It's official: The B1G/Pac-12/ACC alliance is the dumbest thing in sports
For a few weeks, we have been hearing of a rumored “alliance” between the Big Ten, the Pac-12 and the ACC. Yes, those are the Power 5 conferences that are still relevant not named the SEC (yet another blow to the Big 12).
This week we got the official announcement about this new alliance and everything it entailed. And it literally entailed nothing.
Is nothing an unfair characterization? They did, after all, have a press release that listed things like strong academics, student-athlete wellness, social justice, gender equity and postseason formats. Nah, I think nothing is accurate.
Well, they probably signed some binding agreement that unites these great conferences for the foreseeable future come hell or high water. Actually, no. They literally signed nothing.
Instead, they looked each other in the eye and made an alliance. I’m not kidding. That’s literally what the ACC commissioner said: “It’s about trust. We’ve looked each other in the eye and made an agreement.”
The situation was tenuous, but thankfully they were able to follow up this bizarre non-alliance alliance announcement with a huge scheduling announcement that at least demonstrates the value of this coming together. Wednesday, it was reported that USC will be squaring off against Ohio State in Las Vegas to open the 2024 season.
Except, I just made that up. What really happened is that it was reported that USC will be squaring off against LSU in Las Vegas to open the 2024 season.
What?!? The first big scheduling announcement after the alliance announcement was between the marquee brand of the Pac-12 and the SEC’s LSU? This is incredible.
One day after “The Alliance” announcement, the Pac-12’s historic football power finalizes a deal to play an SEC team on ESPN/ABC in Vegas.
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) August 25, 2021
I’m really starting to think that these commissioners are screwing with us.
Is this all made up? Is it a distraction to try to make us forget that the Big Ten tried to cancel football last fall in the name of playing a spring season? Hint: We won’t forget.
I think we’re witnessing some of the greatest levels of incompetence I can recall in college football. And college football has been known for decades to have insane levels of incompetence!
The last year of college football is one of the wildest years perhaps in the sport’s history, and there’s a single champion of the past 12 months. His name is Greg Sankey.
Let’s consider what has happened. A year ago, the Big Ten canceled its football season. It made a massive miscalculation in assuming that the rest of the Power 5 conferences would follow suit, and the Big Ten would be recognized as the clear leader of the sport. But, then SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said (paraphrased), “Hey, the situation is fluid. Why not pause and just monitor things and stay the course? Why not do everything we can to still have a somewhat normal football season?”
Sure, it was still a challenging 2020 football season for all the reasons we are all aware of, but Sankey’s plan worked. By and large, it’s been deemed a big success. And because the Big Ten never knows what it’s doing, once it became evident that the SEC would play football, the Big Ten changed its mind as well and played football (kinda).
When the calendar year turned to 2021, Sankey was the undisputed leader of this sport. But Sankey was just getting started.
During SEC Media Days in July, reports surfaced that Texas and Oklahoma were interested in leaving the Big 12 and joining the SEC. Weeks later, it was official! From the first time we heard about this possibly happening to it being a done deal literally seemed like hours. We blinked in July, and all of a sudden the Longhorns and Sooners are in the SEC?!? What is happening?!
Out of nowhere, Sankey grabs two of the biggest brands in the entire sport and adds them to the strongest conference in the sport. He didn’t do this because he hates the Big 12 (though, he might? I don’t know him personally). He did it because he knows the future is all about having the strongest brands and the strongest programs in your conference.
Sankey is building his own house to withstand whatever the future brings. Playoff expansion. Pay the players. Streaming. It doesn’t matter what the future brings, Sankey’s SEC house can withstand any and all of it.
And his moves have the rest of the college football world reeling.
It has led the other conferences to scramble to consider expansion options. It has led them to hit pause on expanding a College Football Playoff field even though they were instrumental in moving toward expansion in the first place.
And of course, it led to the alliance. The dumbest thing in sports.