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Georgia receiver Terry Godwin (5) South Bend, Indiana - Saturday, September 9, 2017 - The Georgia Bulldogs football team . . . . at Notre Dame Stadium. © 2017 Perry McIntyre.

Super Conference survival of the fittest: Winners and losers from Big Ten adding USC, UCLA

ATHENS — The rise of Super Conferences is the latest in a series of stages signaling the new era of college football is upon us.

It was inevitable, really, that a survival of the fittest would unfold after recent evolutionary stages of NIL and one-time transfers.

College football has become a big-time business with elite head coaches making $10 million a year and top assistant coaches at $2 million.

Private football buildings cost upwards of $80 million and are considered a “must” for championship-level programs.

The power programs can only soak their alumni and boosters for so much. This is particularly true with the swooning stock market making even the wealthiest of retirees do a double-take at how their fixed income relates to donations.

The answer and the culprit are the same: more money.

There are bigger TV contracts waiting for schools in the bigger conferences, and so the gold rush is on with Oklahoma and Texas leaving the Big 12 for the SEC last year, and USC and UCLA abandoning the Pac-12 for the Big Ten last week.

RELATED: Kirby Smart NIL vision indicates more Super Conference action ahead

As with any transaction, there are winners and losers.


College football

Some traditionalists might argue, but there is no alternative but to generate additional revenue to fund the cost of doing business.

Having advertisers foot the bill — there’s greater value in advertising when more markets are reached and the product is better — is better than significant increases in ticket prices or more games on Pay TV.

SEC and Big Ten

The conferences have separated themselves by adding traditional powerhouse programs that carry two of the top five television markets in the country.

The Power 5 is now the Power 2, and one could argue they need only regulate themselves in football with no further involvement from the NCAA needed.

RELATED: 3 burning college football questions from UCLA and USC move to Big Ten

CFP Expansion

A majority of fans demanded college football have a playoff system more in line with other sports, rather than a bowl system that cast a wide net and rewarded many.

So here we are, on the verge of the College Football Playoffs expanding to satisfy the majority and earn even more money and drive even higher ratings.

It’s inevitable the CFP field will double, if not triple, from four teams once the current contract is over in 2025.


Notre Dame

The Irish have had their own television rights deal with NBC more than 30 years, but the current contract expires in 2025 and Notre Dame will likely be forced to join a conference.

The Big Ten, reportedly, has reached out to the South Bend, Ind., school as it fits the nucleus of its geographical footprint and would secure traditional rivalries with Michigan State, USC and Michigan.

It would be quite a coup if the SEC could somehow lure the Irish away, as Notre Dame represents one of the richest rating gems in college football.

ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, Group of Five

The move to Super Conferences has stratified college football into even more layers, with the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 sinking into the middle-class ranks, while Group of Five schools have to reconsider their existence and goals at the FBS level.

The ACC can’t offer Notre Dame football enough money to join its league, even as the Irish have other sports that compete in that conference. The ACC TV contract stands at $240 million while the Big Ten is negotiating a $1 billion deal with Fox.

The Big 12 is gutted with Texas and Oklahoma leaving for the SEC in 2025. In 2024, USC and UCLA bring the nation’s No. 2 TV market to a Big Ten that already boasts schools in the shadows of the No. 1 (New York City) and No. 3 (Chicago) TV markets.

RELATED: USC and UCLA power move at hand, how it affects SEC

Bowl games

The Rose Bowl is the biggest loser of them all, but all of the bowl games as we know them are on life support.

The stadiums and logos will remain the same, but the conference tie-ins that once provided them with unique flavor will largely dissipate.

The playoffs, by their very nature, have already stripped away the layers of fun the bowl games once offered the players with unique outings and mutual team events.

The most recent 12-team playoff model included a first round of games to be played at teams’ campuses, further putting a dent into what was once considered of the most appealing features of college football.

Most non-revenue sports

The Super Conference schools will be in a great position to take care of their non-revenue sports with valuable television contracts expanding and providing opportunities for more exposure and NIL value.

Already, college baseball and softball enthusiasts in the SEC are salivating over adding WCWS juggernaut Oklahoma along with CWS teams Texas and Oklahoma, to the southern league.

But the majority of non-revenue collegiate sports programs are outside of the Super Conferences, and with their football programs taking a major revenue hit, there will be challenges to continue funding them.

Part of survival of the fittest is the elimination of the weakest, and in these cold, hard economic times, a sport’s health is determined by its wealth.

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