By Ken Reed

We’re continuing to move to an endpoint of two super conferences in big-time college football, similar to the AFC and NFC in the NFL. Basically, we will have professional football on Saturdays and Sundays.

The latest College Football Playoff (CFP) deal reveals that two conferences now control college sports at the highest level: the SEC and the Big Ten. These two conferences are dominating college sports revenue and making it very hard for schools in other conferences to compete.

The conference revenue distribution under the new CFP deal is as follows: The Big Ten and SEC each earn 29% of the $1.3 billion total pot; the ACC gets 17.1% while the Big 12 receives 14.7%; the remaining amount will be distributed to Notre Dame (about 1%) and the 64 Group of Five teams (about 9%).

“The rich are getting richer,” said Bob Thompson, a former Fox television executive.

Looking at those numbers, it’s not too hard to see who’s running big-time college sports these days. (Hint: It’s not the NCAA.). The Big Ten and SEC will see their revenue distributions triple and maybe quadruple, from the old revenue distribution model, while the other BCS conferences are forced to get by on far less.

As Ross Dellenger wrote for Yahoo! Sports:
“The new revenue distribution model shook the college athletics landscape for its disparities. In the previous revenue structure, the power conferences split evenly 80% of the CFP’s $460 million in annual revenue and the G5 received about 19%. In real money figures, each power school earned about $6 million from the CFP in base distribution while G5 schools got about $1.2-1.5 million annually.”

The Big 12 and ACC will hang in there for a while but the financial gap between those conferences and the Big Ten and SEC will be too large for the Big 12 and ACC to compete long-term. That’s why the ACC’s Florida State is publicly saying they will do anything to get out of their ACC media rights contract in order to try and compete with Big Ten and SEC schools both financially and on the field.

“With the (new) CFP numbers, we’re now talking about being $40 million behind every year,” said Michael Alford, Florida State’s athletic director.

“You have two conferences out here (SEC and Big Ten) trying to forge a path best for them,” says North Texas AD Jared Mosley. “And there’s not been a discussion about what does that look like for everybody else.”

Everybody else? Everybody else will be left on the outside looking in.

The NCAA is dead in terms of having any real power. The Big Ten and SEC will shape big-time college sports moving forward. When it comes to today’s most important metric in college sports — money — the SEC and Big Ten can point to the Jumbotron and yell, “We’ve got scoreboard!”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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