HOLLYWOOD – The College Football Playoff seemed destined to expand and expand rapidly.
For two years, a group of CFP leaders worked to create a model that they presented to decision makers and have disseminated across college football. Their 12-team proposal, which was largely celebrated across America, emerged on the fast track to approval in a September meeting, potentially within two years of replacing the current model with four teams.
And then the Big 12’s two biggest brands, Texas and Oklahoma, began in a seismic and astonishing shift the process this week of joining the SEC. Pac-12 leaders here at the conference’s annual media day say the movement is compromising the enlargement model and will almost certainly delay approval, even potentially resulting in wholesale changes to its structure.
In fact, league administrators believe that the SEC’s chess movement, while calculated and cunning, will launch a responsive chain of significant changes across the landscape of American college sports.
It’s the tip of the iceberg, one says. There will be more, says another.
The war of restructuring in 2021 has begun, and this time there is a particularly precious battlefield: the expanded playoff model.
Conferences encrypt, and school jockeys, all thrown into a boring act of the SEC’s daring spectacle – the storage of several of the country’s richest college football programs.
It’s clear who the bad guys are this time around: Commissioner Greg Sankey and the Southeastern Conference, swung by some here as the person and entity that helped ruin a conference, pushed college football into a mess of disruption and compromised the expansion model.
Sankey was part of a working group of four people that created the proposal for 12 teams, which led some around college athletics to question his motives as one of the few who knew his league could soon expand.
“It’s fishy,” says one.
“It’s insider trading,” says another.
While some say the SEC wisely and secretly jumped ahead of everyone else in the next wave of restructuring, others describe the move as unnecessary and detrimental to college sports. The SEC burned already charred bridges and even destroyed personal relationships, they say.
As a result, high-level decision-makers are considering a retaliatory move. Are Pac-12, Big Ten and others forming an alliance against the big, bad SEC?
“We get answers,” says a Pac-12 administrator.
Currently, the league’s new commissioner, George Kliavkoff, is trying to maintain his own membership at a time of uncertainty, keeping the group and its golden goose, USC, together, while weighing the possibility of adding more. Pac-12 receives significant interest from suitors about expansion, Kliavkoff told reporters here on Tuesday. And while they listen, conference leaders are more than happy to stay on 12 teams, he says.
Some administrators believe that none of the remaining eight Big 12 teams add value to the conference – they would not increase the league distribution. Others say programs like TCU in the Dallas hub are attractive, as is Kansas’ basketball program.
But how does this war of transformation really end? Some here believe the final chapter is a 30-plus team superleague, an exclusive club with best-selling programs and college football blood that governs itself in a structure that may even have collective bargaining and their own post-season, completely separate from the NCAA system. and operates at its sole discretion. The whisper has begun to grow louder, and the SEC’s expansion is the start of such an event, several college officials believe.
“That’s where we’re headed,” says one.
And what now? Many refuse to predict such a move. But they know one is coming.
The reorganization war is here. The fights are just getting started. And the dominoes are just starting to topple over.
“Two teams move from one conference to another, that’s fine,” said Stanford coach David Shaw. “What inspires other conferences to do? If it’s just two teams, good for them, and let’s move on. But I do not think it will be just two teams. ”
More College Football Coverage:
• Where do the rest of the big 12 go from here?
• Even in the SEC, Texas A&M cannot escape Longhorns
• Texas and Oklahoma’s SEC investigation stuns conference media day
• Texas, Oklahoma and the reorganization speech that could reshape college sports