It’s been nearly a month since the dominos fell with USC and UCLA headed to the Big Ten. Since, everyone has braced for the next set of schools to fall. Is it Oregon and Washington? Will the Big 12 and Pac-12 eventually merge (right now the answer is no)? So far, it’s been quiet. And perhaps this is a rare moment of stability in college athletics realignment.
From Syracuse’s view of realignment, the best case scenario is status quo. The football program is such a nightmare that it’s risky to assume there’s much value in adding the Orange to a megaconference. Yes, the basketball tradition is a big time asset. But praying hoops give you a life raft in an ocean of football decisions isn’t very calming.
Tim Brando has been covering college football for decades, and is one of the most recognizable play-by-play voices of the sport. He thinks the ACC is the most vulnerable of the Power 5 conferences, and suggests the potential of a massive breakup.
‚ÄúI think there is a real chance there could be a mass exodus from the ACC. Clemson has got to be thinking, ‚ÄòWhat in the world are we doing here?‚Äô We‚Äôre not making 1/4th the money that Vanderbilt makes‚Ä¶ if Clemson were to bolt, then UNC, Miami, Florida State‚Ä¶ it would take a hiccup before they‚Äôre gone to.” – Tim Brando¬†
The issues at the heart of ACC’s health is twofold. First, the financial penalty of leaving is enormous. Experts believe it would be close to $120M to break the contract with the ACC and go through the litigation, which the conference would almost assuredly lean into. Second, the desirability of ACC schools is not extremely high.
Only the Big Ten or the SEC would do the poaching. It makes no sense for an ACC school to leave for the Big 12 or Pac-12. The SEC would make the most sense in claiming ACC power schools. But Clemson doesn’t bring the state of South Carolina or the major market of Charlotte, because the SEC already has the Gamecocks. FSU doesn’t carry any state or markets that the Florida Gators don’t already do for the SEC. Miami? Sure, the brand is there, but does the SEC believe the Hurricanes are an enormous boost to their already heft valuation?
That’s the real issue. The SEC is rich and powerful. You would only share the wealth and the power if the school(s) being added add more money and power. Miami doesn’t do that. Why would the SEC want to share the cash with any school that’s not a surefire bet to increase its value? Plus, there’s the issue of the 15-year TV pact the ACC is still in, and wading into those waters for a protracted fight.
There’s no doubt the ACC schools must feel like they’re getting shortchanged in money when looking at the revenue Indiana and Mississippi State make in their leagues. But a mass exodus can only happen if someone wants those schools, and at the moment, neither the Big Ten nor SEC appears very interested.