Is College Football’s Grand Alliance Doomed to Fail?

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When the SEC poached Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12, it sent a shock wave through the college football world and challenged the status quo of the Power-Five Conferences. Speculation and conference realignment talk became the hot topic among college football fans, and rightfully so. Overnight, the Power-Five became the Power-Four. The Big 12, without Texas and Oklahoma, is no longer a top tier power within the college football world.

What has come to fruition is not a mass realignment or super conferences, but instead an alliance between three of the four remaining power conferences — the Pac-12, B1G, and ACC. With the announcement this week, we got a better sense of the goals of this alliance, which go beyond being merely serving as a counterbalance to the SEC. One of the goals of this agreement is to promote college athletics beyond just football and men’s basketball, (In the press conference, women’s basketball was mentioned quite often.) along with promoting strong academics. All three conferences wanted to standardize scheduling and promote more inter-conference match-ups, which would, in turn, garner greater media attention.

All of this was laid out without a written contract between the conferences. This alliance is just a gentleman’s agreement.

Will Greed Kill the Alliance?

Last week, 247 Sport’s Late Kick with Josh Pate took up the topic of the alliance, and Pate predicted that the alliance was doomed to fail because each conference would eventually succumb to self interest. However, Pate failed to recognize that conferences themselves are effectively alliances, as they are groupings of teams that have all opted to bind themselves together to further their own individual interests by making them collective interests. Granted, conferences are bound together by contracts, which is more than the alliance is currently bound by. And we have all seen just how easily teams can leave their conference and join another.

Tom Corno

Utah joined the Pac-12 to better their program. They have yet to win a Pac-12 Championship in football.

Unlike professional sports, where the league creates the teams, in college sports the schools and teams create the leagues. In professional sports, there are no independent teams, but within the NCAA, there are seven independent football teams, most notably Notre Dame. These schools are still able to fill their schedules and play in big-time bowl games. Teams choose to come together and form conferences because these alliances generate more money for all the schools involved, along with more stability.

Why would an alliance of conferences inherently be any different? The primary argument is greed and differing goals.

If this Grand Alliance of three conferences is going to work, it will require a specific set of goals and desired outcomes. Together, these conferences do overpower the SEC in terms of voting on proposed NCAA rules and regulations. And this alliance can negotiate better media deals with the major media broadcasters, especially if they are able to arrange incredibly good non-conference match-ups amongst themselves.

Eugene Johnson

What benefit would the B1G get from forming an alliance with the Pac-12?

If the goal of the alliance is to level the playing field in college football, at least on a financial level, then it can succeed. However, the greatest weakness of this alliance is the gentleman’s handshake agreement that leaves any conference or any school free to opt out of the alliance and look for greener pastures on their own.

All Three Conferences Have Something to Gain

For the Pac-12, this alliance is undoubtedly beneficial. The conference has been struggling with its national image, and joining a larger block of schools will give the Pac a boost when they need to renegotiate media contracts, which is soon. Immediately after the Big 12 lost Texas and Oklahoma, there was some initial talk as to whether the Pac-12 should annex the remaining Big 12 teams. This was a terrible idea, because half of the current revenue generated by the Big 12 is from Oklahoma and Texas. The remaining schools wouldn’t generate enough income to make themselves a valuable addition to the Pac.

This proposed idea does bring up an pressing issue, though: The Pac-12 has expanded as far as they can geographically. There is a reason why the Pac is the oldest of the current Power-Five conferences — it’s because the Pac-12 is geographically isolated from the rest of the country. The Pac-12 does not overlap with another Power-Five conference, whereas the other four overlap each other’s geographic footprints.

Just think if the Pac-12 were to take on all the remnants of the Big-12 the conference. The conference would stretch from the Pacific Coast to West Virginia, and perhaps more importantly, each school in this Pac-20 conference would get a smaller media payout than they currently do.

Andrew Shurtleff

The last time Oregon played a game on the East Coast was at Virginia in 2013.

