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Big Ten, SEC separating themselves even more from other conferences

The Big Ten’s move to add USC and UCLA “feels like the last dam has broken” in the college sports landscape, as the Power 5 conferences are “rapidly splintering into the Power 2” -- the Big Ten and SEC, according to Stewart Mandel of THE ATHLETIC. Both conferences were “already on course to separate from the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 financially, but now they’re pilfering those conferences of their most valuable assets.” Mandel: “The bus is leaving the station, and if you’re not one of the 32 schools holding a ticket, you better run to the counter as fast as possible” (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/30). SI.com’s Pat Forde noted the college sports is “entering the long-anticipated, much-theorized era of two megapower conferences, the Southeastern and the Big Ten.” Their recent expansion moves have “widened the chasm between them and everyone else” (SI.com, 6/30). USA TODAY’s Paul Myerberg writes the “unofficial gap between the haves and have nots will have a clear line of demarcation.” Myerberg: “The future of college football is clear: two super-conferences will be centerstage” (USA TODAY, 7/1). In Newark, Steve Politi writes, "That is where we’re headed in college sports now. Either you’re in the Big Ten or the SEC, or you’re A) trying to get there or B) headed toward irrelevance. Or, most likely, a combination of both" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 7/1).

REVENUE FAR EXCEEDS OTHER LEAGUES: In Denver, Matt Schubert writes if it “wasn’t clear before Thursday, it is now: College sports is now the Big Ten and SEC, and everyone else.”  Both conferences “exceed everyone else in revenue by a significant margin, and the addition of UCLA and USC promises to only expand that gap” (DENVER POST, 7/1). USA TODAY’s Dan Wolken notes the new world of college sports will have “two castes: The SEC and Big Ten, inhaling television money like oxygen, and everyone else trying not to suffocate.” The gap between those two worlds “will be massive, and everyone who can get to the other side will do whatever it takes to make that happen” (USA TODAY, 7/1). YAHOO SPORTS’ Dan Wetzel wrote this is the “next step in the evolution to a smaller, rich superconference setup at the top.” The Big Ten and the SEC “have television deals that dwarf the competition,” while the Big 12 and Pac-12 “are now gutted.” Meanwhile, the ACC is “being held together by its comparatively low-paying, but lengthy media contract that runs through 2036.” The deal “grants each school's media rights to the conference … untouchable.” Wetzel: “For now. At least we think” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/1).

COULD THEY GET EVEN LARGER? In Baton Rouge, Scott Rabalais writes it “does appear that college sports, or at least big-time college football, is starting to coalesce around two hugely magnetic poles.” The Big Ten and SEC “hold the most sway in college football” and appear “poised to distance themselves from the other three Power Five leagues.” Rabalais: “Many folks in the college sports world think we’re heading, at least with college football, toward some sort of super-league setup. Something containing 30 or 40 or 60 schools” (BATON ROUGE ADVOCATE, 7/1). In Oklahoma City, Barry Tramel writes if the SEC and Big Ten “keep expanding to 20 or 24, the other conferences are goners in status and will be relegated to a lesser class officially” (OKLAHOMAN, 7/1).

HEADING TOWARD NFL LITE? In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan writes college football is “about to become semipro football based in two conferences, much like the AFC and NFC, only featuring the SEC and Big Ten.” Souhan: “What's most likely to happen is the Big Ten and SEC continuing the college football arms race, leading to even higher salaries for coaches and athletic directors while Johnny Football shreds his ACL for school pride” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/1).

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