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Jumbo Package: The for-profit, venture capitalist-created conference is a lot closer than you think

Yep. Blame the playoffs for this monstrosity too.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 07 Big Ten Championship Game
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany.
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I regret to inform you that Tommy Tuberville may actually be correct about something for once.

Speaking on Tide 100.9 yesterday, he said this about NIL:

“We have a number of people in legislation who really don’t care,” said Wimp Sanderson, “and a number who really don’t understand.” Sanderson asked Tuberville the likelihood that the law will actually pass.

“I think we’ve got a chance,” said Tuberville, noting that at this point it’s “just a sales job.” He described how he and Joe Manchin (Democrat, West Virginia) have spent a lot of time talking with people on both sides of the aisle.

A big part of these talks is spent just explaining the problem, Tuberville explained. “Most of them have no clue what’s going on.”

Republicans seem to understand the problem “a little bit more” though, Tuberville noted.

It’s not really a surprise that legislators from GOP-leaning states tend to see the NIL issue with more clarity. You gonna’ trust someone from Ohio or Connecticut on this one? Oklahoma or California?

Full interview here.

I’ll say this for Charlie Baker, new head honcho of the NCAA: He’s utterly unafraid to wade into controversial waters and call out even his own member institutions when he sees poor decisions and the fabric of the institution being torn asunder.

“I share concerns about the impact that the recent spate of conference realignment activities will have on student-athletes’ well-being,” Baker said in the statement. “The recent conference moves highlight what I found during my review of the issues facing the NCAA – the growing gap between well-resourced Division I schools and the rest of the division is highly disruptive for all of DI and college sports overall. I believe DI university and college presidents, commissioners and the NCAA should work together to explore ways to address the impact this growing gap is having on student-athlete well-being and the competitive equity issues across the division.”

As SI notes, this was a first:

It’s unusual, if not unprecedented, for an active NCAA president to comment critically on realignment moves within the association’s membership. Baker and the NCAA have no official role in conference membership, so his ability to impact what’s happening in that realm is limited. But his concerns echo much of what has been said in the aftermath of the raiding of the Pac-12, which aroused a coast-to-coast outcry. These are massive decisions that will affect member schools and their athletes for years to come, with seemingly little regard for anything other than increased profit.

What remains to be seen is whether this pushback is because of the welfare of the sport, or rather the NCAA losing fraught control over the Power Five, as they race towards the bottom for a few extra bucks from ESPN — and towards a parallel institution for major football-only.

I suspect it’s some of Column A and Column B.

The irony in all of this, is that the conferences were nuked from orbit for a few extra playoff dollars. But, with the rise of the Super Conference, that 12-team CFP format has become all-but obsolete. The leagues will need to evaluate it, not only in terms of dollars, but also autobids and the like.

“I think it is wise for us to take a step back and reconsider what the (playoff) format might look like, given these changed circumstances,” Sankey said Tuesday on the Paul Finebaum Show. “We have not met on that [topic], and I have not had any meaningful conversations, but I think we have to acknowledge that it is on everyone’s mind, pending the outcome of some of these membership movements .... Right now, we still have 10 FBS conferences, but there are obviously questions on whether or not that will remain. And yeah, that could create a thought in my mind and in others’ of some level of adjustment being made.”

I suspect with uneven conferences, divisionless leagues, and rapid reshuffling, we’ll get something like the top 16 teams, with very few set asides — oh, sure, some crumbs will trickle down to the lower levels, but the prior model plainly won’t work now.

But, wait, there’s more!

If you think our Late Stage Capitalism hellscape isn’t bad enough, why not introduce some venture capitalists into the equation and have them essentially manufacture a conference out of whole cloth!

The conversation — a notably preliminary one — took place in December 2022. Around a table were venture capitalists and private equity types. The super-rich don’t get that way sitting on their assets. They plan. They innovate. They create change; they don’t wait for it.

So, at some point in the conversation, the question was posed: What would it take to “buy” a conference, invest at the base level of college athletics itself?

After some noodling, they agreed: $1 billion.

There’s even a conference out there that would be available. You haven’t heard of it. Nobody has. It resides in the mind of media consultant Patrick Crakes. He was the one speaking with those investors who are beginning to see great potential in reshaping college athletics.

“Take $1 billion and roll up all the best teams into a new conference,” said Crakes, who spent a quarter century as an executive at Fox Sports. “The best ones you can find who will go. Four or five from the Pac-12. Four or five Big 12 schools. Four or five from the ACC. Maybe there’s a Big Ten or two that comes. You’ve got a conference.”

I cannot tell you how horrifying this idea is: both in substance, and in the fact that it most certainly is going to happen sooner rather than later. Bank on it.

In the “water is wet, sun rises in the East”-category, Nick Saban reemphasized that the QB competition is going to be an ongoing affair. Game reps are going to matter, not just snaps in fall camp:

Alabama’s starting quarterback remains to be determined, and that could extend beyond training camp, according to Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide have a three-man competition between Jalen Milroe, Ty Simpson and Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner.