Outside of the Pac-12, the B1G and the ACC need this alliance, as well. The ACC has the worst media deal of any of the Power-Five at this time, and any bit of leverage they can gain to renegotiate their contract early would be a huge boon to their conference. Neither the Pac-12 nor the ACC are able to compete with the SEC in terms of finances at the present. These two conferences need this alliance and should remain committed to it.

The B1G is really the only conference of the three that has the least to gain by this alliance. The B1G pays its schools more than the SEC currently does. However, the big question for the B1G is how long that will last. The B1G gains security in this arrangement. Ensured security tends to be the biggest factor in bringing alliances together. The B1G may be in a good position right now, but the alliance will help ensure they are in an equally good position years from now.

The SEC has already killed one of the Power-Five conferences. Will the Grand Alliance of the remaining Power Conferences be enough to stop them?

David Marsh
Portland, Oregon
Top Photo By: Dave Peaks

Andrew Mueller, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in higher education in Chicago, Illinois.

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For Football Season: FishDuck Back to Seven Days a Week!

I had to shut down the daily articles on July 20th because I could no longer work the extra 3 to 12 hours per week of certain managerial/editorial duties. (beyond the usual ones with FishDuck)

I’ve had a blast writing without those duties, and now, due to a new agreement with the writers, I can announce that we will have articles seven days a week again. I wish to thank the writers publicly for their graciousness in coming to a solution, as now I still do not have do those extra duties with our agreement, and meanwhile the writers are back having fun creating articles as I am.

Everybody is happy! So below is the new schedule through football season:

Monday: Mr. FishDuck
Tuesday: Darren Perkins
Wednesday: Joshua WhittedMr. FishDuck
Thursday: Coach Eric BolesAlex Heining
Friday: David Marsh
Saturday: Mr. FishDuck (GameDay Baby!)
Sunday: Jordan Ingram

A couple of writers could not join us as they have new projects in their lives, and cannot write for anyone at the moment–but perhaps we will see them back later.

Things rarely work out so well for all parties in agreements, but this time it has and truly….everyone wins!

Our 33 rules at FishDuck can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) keep it clean, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!

FishDuck members….we got your back.  No Trolls Allowed!

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Here is the Truth…

I am saddened by what I see on PH, and felt the need to respond to erroneous things written and flat-out smears.

1) The first poster (DuckSense) had been shaming people who disagreed with him and labeling me and others in the process, and yes–I blasted him because there were not any rules being enforced over there. In the old days before FD, if rules were not present or enforced–I would punch the bully back when being attacked.

I did so, regretted it and apologized to the board and to Lou personally.

But without going into detail–DuckSense wrote a number of things in his post at PH that yes, I would object to, as they are tactics that discourage people from posting. He felt my moderation was “ad nauseum” when the truth is I’ve deleted only two posts in five and a half months and over 3,500 comments.

That is a fact. It says a ton about this community, and I love you all for it.

2) Lou is a great guy and been a friend of mine for a long time; he wrote some very nice things and I appreciate that and salute him as well.

However he wrote some things that I would disagree with, and the first is the implication that my moderation is done publicly. That was true until about a year and a half ago, (I told Lou this on the phone) as I have switched to moderating in private, via emails. That way it is not embarrassing to both parties, and is not a buzz-kill for everyone else.

The second item I would disagree with is how “the incident” started it all. It did not start then, as for me it started much sooner with all the nasty things being written over there that broke my heart. In a phone call with Lou…I told him how a new poster has insulted me and the article I wrote. As it turns out, the poster insulted me a second time later and nothing was done with either post.

Lou and I agree on how we are different in our philosophy of moderating; I believe in protecting everyone from that type of behavior.

3) The poster called dixieduck has gone out of his way to smear me and it is disheartening. We were discussing the potential Pac-12 and Big-10 merger back in June on FD, and I simply wanted the conference to stand pat–my opinion is all. He responded with, “how can you not see…that the bridle, the saddle and the horse have left the barn?”

The first four words of that quote he left out on PH, and it is the reason for the deletion. Yes dixieduck, I can see, but I simply disagree. What he wrote (in the context of the conversation) was condescending, belittling and rude. Debate is great, but when you imply someone is an idiot…that is over the line. (And it is never advisable to do it to the owner of the site)

As it turns out, I was on the phone with Lou and read his comment out loud and Lou agreed with the deletion, as what dixieduck wrote was not “polite and respectful.”

