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College football will never be the same.
If Texas and Oklahoma enter the SEC, which, at this point seems like a certainty, college football will be thrown into chaos. With some talking heads declaring it the end of college football as we know it. Hyperbole? Maybe, but the ACC needs to make a seismic change in order to stay relevant.
The common scenario, and one I wrote about last week, is the ACC adding Notre Dame and staying with 15 teams. A lot of folks have also suggested the ACC should add West Virginia which at the surface seems fine but the reality is WVU isn't a big enough brand to move the needle.
Want to know why? The latest revenue report from Football Scoop sums it up
We already have 40% of the bottom 5, adding WVU brings down the revenue per school even farther.
The goal of the ACC is this: make a big enough move that you can renegotiate your terrible TV contract (that runs through 2036). That's it. That's the one goal. Notre Dame helps you do that, West Va. does not.
What option does the ACC have?
Pete Thamel mentioned on his pod that the ACC should look to combine the Pac 12 Network and the ACC Network into one 30+ team television network; The Coastal Conference Network (my suggested name).
The previous round of expansion was driven by cable companies and media markets but that model is dying. This new round of expansion will be driven by brands and streaming services. That's the biggest thing to keep in mind.
Only MIT mathematicians can understand media rights deals and their associated network but this idea of combining conference networks got me thinking, what if we the ACC and the Pac 12 combined into one network AND one conference.
Seismic Super-Conference Change
Again you have to do something big to give yourself leverage in the new era of college athletics and The Coastal Conference could be that thing.
This is how it could work.
First from a TV standpoint, if you actually put your leagues games on the network you'd have the ability to run games nearly 24/7 and coast to coast. With the ACCN being an ESPN platform and the PAC12N being on Fox, there are times lot and coverage flexibility and a helluva a lot of inventory.
From an athletics standpoint, you keep the conferences relevantly consistent. The ACC can add Notre Dame and another school (WVU maybe) and the conference then becomes a 16-team division (The Atlantic) of The Coastal Conference.
Meanwhile the Pac-12 adds 4-teams and becomes The Pacific division of The Coastal Conference. Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma St and BYU. Now I get Oklahoma St, Baylor and Texas Tech are not exactly "coastal" teams but that would be the best-of-the-rest that's available.
The (New) Atlantic Division
- Florida St
- NC State
- Georgia Tech
- Virginia Tech
- Boston College
- Notre Dame
- West Virginia
The Pacific Division
- Southern Cal
- Oregon St
- Washington St
- Arizona St
- Texas Tech
- Oklahoma St
Scheduling wise, it wouldn't make sense for teams to travel cross country often so you set the schedule up similar to the 2020 Pandemic Season. Play teams in your division with maybe one cross-conference game per year or even two.
To determine the winner you set up a mini-playoff with the top two from each division playing for the division title and a trip to the conference championship game.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this super conference setup is the matchups you could get. Outside of the random trip to the Sun Bowl, how often does NC State get a chance to play Pac - 12 teams? You could create a whole new generation of rivalries:
Battle of the Birds: Ducks (Oregon) vs Turkeys (Virginia Tech)
Cats vs Dogs: Wildcats (Arizona) vs Wolves (NC State)
Battle of the Books: Duke vs Stanford
The New Holy War: Deacons (Wake) vs Mormons (BYU)
Cowboys vs Indians: Oklahoma St vs Florida State
I'm sure some marketing gurus can do better than my 5-minutes of brain storming but you get the idea.
Competing with the Super SEC
With the battle for dollars being a brand game rather than a land game, how would this new Coastal Conference stack up vs the the Super SEC? Pretty well IMO. Maybe not 1:1 but as good as you could get w/o raiding the Big10 (richest of them all).
Coastal Conference would have the brands: Clemson, FSU, Miami, Notre Dame, UNC (ugh), Southern Cal, Oregon, UCLA, Washington among others.
Super SEC would have: Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Auburn, Texas AM among others.
In my opinion that's pretty comparable brand for brand. Not to mention that The Coastal Conference would be a far superior NCAA Basketball Conference with 7 of the last 10 national champions while the SSEC would have 1 (Kentucky).
It might be a crazy idea but The ACC and the Pac 12 both need to make dramatic moves in order to stay relevant and competitive with the Super SEC and whatever the Big10 plans to do.