In case you missed it, the Power 5 college football scene shifted again, with several Pac-12 schools jumping ship for other conferences.
Most notably, Oregon and Washington announced their intentions to join the Big Ten. Colorado is returning to the Big 12 and bringing Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah with them.
The Pac-12 is now a 4-Pac.
If you’re wondering what this has to do with Black College sports, I’ll gladly tell you.
As the SWAC is experiencing its healthiest years (athletically, academically, and financially) and the MEAC is looking to strengthen its prospects, both conferences and even the CIAA and SIAC at the Division II level should be mindful of the mass amounts of change that are happening with the formation of super conferences.
The trickle-down – or up – effect that could come from this mass realignment is more mid-major schools moving up, or in some cases possibly, moving down, giving the MEAC and SWAC more competition and will likely force some lower-tier D1 schools to rethink their positions.
“In this landscape, you always have to be cognizant of the landscape,” SWAC Commissioner Charles McClelland told HBCU Sports’ Kendrick Marshall at the conference’s football media day event two weeks ago.
Truer words were never spoken as the NCAA has opened a pandora’s box that is officially unable to close.
With the TV money being the sole motivation for many of these conference moves, a regional rivalry sport like college football has, for better or worse, entered a national atmosphere that will bring big dollars to the football and basketball programs.
The downside to that, of course, is that Olympic sports most likely won’t receive the same financial windfall.
Fortunately for the SWAC, they are already positioned nicely with the HBCU Go partnership, and with several more games and events scheduled for the ESPN family of networks, they can rightfully live up to the commissioner’s claim of being the preeminent Football Championship Subdivision conference.
The MEAC’s Celebration Bowl partnership, as well as several appearances on ESPN, help stave off any talk of that conference dissolving.
However, all four HBCU conferences should keep this thought in mind:
As schools like Rutgers and Vanderbilt are likely going to be looked at as freeloaders from the Alabamas, Georgias, Ohio States, and Michigans of the world, their partnerships with the Big Ten and SEC likely won’t be long for this world.
Those schools probably won’t completely forgo competitive athletics, so the question would be, is there a world where Rutgers, Vandy, and the like could move down to an FCS level?
Seems like a silly question, but considering we now have several Division 1 conferences spanning multiple time zones, silly is just a part of the game now.
If some Power 5s or mid-majors find themselves priced out of the College Football Playoff, then the FCS could be their safe haven at the expense of programs that have been athletically successful and financially stable at that level.
It will be imperative for FCS, Division II, and Division III schools to form alliances and create plans just in case the greed of the one percent (sound familiar?) ruins the entire college sports experience for everyone else.