College football, and college athletics in general, have been chaotic in the last couple of years to say the least…
The introduction of student athletes being able to profit off of their NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) paired with the unregulated and sporadic conference realignment that has taken place across the country has dramatically changed college sports as we know it. As of right now, there isn’t really a “Power 5” anymore, since the historic PAC-12 conference has basically dissolved in real time.
The last couple of “big name” schools that were holding on in the PAC-12 were Stanford and the University of California, which is commonly referred to as Cal. Oregon State University and Washington State University were the only other two schools left besides them, and now those two state universities have been abandoned with the most recent news out of the ACC.
If you aren’t super familiar with college conferences and their acronyms, the ACC stands for the Atlantic Coastal Conference, as in a conference that is primarily based on the East coast (as in the OPPOSITE of California).
The PAC-12 obviously stood for the Pacific Conference, since most of their geographical footprint was located on the West coast.
And now two of those PAC-12 schools, along with a school located in Dallas, Texas (SMU), are making their move to the ACC in 2024.
Jim Phillips, the commissioner of the ACC, said in a statement regarding the move:
“We are thrilled to welcome three world-class institutions to the ACC, and we look forward to having them compete as part of our amazing league.”
The ACC welcomes Cal, SMU and Stanford to the league in 2024!
Conference names used to make sense, but at this point, the lines have been blurred to the point of no return. The first group of schools to leave the PAC-12 were Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and then shortly after, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah also fled to different conferences.
Those teams have now joined the likes of the BIG 10 and the BIG 12, which have historically consisted of teams in the Midwestern United States.
There was hope that the PAC-12 could rebuild with a core of the four remaining teams, but Stanford and Cal’s exits drives the stake through a heart of a conference that was already on life support.
The Power 5 has pretty much turned into the “Jam-Packed 4,” with the ACC, BIG 10, BIG 12, and SEC now each having at least 16 schools in their conference. While the decisions to create these “super conferences” makes sense financially (and it’s without a doubt all about the money), the logistics of the conference shifts makes no sense at all.
Most of these leagues are now cross country conferences, whereas before they were generally limited to a specific region of the United States. Football and basketball teams with seemingly unlimited funding will have no problem traveling to their competitions, but basically every other sport that schools sponsor might be facing miserably long bus and van rides.
Plus, fans that used to be able to take a roadtrip a couple of hours down the road to watch an inter-conference matchup might now be faced with a cross country flight to get to a game, and fan bases simply aren’t going to do that.
College sports has always been about the passion of the players and the die-hard fans supporting them, but spreading out conferences like this will certainly diminish the student-athlete experience and the fan’s ability and access to support.
It’s going to make a ton of money though, and isn’t that what it’s all about anyways? At some point we’ll probably just have conferences called “ESPN” and “FOX Sports” and we’ll stop tip-toeing around why schools are doing all of this…