Sometimes it is good to talk about things outside of real estate and last week an atomic bomb was dropped on the world of college football. Oklahoma and Texas are now likely to move to the SEC, and the fallout could change the entire landscape of college football.
Should We Be Excited or Concerned with SEC Expansion?
From time to time, I like to post and share some Georgia football thoughts on this site. It started as a way to engage with folks outside of real estate while also trying to grow a new real estate company. Nowadays, it is more therapeutic and fun for me than anything else. With that in mind, I appreciate anyone bothering to read this today because I just had to say something about this huge announcement. When the news broke that Texas and Oklahoma were seeking to join the SEC, like most of you, I quickly dismissed it as rumor, but within the hour I began to realize it was legitimate and now it seems to be on the fast track for approval. At first glance, this is exciting for many fans and for SEC football. And to be honest, that is how I felt at first, but with more time to reflect on everything, I am starting to have some concerns.
First and foremost, this is a great financial decision for the SEC along with Texas and Oklahoma. I have no argument with that at all. My concerns are for the rest of college football. What happens to the sport as a whole? I am worried that all these good intentions are paving the proverbial road to hell. I hope to be wrong about this becoming a bad thing for college football, but I think we should at least consider the possible repercussions.
Impact on the SEC
Most fans are excited about of all of this, but some folks are a little hesitant. We all know that Texas A & M isn’t happy because they had just widened the gap between themselves and the Longhorns which became possible when they joined the SEC in 2011. That being the case, do you realize that Georgia has yet to visit Kyle Field for a football game and it has been 10 years since they joined? It’s true that their addition did expand the SEC’s footprint and it brought in TV markets like St. Louis and Houston. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t say that the SEC needed either of these teams as much they needed the SEC and I think that is true today for this proposed expansion. Once Texas and Oklahoma join the league what happens next? Do Bama and Auburn move to the east? Do they reshuffle the conference as North and South divisions? Do they break it down into four pods of four teams? And most importantly does the SEC add more conference games? I think they would have to add at least one more. In any case, the SEC and its fans are likely big winners. But what about the rest of the sport?
Impact on College Football as a Whole
College football has become a very regional sport. It doesn’t get a lot of attention in the northeast or on the west coast. Currently, there are about 10 teams that truly matter in the national landscape of college football. After that, most programs are a given to be an afterthought or an also ran. Who are these 10 teams? Let me take a stab at making the list here: Bama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, LSU, Auburn, Notre Dame, and the last one can be interchangeable with Penn State, Wisconsin, Oregon etc. Please note, until last year A & M didn’t matter too much. By my count, the future SEC could make up 60 to possibly 80% of the teams in top tier assuming that Texas and A&M are relevant. Apologies to FSU and Miami fans, but your teams are currently trying to climb back in the fold. If 80% of the good teams are in one conference, why would people watch or care about the other ones?
I heard a friend joke that the NCAA basically exists to hold a national basketball tournament and while that is not entirely accurate, he does have a point. The NCAA is a poorly run organization, but it is needed for all the different sports to operate, but could there be time coming soon where the SEC doesn’t need the NCAA? Furthermore, at what point does the SEC no longer need ESPN? The heart of college football has been in the SEC for years, but now the SEC could have 80% of the sport’s relevant teams. Hell! Why not just go ahead and invite Ohio State, Notre Dame, Clemson and along with another Florida school to make it an even 20? From there the SEC would have its own little professional sports league. That’s right! A professional football league because NIL is going to get wild in the coming years, but that’s another topic all together.
The Bulldog in me is excited to see some new blood in the league, but the common sense inside of me is ringing the alarm bell. My concern here is that the rich will get even richer while the poor will become even poorer and, in some cases, cease to exist at all.