“I’ve told our quarterbacks you know fall camp is not the beginning of the end,” Saban said at Alabama media day, via Rosie Langello of WSFA 12 News. “You know, you got an opportunity to separate yourself to show that you can play with consistency and play winning football at the position. But that competition goes on and on and on.”

Buchner added depth to the room when he left the Fighting Irish for the Crimson Tide, taking the same route as offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, who coached Buchner in South Bend, Indiana.’

This feels so much like 2015, that is it is unreal — deep running back room, decent OL with some question marks and new faces, so many nondescript QBs all vying for playing time, athletic tight ends, potential freshmen superstar defenders, raw talent on the inside at DL, wide receivers facing many questions, and just not much expected out of them.

All we need now is a Heisman winner and a national title, huh?

‘Bama baseball snagged a huge RHP from Texas yesterday. And, yes, we mean huge.

This is great news. You can never too many quality arms in the bullpen. And, if he’s as-advertised, then Pierce George will be in the starting rotation before his bags are unpacked.

Unrelated to ‘Bama, as of now at least, but keep an eye on this: In January, the NCAA announced it was going to crack down on multiple transfers, and allow immediate eligibility only in very limited circumstances. True to their word, the NCAA has denied waivers to two big-time pickups at UNC and FSU, leaving these portal players in limbo.

Before, players could apply for several reasons, including things like lack of playing time. But the NCAA’s new guidelines for multi-time transfers allow for waivers in only two circumstances:

1. A physical injury or mental health condition that led to a transfer.

2. Outside circumstances, such as physical assault, that clearly necessitate a departure.

Taken in tandem with new NCAA rules that require a school to keep a transfer on scholarship through their graduation, and there’s been a clear effort to limit player movement following their use of the one-time undergraduate transfer exemption. There’s even a “MT” tag listed in the NCAA’s transfer portal system now, per a source, that denotes if a player has transferred more than one time.

The object is plainly to reduce the practical effect of creating one-year free agencies, tampering and the like. Besides, everyone knows: that’s college basketball’s job!

Just like Punxsutawney Phil emerges every February to predict six more weeks of winter, so too does Danny Kannell emerge from his hovel to drop yearly claims of SEC Bias:

Danny Kanell has an issue with the just-released coaches poll.

How is LSU ranked ahead of Florida State?

The two teams had identical record last season. And, of yeah, the Seminoles beat the Tigers 24-23 last year, too. Take into account LSU got blasted by Tennessee and lost to a sub-.500 Texas A&M team in 2022, and it smells like good, old-fashioned bias to Kanell.

“Why is LSU ranked ahead of Florida State other than anything but a brand bias towards LSU and the SEC?” Kanell questioned.

Of course, this will all work itself out when the two teams clash on Sept. 3. “And this is where if LSU beats Florida State, LSU fans will have a field day,” he said.

Here’s the rub, though. In this case, I think he’s right. Oh, not in substance necessarily, but as-applied. Last year, FSU won the H2H; they won more games than LSU; they return more starters than LSU; and they have a smoother schedule. LSU is a borderline Top 10 team, sure. But they were closer to 7 wins last season than 10. And I don’t think they win the rematch in Orlando this year either.

So, prepare for the companion tweet-storms to follow soon: “SEC Overrated.” And that is almost certain to happen if, as could very well be the case, Alabama loses at home to Texas the following week. Two tent poles; two big OOC losses. That’ll make Greg Sankey dyspeptic.

Especially after he trolled the Big 10 yesterday...

“We have this contiguous group. We don’t need to be in four time zones to generate interest on the West Coast,” Sankey said.


Yesterday, Nick Saban sent the Gumpjet winging to Houston to pick up a very special guest speaker to come and address the team about a problem that I have increasingly been howling about: gambling.

Sounds great, right? There are major wagering scandals shaking out at Iowa and Iowa State as we speak, including players betting on games for their teams, that they played in. Alabama has not been immune either: both Calvin Ridley and JaMo have gotten in trouble with the Shield for gambling, as well. (Though, I will go to my grave maintaining that Williams’ suspension was BS).

So far, so good, right?

Well, it was until you realize the speaker was none other than Pete Rose — America’s most infamous gambler since Wild Bill Hickok.

Look, on one hand I understand that if anyone were going to be positioned to talk about how gambling can cost you everything, then there is absolutely no better speaker in America than Charlie Hustle.

On the other hand, this could be seen as a wee bit tone-deaf from a school that literally just fired its baseball coach for betting on baseball games involving his team, and helping to abet others to do the same.

Hell, Brad Bohannon probably needs the money. Give him a call.

He has a few burners, I’m told.


Pete Rose talking to the team about gambling was...

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Bad idea after Coach Bo’s chicanery.
    (30 votes)
  • 68%
    Good call. The man knows about losing everything to gambling.
    (440 votes)
  • 26%
    Probably good in substance, but lord, that was tone-deaf
    (168 votes)
638 votes total Vote Now