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Three reasons why real parity is coming to college football

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Nightman Cometh

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5 Year Member
1) Less teams = Increased parity

We’re headed for some version of two super conferences, maybe 20 teams in each. That means there will be a consolidation of coaching and player talent. When a league expands, the product is diluted but college football is contracting. Thereby the product will improve.

2) 12-team playoff

Talent is contracting at the same time opportunity is expanding. More programs will be able to learn how to win in the playoffs.

3)The accelerated timeline

Coaches are getting fired and hired earlier than ever. The transfer portal and recruiting windows have bled into the season. And NIL gives teams the ability to get talented fast.

This will have a disproportionally negative impact on the most successful programs.

Right now, a team like Nebraska can target coaches and players a team like Michigan can’t, not openly. If Harbaugh wanted to bring in a transfer QB and new OC, other programs have the jump on him. Conversely, if Michigan’s DC unexpectedly leaves after the playoffs for an NFL job, it leaves Michigan without a lot of big-time options.
 

WestTexasHusker

Blackshirt
10 Year Member
I don't think we are heading to 2 conferences. That would leave too many teams out that should be a part of the college football landscape, and that would hurt the end product. I understand the economics of consolidation and TV eyeballs, but there is a point of diminishing returns.

Just for kicks, let's say that all that was left in major college ball was the Big 10 and SEC. What happens to the viewership? It declines. Why? Because it makes college football worse, not better. Let's say you are a fan of any of the 60-70 teams that get left out - BYU, Baylor, NC State, Virginia Tech, Utah, Arizona, Oklahoma State, KU, etc., you don't watch football much anymore. You aren't a player in it. "Yeah but Texas Tech doesn't draw as many eyeballs as Arkansas." True. But Texas Tech still draws plenty of eyeballs. Certainly more than many teams in the Big 10 and SEC. Northwestern, Illinois, Vanderbilt, etc. That's why Fox and ESPN are paying the Big 12 $2.3 billion over 6 years. Still lots of eyeballs and very good product there.

If you cut out the Big 12 and the Pac 12, and then most of the ACC, that's a mighty big chunk of programs with significant college football histories. Can you live without them all? I suppose. But why? Many Heisman winners have come from those schools. National champions, perennial major poll appearances. A few of them, such as Oklahoma State, are among college football's winningest programs over the last decade.

Finally, if you are going to whittle it all down to 40, why not 30? Or even 20? Are there really more than 20 programs out there that are really competitive? Maybe even whittle it down to 10 or so. Whoever the winning programs are over the last decade, that's your new college football league. If you've been down for a while, such as Nebraska, tough noodles. You're out.

It actually behooves the Big 10 and SEC to not completely foreclose on the other conferences because of this phenomenon. If you foreclose on college football and leave out 60 programs, it actually hurts your product rather than help it. Less is usually not better.
 
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Nightman Cometh

Recruit
5 Year Member
I don't think we are heading to 2 conferences. That would leave too many teams out that should be a part of the college football landscape, and that would hurt the end product. I understand the economics of consolidation and TV eyeballs, but there is a point of diminishing returns.

Just for kicks, let's say that all that was left in major college ball was the Big 10 and SEC. What happens to the viewership? It declines. Why? Because it makes college football worse, not better. Let's say you are a fan of any of the 60-70 teams that get left out - BYU, Baylor, NC State, Virginia Tech, Utah, Arizona, Oklahoma State, KU, etc., you don't watch football much anymore. You aren't a player in it. "Yeah but Texas Tech doesn't draw as many eyeballs as Arkansas." True. But Texas Tech still draws plenty of eyeballs. Certainly more than many teams in the Big 10 and SEC. Northwestern, Illinois, Vanderbilt, etc. That's why Fox and ESPN are paying the Big 12 $2.3 billion over 6 years. Still lots of eyeballs and very good product there.

If you cut out the Big 12 and the Pac 12, and then most of the ACC, that's a mighty big chunk of programs with significant college football histories. Can you live without them all? I suppose. But why? Many Heisman winners have come from those schools. National champions, perennial major poll appearances. A few of them, such as Oklahoma State, are among college football's winningest programs over the last decade.

Finally, if you are going to whittle it all down to 40, why not 30? Or even 20? Are there really more than 20 programs out there that are really competitive? Maybe even whittle it down to 10 or so. Whoever the winning programs are over the last decade, that's your new college football league. If you've been down for a while, such as Nebraska, tough noodles. You're out.

It actually behooves the Big 10 and SEC to not completely foreclose on the other conferences because of this phenomenon. If you foreclose on college football and leave out 60 programs, it actually hurts your product rather than help it. Less is usually not better.
You bring up a lot of good points. Honestly, I haven’t watched the national championship game in years because I don’t care which southern school wins. I wish they could both lose. That’s kind of what you’re describing.

