Outside those who earn paychecks from the NCAA, no one involved in college football is blind to the need for massive change. The SEC and the Big Ten have decided the NCAA is incapable of progress. School presidents and chancellors, along with athletic directors from the two conferences will follow Greg Sankey and Tony Petitti in an effort to remake college football. Other sports might be impacted as well, but what will drive future decisions is money and the motherlode is college football.
The new coalition portends bold action. But at the start, the group stated it will have "no authority to act independently and only serve as a consultant." Despite that careful framing, the reality is the two conferences have the power to fundamentally remake college football. One result might be the two conferences forming a new organization, outside the NCAA.
What is best for college football?
At this point, no one knows, but as Greg Sankey stated "We need to be dealing with the big realities." Sankey, Petitti, and others appear to have no confidence in the ability of the NCAA to provide solutions to the biggest problems facing college football.
In a news release issued by the Big Ten, it was stated the new alignment of the SEC and the Big Ten was needed because of "recent court decisions, pending litigation, a patchwork of state laws and complex governance proposals." Tony Petitti said the Big Ten and the SEC have a "similarity in our circumstances, as well as the urgency to address the common challenges we face."
Greg Sankey stated while the collaboration has shared interests, in the path forward "We do not have predetermined answers to the myriad questions facing us."
Inside a newly built NCAA derivative, or through a separate entity that controls the most lucrative programs in college football, change will occur. College football as it exists today is not sustainable. Action cannot be delayed for years. The task laid out by Sankey and Petitti is huge, but rapid progress must be made in months rather than years.
At some point, when a likely new organization is formed, Nick Saban would be the perfect choice to lead it. Saban has been warning the college football world for years. He has been right at every turn. If he can be persuaded to take such a leadership role, college football would be in good hands.