Are you ready for some Premier League College Football betting? We’re at the cusp of a major organizational shake-up in the NCAA, whose iron grip on college sports is weakening by the second. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive fired the latest shot across the NCAA’s bow, insisting that the “Power Five” conferences (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12) be given more autonomy. If not? They’ll conjure up a Division IV of their own.
These things happen. Back in 1990, the “Big Five” teams in English soccer at the time (Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton) decided they wanted a bigger piece of the television money that was starting to flood in. Two years later, the breakaway Premier League was formed. Are we about to see it happen all over again with the NCAA? Will betting on college football ever be the same?
Imagine how much more money those soccer teams would be making if they didn’t have to pay their players. Maybe something like the $20.9 million that each of the 14 SEC schools is about to receive. Slive announced this past Friday that the SEC raked in $309.6 million in revenue this year, of which $292.8 million will be distributed amongst its members. Or how about the $23 million heading toward each of the eight charter members of the Big 12?
That’s a lot of cheddar. And the Power Five conferences want to make sure that wheel keeps on spinning. The entire collegiate model is at risk, with the NCAA facing multiple lawsuits and the players threatening to unionize. Slive wants the power to do what the NCAA is seemingly unwilling to do: Make concessions to the student-athletes, including full payment of college expenses and long-term medical coverage. The SEC can afford it. Not too many schools outside the Power Five can say the same.
Coin to Play
It’ll be August before the NCAA board of directors votes on any of this. In the meantime, there’s all those lawsuits waiting to be settled. The NCAA’s Collegiate Licensing Corporation, together with EA Sports, has agreed to pay out $40 million to players who were suing over the use of their likenesses in video games. The SEC is not pleased the NCAA let it come to this; during the settlement, lawyers cited an e-mail composed in 2009 by former commissioner Don Beebe, who said the SEC board was “uneasy with the exploitation of player’s names and likenesses for commercial purposes.”
While the SEC might be willing to extend an olive branch to the players, it’s still the higher-ups who are getting the lion’s share of the cash. That includes our Dark Lord Nick Saban, whose annual salary as head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide just got bumped up to $6.5 million. Saban’s top assistants will all make healthy sums, from RB coach Burton Burns ($335,000) to defensive coordinator Kirby Smart ($1.3 million). It’s a great gig if you can get it.
It’s got to be tough for all those former Big East teams who don’t get to eat at the big table anymore. But life goes on; the AAC has voted on a new divisional format for 2015, when the Navy Midshipmen will be on board. Here’s how things will look:
AAC East: Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Central Florida, South Florida, Temple
AAC West: Navy, Houston, Memphis, Southern Methodist, Tulane, Tulsa
This is a pretty big change from the AAC’s inaugural 2013 campaign, which had 10 teams and no divisions. East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa are coming over from Conference USA this year, but there are two major defections: Louisville to the ACC, and Rutgers to the Big Ten. As usual, the rich get richer.