The college football’s shifting landscape is in a state of flux, with recent developments sending shockwaves through conferences and raising questions about the future of the sport. In the wake of the Big 12’s bold move to incorporate four former Pac-12 schools, the dynamics of college football are undergoing a transformation that reflects both consolidation and the unrelenting pursuit of financial gains. The college football regular season is all set to take place on August 27, 2023. The college football betting lines are expected to be up soon for bettors to start wagering.
Big 12 Expansion: A Current Look
The Big 12 conference, often at the forefront of realignment conversations, has opted to bolster its ranks by welcoming four former Pac-12 members: Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah. These additions have left many speculating about the potential for further expansion down the line. However, the Big 12’s recent decision to exclude Oregon State and San Diego State from discussions indicates that expansion might not be the immediate plan for these specific schools, as reported by The Athletic.
These changes have had cascading effects on the Pac-12, as several key members, including Oregon and Washington, have elected to join the Big Ten. This move has left the Pac-12 with only four members for the upcoming season, raising questions about its viability and potential future mergers with other conferences.
College Football’s Shifting Landscape: A Closer Look at the Schools
Oregon State, under the guidance of head coach Jonathan Smith, has been making strides on the football field, with a 10-win season bolstering its reputation. While the program’s recent success might lead to offers from other conferences, its current position remains uncertain.
San Diego State, on the other hand, has experienced some turbulence around realignment discussions. The school’s attempt to exit the Mountain West Conference was marked by confusion and disagreements over its status. Nonetheless, San Diego State’s location in California, a newly constructed football stadium, and successes in football and basketball make it an attractive prospect for potential conference shifts, particularly the Pac-12.
The Bigger Picture: Consolidation and Uncertainty
While often labeled as “conference realignment,” the current developments could be more accurately characterized as “college football consolidation.” This trend is driven by the quest for bigger television network contracts and financial opportunities, resulting in a landscape where few schools are immune to the possibility of being squeezed out.
The shrinking number of major college football conferences, from a Big Six to a Power Five and now potentially just four, showcases how quickly the landscape can change. The Big 12 and Big Ten’s recent actions to incorporate teams from other conferences echo previous instances of conference raids, such as the ACC’s poaching of Miami, Boston College, and Virginia Tech from the Big East.
What Lies Ahead?
As the landscape evolves, questions abound regarding the future of college football. The financial considerations for TV networks have created a situation where schools that do not hold the same drawing power as their counterparts might find themselves vulnerable. The allure of adding powerhouses like Ohio State and Michigan might prompt networks to reconsider investing in lesser-known schools.
The ongoing tension between conferences like the SEC and the Big Ten raises concerns about the longevity of current conference lineups. The ACC’s contractual commitments might provide temporary stability, but the dynamic nature of college sports suggests that nothing is set in stone.
Amid these changes, the NCAA finds itself addressing issues beyond conference realignment, as it navigates the realm of student-athlete compensation and eligibility. The ongoing discussion about the rights of college athletes and their ability to earn money highlights the multifaceted nature of challenges facing the NCAA.
As the dust settles on the current wave of college football realignment and consolidation, the sport’s future remains uncertain. The balance between financial interests, conference affiliations, and the rights of student-athletes continues to shape the landscape. The recent actions of the Big 12 and the broader trends in college football underscore the need for adaptability and proactive strategies by schools and conferences to ensure their relevance in a rapidly changing environment. The 2023-24 college football betting season is sure to be exciting with teams fighting to make a Super Bowl appearance.