Today comes the news that the once-mentioned alliance that became a planned merger is now to be a full-on conference putting together the remnants of the raided Conference USA and the body of decapitated Mountain West Conference. A super conference, at least from a numbers perspective, is said to be targeting 20-24 teams and will have an eastern NC to Hawaii reach (for football) serving all five U.S. time zones.
As expected, there already has been a flurry of messageboard activists out to rip it apart – mostly folks from the have conferences, who do everything they can to keep the have nots down while living in fear that a have not will out-think the rigged system that has propelled college football powerhouses like Duke, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Ole Miss, Northeastern, Indiana, Rutgers, and myriad others to have a free ticket to gorge themselves at the BCS feast without having to actually produce a single thing on the field. You can throw all the marginally competitive teams – like UNC, Cincinnati, Illinois, Colorado, UCLA, et al – in there, too, having contributed little for such wonderful BCS returns. They all want to keep the status quo…and why not, it is pretty lucrative to keep the status quo.
And because the BCS has ensured status quo – by ensuring conferences like the Big East inclusion despite not even meeting criteria set out by the BCS – those who are locked out have little recourse but to do whatever they can to survive. So, now comes the first major move by the have nots. Cull together enough teams in enough markets to ensure a TV audience…go for sheer numbers, give ESPN a live game at 3 a.m., create a form of a playoff, do what you have to do to survive in a world set up to choke you off.
I am not sure how I feel about it really, as the details will truly inform judgment. But, what I can say is that it sure does sound a lot like what Coach Holland was putting out there several years ago. And when Terry is involved, it is has been modeled…thought through…contextualized. So…is this new league a genius, out of the box, play or is it simpley a desperate move to keep as many teams on the life raft as possible until land is sighted?
So, how could this work in our favor…?
What you are about to read is totally speculation and I would love to get your thoughts on it as well as thoughts in general…are you up, down, defeated, victorious, what feel you on this news?
So here is what I am thinking.
At 20 teams, I would think that would mean two 10 team Leagues (East and West) with each containing two divisions aligned regionally, with 5 teams per division. Each team would play their 4 division mates + 2 intra-division games + 2 intra-league games putting the Conference schedule at 8 games. Keep 4 meaningful regional OOC games to put the schedule at 12 games.
The semifinals and finals would put you at 14 games + a bowl. Not sure if waiver is needed for a 15th game, but if the BCS is going to a +1 model, then there should be no reason why any team can’t do the same.
From a TV perspective, the regional rivalries and divisional focus on half the country could create an audience worth some money. At the very least, the tv draw would not be any less then the two former leagues had prior to the formation of the new league and while it might not be as simple as adding the two together to equal a new number, it certainly stands to reason that the TV contract should be a pretty heavy one.
If the league has 20-24 teams, that is a sizeable enough block to make noise. Or better, to not be wholesale ignored. Think about it, the BCS doesn’t want the have nots to go away…they need the have nots badly…to stay as have nots. Provide a service to the AQ schools without a share of the proceeds. Behind closed doors, this new league can collude sort of to have an impact on all of college football.
It will contribute in the short to help expand ECU’s national brand…something that I believe C-USA did quietly for us over the years.
Finally, the big genius here might be that quietly, this is all a very short term exercise in ensuring solidarity among a large group of university presidents. If the AQ status goes away, then what is left are a bunch of oddly cobbled together leagues with maybe only the SEC and Big 10 bearing any resemblance to conferences as they were originally intended. And more, while those conferences will share revenues, it is a step towards pairing down the numbers again from the BCS perspective, which will certainly add to the number of have nots, eventually breaking the system.
This may truly be the real impetus behind this new conference…a loud, in-your-face, barge in on the BCS…it could fail, but really, what do any of these teams stand to lose that has not already been denied them in the first place?
Something tells me that there is purposeful method to what may seem like conference madness. I trust that Coach Holland and other stakeholders have an ultimate agenda here and I am eager to see it play out.
The only thing I am definitely keen on is that however it breaks down, I want to see Southern Miss and Marshall on our schedule each year. And, would love to have that game every few years with Air Force. And, I am certain that this conference has as much right to AQ status as the new Big East.
So…what do you guys think? Genius or Desperation?