FOX Sports speculates on what college football could look like in 10 years
Major changes could be coming to college football in the next 10 years. Questions like “Will the Big 12 expand?” and “Will college athletes be paid?” will (hopefully) be answered, leading to a slew of new problems and opportunities facing those in charge of the sport.
Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports imagines a world in which the top football programs ditch their conferences and form their own 24-team super-conference. In this hypothetical scenario, the 24-team group would split into four divisions with six teams each and the top two teams in each division would make up an eight-team playoff.
Mandel’s conference includes eight SEC teams — Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M. Florida and Georgia are placed in the East Division with Florida State, Clemson, Penn State and Miami while the remaining six SEC schools form the South Division.
Boasting five of the last seven national titles, the South Division would basically be a more compact version of the current SEC West. Meanwhile, shifting to the East Division would increase Florida and Florida State’s rivalry and renew the Gators’ rivalry with Miami.
Mandel doesn’t get into what would happen with the schools that don’t make the 24-team cut, but the six SEC schools left out (Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt), once they got over the initial sting of being snubbed, could potentially join forces with schools like Georgia Tech, Memphis, TCU, Baylor and other former power-conference schools excluded from the playoff party.
The basis for Mandel’s hypothesizing is that several of the major conferences’ TV deals expire in the 2024-2025 time frame, which will open up a chance for top teams to explore opportunities to make more money.
Realistically, it’s unlikely that the conferences will simply let their TV deals expire. A more likely outcome will be something similar to what the NCAA did with CBS Sports and Turner for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, where they signed an eight-year extension only five years into a 14-year deal, ensuring the tournament will be aired on the CBS networks until 2032.
Still, though, imagining a college football landscape like Mandel’s is interesting. And while such a massive realignment is unlikely, crazier things have happened.
Be sure and read Mandel’s full article here.