What if college football took the powerhouse European football club lead and created a Super League of top programs? How would it possibly look?
College Football Daily Cavalcade: What if college football created a Super League?
Sorry if this take sucks, it’s not my fault …
There’s no truth to the rumor that UEFA will suspend the rest of this rant if I suggest how a College Football Super League might work.
If your team isn’t on here, direct all your anger and ire to #It’sNotGoingToHappen. But …
It was the world’s biggest sports story that didn’t get a whole lot of play here in America on a Sunday.
The biggest and strongest European soccer teams are close to creating their own Super League that would all but make the rest of various football club races irrelevant – or at least would deal them a brutal blow.
It’s the type of thing that’s been thrown out there from time to time in the college football world. What would happen if the biggest, richest, and most powerful college football programs decided to create their own high-end league?
What if the Ohio States and Alabamas decided they were done splitting revenue with the Northwesterns and Vanderbilts?
Remember, college athletics is a business just like any other sports league – it’s just wrapped up in the package of college campuses to make it seem like playing football is just another activity.
It could be argued that we already have a Super League format.
Realistically, there’s no way a Group of Five program – a school in the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West or Sun Belt – can get into the College Football Playoff unless something extraordinary happens, and if there is a team that’s good enough to get close, it’s an anomaly.
The Group of Fives can’t compete with the Power Five programs from a business standpoint, and even some of the Power Fives – like the ACC and Pac-12 compared to the Big Ten and SEC – have different revenue levels.
But let’s say the biggest and baddest athletic directors decided they’d like to trade it all for a little bit more. Let’s say that the TV and licensing opportunities would go through the roof with a true Super League of only the richest and most powerful programs.
Before going further, this isn’t going to happen – maybe.
It’s a tough sell for big-time football schools that consider a 10-2 season an abysmal failure to get ready for 6-6 – or worse – with a no-fluff slate.
But let’s say the big guys figure this out and do all the backroom, luxury resort retreat thing and put this all together.
Let’s riff off of what the superpower European football clubs are doing and blow off those who aren’t on the same economic level.
Let’s limit this to just 24 schools. Four divisions of six teams with five divisional games and seven interdivisional battles. Every game would be massive with the biggest crowds, the most talent, the most attention, and the highest-level of college football play ever seen.
The College Football Playoff would be the winners of the four divisions.
And everyone else? They’d still play and still do the college football thing, but it wouldn’t get as much attention and love as the College Football Super League.
Before you dog the idea, would it really be that much different than it is now?
Two things …
1) This would be for football only – a college basketball version of the Super League would be a whole lot crazier.
2) Remember, this is about MONEY. If your school isn’t on here, there’s probably an attendance issue, the revenue isn’t there, or both
The four six-team divisions in the CFN College Football Super League would be …
The big-name programs from the ACC would be here along with a few that bring in the cash.
Clemson isn’t the cash machine you’d think it is, but attendance is great and the recent success makes it obvious.
This is all about brand name and historical success. The attendance isn’t a given, but the program can hang with Clemson when it comes to revenue producing.
100% all on brand name. The licensing and history make Miami a must – the FSU rivalry gets bigger – but this isn’t the slam dunk you’d think it is.
If we’re really doing this, you have to do something to appease the basketball side of things in a political way. There needs to be a school from North Carolina.
Obviously. Notre Dame comes here with the Big Ten-heavy division all filled up with other ideas. This division needs a national anchor tenant.
It doesn’t really help the overall cause to have two teams from South Carolina in the Super League, and it really doesn’t help the division, but the Gamecocks generate a ton of cash – the attendance will always push for the top 15.
Next Two Options If Divisions Go To 8: Syracuse (MONEY – it’s one of the ACC’s more profitable programs and getting New York helps), Virginia or Virginia Tech (There realistically should and would be a Virginia team).
You want the biggest money-maker division of the bunch? Here it is. Massive attendance, massive alumni bases, massive revenue producers.
Flip a coin between Iowa and Michigan State. It’s not like the Iowa TV markets are huge, but the attendance is solid and there’s already one Michigan team in the division.
Attendance, attendance, attendance.
Forget that it’s been close to 20 years since Nebraska football was a thing – it’s a household blue-blood brand-name program that makes a whole lot of coin.
Penn State is right there with Michigan and Ohio State in the 100,000+ attendance club.
Ask someone 30 years ago if Wisconsin football would ever belong in some sort of Super League idea. Barry Alvarez created a monster.
Next Two Options If Divisions Go To 8: Illinois (It’s not a plus for the Super League to be without a team from Illinois), Michigan State (Should probably be there over Iowa).
It’s easier than you’d think to come up with the six SEC programs that would make up a division. All six programs are monsters in terms of business, all of them have big stadiums, and all of them print cash.
The fan base would have to get used to losing more than two games a year once in a while.
It suffers from not being Alabama, but the place actually generates as much football revenue – if not more – than the in-state archival.
Schedule-wise, the Gators would have games with Miami and Florida State, too
$, $, $, $, $. Forget the lack of big trophies; the program wins where it counts business-wise.
Part of the 100,000 club when it comes to average attendance, the on-field product isn’t bad, either.
Dog the results on the field all you want, but it’s as strong as anyone in the SEC business-wise.
Next Two Options If Divisions Go To 8: Considering South Carolina and Texas A&M are in other divisions, Kentucky (There might be some politicking to make the basketball side happy), Missouri (You’d like to own the region and get the St. Louis and Kansas City markets).
It’s the land of misfit programs, but it’s a powerhouse that would be among the most attractive to the TV types considering the gigantic media markets and half the geographic area of the continental United States.
It’s the only program other than Texas from the Big 12 that can hang in the revenue-generating column. That, and it’s Oklahoma.
It’s one of the Pac-12’s top money-makers, but there’s an attendance problem – Autzen Stadium isn’t big enough with just 54,000 seats. It would be the smallest stadium in the Super League by a mile.
The Greek God of college football revenue producing programs, Texas is at a whole other level and that’s a problem. It would probably have to take a pay cut to do this.
The SEC-based division is easily full, and A&M fits better with this group anyway. You need a third to go with Texas and Oklahoma.
Obviously USC has to be included, but it doesn’t quite bring in the coin you’d think. Better matchups would bring better crowds.
With a good-sized stadium and the fan base to fill it, Washington stands out from most of the Pac-12 programs.
Next Two Options If Divisions Go To 8: Colorado (Geographically, there isn’t a college football Super League school between Lincoln and LA if you don’t include the Buffs or Utah or BYU), UCLA (Yeah, you’d probably have to find a way to get the Bruins in this).