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Mailbag 7/6

Should Georgia Tech consider the B1G?

2021 Big Ten Championship - Iowa v Michigan Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

My question is based off this tweet:

If we’re not actively pursuing a way in then we are crazy IMHO. What say the FTRS crew? - CTJacket

Ben: I’m going to go ahead and say that I’m probably going to ruffle some feathers with my opinions about this whole thing. I think Tech should avoid being in the super conference talks. There is an inevitable split coming to FBS, where these super conferences will peace out and form their own league. I love Georgia Tech, and I want to see them be successful. If Georgia Tech was placed in that league, they would almost certainly never be successful again. They do not have the money and resources to be competitive in a league like that. Personally, I would much rather them stay back and have a chance at being competitive. I also think you would see the left behind teams revert back to the more traditional college football model that we used to have. Sure there would still be NIL and the transfer portal, but I don’t think it would be quite as crazy with the super league going on.

Logan: I’m not sure how we would get out of our contract with the ACC. for those unfamiliar the ACC has set up a way where they can keep members by forcing ridiculous buyouts if the schools try to leave. That should keep Tech in the ACC. For argument’s sake, I’ll take the opposite approach from Ben. I think joining the Big 10 would do wonder for our income as a program and assist us in developing the program. I don’t think there is anything wrong with chasing the money at this point. I don’t think being in the Big 10 will be any worse for GT than being in the ACC. If you don’t want to lose out on the money get on the train for the super conferences while you can. This is the way things are going for CFB unfortunately, its not what I want but its what’s happening so we need to jump on before we get left behind.

Chris: I’m in. Like many have said, we’re trending towards a world where 2-3 super conferences exist on a higher plane than the others and the current Big Ten is a precursor. While I sympathize with Ben that we’re not currently set up to compete in an “elite” conference like that, I think we need to be positioning ourselves to have that opportunity in the future. I’d rather get in now when all the shuffling is happening then be stuck outside and trying to get in later when its much harder. I’m thinking about it almost like pro/rel in soccer - the top league is orders of magnitude beyond the lower ones in financial terms. I think right now we’re in a bit of a fragile position - if we can’t pull things together on the field in the next couple years AND we get left behind financially by a super conference then I’m not sure we can recover and make our way back anytime soon. I say get in now, take our licks, and leverage the prestige of the conference to build ourselves back to where we think we should be. As far as specifically the Big 10 I agree with Logan - I don’t think there’s a reason to think we’d do any worse than we are right now. In a world where we’re at our potential I think we could enjoy a good level of success there.

Jack: From a sheer enjoyment perspective, I have much more fun watching midwestern football than east coast football, so I’m all in. Plus I have close friends with B1G school ties so that’ll make football life more fun for me. For Tech though, and the rest of the guys here have mentioned, this is turning into a consolidated structure that won’t help the ACC unless them and ESPN figure out a way to work with the rest of the conferences well. Let’s get on with it!

Nishant: Given the choice between the two superconferences, I’d prefer the SEC. I remain convinced that Tech’s single biggest recruiting challenge has been trying to sell an ACC program in the capital of the SEC for 30 years, and I think they could become a middling program with flashes of success when the stars align, which would be enough to sustain long-term fan and alumni interest. But since it’s not happening... I think Tech does have to make a play for a B1G invite. I don’t see them being remotely competitive in that league, and I don’t like the idea of being in a league that covers zero states that Tech normally recruits (short of the Migration making a comeback) while adding a bunch of competition to the Georgia recruiting puzzle. But the fact is that this athletic department has been in a horrifying amount of debt for 20 years and has barely chipped away at that boulder. They need that TV revenue boost to even begin to get out from under it.

Jake: I am late here due to a busy day at work, but I definitely have some thoughts on our questions for today, so figured I would chime in. I guess Tech brings a lot of things to the table for the Big Ten - AAU/research status, a toehold in the heart of SEC country and the Atlanta market’s Big Ten exodus, access to Georgia recruits - but it really doesn’t feel like a fit in the same way the ACC, or even the SEC does. However, that being said, their money is just as green as anyone else’s, and there’s a whole lot more of it there. I can’t see a world in which the SEC ever lets us knock back on the door, so, at the risk of otherwise being shut out, I don’t see what there is to lose if things really do start to spin.

Should I start booking tickets to Ann Arbor, Chicago, Columbus, etc.? - Partywaggin

Ben: I’m not quite ready to say yes yet.

Logan: I mean, Chicago is a nice place to visit in the summer.

Carter: Airlines don't publish their fares THAT far in advance.

Chris: Yeah but then the airlines will just cancel it.

Jack: Yes, go do a brewery tour so you know your stops before you get there 3-6 years from now.

Nishant: Don’t forget Iowa City and Piscataway.

Jake: If you want Chicago recommendations, let me know — I would encourage you buy them for that one in particular regardless of conference realignment.

