We have sworn off covering modern-day sports, as noted a few times here. College football has been one of the most-corrupt charades in the sports world for a while, even if we do still “love” it for what it used to be—or could have remained? Anyway, with the current news about Oklahoma and Texas wanting to join the SEC for financial reasons (and to financially lure the top players to their schools in order to compete), we thought we’d crystal ball all of this.
We don’t see college football existing by 2030, in truth … at least not in any recognizable form. By then, there may be, at most, about 30 teams playing what we now recognize as Division I/FBS—these are the teams now with significant branding and marketing presence to actually profit from football, while most of the 130 teams in the FBS lose money every season.
Outside the 30 or so teams left in the what will be one super conference by then—and yes, several SEC teams won’t make that cut … looking at you, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, and others—the remaining schools will simply be playing something like what we now call Division I-AA/FCS. It will be a more-regional sport rather than a national one for the smaller schools, even those currently in power conferences: Looking at you, Washington State, Indiana, and TCU, for example.
Football will be a separate sport outside traditional conferences, so all these schools currently in conferences for all sports will pretty much remain there for basketball and other sports. Football will be an entity unto itself with the haves and the have nots competing on different fields—just like the FBS and FCS do now. This will literally save the 100 schools that lose money every year on football from complete financial collapse due to athletics.
By 2030, too, the NFL will have set up a minor-league system to play in the spring and extend its brand, with a lot of rules in place, so high school graduates can go pro right away or go to what’s left of college football and try to make money, either way. As we have said before, baseball and hockey have had perfect models for this in place for decades, and basketball is starting to catch on, too. Football will remain the outlier until it’s legally forced to comply. We’ve been waiting for that class-action suit against the NFL for work access; it will happen soon.
In the meantime, look for the SEC to continue to try to expand as far as it can (not much farther than the South and conservative states, of course), and in response, the B1G and the Pac-12 will join forces to form their own superconference with some remnants of the Big XII added into the mix. Eventually, all things will merge into one, but it will take some time. If Oklahoma and Texas want into the SEC by 2025, it won’t be long after that before the entire reconstruction of the sport will occur.
Change was always inevitable, and the NCAA put it off too long, to the point that the system broke and will/would implode. Many fans will see their schools relegated to second-tier status because of the NFL’s monopoly on professional football and the NCAA’s refusal to hold fast to its founding principles. They will still enjoy the sport, but they won’t love it like they do now. Inequality is the ruiner of all things, after all.
It is what it is, and maybe we will still be here in 2030 to see how much of this happened just the way we see it.