. That's not bad but that sounds more like a Big East Plus than a pillar of College Football conference.  If I were the AD at UNC I'd be thinking real hard about making the tough call to join the B1G. 

There are three conferences who are not going anywhere the B1G, the SEC, and PAC12. I exclude the Big 12 because they have been picked over recently (lost Nebraska, Texas A&M, and Mizzou) and with the wavering of UT, OK, and OK State last year I believe that they are more likely to break apart than the others. 

All of this is to say that Athletic Directors need to be looking 10 years down the road here and seeing the income of a powerhouse football conference. B1G schools earned roughly $30m this past year after you include bowl payouts. Which is part of a deal that is almost expired and sure to be increased significantly in the next couple years. Whereas the ACC schools earned $17m on a just renegotiated deal. With total athletic revenues reported of $78.8m last year that extra $13m difference would move UNC from 32nd in the country to 15th in terms of total athletic dept revenue. That is obviously a huge jump that I think only has the ability to increase once these shifts start taking place.  The B1G will gain incredible leverage through the Big Ten Network and it's ability to sell top flight football and basketball to TV Networks who NEED to pay for it.

As we all learned from the Wire's Lester Freamon, "if you start to follow the money, you don't know where the [explitive deleted] it's going to take you."  Which we can all agree was clearly a prelude to college football conference shuffling that will ultimately result in a college football playoff of teams from four super conferences.  That is how I get to UNC moving to the B1G.



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