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For years, summer has been known as the Season of Talk in college football — the conference media days in July produce a flood of rhetoric from coaches and administrators as they prime the pump for the block and rush to come. But the past two seasons have also become the Season of Looting, with the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten making blockbuster expansions at the expense of the Big 12 and Pac-12. That, in turn, affected the nature of the Speaking Season.

Lately, the speeches of the conference commissioners have been more anticipated, scrutinized and second-guessed than anything the coaches have to say. With revenue at an all-time high and collegiality at an all-time low, the boardroom drama is more fascinating than the actual games. The direction of the entire enterprise of university athletics hangs in the balance, which is of more gravitas that the teams had the best offseason in the weight room.

We have now reached a lull—dare to dream, perhaps even a cessation—in realignment. We heard from each conference commissioner as they assessed the landscape. We’ve seen flexing from the SEC’s Greg Sankey and the Big Ten’s Kevin Warren. We heard about the brass business from new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark. We got a dose of push and perspective — melancholy and weak for some critics — from ACC chief Jim Phillips. And we got a mix of dismay and challenge from the Pac-12’s George Kliavkoff.

With the talking season over and poaching season on hiatus, where are we in college sports? Where has the realignment brought us, and where might it go in the future? Our round table of writers tackles six topics.

What is the Power 5 power ranking, and who ranks as the Best of the Rest?

At the moment – and we don’t know how long the moment will last – I have classified them as follows. This may interest you : Your opinion: is a major power shift possible in the United States?.

1. SEC. The Big Ten may squeeze a little more revenue from its media rights deals, but the SEC is both rich and winning all the football championships. Now, there is no comparison in the field. And the schools that add to the SEC (Texas and Oklahoma) carry a little more weight than what the Big Ten adds (USC and UCLA).

2. Big Ten. In the new Power 2 landscape, the premier coast-to-coast league is positioned to continue pulling away from everyone but the SEC. It’s a long way back to third.

3. ACC. The conference is, paradoxically, held together and held together by its never-ending media rights contract until 2035-36. The prohibitive cost of breaking the league’s franchise agreement has undoubtedly kept some schools out of the realignment market, but it has also created some angst regarding capped revenue. Will there be a push for an uneven distribution of income in the future? Phillips has his work cut out for him in terms of finding creative solutions.

4. Big 12. This could be a tie for fourth with the Pac-12, but the ties are a cop-out. The Big 12 has already shown it can survive a poaching of its top programs by making some savvy additions for 2023 (BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Houston). While the league doesn’t really have A-listers, the B-list is long and balanced — and not really upwardly mobile, which provides an odd level of comfort. Yormark showed some early flashes; can he strengthen with some strong moves to strengthen the position of the league?

5. Pac-12. The first indications are that the conference can keep its current 10 members, although the solidarity could only be as strong as the Big Ten’s appetite for further expansion. The Pac-12 also has several major media markets and niche late-night programming, which are good. But it doesn’t have much in the way of attractive expansion targets, and any further incursions by its members could prove fatal.

6. West Mountain. With the American Athletic Conference losing three top schools next year, the path is clear for the MWC to move up the pecking order to Best of the Rest. San Diego State has a new stadium and is the only Southern California program that belongs to a Western conference; Boise State is a perennial contender, while many other programs have had 10-win seasons in recent years. – Pat Forde

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Which schools hold the most power going forward? And which programs will decide what happens next?

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1. Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are the lever that can send everything spinning, or reinforce the status quo. The stubbornly proud independent blueblood is the top target for the Big Ten, but the Irish are hopeful (even confident) that they can earn enough revenue from their upcoming media rights deal with NBC to continue bolstering the conference that he longed for. time immemorial. If Notre Dame goes to the Big Ten, then Stanford could follow as their favorite, and that could hasten the demise of the Pac-12. Everyone keeps an eye on the Golden Dome.

2. Oregon and Washington. They will be the perceived leaders of the Pac-12 going forward, but they will also likely jump to the Big Ten immediately if an opportunity presents itself. For the time being, the Big Ten/Fox Sports appetite for the Pacific Northwest couple seems tepid, and there could be difficulties with the state legislature regarding the separation from Oregon State and Washington State. What deal they might ask the Pac-12 in their new media rights package—like a no-penalty penalty for the Big Ten—will say a lot about their true intentions.

3. Stanford. Its stand-alone athletic marketing is questionable—a disinterested fan base and dependence on Notre Dame illustrate the limitations. But academic credentials and Silicon Valley ties dwarf the students of university presidents. The Cardinal could be a wild card in all of this.

