As I head out for our CFB opener in San Diego the same excitement is in me, and perhaps I’m biased because of my love for the sport. Trust me when I tell ya’ College Football is gonna be fine and once we get through this transitional period and the CFP expands to 12 teams next year, you’ll know why!
It’s time fans and even some of my colleagues in the Media come to terms with the reality that our sport, despite experiencing a financial boon, in TV rights of late, has undervalued itself for years.
Today’s College Presidents and Athletic Directors aren’t going to look at a TV rights offer that’s digital exclusively. AppleCentric fees are incentive based. That’s the best the PAC 12 Commish George Kliavkoff could do.
It wasn’t enough.
Understandably, two schools turned to Tony Petitti and the BIG 10, and three called Brett Yormark at the BIG12, offering up their potential membership to preserve both their financial and level of distribution futures.
On the eve of Week Zero, it appears Stanford and Cal, two football programs that in recent years haven’t re-invested into their programs may (with much help from SMU) have a silver if not golden parachute to the financially challenged ACC.
Many fans and media have reacted with disdain, suggesting it’s a Hail Mary desperation maneuver. Frankly, this move adds much needed value, 72 million in fact, it’s estimated to the ESPN rights fees to the suffering @TheACC. If what’s been reported is accurate this is a win for the League and the schools.
So what of the dire circumstances facing Washington State and Oregon State? It’s my understanding the @MountainWest has significant interest and importantly Wazzu and Oregon State bring added value to their linear TV deals, similar to what the Cardinal, and Cal bring to the table along Tobacco Road.
The naysayers will poke holes at the travel aspect of a National Conference and the situation facing the Olympic Sports. We don’t know how the non-revenue producing sports will be constructed, but it’s safe to say that with Oregon and Washington joining USC and UCLA (by example) some form of Divisional competition is on the docket in non-revenue producing sports.
Regardless, today’s athletes are accustomed to travel at the highest levels of competition at which they’ve never had it. I’ll not apologize for seeing this as progress, but in reality we’re going thru tumultuous times with the combination of NIL and Transfer Portal.
It’s for these reasons I look to the Commissioners of these 9, possible 10 Conferences (if the PAC 12 hangs on) for leadership. It would be easier if Congress could be trusted. Nationalizing NIL and the Portal is
The most positive aspect of the BIG 10! is the hiring of Tony Petitti and his willingness in developing a
closer relationship with the SEC Commissioner. Insiders will tell ya’ Kevin Warren was an outlier and simply didn’t engage very much with anyone. But he especially didn’t care to have relationships with the mainstream College Football, “Movers and Shakers.”
Fans who fall into the Baby Boomer era and maybe some a little younger are simply living in a fog as they believe the college game is dying, or because they’re annoyed that players are being paid and fear that suddenly everyone’s turning away from the game.
College Football hasn’t been operating without money passing through hands for quite some time. They’re upset because everyone can get money if they want it now, and it destroys their longtime fantasy that these players have always been about playing for the good old State U!
Now, let’s talk some ball 🏈 because it’s finally time with Week Zero and Week 1 on the Horizon.
This may surprise ya’ but the League that’s gonna captivate the country not named the SEC this year, is the lame duck PAC12.
The best collection of QB’s top to bottom in any league can be found there, and Oregon QB Bo Nix a 6th year guy who transferred from Auburn two years ago, will steal Caleb Williams’ thunder taking Oregon to the PAC12 Title.
It won’t be easy, as they meet a resurgent Texas Tech team in Week 2 in Lubbock. The Red Raiders are National sleepers and could make the BIG12 Title game. Utah’s got Cam Rising at QB again, who’s recovering from a late season ACL, but he’s now a seventh year Post Covid, using his additional year after medical redshirting and he’s another guy that’s beaten USC twice in one season in 2022.
The Big 12 has Texas as its favorite, and I don’t buy it. They’re the USC of the BIG 12. Just not enough D in my opinion, but we’ll see. There are many that believe they’ll go into Tuscaloosa and win on September 9th. If they do? I may be wrong about the Horns this time.
K-State could repeat as BIG12 Champions, if they don’t look out for TCU with Chandler Morris leading the way. Spencer Tillman and I will see their road test at Houston in primetime September 16th on FOX. That’ll be the school’s first true road test. Kansas State and TCU return enough talent from last year’s successful teams to once again be in the Title hunt.
I mentioned Texas Tech earlier, and I believe in them. They’ll beat someone really good to propel themselves into contention. Baylor had a difficult year in ’22, after winning the League a year earlier. A healthy Blake Shapen will improve if the Bears find a running game to augment Shapen’s talent.
Let’s face it. The SEC and BIG 10 consume all the oxygen in the mainstream media, come the fall. But the truth is they’re the easiest to predict. The two-time National Champions of the CFB Invitational of four teams better known as the CFB Playoff allows brands the easiest route to a Title.
There are really good storylines in the BIG 10. Four new Head Coaches including Luke Fickell are changing the offensive look at 3 yards and a cloud of dust Wisconsin, but Michigan’s schedule is so weak, that they’ll be healthy and are at home against Ohio State and should handle the talented Buckeyes for a third straight year.
The SEC similarly has outstanding storylines, but the narrative is reduced to having Alabama overtaken by Georgia for dominance (Georgia has won the last two titles) in America’s most powerful Conference. In a word “yes” they have! It doesn’t hurt that Georgia’s schedule is a bigger national joke than Michigan’s!
I do believe LSU’s on the precipice of joining the Georgia/Bama dominance conversation, but it’ll have to beat Bama in Tuscaloosa this time. The last two National Title runs LSU has made came after wins at Bama in 2007, and after a year’s drought when Joe Burrow led the Tigers to arguably their greatest season ever! Jayden Daniels (if he stays healthy) could be the Heisman winner. We’ll know early with them.
When will the Tigers play FSU again right out of the gates?
Finally the ACC to no one’s surprise should be Clemson’s again. The Tigers have their best overall roster since their last Title run in 2019 that fell short to the Bayou Bengals. FSU’s only real challenger, and the rest of the league is pedestrian with the possible exception of Pitt.
My TOP 10 will be as usual an eye-catcher and you’ll notice Tulane at #10! It’s deserved. Yeah they lost a lot of talent from their Cotton Bowl winning team against USC, but the American Conference it seems always delivers a “fly in the ointment” look, out for Willie Fritz and his Green Wave to surprise Ole Miss in September and send a message that they still belong with College Football’s big boys.
It’s gonna be another great regular season. Sadly, it’ll end with a collection of four brand name teams that always have an advantage in what’s been a forgettable 9 year period of the CFB since its inception in 2014.