I dealt with that deletion in private and recently gave dixieduck the complete quote again in an email….but he left out the key words on PH anyway.

And dixieduck stated that I kicked off friends from FD for “reasons that vary from day to day.” I did not kick off friends; I deleted posts of theirs for the same reason why so many of dixieduck’s posts have been deleted here; my friends wanted to write a political comment and I would not allow it.

Yes, dixieduck has been banned here because he has broken rules too many times. He has become too much trouble to spend time on, and I wish him well.

I am very, very sorry for this distasteful post, but felt I needed to defend myself publicly since I am being attacked publicly.

DuckUp

Wow Charles you have a heart of gold and I’m saddened you have to deal with these sorts of things. You go through all of this because you bleed green and yellow and you don’t deserve this sort of treatment.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

You are very kind, I thank you and agree with you.

DanLduck

Charles, for the record, I seldom read PH now because of the person you mention, DD. When I do, I skip his articles and comments. That’s my personal response. I would never have said this but for your comment above.

I guess it’s true you can’t please everyone.

For me, I prefer this site and format. It is why I will put my support here, and not there.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

You are very kind as well DanL, and I am not asking anyone to stop going over there, as it is simply a different cup of tea. People can read and decide for themselves, as both sites serve people in different ways.

And I sure value the members of this community that take time to post a comment. So let’s have fun with more…

And tomorrow, yours-truly will have something different in an article … not done in years!

DUCati855

Charles, I must say the civility here on FD is drastically different from what I have found on PH. I have been pleasantly surprised with the number of FD articles being posted lately. Keep it and there will be little reason to ever visit that site again!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

DuCati855….GREAT to see you post and hope you would share your thoughts often.

Thank you for noticing the difference and that is not to say either way of moderation is wrong, it is just different for each person to choose.

As for the articles? I am not making any official announcements, but because of new agreement with the writers–let’s just say you should check every day of the week now!

(I don’t agree with the guy pounding the mascot of the opposing team below, but different strokes…)

Fans_Kevin Cline.jpg

Personally, I’m done playing in the puddle. It was an unmoderated effort to re create the civil brilliance of Our Beloved Ducks.

It hasn’t worked. What little moderation took place was inconsistent biased and devoid of standards. In fact, one of the biggest trolls had his post pinned at the top at PH, while attacking our beloved duck. The outrage.

Charles should be commended not only for creating the original but also the extensive time taken to create rules that prevent people from calling others names, misrepresenting their statements or underhandedly obfuscating what others beliefs actually are.

But it’s kind of ironic nobody can troll on a Fisching website. 🤦🏻‍♂️

VandownbytheriverDuck!

I am humbled by your praise, as you and I were at quite the loggerheads when we originally met on the Our Beloved Ducks Forum.

But we worked through it, and I am now proud to call you my friend.

Thank you for your testimony to our unique community here.

Tandaian

I think the Alliance will workish. It is the ACC, B1G and PAC priority to keep the SEC check. They have the majority of votes, so the SEC can’t just do whatever they want or they won’t have anywhere to play. I have a feeling the playoffs are going to have either team limitations or financial limitations per conference. I also wouldn’t doubt if the P5 just say, in football we are doing what we want and the rest can do what they want.

The B1G, ACC, and PAC aren’t going to be OK with the SEC to keep getting 6 teams in and half of the financial windfall, if the playoffs go to 12 teams. I’m sure the SEC will be saying everything is cyclical, but most recently that is being less and less true in football. 20 out of 28 bids from 3 teams.

SEC 8 bids
ACC 7 bids
B1G 5 bids
B12 4 bids
P12 2 bids
ND 2 bids

I haven’t been to Puddle Huddle to know what is happening, but remember most of them are our Duck “friends”, who chose to use a different website. It is a good reminder why this is a unique site. No trolling.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I LOVE this! Finally we can compete for the Playoff on an equal footing.

