In big news this week: The Big 12 is reportedly in intense discussion to add six members of the Pac-12. Oh, and the Pac-12 is reportedly eyeing a “loose” alliance with the ACC. Oh, and Notre Dame is reportedly…
you get the picture. In case it isn’t already clear, the dust of college reorganization is in the air and still nowhere close to settling. What does this mean for SMU?
For the better part of the decade, Mustangs have leapfrogged into a power convention, but have been unsuccessful. He pitched the Big 12 in 2016, only to see the convention oppose expansion. Then, when losses to Texas and Oklahoma forced the Big 12 into survival-mode expansion, the conference chose BEU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, and Houston instead of SMU.
After last year’s conference reshuffle, there was a feeling around SMU that the next wave would be the one that finally gave the Mustangs a big convention entrance. That wave is now here, thanks to the surprise move by USC and UCLA into the Big Ten.
SMU has recently held talks with leaders in Big 12, ACC and Pac-12, sources with knowledge of the situation told Dallas Morning News, Big decisions, such as the future of Notre Dame and the direction of each of the three conventions above, still need to be explored before SMU can potentially make a move, but there is internal optimism that the dust may eventually settle in SMU’s favor.
“You have to feel good about where we are,” a source said.
Where SMU is located is a major cause for optimism.
The most important factor in terms of realignment is TV. The Big Ten, along with USC and UCLA, is ready to cash in on its next TV deal. The Pac-12 extended its timeline to actively negotiate a new TV deal so that it could present solid evidence of future revenue to its existing members and potential newcomers.
According to Nielsen’s 2021 rankings, the Dallas-Fort Worth market is the fifth largest market in the country, transmitting to approximately 3 million total homes. For example, Los Angeles ranks second with over 5.7 million homes.
The Big 12 already have a presence in Texas and Dallas-Fort Worth, but what if the Pac-12 (disrupted by losing two schools in its biggest television market) and ACC (wanted to keep up with the Joneses, realigning style) ) Wanted to get presence in Texas?
In meetings with potential conferences, SMU must clarify how much of the market it can now bring with it and the potential for growth. The Mustangs’ biggest home attendance last season was 29,121 against North Texas.
Also, his biggest TV audience game was against eventual college football playoff participant Cincinnati (938K). In 2019, SMU’s biggest audience was on ABC in a top-25 matchup against Memphis. About 3 million tuned in that game.
With competition from an automatic qualifying conference, SMU leaders believe that number could increase. It is an idea that will take some time to sell and has been part of the Big 12 pitch that has failed, but this time there may be other options.
With the Big Ten being national, other conventions may have a chance to do the same. Dallas is approximately 1,100 miles from ACC’s headquarters in Greensboro, NC, and about 1,800 miles from San Francisco, which was the location of the last Pac-12 headquarters. Having a presence in Dallas can give the two a chance to spread their conventions without thinning themselves too much.
And having a presence in one of the most fertile recruitment grounds in the country won’t hurt those convention schools either.
Other factors can pitch SMU:
– $2 billion endowment fund
– in a top-70 school U.S. News and World Reportnational ranking of
– Plans for a $100 million final field expansion at Ford Stadium
One reason SMU leaders feel so optimistic is that they believe they are the best non-Power Five option remaining.
Q: Will a conference seek another non-Power Five school? If the Big 12 steals six members from the Pac-12, and Oregon and Washington find a way to the pot of Big Ten gold at the end of the rainbow, there might be some way of adding another conference from the group of five. Don’t be the reason ,
But what if the Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC can’t push members away from each other, leaving only a group of five substitutes as a point of improvement?
K John Wilner bay area newsgroups reported on Wednesday Oregon and Washington – two potential catalysts going forward – will have to choose between “making it work in the Pac-12” or joining the Big 12, with the preference being the former.
This could open the door for Group of Five schools.
If it does, some perspective on SMU’s potential competition: John Canzano bald truth faced This week reported that Fresno State, San Diego State and Boise State — in addition to SMU — had made inquiries with the Pac-12. SMU sits in the largest TV market among those schools. The other three schools also do not have Association of American Universities or R1 research affiliations.
Any Group of Five school that is making the leap will have to come up with a front-end discount in terms of TV deal payouts. This is one way to entice other conferences to add potential members.
SMU has been hoping to join the club for the past decade. People around the athletics program point to other private schools in Texas such as Baylor and TCU—a school with a similar enrollment—as examples of what Mustang programs might take if they were in a more prominent conference.
This time around, SMU is internally optimistic, although history has shown that anything can happen before the dust settles.
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