It’s pretty evident that college football is on the verge of ending as we know it. Big money and big programs are destined to rule the day with small programs being left out(paying players under contract is at hand imo). Although Tech has a rich football history, Tech has money issues (guessing there isn’t an extra 50 million sitting around), a shrinking fan base and basically non existent presence in regional and national media coverage (thanks CGC) If there is a 50 to 60 team break away, is Tech currently on the outside looking in when this inevitable shift happens? - gtbadcarma

Ben: Yes, for all the reasons I outlined above. I know that there will be several people who push for Tech to be in that super league, but I think it would be a bad idea for all the fans who want to see Tech attain some kind of success.

Logan: Hard to say, but we are probably out. We don’t have a big enough fanbase to drive a media contract, and that’s really what is shifting the teams around. the LA schools bring a big California market to the BIG 10 and Texas and Oklahoma open up more of the Midwest market to the SEC. These teams are bringing a large number of fans and a bigger media footprint. GT does have the Atlanta market but it is a smaller fanbase in the area, so GT would have to ride in on our prestige as a school and come in with an accompanying program. Thankfully some conferences still value academics and highly value the Atlanta market so maybe we do get an offer.

Carter: I could see Georgia Tech making it in if the number is 60. Probably not 50, and definitely not 40.

Chris: I think we’re on the bubble for sure. If we don’t do something now I think we’re on the bubble. We’ve got the history and media market on our side, but boy are our financials and on-field results bringing us down. I think we need to lean into packaging ourselves with like UNC and VT or something and getting in with a group.

Jake: I think Tech’s history buys us at least some credibility, and it is a heck of a lot more unique of a value-add to a potential Big Ten. That being said, I think your point of the end of college football as we know it is probably the sad reality I’ve been bummed about the most in all of this.

Lots of smoke about GT and the Big Ten. If you are in charge and we can go, what’s stopping you? If the answer is no, do you not want to see Tech vs ranked teams with the chance to beat them? - DTGT

Ben: The answer is no, because I’ve gotten tired of Tech winning three games a year.

Logan: The Ryen Russilo podcast actually had a interesting discussion on this topic earlier this week. I think the problem is what Ben is getting at. Teams that opt into other conferences tend to struggle early on and some (like say, Nebraska or Mizzou) never bounce back. The question becomes, is the increase in annual income worth having a tougher schedule and possibly a worse team performance year to year. From a fan standpoint losing games is bad, but from an administrator standpoint money is awesome. Since administrators run the show, I would expect us to go to the Big 10 if there is a chance to do so.

Chris: I typed this all out above but yeah, I say go for it.

Jack: What I’m realizing in my time being more locked in with the fan sentiment at FTRS is that we seem to forget very easily that we weren’t bad all of 5 years ago. The idea that we now are a bottom feeder in the midst of the Power 5 just doesn’t ring true to me. This won’t last forever regardless of conference we’re in I think. If our non-revenue success is to be a signifier of things to come, we won’t be bad at the big stuff forever. Getting the ranked teams will be fantastic and we’ll all have a good time. If we’re stuck purely on wins and losses, we’ve lost sight of the purpose of being football fans, and will be insufferable.

Jake: Money and fortunes change. Why not just go for it? The alternative seems more and more to be permanently locked out of playing at a high level.

Rank these outcomes in likelihood of occurrence:

1) Tech to the B1G so the B1G gets a foothold in the Atlanta media market

2) Tech back to the $EC to prevent #1 from happening

3) The ACC becomes the third mega-conference and can command parity with the $EC and B1G

4) Tech ends up on the outside looking in

- jabsterjacket

Ben: 4, 1, 2, 3. It hasn’t happened yet, but the ACC’s demise is coming. I’m curious to see what the first domino will be. The SEC doesn’t need to stop the B1G from getting a foothold in the Atlanta market. The SEC already has the whole area.

Logan: 1, 4, 2, 3. 1 and 4 are a toss up for me. I doubt the SEC gives an offer since they already have a huge chunk of the Atlanta market from our rivals. BIG 10 wants the Atlanta market though (clearly they don’t understand which fans watch TV down here), and GT has the prestige to make academic contributions to the BIG 10. Either we get into the BIG 10 as a low tier school or we end up on the outside as the ACC falls apart.

Carter: 4, 1, 3, 2. At this point the world will end before the SEC has an interest in adding back Georgia Tech.

Chris: 4, 1, 3, 2. The SEC definitely does not want us. The Big Ten potentially does because they seem to be making a “not just football but solid public research institutions” play. The ACC won’t be a mega-conference because the Big 12 is already kinda squatting on that territory and we just don’t have the blue bloods to do it.

Jack: 1, 2, 3, 4. Tech’s legacy is enough to not make us this irrelevant. The B1G has bigger upside in Atlanta than the SEC does.

Jake: 1, 2, 3, 4. Tech commands too much value to the Big Ten for number 4 to happen, and too many things need to fall in line for 3 to happen that, even if it does, I have a hard time seeing a world in which there is truly competitive and compelling value for the ACC to be third among equals rather than a step below. As for #2, I think it would be great for my historical leanings, certainly more so than 1, but, really, at the end of the day, Tech brings a lot to the table to like for #1. Last week, I probably would have thought it was nuts, but with the smoke being as diverse as it has been, well, I guess there’s a chance.

