SEC Football: SEC can benefit from Pac 12 demise

(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

It makes sense for SEC football fans to have little or no interest in Pac-12 football. That is even more true with the move of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten.

Big 12 fans have good reason to be very interested in the current business affairs of the Pac-12. Big 12 powerbrokers can see the Pac-12 is ripe for picking.

The most pressing business item for the Pac 12 is a media rights deal. A quick review of media deals can be summarized by stating Big Ten schools stand to have $80M (and growing) in annual payments from media partners. Roughly the same amount will be coming to SEC schools after an adjustment from adding Texas and Oklahoma.

The 10 Pac-12 schools for the 2024 season are hoping for $40M each. They are having a tough time cutting a deal for half that number. There was hope a large streaming package could be gained. So far, neither Amazon nor Apple nor anyone else appears interested.

When Brett McMurphy tweeted that ION TV  had emerged as a media partner for the Pac-12, the most common response was. “What? Who” Is that really McMurphy?’

The tweet is apparently not a bad joke. Instead, it can be taken as a sign the Pac-12, as a Power Five has a short shelf life.

Expansion is the only real hope for the Pac-12. It is also expansion that is likely to destroy the conference. From a business perspective, Washington and Oregon’s potential moves to the Big Ten make too much sense to not happen. Even troubling for the Pac-12 is the Big 12 wants more teams. Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado would give the new Big 12 teams in four, time zones, well-suited to media schedules.

If Stanford and Cal do not also bolt to the Big Ten, a new Pac-12 could be those two, plus Washington State, Oregon State, and maybe Fresno State, San Diego State, Boise State and SMU.

Lesson for SEC Football

Will the SEC be compelled to add another two or four teams after the entry by Texas and Oklahoma? If it is, Greg Sankey and other SEC decision-makers should be mindful of an important distinction.

Last year, ESPN executive, Burke Magnus made an important statement.

"The amount of time we spend thinking about market size, it pales in comparison to the amount of time we think about rivalries. In college sports, it’s the rivalries. It’s the traditions. It’s the brands that really aggregate audience."

Many times it has been said that small media markets, such as Clemson, SC; Tallahassee, FL and Blacksburg, VA. would bring little media value as SEC football teams. At least one voice at ESPN knows it is best to forget market size and focus on building rivalries. That might be tough for Virginia Tech as an SEC football program, but Florida State and Clemson are perfect fits. The ESPN perspective explains why the Noles and Dabo’s Tigers would bring more to the SEC than Miami would in a major media market.

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Alabama football fans are not sure they want more SEC football teams than the 16 in 2024. Some number is too many. Hopefully, that number is not 16, and maybe is not 18 or even 20.