Though the conference realignment of power conferences such as the SEC, Big Ten and PAC-12 is a great idea for their own program, it hurts the smaller programs such as our own Sun Belt.
There is no doubt the benefits for the power schools are great — including increased revenue and viewership — but the aftermath is not great for the teams left in the Group of Five.
How does this internally affect the Group of Five? With big team schools leaving, those previous conferences have vacant spots that need filling to keep their program running.
To fill these spots, many conferences look at the dynasty Group of Five schools to invite. Don’t get me wrong. If Louisiana got the invite to a power conference or simply another conference, I would hope they would take it.
With this said, that is the problem. Many schools are looking to jump ship at the opportunity for a new conference, or perhaps just leave the one that they have outgrown for the chance of increased ratings.
Some examples would be Boise State, BYU, Cincinnati, UCF and Houston. The Group of Five schools are officially joining the Big 12 and leaving Group of Five. These dynasty football programs brought a lot to the table when discussing Group of Five schools.
All the conference realignment in college football reminds me of the highly controversial soccer club “realignment” in Europe. For those who are not familiar, some of the clubs who generated the most revenue wanted to leave the ones they are to form their own “superleague.” The sole purpose of this is to generate more money.
While I can not blame any owners for wanting to make money, I can put the blame for how it hurts the other clubs. European soccer fans were outraged at the thought of this and the idea was eventually shut down.
This scenario is too similar to American college football. There are many teams who generate a lot of money moving into conferences with themselves and leaving the smaller teams in the dust.
I do think the conference realignment will end eventually, but what it will do to the Group of Five is catastrophic. Viewership is going to drop down to die-hard fans and the niche of smaller schools.
One solution would be to create a Group of Five championships that is separate from the college football championship. Doing this would keep the competitiveness and keep the Power Five viewers watching the Group of Five.
Cincinnati is getting close to achieving the college football playoffs and could achieve the brackets this year, but there is no telling what the future holds against powerhouse schools such as Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State.
Having a separate Group of Five championship would create an opportunity for a Group of Five school to win a college football playoff championship as well as a more competitive game with the schools that are left.
Another solution would be to expand the college football playoffs. The expansion would allow for more teams to participate as well as give Group of Five schools more opportunity, revenue, and exposure.
The conference realignment within college football is not good for smaller programs. The realignment promotes big schools making money and smaller schools being left in the dust.