The last week turned college athletics upside down and while nothing directly impacts the Syracuse Orange now, that hasn’t stopped everyone from wondering what’s next.
Here’s the reality, it’s mostly out of Syracuse’s control. Let’s break down some of the big topics and how they impact the Orange.
Pac 12 is done
As someone who suggested recently that the ACC could have benefited from the Pac-12’s status, it does feel like it’s a missed opportunity. We heard rumors that the ACC discussed adding a number of schools before Washington and Oregon officially joined the Big Ten, but those rumors also said the money wasn’t there.
If that’s the case, it’s not a big miss for the league. You don’t want to add schools and dilute the revenue shares because that’s the biggest issue facing the long-term health of the ACC. Is it worth adding Cal, Stanford, Oregon State and Washington State? Probably not now, but the two California schools do fit the ACC’s preferred institutional profile, so file that away.....Cal could get right back in this.
The Bigs get Bigger
Washington and Oregon bring the Big Ten to 18 schools. Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah bring the Big 12 to 16 schools. The Big Ten will likely hold now to keep the Notre Dame option available. Everyone is waiting for the ACC to implode next, but do we know the SEC really wants to expand further? The SEC couldn’t get their schools to add a 9th conference game for ESPN, are we sure they are ready to go past the 16 members they will have next year when Oklahoma and Texas join the fold?
FSU wants out
The Seminoles aren’t happy. They also have no out from the ACC’s GOR other than paying it. They aren’t getting to court to get out. They aren’t getting enough schools to leave in the next few years to blow up the ACC. They are actually thinking about private equity to buy out....and the ACC should let them. There’s no reason to do unbalanced revenue now. It won’t keep FSU or Clemson long-term. If the SEC wants them, they are gone....so let them pay out.
What happens then?
Let’s say both the BIGS and SEC all push to get to 20, that would 10 remaining spots. Which schools outside those leagues would fill those spots? Let’s say it’s worst case scenario for Syracuse and the ten spots go to: Notre Dame, Clemson, FSU, UNC, NC State, Miami, Virginia, Va Tech, Ga Tech, and Louisville. What happens then?
Well for everyone who wanted to be back in a basketball league how would it sound if you have Syracuse, Duke, Wake Forest, BC, and Pitt without a home. Now add AAC schools FAU, Memphis, Tulane, SMU, and Temple. I know some of you will say Navy or Charlotte but if you want television markets Dallas and Philly need to be included.
Is that enough to generate a competitive football league for the Orange, plus maintaining some basketball “juice”? What if Louisville is left out too? Would that be enough to get UConn to move? Would the remains of ACC consider a merger with the Mountain West?
Hard to tell. No one knows how these expanded leagues will function. They seem to assume television money will increase, but will it be enough to push these leagues to continue the expansion? What happens to the 12-team playoff or March Madness contracts? Everyone talks about 60 schools breaking away for football but can those 60 leave behind some major basketball programs to do so? And if they do would basketball contracts be enough for schools like Syracuse to maintain their current revenue? Five of the last eight MBB Final Four participants are not projected to be in the SEC or BIGS so there is definitely an attractive television package there.
There’s a lot of moving parts for sure, but the reality is that Syracuse isn’t going to end up folding up athletics. The Orange aren’t winning a national title in football no matter what, so being in a league with lower revenue doesn’t mean they can’t compete in every sport. Will it hurt attendance? Recent years seem to indicate fans show up for Syracuse teams that win more than anything, so who’s to say that fan interest goes away significantly.
Maybe you see sports like lacrosse become affiliate members in other leagues or maybe Olympic sports form more regional conferences to better fit their needs. A lot of the details will fall into place when football figures out what it’s doing.
The future may be uncertain but it’s not as bleak as some of you seem to think.