Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Sports

For SEC football, why wait on the inevitable?

The SEC should just dispense with the formalities, move forward with its master plan of world domination and go ahead and bankrupt the Big 12 and ACC by buying FSU, Clemson, Texas and Oklahoma.

One of the most powerful men in the SEC — Florida Gators athletics director Jeremy Foley — has a philosophy that he borrowed from Henry Kissinger: "Whatever must happen eventually should happen immediately."

And what will happen eventually is that football powerhouses in the Big 12 and ACC will start to lose massive ground to their rivals in the SEC and Big Ten and will have no choice but to bail and bolt.

Can't we just fast forward seven or eight years, save ourselves the controversy and consternation, and get on with the process that renowned college football analyst Charles Darwin introduced 150 years ago: "Survival of the Fittest."

I've spent the past four days covering the Big 12 spring meetings, where much of the rhetoric has been about the future revenue imbalance between the Big 12 and the SEC/Big Ten. You better believe similar conversations are taking place at ACC outposts like Tallahassee and Clemson.

Granted, the financial discrepancy now is not too, too bad — just a few million a year — but the projections are alarming. There are some estimates that the SEC and Big Ten could be distributing upward of $25 million per year more in TV revenue to its members than the Big 12 and ACC.

Do you really think FSU is going to sit idly by while the Gators are making $250 million-per-decade more than the Seminoles are making? The same goes for Clemson and South Carolina and Texas and Texas A&M.

The most obvious solution, of course, is for the ACC and Big 12 to start their own TV networks, but that's simply not financially feasible anymore.

What this means is the SEC, Big Ten and possibly the Pac-12 (although its network isn't nearly as successful) will continue to reap additional money from their still-growing networks while the ACC and Big 12's TV money stagnates. Consequently, Big 12 and ACC coaches will soon start sounding as frustrated as the non-Power 5 coaches who currently wonder how they will be able to keep pace in the arms race that is college football.

It's like Houston coach Tom Hermann said when he was talking about how the American Athletic Conference needs more TV money so its schools can build the palatial facilities and offer the cool amenities that entice the best recruits.

"The gap is going to continue to widen from a facility standpoint, which then widens your gap in recruiting, which then widens your gap in level of play," Herman said at the AAC spring meetings. "I think us as head coaches and athletic directors would hate to see that parity that we feel like we have in level of play go away merely because of money."

Mark my words, in a few years, Jimbo Fisher and Dabo Swinney will be singing the same sad song. And this is when the SEC will swoop in and ask a simple question of FSU, Clemson, Texas and Oklahoma: "Do you want to come with us and make $50 million a year or stay where you're at and make $25 million?"

If it's going to happen eventually, why not just do it immediately?

— Orlando Sentinel (TNS)

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Published: 02/19/18