With USC, UCLA bound for Big Ten, college sports becomes another corporate proxy war | Opinion
NIL contracts are altering the panorama of the NCAA
USA Right now’s Dan Wolken and Paul Myerberg joined Sports activities Severely to speak about how NIL collectives are altering school soccer — however for higher or for worse?
Sports activities Severely, USA TODAY
It has by no means been the switch portal or giving the children some cash that was going to make school sports activities essentially worse, much less enjoyable and extra company.
It was at all times going to be the proxy struggle between ESPN and Fox and the soulless school presidents and directors who’ve been sucking on their teat for the final decade, unable to do something remotely visionary with their sport moreover persuade tv executives to shovel extra money at them each decade.
And now right here we’re, on the precipice of a realignment that won’t merely be about rearranging items on the chess board. This, lastly, is the Massive One: The last word abandonment of custom, of rivalry, of geographic sanity and of the distinctive character that distinguished one convention from one other.
In the long run, we’ll nonetheless have the Massive Ten and the SEC standing atop school sports activities, however they may not be school athletic conferences in the identical method we’ve recognized them for a century. Now, with USC and UCLA abandoning their West Coast roots for the riches of a league that was based in 1896 by a bunch of school presidents within the Midwest attempting to determine some management over school athletics, they’re headed for a future as generic, soulless company entities that exist purely for revenue and extra. The way forward for the SEC vs. Massive Ten will look no completely different than Coke vs. Pepsi, FedEx vs. UPS and Apple vs. IBM.
And school sports activities is rarely going to be the identical.
This has been constructing rapidly during the last dozen years, beginning with the Massive Ten’s foray into Nebraska and subsequent poaching of Maryland and Rutgers when it got here time to barter a brand new TV contract. The Pac-12 tried, and failed, to crush the Massive 12, settling as a substitute for Colorado and Utah. However the instability from that exploration by no means went away, and shortly thereafter the SEC pounced, taking Texas A&M and Missouri. The ACC, having misplaced a founding member in Maryland, struck a deadly blow to the outdated Massive East by including Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville, whereas giving Notre Dame a house for its non-football sports activities.
In the meantime everybody else cobbled issues collectively the perfect they may, directors hoping the following large earthquake would not occur till their 401ks obtained fats sufficient for them to get out of this ridiculous enterprise.
The uneasy détente lasted till a 12 months in the past when phrase leaked that Texas and Oklahoma had been headed to the SEC. After that, it was solely a matter of time till what we noticed Thursday. Apocalypse, now.
It’s laborious to foretell how precisely it is going to occur, however it is going to occur all the identical. The Big Ten’s addition of USC and UCLA as early as 2024 — made official by an acceptance vote Thursday — opens the door to the longer term that everybody in school sports activities figured was coming however hoped may someway be averted. It could go quick, or it might are available in drips and drabs, however the free-for-all to get into both the SEC or the Massive Ten goes to make “Squid Video games” seem like little one’s play.
When there’s probably $100 million yearly on the road, climbing over lifeless our bodies is simply a part of the deal.
Keep in mind, within the wake of the SEC’s energy play final 12 months, the commissioners of the Massive Ten, Pac-12 and ACC announced a so-called “Alliance” that was alleged to stabilize school sports activities within the midst of tv negotiations and Faculty Soccer Playoff growth. Requested if the leagues had put something on paper to, you realize, forestall poaching from one another, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff mentioned it was an “settlement between three gents.”
Maybe on reflection, it was two gents and one henchman. That will be Kevin Warren, the Massive Ten commissioner that followers of the league (and plenty of directors throughout the league) had dismissed as a weak hyperlink given his clumsy dealing with of COVID-19 in the summertime of 2020 when he introduced that the soccer season can be delayed till spring after which reversed course when the SEC, ACC and Massive 12 held agency that the season can be performed within the fall.
Because it seems, Warren has a ruthless streak. And even when it was certainly USC and UCLA approaching the Massive Ten fairly than the opposite method round, as individuals throughout the Massive Ten insist, the knife within the again cuts all the identical.
That is school sports activities for the foreseeable future: Hunt or turn into roadkill, a message that’s undoubtedly resonating not simply among the many remaining Pac-12 faculties however at Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina and, sure, Notre Dame.
Within the coming world of school sports activities, there are two castes: The SEC and Massive Ten, inhaling tv cash like oxygen, and everybody else attempting to not suffocate. The hole between these two worlds will likely be large, and everybody who can get to the opposite aspect will do no matter it takes to make that occur.
The Massive Ten, now with 16 faculties, is nearly actually going to broaden extra. Is it Oregon and Washington? North Carolina and Duke? Stanford and Notre Dame? Is the management at Clemson, Florida State and Miami going to sit down idly by or push to do one thing dramatic?
These are the questions that had been being requested throughout school sports activities on Thursday, although there weren’t lots of solutions available. The one factor we all know is that school soccer, and by advantage all of main school sports activities, will revolve round two leagues — and two tv networks — which might be solely going to get larger and extra highly effective.
They may, sadly, be principally indistinguishable from each other, simply two large company vessels taking the final little bit of custom and regional taste that made school sports activities enjoyable and turning into Applebee’s and TGI Friday’s.
Hope you benefit from the artichoke dip.
Comply with USA TODAY Sports activities columnist Dan Wolken on Twitter @DanWolken