Expansion in college football continues to flourish, showcasing a relentless growth trajectory rather than showing any signs of diminishing. As we look ahead to 2024, two prominent conferences are set to undergo substantial transformations as they expand to encompass 16 programs each. The Big Ten will eagerly welcome the Pac-12 flagships USC and UCLA, while the SEC will bolster its ranks with the inclusion of Big 12 powerhouses Texas and Oklahoma. This expansion is just the initial step for the Big Ten, leaving us to ponder the potential addition of more programs in the not-so-distant future.
Renowned reporter Jim Williams has shed light on the Big Ten’s extensive evaluation process, revealing that 10 programs have been meticulously “vetted” for possible membership. While the list is presented in no particular order, it includes prestigious institutions such as Cal, Stanford, Oregon, Washington, Georgia Tech, Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Utah, and Miami. The Big Ten’s focus on westward expansion mirrors the ambitions of the Big 12, where newly appointed commissioner Brett Yormark fervently advocates for further territorial conquests, aiming to establish market dominance across all four time zones. Reports suggest that Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State are all prime candidates for potential inclusion in the conference, particularly if the Pac-12 were to dissolve due to its current predicament.
The Pac-12 finds itself on the cusp of a critical juncture as it approaches the final year of its existing media rights deal without a definitive plan in motion for future broadcasting rights. With uncertainty looming, several schools have already initiated inquiries into potential relocations to different conferences. However, as of now, no official decisions have been made, and the landscape remains subject to further developments.
Meanwhile, the ACC grapples with its own challenges stemming from the grant-of-rights deal. Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger reports that the conference is experiencing internal divisions, with seven out of its 14 member schools collaborating to meticulously examine the terms of the grant-of-rights contract. Spearheaded by powerhouse programs like Clemson and Florida State, this collective known as “The Magnificent Seven” is dissatisfied with the current agreement. Additional institutions, including N.C. State, Miami, UNC, Virginia, and Virginia Tech, have also been public in expressing their discontent with the existing grant-of-rights arrangement.
As the college football landscape undergoes seismic shifts, the anticipation surrounding expansion and realignment continues to captivate fans, institutions, and stakeholders alike. The possibilities are vast, and the future of college football appears poised for transformative changes that will undoubtedly shape the sport for years to come.