The way I would have preferred this go down is with the regional conferences in place and basically, a 64 team Division 1 where the whole season funnels into a playoff. But that ship has sailed.

College football is weird, it’s the only sport I know of where you can win every single game and not compete for a championship. I think these schools that get left out of the Big Ten and SEC would be wise to break away and have their own playoff.

At the end of the year K-State could claim a national championship, even if its Division 1-A or whatever. I would totally watch those games. Do you think K-State would have beaten Bama (in my fictional future) would be a segment on all sports shows every year.

There’s a way to do it where those teams retain a fanbase and some national interest. At the end of the day a short money grab almost always trumps a good long-term strategy though.
 

WestTexasHusker

Blackshirt
10 Year Member
Yeah there's lots of talk of a 64 team deal, but even then, you are cutting out a wide swath of viewers. Are we really going to cut the service academies out of major college ball? The Washington States, Oregon States, and Fresno States? That would be a very sad day for the product.
 

anotherdumbprediction

Red Shirt
5 Year Member
Yeah there's lots of talk of a 64 team deal, but even then, you are cutting out a wide swath of viewers. Are we really going to cut the service academies out of major college ball? The Washington States, Oregon States, and Fresno States? That would be a very sad day for the product.
You are really boring when you try and make sense.
 

lincoln84

Blackshirt
10 Year Member
Yeah there's lots of talk of a 64 team deal, but even then, you are cutting out a wide swath of viewers. Are we really going to cut the service academies out of major college ball? The Washington States, Oregon States, and Fresno States? That would be a very sad day for the product.
But what do the service academies do for major college football? Nothing. Doesn’t mean they have to give up their program but their absence from a big conference matters very little to the bottom line. And that’s what this will be about. MONEY. Tradition matters very little to CFB these days.
 

WestTexasHusker

Blackshirt
10 Year Member
But what do the service academies do for major college football? Nothing. Doesn’t mean they have to give up their program but their absence from a big conference matters very little to the bottom line. And that’s what this will be about. MONEY. Tradition matters very little to CFB these days.

The dollars come from viewership. If we start picking the winners and losers and whittle down to 40 or 50, I suspect we will be left with a product that only niche markets care about anymore. That means that the dollars will end up being less, not more.

What if, for college basketball, it was decided that only teams from the P5 were eligible for the NCAA tournament? Would viewership go up or down? Certainly it would go down. The George Masons, Abilene Christians, Gonzagas, and Creightons bring a crap ton of viewers. If you cut out access to everyone except say the biggest 50 programs, you are decreasing overall viewership.

Let's take the Alabama/Auburn game last weekend as an example. Certainly those two programs are down a bit this year, but two traditionally strong college football powers. They drew 6 million fans. If you eliminate the Pac 12, Big 12, and ACC from college football, does that game still draw 6 million fans? I highly doubt it. If fans of teams in the Pac, Big 12, and ACC conferences are carved out, suddenly the only people that care about Alabama and Auburn are their own fans, and secondary interest from fans whose teams are in the SEC, and tertiary interest from Big 10 teams' fans. That's it.

So if college football cuts down to 40 or 50 teams at the highest level, you've effectively cut off a huge swath of fan interest, and ultimately, that does translate to dollars. It's called opportunity cost. What does an oak tree look like if you cut out all but the biggest 2 or 3 branches. It looks pretty silly, and then it dies. College football has 5-6 teams at the highest level, then another 10 below that, then perhaps another 10-15, and so on. But it needs the entirety of D1 to remain interesting and keep a national fan base engaged.
 
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lincoln84

Blackshirt
10 Year Member
The dollars come from viewership. If we start picking the winners and losers based on dollars alone and whittle down to 40 or 50, I suspect we will be left with a product that only niche markets care about anymore. That means that the dollars will end up being less, not more.

What if, for college basketball, it was decided that only teams from the P5 were eligible for the NCAA tournament? Would viewership go up or down? Certainly it would go down. The George Masons, Abilene Christians, Gonzagas, and Creightons bring a crap ton of viewers. If you cut out access to everyone except say the biggest 50 programs, you are decreasing overall viewership.

Let's take the Alabama/Auburn game last weekend as an example. Certainly those two programs are down a bit this year, but two traditionally strong college football powers. They drew 6 million fans. If you eliminate the Pac 12, Big 12, and ACC from college football, does that game still draw 6 million fans? I highly doubt it. If fans of teams in the Pac, Big 12, and ACC conferences are carved out, suddenly the only people that care about Alabama and Auburn are their own fans, and secondary interest from fans whose teams are in the SEC, and tertiary interest from Big 10 teams' fans.

So if college football cuts down to 40 or 50 teams at the highest level, you've effectively cut off a huge swath of fan interest, and ultimately, that does translate to dollars. It's called opportunity cost.
Dollars now ALSO come from sports betting. This far exceeds advertising revenue from viewership. This is why NBA owners could care less about ratings. They are getting a piece of the gambling action.

