The Morning Stake

The Morning Stake | 2022.07.11

A good hot weekend.

Conference Realignment

CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd writes how Phil Knight, Oregon’s benefactor, is making cold calls on Oregon’s behalf as the Ducks are outside looking in:

The Big 12 has been told by TV rights advisors that the two most important considerations for expansion are brand and geography. Geography pushed Oregon and Washington to the margins. (That doesn’t mean the likes of Arizona and Arizona are necessarily “brands.”)

If the Big 12 expands, it wouldn’t necessarily be for money but rather survival and relevancy. One high-profile industry source called the difference between an expanded Big 12 or Pac-12 “a coin flip.” Think of the reason for expansion more this way: Can a credible playoff can be staged without Oregon and Washington being allowed to compete for a spot?

ESPN sort of answered that question when it thought nothing last summer of throwing the Big 12 on the scrap heap as Texas and Oklahoma moved to the SEC.

The network was telling us without telling us that the world wouldn’t end if the likes of Oklahoma State, Iowa State and TCU, among others, did not get a chance to finish in the top four of the College Football Playoff. The question was further answered when the Pac-12 was marginalized last week.

Ratings matter. They matter more when a 9-3 Oklahoma from the SEC might have a better chance of getting into a playoff than a 12-1 Oklahoma State from the Big 12.

One industry source called Oregon and Washington “tweeners” in realignment. They are certainly not USC and UCLA in terms of branding and marketability, but they’re not Arizona and Arizona State, either. That’s what realignment has revealed: The real things that make college football relevant to the only people that matter — TV executives, programmers, advertisers — are being exposed in increasing and specific detail.

Don’t forget that conference realignment isn’t about the conferences as much as it is about ESPN and FOX determining that your group of teams are worthy to form a new conference.

Richmond Times-Dispatch’s David Teel takes a look at things from an ACC perspective, something I haven’t done.

“Everyone is uneasy,” one administrator said.

“Survival,” said another.

Those administrators outlined three challenges for second-year ACC commissioner Jim Phillips, who in the last week has huddled multiple times with conference athletic directors and presidents:

1. Manage simmering resentment among some members and lean on the ACC’s long-term grant of media rights to keep his current group intact. The barrels o’ cash the SEC and Big Ten can offer complicate the task.

2. Cement the ACC’s access to the College Football Playoff by pushing aggressively for the 12-team model, complete with automatic bids to the six highest-rated conference champions, that he and others delayed after its June 2021 unveiling.

3. In concert with ESPN, determine if there’s a way to markedly enhance ACC revenue, through outright expansion or a television partnership with the Pac-12.

Football

Big football announcement alert tonight at 7:00 p.m.!

Basketball

Confirmation that Clarence Nadolny is off doing professional basketball things! Good for Clarence, go chase that dream.

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