You are either a predator or prey in the current landscape of College Football. The latest move in college football realignment has chewed up and spit out the PAC-12 as it is about to join the boneyard of dead conferences. The Southwest Conference, the Big 8, and the Western Athletic Conference are just a few that come to mind.
There are a lot of rumors swirling about what could happen next. The rumor is the ACC could look to grab Cal and Stanford. Will that be enough as the ACC could be next on the chopping block? What will the remaining teams of the PAC-12 do? There are a lot of questions facing the current Group of Five level: The American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt.
What does the Mountain West do?
The Mountain West owes a debt of gratitude to former Commissioner Craig Thompson who pushed for the exit fees that are currently in place. The current exit fees are steep, 17 million with a year's notice and 34 million with less than a year. Those exit fees have put up a roadblock to the PAC-12 which could have gone after the Mountain West and gutted it.
There was an idea of creating a new league with some teams from AAC, the best from the Mountain West, and what was left from the PAC-12. That idea supposedly came from San Diego State according to CBS Sports Dennis Dodd. SDSU AD John Davis Wicker went on Twitter and disputed the report. "The first two paragraphs of this article contain numerous false or misleading statements. SDSU has been actively involved in conference realignment discussions before and after the latest round of Pac-12defections. However, SDSU has not sought to create a new conference or seek A5 status for a new conference. SDSU has had no communication with the American Athletic Conference, nor any of its member institutions. SDSU continues to be an active participant with the MountainConference as the conference assesses the best path forward during this turbulent time in our industry".
Whether the reporting is true or San Diego State AD is telling the truth, it is good to see the Mountain West sticking together. This was pointed out by Wyoming AD Tom Burman who spoke to Ryan Thorburn of the Casper-Star Tribune "If the Mountain West Conference all would stay together & not be fooled into thinking there's something greater out there & joining a Power 5 league because the Pac-12, no matter who they add, is not going to be an Autonomous 5 league for very long. It's clear & everybody around the country is talking about that. It's just a matter of time & that will change its financial model dramatically, in my opinion, speaking for Tom Burman."
This author agrees with Tom Burman, the Mountain West should stick together, the PAC-12 is dead and will no longer be part of the upper echelon of college football. The Mountain West as it's currently constructed has a better chance to succeed than joining the PAC-12. The Mountain West could also add teams from the FCS to bolster its roster if it can entice top colleges like North Dakota State or South Dakota State — programs that can play with many FBS teams. There is no secret NDSU wants to go to FBS. That brand could succeed right away and be a power in the Mountain West.
Raise The Shield Wall
The Vikings had their shield wall. The Spartans and the Romans had the phalanx. The AAC, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt need to close ranks. These five conferences will not be included in what the P5s have in mind. There is already talk about the CFB Playoff seeding only including teams from the super conferences. That could leave these teams and conferences on the outside.
That is fine, these leagues should absolutely tell the super conferences to kick rocks. The NCAA's power is dwindling by the day and its shelf life is short. The schools will need to want to invest in these conferences and not jump ship. That is a tough ask. The FBS' Super Conferences have made it clear they are excluding those not in the club. It shouldn't surprise anyone if some teams currently in the super conferences are kicked out.
Understand this: TV Deals control College Football now. It is all about what TV market you are in. If you are not in a top 50 TV market at the very least, you are on the outside looking in. Very few teams have the TV market behind them. James Madison has the D.C. area, SMU has Dallas, and SDSU has San Diego — and these are just a few examples. There are a handful of teams between all five conferences that have the TV markets behind them. TV dollars will decide if you can be in the College Football Playoff.
The five conferences should look for ways to be innovative, and not try to be the elite league of College Football. How about they start a playoff for these five conferences only, and be bold? That is what will draw eyes. Do as UCF once did and declare your own National Champion. Be innovative, If the AAC, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt want to survive and thrive, they need to become all for one and one for all.
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