End in sight? Paul Finebaum sets the ceiling for conference realignment
The idea of super conferences has intrigued some, and frightened others, depending on if you’re a fan, an athletics director or a commissioner.
But during a Saturday morning segment with Marty Smith and Ryan McGee on ESPN Radio and the SEC Network, analyst and host Paul Finebaum described what he views as the ceiling to conference realignment. McGee recalled a statement from former SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer, who predicted a decade ago that a conference like the SEC would ultimately skip over 14 teams and reach 16. But that was long before reports of Texas and Oklahoma potentially joining the SEC.
“I don’t think it can get too much larger for a very specific reason — money,” Finebaum said. “And Ryan, right now you have 14 schools sharing the pie. You add two more, they have to be guaranteed that not only will they make an extremely large amount of money, but everyone else won’t lose any. Once schools start making a lot of money, they only care about one thing, making more. So you have to be a little bit careful.”
Finebaum added that it’s possible the conferences could expand, “a little bit larger than 16,” but not too much larger.
“Then the challenge of schedules,” Finebaum said. “We’ve all sat there at these Media Days year after year and heard Nick Saban and others talk about going from eight to nine conference games. Why? Because you never see anyone. You can go your entire cycle at any school and not see someone from the other side, and if you add two more, that’s going to be even more problematic. There’s so many issues at hand, but I will say, and I’ve watched Arkansas and South Carolina and we all watched the last iteration with Missouri and Texas A&M, never have I seen anything like this though.”
Back around the time Kramer was commissioner, Finebaum recalled there being conversations about Texas and Florida State possibly joining the league, but, “this blows that away because of the magnitude of the two schools.”