First, let me begin with a caveat.
Nobody knows exactly how/where we will watch college football in a decade and how that will effect the Power 5 Conferences. The fluidity of change in media distribution combined with new rounds of bidding for conference rights makes it impossible to see where it will end.
There are lots of theories floating out there, but a new one has popped up that deserves our attention.
The theory goes like this: media rights - and lots of people bidding for them - created the pot of gold up to now. The next round will begin as soon as two years when the Big 10 starts to entertain bids. The thought today is that there will be digital giants at the table this time (Google, Amazon, etc), but then again the cord cutting for the ad-supported networks might actually make college football more attractive to broadcasters.
I have been preaching for years that college football is on a pathway to have an ”NFL” style look. It might be around the corner. The NFL got rich by offering a limited product and selling it to the venders with the greatest ”reach” or potential audience.
That includes, ABC/ESPN, CBS, NBC and their digital platforms.Now media distributors think it could work on the collegiate level. ”Sports and full-reach broadcast is a combination made in heaven,” said media consultant Patrick Cates.
There is another factor -- paying the players. That could lead to further downsizing.
How would it work? One model has the Power 5 splitting into two groups, with 30 ”elite” programs, those with the history and resources to break off and have their own division.
It would be driven by brand value. You would have the NFL model where every Saturday the majority of games would be between these 30 teams.
The lower level of the Power 5 might get a team or two in the play offs, but they would not be a part of the major media contracts.
We can play the guessing game of who gets in, but Texas and OU are the only two in the Big 12 that would make the cut.
Something to think about on this off-weekend, and for the next 4 or 5 years.