Although if we are playing North Carolina instead of Colorado….

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VandownbytheriverDuck

Sadly what probably should happen is all Pac 12 teams schedule 4 patsys each year and one of those games late in the season to rest starters like the Sycophant Espn Collusion conference with their favorable early season polls and purposeful second to last week byes.
Personally I’d like to see even 16 even conference numbers and rotational scheduling of at least two out of conference games a season between tip conferences and a 16 team playoff after an 8 game conference schedule featuring two REAL out of conference games and two patsys.

DanLduck

Great stuff David.
The handshake agreement is as much a legal defense as anything. Signing a contract could lead to possible antitrust issues. It also is dealing with the 3 major sports at first, so also less entanglements this way.

I see this as these power 5 schools making an attempt to keep the college athletic experience just that, COLLEGE athletic.

I realize to all of us here at FD, we recognize the powerful influence of money and greed. But these schools and universities are still being run by chancellors and presidents who want to believe that they are academic first. And in fact they are.
But this move by ESPN/sec clearly has an emphasis away from academics first.

We won’t see immediate positive results from this alliance but it sends a very strong message to all that espn can’t bully everyone. I expect that as we see the future unfold for the leadership of the ncaa, the playoffs, and other major issues we can only imagine, this alliance will allow for strong leverage.
I for one am very encouraged. This provides me with hope that the college experience can continue for awhile. I may be naive. Semi-pro leagues for football may be the future, I hope not.
I for one follow Oregon because it’s my alma mater. If it wasn’t a college team, I probably wouldn’t care.

Lastly, if a contract can’t keep OU and UT in the big 12, then a handshake deal built on trust and shared visions is all that’s needed.
Don’t forget AAU membership is very important to the B1G and the Pac12. I believe more than a third of all AAU members reside in these 2 conferences. I get that research and Phd’s are not very important to us football fans, but to the elitist leaders of the universities it is.

This alliance may be a sort of last ditch effort to keep football and basketball as college sports and not minor league pro.
If so, I applaud it.
Btw, 1 week away. Finally!

GODUCKS15

Did USC just take the wind out of the Alliance sails with their announcement of a game with LSU in 2024 in Vegas?
Why are they dancing with the enemy?

30Duck

What I thought was interesting when I saw the note about the USC-LSU game is that it is scheduled for a Neutral site, that is actually favorable to the Pac-12 school.

UtahDuck

I am not going to say that the ‘Alliance’ will last each conference has its own goals, initiatives, and desires. With that as a college football fan this is honestly the most likely chance of college football not becoming more like NFL light.

Lets first discuss why the ‘Alliance’ was formed.

Also don’t pretend the big 12 was a good conference. in the money maker sport of football you had/have Oklahoma. You also have texas who consistently pulls in viewers but never pulls in winning teams. They literally have nothing else going for them(yes I understand kansas is a good basketball team). No other conference is this precarious and because of this they didn’t even have equal revenue split OK and UT got more money from the conference than the other teams. I do not blame them for their desire to leave the Big 12.

So OK & UT decided to leave, does it suck for the hateful 8, yeah it does but this isn’t why the rest of football decided to form this alliance. The pac 12 even tried to pull in OK and UT a good decade back and unsurprisingly failed under the previous commissioner of larry scott. What the SEC did was different. This was a deal in the dark, Greg Sankey the SEC commissioner was meeting with OK and UT and no one was the wiser.

What makes this situation worse is that Sankey was working with Bob Bowlsby(big12 commish), Craig Thompson(MW Commish) and Jack Swarbrick(Notre Dame AD) in writing and designing a playoff expansion. The very man and conference he was working with in this expansion Sankey was also working to hustle(Bowlsby/Big12). Honestly if the news wasn’t broken by Texas A&M, then we would likely be in a world today where the playoff had been expanded ok and UT would be in the SEC and every other conference would be blighted.

The SEC has shown their cards and while they won’t inevitably lose this game the question is does it become Risk Global domination where one by one each player falls as they can no longer compete. Or in your alliance do you work together to successfully push against the SEC?

