A few thoughts to jump start your Saturday morning.
THE MOST VALUABLE TEAMS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Forbes Magazine has revised its rankings of the 50 most valuable teams in college football. Not surprisingly, Texas remains number one with an assessed value of $875 million. The Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons not the NFL are valued at less than Texas. Rounding out the top five collegiate teams are Notre Dame ($811.5 million), Michigan ($685.5 million), Ohio State ($674.8 million) and Florida ($660.8 million). That’s followed by Oklahoma, then four SEC teams – Alabama, Georgia, Auburn and LSU – to round out the top ten. In the top 20 from the SEC are Tennessee (16), South Carolina (17) and Arkansas (18). Southern Cal (15) is the highest valued Pac-12 team while Florida State (22, $277.9 million) is the highest from the ACC. Miami made the list at #35 at $180.8 million, just behind Ole Miss. Also from the SEC, Texas A&M made the list at #21 while Kentucky was #37 and Mississippi State made it at #50.
THE MOST HIGHLY VALUED CONFERENCE
With 11 of the 37 most valuable college teams and 12 of the top 50, the Southeastern Conference is the most highly valued conference. Forbes says its 12 top 50 teams have a combined net value of $4.685 billion dollars. The Big Ten ranks second at $3.843 billion. Then the gap narrows considerably. The Big 12’s eight top 50 teams are valued at $2.714 billion; the Pac-12’s 10 top 50 teams are valued at $2.249 billion and the ACC’s eight top 50 teams are values at $1.446 billion.
FLORIDA IS STILL BIG BROTHER
The fine folks whose alma maters are located in Tallahassee, Miami, Orlando and Tampa will cringe at this statement but it is indeed true – Florida was, is and will always be big brother. The Forbes ratings only reinforce that fact because the Florida franchise is more valuable in dollars and cents terms that FSU, Miami, UCF and USF combined. A substantial portion of that value can be attributed to Florida’s position as a charter member of the Southeastern Conference. Although they were invited late to join the SEC party, both FSU and Miami chose the path of least resistance. No matter how much football success they have, they are second class citizens because the ACC will never be in the same league top to bottom with the SEC.
PERCEPTIONS ABOUT UF IN 2014 MOVING ON UP
In ESPN’s most recent all too early preseason 2014 top 25, Mark Schlabach places Florida at #23. That kind of ranking would mean that expectations are the Gators will go something like 8-4 or 9-3, which is not an unrealistic expectation given a schedule that includes LSU, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State. Perceptions seem to be changing nationwide since Will Muschamp hired Kurt Roper as his offensive coordinator and added Mike Summers to coach the line. As long as Muschamp is the head coach, the expectation is that the Gators will field a strong, competitive defense. Other notable rankings: 1. FSU; 3. Auburn; 4. Alabama; 8. Georgia; 11. South Carolina; 12. LSU; 13. Ohio State; 15. Texas A&M; and 22. Texas.
THE BIG BOYS WILL MAKE THEIR OWN RULES
There is plenty enough support at the NCAA Convention for the 65 schools in the five power conferences (plus Notre Dame) to get their own subdivision where they will have the autonomy to make their own rules. An unofficial straw poll before the big vote showed 58% of the delegates would vote to make provisions for the power conferences. The big boys say the reason they need the autonomy is because they’re tired of non-football schools and schools with little to no emphasis on football in Division I having a say in how they conduct their business and to some extent it’s understandable. Why should a non-football school have a say in how many official visits a prospect can take or if there are athletic dorms and training tables for three meals a day? At the same time you have to wonder what happens without the checks and balances that are in place provided by the smaller schools?
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT PAYING PLAYERS A STIPED
For all the talk about paying athletes a cost of college stipend that goes beyond the standard room, board, tuition and books, the decision to form a subdivision that operates under its own rules has plenty to do with things like athletic dorms, training tables, early signing periods and streamlining the recruiting rule book. It will be interesting to see how the big schools go about instituting these changes without creating a wild west anything goes mentality and equally interesting to see how the rest of Division I reacts. Can those other 60 teams afford to play by separate recruiting rules, for instance? The difference this time will be the teams at the top make the rules and the schools at the bottom half of the economic spectrum will follow suit.
THE GOLDEN RULE
When it comes to college athletics, it is obvious that The Golden Rule applies – he who has the gold makes all the rules. The new subdivision will be a great thing for the power conferences who have their lucrative television contracts. It means scraps for the rest of Division I, which is why I believe the college football playoff will be expanded sooner and not later. The power conferences will dominate the playoff and will end up making the most money, but there is going to have to be some sort of trickle down gesture because while the big boys might not want Cinderella to crash their ball, they depend on them to fill out their football schedules and the schedules of all their other sports. The big boys will get their way, but they will have to throw a few bones to the small fries.
WILL EXPANSION DRUMS BEAT THIS SPRING?
With only 10 teams the Big 12 seems like a prime candidate for expansion. It is the only one of the five power conferences without a conference championship game. While Texas and Oklahoma might seem content that they don’t have to play that extra game, it’s a cash cow for the SEC and the Big 10. If the Big 12 is smart, it will expand to 12 teams and add that conference championship game. It is likely the first place it will look to expand is the state of Florida and the I-4 corridor, which would mean eadding UCF in Orlando and USF in Tampa. That would expand the league footprint in the nation’s third largest state and would add the nation’s second (UCF, enrollment 61,000) and tenth (USF, 48,000) largest schools and the 13th (Tampa-St. Pete) and 19th (Orlando) television markets.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
“Love on a Two-Way Street” was excellent radio singalong music in 1970 when The Moments released it as a single. The song was part of their “Not on the Outside, but on the Inside” album that I never heard all the way through. If they had released the single at the time the album came out, The Moments might have become an important group in that era. The song has been re-recorded several times, most notably by Gloria Estafan in 1994 as part of her “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” album and by Boz Scaggs in 2013 on his “Memphis” album. I heard Boz perform this song in Jacksonville last spring. He’s still got it.