I am pretty sure the fan survey that was sent to season ticket holders asked about having a betting kiosk in Memorial.

Also, Creighton basketball is in the Big East—not Missouri Valley. They would not miss the tourney because of its conference. I also doubt there is big viewership for Creighton outside of NE. They should have a great year. I saw them in the tourney at MSG last year and NYC was not engaged with Omaha basketball. We will have their attention next March.
 

WestTexasHusker

Blackshirt
10 Year Member
But what do the service academies do for major college football? Nothing. Doesn’t mean they have to give up their program but their absence from a big conference matters very little to the bottom line. And that’s what this will be about. MONEY. Tradition matters very little to CFB these days.

I don't think we find out what they brought to the table until it's too late and we've we cut them out. Unfortunately, we don't know what real viewership ($$$) looks like in any hypotheticals. But I think it is far more than anyone realizes for the reasons I have laid out.
 

WestTexasHusker

Blackshirt
10 Year Member
Dollars now ALSO come from sports betting. This far exceeds advertising revenue from viewership. This is why NBA owners could care less about ratings. They are getting a piece of the gambling action.

I am pretty sure the fan survey that was sent to season ticket holders asked about having a betting kiosk in Memorial.

Also, Creighton basketball is in the Big East—not Missouri Valley. They would not miss the tourney because of its conference. I also doubt there is big viewership for Creighton outside of NE. They should have a great year. I saw them in the tourney at MSG last year and NYC was not engaged with Omaha basketball. We will have their attention next March.

I am using Creighton as a hypothetical. It's a highly successful basketball program in a non-P5 conference. If you cut them out of the picture because their following is mostly local and the viewership doesn't match KUs, does that impact overall viewership of college basketball? It sure does - there's a whole lot more Creightons out there than KUs.

Picking winners and losers solely on viewership is pretty risky. It assumes "all other things are equal" and that viewership is purely linear. Meaning, we cut out XYZ University because their total viewership percentage is only .2 percent of the total. So we will only "lose" .2 percent. Wrong. Faulty assumption there.

If you started excluding all of the mid majors from the NCAA, your viewership would be decimated. Most fans would lose interest. Of course, that isn't happening in basketball, and it shouldn't happen in football either. Not everyone can be a Alabama or Ohio State. Fair enough. But there's many years when a Cincinatti can give tOSU all they want, and that increases overall fan interest and viewership, not the other way around.
 
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lincoln84

Blackshirt
10 Year Member
I am using Creighton as a hypothetical. It's a highly successful basketball program in a non-P5 conference. If you cut them out of the picture because their following is mostly local, does that impact overall viewership of college basketball? It sure does - there's a whole lot more Creightons out there than KUs.
But with basketball, viewership is minimal compared to football in the regular season. I dont think March Madness is at the same risk of smaller schools with football. But we shall see. That tourney is such a money maker as it is, I don’t they would screw with it. But your concerns are valid.

I just think the genie is out of the bottle when it comes to cash grabs. We aren’t going back. We can only hope it happens slowly.
 

WestTexasHusker

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10 Year Member
But with basketball, viewership is minimal compared to football in the regular season. I dont think March Madness is at the same risk of smaller schools with football. But we shall see. That tourney is such a money maker as it is, I don’t they would screw with it. But your concerns are valid.

I just think the genie is out of the bottle when it comes to cash grabs. We aren’t going back. We can only hope it happens slowly.

Honestly, it's not that much different than it ever has been. Has Cincinatti ever rivaled tOSU in revenue? Has TCU ever rivaled Texas in revenue? How about lowly Oklahoma State? Does anyone realize that's among college football's winningest programs over the last 10 years? Lower $$ teams find a way to get it done, and that's what makes it all fun to watch. Cutting out everyone except the "Big cash" schools will result in a net loss for everyone. Perhaps things are becoming a bit more stratified, but there's a place at the table in big time college football for a hundred programs or more.
 
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lincoln84

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10 Year Member
Honestly, it's not that much different than it ever has been. Has Cincinatti ever rivaled tOSU in revenue? Has TCU ever rivaled Texas in revenue? How about lowly Oklahoma State? Does anyone realize that's among college football's winningest programs over the last 10 years? Lower $$ teams find a way to get it done, and that's what makes it all fun to watch. Cutting out everyone except the "Big cash" schools will result in a net loss for everyone. Perhaps things are becoming a bit more stratified, but there's a place at the table in big time college football for a hundred programs or more.
Those teams you mentioned are leaps and bounds from where they were 20 years ago. Success yes but money too. TCU and OSU are ranked Top 20 almost every year, sometimes top 10. They aren’t “little”. I dont think so anyway. And for big schools with lots of cash—like Texas—-haven’t really made that pay off in championships or even playoffs.

I could see big conferences including all teams but not with equal revenue sharing.
 
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