I for one think the alliance and it’s member have only two options, put your own self interest aside, work together and stop the spread of the SEC or falter and allow the SEC to raid you. If the conferences fail to stay unified you can expect the pac to fall apart.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Extraordinary post UtahDuck

You bring up a good point, as in the end–the Alliance is only as strong as the weakest link…until things are decided upon and signed.

OregonSt at Oregon_19_Kevin Cline.jpg
Mudslide

Thanks for the ponder points, David. I have some thoughts.

First, the Alliance agreement HAD to be a handshake deal. There are many very complex issues (finances, media rights, playoff, bowl alignment, scheduling, potential re-alignment, additional member schools being taken on, etc.). Until these are discussed in detail and agreed upon, there cannot be a written agreement or even a performance bond. This process would take many months.

Second, it certainly is in the teams’ and conference’ interests to join an Alliance. They reacted perfectly to the SEC/ESPN cabal. The cabal will certainly dominate the college football world (not necessarily the minor sports) without some sort of effective counter balancing force.

Lastly, and I hate to consider this, I can conceive of a situation where one of the Alliance conferences breaks away to join the cabal! That would be a short term gain for the interests of that conference. But, in the long term, it will mark the beginning throes of death of college football…perhaps all of college sports. And the NIL has already taken all collegiate sports to the hospital.

Mudslide

Yes, I could see that possibility. If that scenario were to play out, I think you would see the PAC-12 and B1G forming an alliance and letting the ACC go play small ball with the BIG-12. Hopefully the conference movers and shakers can see past their noses and do what is good for collegiate sports … unlike what UT and OK just did. But sadly there is no guarantee that those decision makers are bright enough to read the handwriting on the wall.

Haywarduck

A baseball analogy would be, we are early in the innings, and I am not sure we even know the rules of the game yet. Stay tuned as the NCAA falls apart, as we know it, and the void is filled with?

PittDuck

Excellent and timely article David, thanks for bringing it up!

I agree that the Alliance was formed in response to to the recent SEC acquisition of TX & OK, but remember, that the SEC is pretty much owned and operated by ESPN/Disney $$.

As Charles pointed out, this is truly a Rebel Alliance beginning to stand up to a (very wealthy & wannabe) Galactic Empire. The goal of the Alliance in the near term must be to maintain the viability of their non-SEC/ESPN/Disney schools and institutions.

With the Alliance Institutions focusing on education, student athletes, and the other sports, I think it shows they value integrity over racing to own the Playoffs (think the nearly all season-long “Who’s In?” advertising blitz ESPN likes to tantalize (profit off) us with.

I hope the Alliance succeeds, and I’d love to see bowl games and playoff games back on CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX. I am tired of cable TV owning the playoffs and bowl games.

David, I thank you for your article because I usually wait for the smoke to clear before I delve into a major change announced, and you bring up some excellent ponder-points.

In the end…there will be self-interest for each school that tugs at “The Alliance,” but the thought of being steamrolled by the SEC and ESPN will bring about more rational thinking in the end. (I would like to think!)

Great stuff and thanks.

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Notalot

Heck, David. I sure don’t know what the future holds, but you have presented us with some of the issues facing the Alliance. Thanks.

The Alliance signifies that the non SEC programs are going to defend themselves and that they are willing to collaborate to do so.

I believe that the gentlemen’s agreement is an interim arrangement which allowed the 42 teams to make a statement to the SEC and ESPN while buying time to discover, discuss and negotiate what comes next and later move in a more formal way.

The interim agreement sets the stage, and changes the balance for scheduling and media negotiations.

In other words what we recently witnessed may be the beginning and not the end of the process of migration and metamorphosis from the former alignments and systems into a new way.

What the role and relationship of and with the broken NCAA will be in the future is yet another topic to reimagine and modify.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I agree with you that this was simply the beginning as “The Alliance” determines how they wish to differ with the SEC. One thing that I glossed over as usual “blah-blah” in the announcement, and I thought David brought up well is the difference in academics.

The Alliance wishes to also be a strong, admirable group of schools that belong to the AAU, do research, etc. To think that Stanford, Duke and Northwestern are a part of this is impressive.