What you’re seeing now in college sports is a coup, plain and simple. It’s the overthrow of an NCAA regime that turned corrupt, stale, and ineffectual, a governing body that refused to adjust with the times.
The Southeastern Conference, smelling weakness, has attacked quickly. Five weeks ago, the Supreme Court knocked down the NCAA’s founding principle and economic engine, amateurism in college sports.
By stealing the University of Texas and Oklahoma University from the Big 12 Conference late last week, the SEC, and savvy Commissioner Greg Sankey, are executing a hostile takeover of the NCAA and making a bold statement:
“We’re in charge now. We are the NCAA. The South has risen.”
While other media outlets focus on what place Texas will finish in SEC football, it’s important not to miss the big picture: This is the greatest power play in American sports since Al Davis, Lamar Hunt, and the American Football League forced the National Football League to merge 55 years ago.
In terms of TV impact and cultural relevance, the new SEC might take a backseat only to the NFL.
The SEC’s acquisition of Texas and Oklahoma will hasten college sports’ Great Reset. The Big Ten, Pac-12, and ACC will be left scrambling to prevent this coup from becoming the Great Re-SEC.
As for the Big 12? Well, it’s done as a power player in college athletics unless it can find some way to stop this. Its desperate attempt to get UT and OU to reconsider their defections is likely going to be as successful as Kanye’s public weeping over Kim Kardashian. Khloe has a rearview mirror, not Kim.
There’s little for the Longhorns and Sooners to reconsider. They upgraded in a time of global upheaval. Change is on the way, and the SEC is going to be the biggest winner.
What can the NCAA do to stop this? The NCAA is finished, other than as a party host in a cocktail dress, throwing the NCAA Tournament basketball gala every year … as long as the SEC allows it to.
SCOTUS justices ignited this uprising, ruling unanimously that the NCAA can’t limit college athletes’ compensation to tuition, room, board and scholarships. Athletes can also get “education-related” benefits, such as a computer or an internship.
The NCAA is “not above the law,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote. “Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate.”
That will go down as the critical step in professionalizing college sports. Next up, athletes will be paid a salary.
Even more money will flood into college sports, directly to the athletes from outside influences. At first, that would seem to cut right into the heart and bank account of college football’s elite. Instead, as always, the rich simply knew how to get richer.
As Michael Douglas’ infamous character Gordon Gekko said in the movie “Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps:”
“The government’s worse than a wife. They got all the power and they got half the money. Now they’re working on getting the other half.”
The SEC wants the other half. How does getting Texas and Oklahoma constitute Gekko’s greed?
It is the gobbling up of two name-brand colleges from another major conference. The SEC is hoarding the nation’s blueblood programs, leaving only Ohio State and Michigan in the Big Ten, University of Southern California in the Pac-12, and independent Notre Dame outside its control. (You could argue the ACC’s Clemson and Florida State are major brands.)
In the new professional model, athletes can get endorsements. Alabama coach Nick Saban said that his 2020 backup quarterback, Bryce Young, has already landed close to $1 million in name-image-and-likeness deals. Athletes everywhere will be mining for the same gold Young struck in Tuscaloosa. Until the Supreme Court stepped in, endorsement money had to go to the colleges.
So in this new world of above-the-table professionalism, the big new money will go to the big-name athletes from the big programs. That means all the money will be funneling toward the SEC.
More money. More power. And the SEC is going to create a super conference much like the NBA super teams. Everyone else will fight for scraps.
What can the other major conferences do to protect themselves? They need to think and move, and expand, fast.
They are going to have to scavenge from each other. That likely means the Big Ten hanging on to Ohio State and Michigan and trying to fortify by going after USC and any other schools in major TV markets. Colorado for the Denver market? Arizona for the Phoenix market? Would Notre Dame consider joining?
You wonder, though, what else the SEC might be planning. Florida State and Clemson would be a natural geographic fit.
Meanwhile, the SEC has maneuvered its way into perfect position to make up all the rules as it goes.
You think the College Football Playoff expansion will be spread across conferences equally? The SEC will let you know what it decides. Maybe the SEC thinks there should be no limits on the number of football players on a roster? It has the money for that.
Just think, amateurism in college sports was supposedly about not being polluted by greed and big money. That was always such a sham, as college sports built into a business worth billions. The SEC shows what a shark can do.
Sankey recognized the crippling impact of the SCOTUS ruling and seized this unique moment, orchestrating a coup d’etat of college athletics. He saw the weakness in the NCAA, which no longer has a purpose or a mission, and executed the hostile takeover in a matter of weeks.
All the power, all the money. The regime change is all but done.
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Author: Greg Couch
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