4. The big dogs of the ACC. This could be a decade down the road, when the exit penalties decrease substantially, but a few schools from this league eventually could be ready to move. It is believed that the Big Ten and SEC could be interested in North Carolina, which is an attractive brand that commands an audience in a populated state that is not currently part of the league’s footprint. Virginia also has some appeal. From a purely football standpoint, Clemson, Florida State and Miami have the most cache (dated as it might be for the Seminoles and Hurricanes).

5. San Diego State. If there is a Group 5 school that could fill a Power 5 need, the Aztecs and Pac-12 could have a marriage of convenience. Or not. — P.F.

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Who has the most to lose in this realignment chaos?

1. State of Oregon and State of Washington. Absent from many realignment rumblings are the folks in Corvallis and Pullman. I don’t see any reports linking the Beavers and Cougars to the Big Ten, Big 12 or any other league. Read also : 10 Best TV Shows to Watch on Amazon Prime Video This Month (June 2022). They are two of the lowest-resourced universities in the Power 5 that are located in small mid-sized markets and have little historical success in football. OSU and WSU will likely fall to the Mountain West if the Pac-12 implodes.

2. The Group of 5. With each wave of realignment, the Power 5 grows in size and, well, power. The moves of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC started a domino effect that resulted in UCF, Cincinnati, BYU and Houston moving to a Power 5 league. Their replacements in the G5? That would be FCS teams Jacksonville State and Sam Houston State, both joining Conference USA. USC and UCLA’s move to the Big Ten could trigger more such moves. The gaps between the haves (Power 5) and have not (Group of 5) continue to grow. Heck, the gap in the Power 5 is now an abyss. As one administrator recently assumed, “It’s become the Big 2 (SEC, Big Ten), Other 1 (ACC) and the Group of 7.”

3. Fans and families of athletes. Conferences were originally created because of their location. They connected similar universities with similar finances that stood in the same cultural and geographic footprint. They also provided fans and families with a fairly easy and affordable trip to watch their team/kids compete on the road. The realignment destroyed many regional rivalries, driveable road trips and, let’s be honest, just plain fun. USC is now in the same league as Rutgers. UCF plays in a conference whose headquarters (Dallas) is 1,100 miles away. And New Mexico State will be in the same league as Virginia-based Liberty. – Ross Dellenger

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Which network has the upper hand, Fox or ESPN?

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren is in the midst of negotiating a new media rights deal for the league.

Go ahead, it’s definitely Fox. While ESPN is the biggest chip on the table in the SEC (especially when it receives exclusivity in 2024), Fox is in a prime position to fight some of the place of control from the four-letter network. Fox now has Los Angeles in its pocket, but it has yet to earn a seat at the table if the College Football Playoff expands after the current TV deal expires. It’s clear that the Pac-12 and Big Ten want multiple TV partners involved in negotiations instead of just ESPN, which means that, in all likelihood, ESPN will have to somehow share the CFP with Fox. – Richard Johnson

What has been the best rumor of the past month?

Realignment is the silly season on steroids. Everyone who covers college football eventually misses out, and perhaps there’s no time when people throw more stuff at the wall than when teams move leagues. I was on vacation during the USC/UCLA rush and somehow missed what was a truly outrageous day on Twitter, which included a rumor that Virginia, North Carolina, Florida State and Clemson would be jumping to the SEC. It came with an additional “scoop” that ESPN was trying to cancel a 20-year deal with the ACC. – R. J.

Our best guess at what will be the next big move?

While the realignment appears to be on hold at the moment, it is unlikely to stay that way. Does that mean the Big Ten will add two more teams tomorrow, or will the Big 12 poach half of the Pac-12 by the end of next week? No, but the next three to five years are sure to bring more movement in the Power 5.

The Pac-12’s two biggest brands, Washington or Oregon, are unlikely to sign any kind of long-term contract to stay in the league. Three years? Maybe Six years? No way. If negotiations over the Pac-12’s new TV deal don’t go as planned, maybe we’ll see the Ducks and Huskies move, especially if (1) the Big Ten drops an invitation or (2) the TV negotiations of the Big 12 in two years will produce a more glamorous revenue figure.

However, the Big Ten seems willing to eventually expand again, and that means the SEC could respond with another expansion of its own, potentially reciprocating interest from a bevy of ACC teams that could challenge the franchise. of rights in exchange for a seat in. one of the Big 2. Buckle up. By 2028, the sport could be a structure of 40 teams, two conferences that perhaps operate as a semi-professional entity. — R.D.

• The Pac-12 is pressing forward• The 25 most intriguing coaches for this upcoming season• A Tweet revealed the difficulties of the CFB union• Power 5 Desirability Rankings by School

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