College Football Manifest Destiny
After more recent talk of conference expansion, I've decided to revisit my thoughts about what should happen with the future of college football. To recap the latest expansion news: the Big Ten is almost definitely looking past 12, the Pac 10 is looking to expand, and the SEC is also studying the idea, but they think they're just fine.
Ultimately, whatever decisions are made will be made with dollar signs in mind. That is what this expansion non-sense is all about. The quest for the almighty dollar. The Big Ten started the ball rolling with the wildly successful Big Ten Network. Who could blame other conference teams for wanting a piece of the Big Ten pie when Indiana makes more TV revenue than Texas.
Since money talks, let me start sharing my ideas by laying out the motivation for the wild scenario I'm about to unfold.
Dream if you will an NCAA Saturday Ticket. I'm not talking the lame version of ESPN Gameplan that is currently available. I mean a college football package where you can see literally every BCS conference level game every week. I know I just caught Phil Steele's attention. Now NCAA Saturday Ticket (NST) is only available on DirecTV just like the NFL version. It's available for a modest $100 per year payable in ten or four installments. Can I have a show of hands for those willing to shell out less than ten dollars a month to watch every BCS level game each week? My hand's up too.
Let's pause for a quick money calculation. How many subscribers do you think DirecTV pulls in with this package? Not a rhetorical question here. Comment away because I have no idea. I'll guess 30 million. Simple math has us at 3 billion dollars in subscription fees alone. Now, I know this is 13 million more subscribers to NST than DirecTV has total but stay with me, because the idea is that NST is exclusive.
DirecTV buys out all existing rights to broadcast BCS level college sporting events. NST becomes the only way to watch BCS level college football (and any other sport for that matter.) The 30 million figure doesn't seem so high now does it?
So now with the motivation out of the way, let me unfold the wild idea. First, let me address what BCS level teams mean. Well right now there and 6 BCS conferences containing 65 teams plus Notre Dame. This gets shuffled around a bit to create Tier 1 formally known as FBS BCS level, and Tier 2 formally known as FBS Mid Majors. Each Tier is broken down into 4 conferences of 16 teams split into 4 divisions.
I should include that this conference alignment comes from the dominoe effect that will happen once the Big Ten goes to 16. The rational behind the choices for the 16 in the Big Ten comes from adding the most money to the pie to be split 16 ways. Syracuse, Rutgers, and Texas add 56 million people to the conference footprint. Nebraska and Notre Dame are added for their national appeal.
Tier 1 looks like this:
|Tier 1||Big Ten||SEC||ACC||Western|
|1||Penn St.||Florida||BC||Southern Cal|
|1||Ohio St.||Alabama||North Carolina||Oregon|
|3||Michigan St.||Arkansas||Wake Forest||Washington|
|4||Minnesota||SC||NC St.||Boise St.|
|1||Iowa||Oklahoma||West Virginia||Arizona St.|
|1||Texas||Florida St.||Georgia Tech||Missouri|
|4||Illinois||Mississippi St.||Kansas St.||Oklahoma St.|
Brought up to Tier 1 level are Utah, BYU, Boise St., and TCU. Demoted to Tier 2 are Vandy, South Florida, Virgina, Washington St., Baylor, and Iowa St. Nothing against these programs other than they haven't got it done consistently in over two decades.
The demoted programs with the rest of the current FBS level teams make up 56 of the 64 teams in Tier 2. Villanova, Southern Illinois, Butler, Appalachian St., Jacksonville St., South Carolina St., Florida A&M, and Furman are moved up from FCS to complete Tier 2. This article isn't really concerning Tier 2, but I tried to break down at least the conferences as well. They are as follows:
|Tier 2||MAC||CUSA||WAC||Sun Belt|
|1||Temple||East Carolina||Air Force||La.-Lafayette|
|2||Kent St.||Marshall||New Mexico||Troy|
|3||Miami (Ohio)||Memphis||Colorado St.||Arkansas St.|
|5||Eastern Mich.||Southern Miss.||Wyoming||La.-Monroe|
|6||Akron||UAB||San Diego St.||Fla. Atlantic|
|7||Buffalo||Tulsa||Hawaii||Middle Tenn. St.|
|8||Bowling Green||Rice||San Jose St.||North Texas|
|9||Ball St.||Houston||Fresno St.||Louisiana Tech|
|10||Western Mich.||UTEP||Nevada||Western Kentucky|
|11||Central Mich.||Tulane||New Mexico St.||South Fla.|
|12||Ohio||SMU||Utah St.||Appalachian State|
|13||Northern Ill.||Virginia||Idaho||Jacksonville State|
|14||Villanova||Vanderbilt||Washington St.||South Carolina State|
|15||Southern Illinois||Navy||Baylor||Florida A&M|
Still with me? Good. So let me sum up: Tier 1 consists of four, 16 team conferences split into 4 divisions. DirecTV has purchased the sole rights to broadcast all the Tier 1 games. They are charging $100 per year, and have at least 30 million subscribers.
Now why would the current BCS conferences do this? Money. I've made an assumption to show that DirecTV has 3 billion in subscription fees alone to throw around. If they paid out 35 million to each of the 64 Tier 1 teams, it would cost them 2.24 billion leaving plenty to pocket or pay off the NCAA or the broadcasting rights they bought up. This 3 billion is also before you consider advertising and new regular subscriber fees as they currently only have about 17 million subscribers.
So now the rest of my wild idea. This conference alignment and symmetry makes for an obvious playoff scenario. It also makes NST even more attractive. The four division winners play each other in a conference semi-final, and the winners play in a conference final. The four conference winners play in a national semi-final which would be 2 of the BCS bowls and the winners play in the BCS title game. The conference runners up would play in the 2 remaining BCS games. All the other bowls would have their picks as usual.
How would the division set-up work? Well, you play the 3 teams in your division every year plus one "rivalry game" from the other 3 divisions every year. That brings us to 6 games. Now you play one team from each of the other 3 divisions every year but the team rotates through the 3 remaining teams in each division. That brings us to 9 conference games, and you go no more than 3 years between playing teams in your conference.
This leaves 3 non-conference games that you can schedule against hard teams without being penalized in the polls. Now most bigger schools claim to need 7 home games. To avoid scheduling 3 Tier 2 teams every year, you make a rule that says you must play at least 5 Tier 1 away games and no FCS teams. I really think this works for everybody. Well, everybody except ESPN/ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC.
This scenario gives a true playoff and true champion with no biased pre season rankings. It also keeps the traditional bowl system in place. What's not to like, honestly? I know, Kansas and Kansas St. don't really fit in the ACC, but there was nowhere else to put them.
If DirecTV could make this happen, I would happily pay $500 per year to watch the college football season.
I know that maybe you're thinking anti-trust stuff for the exclusive broadcasting rights, but maybe they get around it because other options do exist, like Tier 2 for example. I'm no lawyer so let's assume this is legal.
Thoughts? Would you switch to DirecTV (or to some other provider) if they had exclusive rights? If so how much would you be willing to pay per year if that was your only option?
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