Another year of school is in the books, summer is creeping in and the college football season is on the horizon. As fans gear up for another fall of games, cookouts and tailgating they might be surprised to see some of the major conferences sporting different teams in the 2011-2012 season.
The most notable move comes from the University of Nebraska, but the Cornhuskers aren’t the only big name school making a change. The University of Colorado, University of Utah and Boise State University are all making the jump to a new conference while Brigham Young is leaving the Mountain West conference and going independent.
Nebraska’s departure from the Big-12 was the biggest shake up of all. They took their rich football history of five national championships, three Heisman winners and thousands of die hard fans to the Big Ten. Not only did their entrance into the Big Ten add another historical powerhouse to the conference but it also shook the foundation of the Big-12, where the Cornhuskers were an original member.
Financial opportunities shape a lot of these schools’ decisions when joining a new conference. Nebraska was drawn in by the 10-year deal the Big Ten signed with ABC/ESPN in 2006. Even though the Big Ten has stepped aside as college football’s elite conference they still have a huge fan base and each team receives $22 million a year in revenue from TV deals, and that number is expected to double by 2016. Joining the Big Ten gives Nebraska better economic upside, especially compared to the Big-12 where they made $9.73 million in 2008-2009 from TV appearances. The Cornhuskers will have the chance to get out of the shadow of Oklahoma and Texas who were making over $2 million more a year based on their number of televised games. But Nebraska isn’t the only team that jetted out of the Big-12.
Like Nebraska, the University of Colorado had to pay to leave the Big-12, but like the Cornhuskers they’ll get the opportunity to earn upwards of $20 million a season playing in the Pac 12 who starts a TV deal through Fox and ESPN in 2012-2013. It’s a 12 year deal worth $2.7 billion, with each school making an annually salary of $20.8 million. The Pac-12 will have its conference football games televised on Fox and ABC, with five games scheduled for prime time. This kind of exposure will be big in recruiting for schools like Colorado who was often cast aside playing against the Texas dominated Big-12.
The University of Utah also made the move to the Pac-12, leaving the Mountain West. Boise State University filled in for Utah and joined the Mountain West, leaving the WAC. Brigham Young University took a different route and decided to go independent, leaving the Mountain West. This should give them a better chance to negotiate games and get prime time games, like Notre Dame. So when you gear up for college football this season keep in mind the new traditions and rivalries that will be born from this shuffle.