Will MetaConferences increase or decrease your interest in CFB “in toto”? Will the quality of competition increase, or will it devolve to the top money teams playing each other only “for the eyeballs”, to wit: Yankees vs RedSox or ManU vs. Arsenal? - DressHerInWhiteAndGold

Ben: I think the quality of all the games will increase, because you will have the super conference teams who are all closer in quality (and a clear step up from the other teams), and then the quality of the left behind teams will also be closer. I think it’s a win for all parties involved.

Logan: I totally disagree with Ben on this one. I think some of the top teams will have more interesting games, but teams like alabama and uga will continue to pretty much roll over everyone. Lower tier teams will look bumbling and chaotic, which won’t make for good games but we’ll continue watching because its the sport we love. I just don’t see the parity that people keep talking about, these teams leaving for other conferences (Oklahoma aside) will probably continue to be just as mediocre as they were in their original conferences. That means you will see some good games, but you will also see plenty of blowouts.

Chris: I think interest and competition will mostly stay the same. The SEC isn't kicking anyone out just yet so Bama and UGA will still run through their competition with relative ease, but I think you’ll see the mid-tier games improve as they add more decent programs. CFB is also a big world - there will always be interesting things happening. ESPN will probably only show you the SEC, but there will be a ton more out there - just like it is now. I think the “this is ruining CFB” takes are reactionary - re-alignment has happened several times in the past. Everyone will move on with the new normal once the first noon game kicks off.

Jake: I think it already has begun to grate on me. What makes it worse than the MLB or NFL or other established American league is that, well, those have always been exclusive. What college sports are going through now feels like a long march to make what used to feel inclusive and wide-open (even if it wasn’t always all that true) a much more closed environment.

The Rose Bowl has been the blocker to lots of post-season/playoff changes in CFB for a long time. With a diminished (or even disintegrating) Pac-12, what do you think happens to the Rose Bowl, and bowl games in general? Will the bowl season just go away in favor of a real (if SEC/B1G run) playoff? - Burdell91

Ben: I think the upper league will move into more of a traditional playoff, but I could see the left behind teams keeping traditional bowl games. The CFP venues will probably be reserved for the upper league playoff, though.

Logan: I don’t think bowl games are going away, but they are in for a large shift in how they are managed and who goes into those games. Some of the smaller bowls may get knocked out as conferences consolidate, unless the bowls have large numbers of fans or a big media turnout those little bowls will start to dry up. The larger bowls should still be fine, but they will obviously need to shift the teams which qualify to play in them (increase number of wins required and change conferences which go into them).

Chris: In a world with say 3 mega-conferences, I’d like to see a bowl system where teams in the conference are ranked 1-N and we see equal-ranking matchups between the conferences. Send the top 2 teams from each conference to compete in a 6-team Playoff for the National Champion and then just go down the rankings to match teams up. Get rid of conference ties and make it purely based on your record.

Jake: The named bowls will never go away - someone somewhere will have the Rose Bowl as a permanent semi or quarterfinal - but I can definitely see a world in which they are subsumed to the structure.

Hey Guys,

Question this week. With all this conference re-alignment I have thought back to the days of NCAA Football video games where you can change the conferences as you like. I remember re-aligning conferences to make things more competitive or have more rivalry games played on the year. My question this week is if you had the ability to form your ideal conference, who would be in it and what would it be called? I always tried to find a way to get Boise State into the BIG 12 along with Arkansas and the Arizona schools. The Geography always made sense to me and I wanted to see those schools be on level ground with teams that could challenge them. Anyway, what is your ideal conference? Later y’all!

-Big Time Timmy Jim (submitted by email)

Ben: This is a fun exercise! I like the idea of geographic conferences that actually make sense. The more I have heard about it, the more I like the idea of an Ivy League but good at sports that features schools like Georgia Tech, Stanford, Cal, Vandy, Northwestern, and the like.

Logan: Ideal Conference... hm... This is a tough one. Ok, I guess I would re-align the SEC to be more representative of the actual South East. I would put Alabama, Auburn, uga,
Georgia Tech, FSU, UF, Miami, UNC, Duke, NC State, Wake Forest, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Vandy. That’s a bit messy but I think that maps well out to all the programs in the South East and it sets up a set of schools that have serious highs in both football and basketball. Oh, and I forgot Clemson and South Carolina... they’re in the super conference for the South East as well.

You could move LSU, Arkansas, Texas, Mizzou, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Oklahoma back to whatever the BIG 12 would be called at that point. Also lets get Houston and Nebraska back in the BIG 12 where they belong. Take out WVU and add in... I dunno some other Texas school, they have hundreds of those right? Is SMU in the BIG 12?

Boise and Hawaii to the PAC-12 with the LA schools staying and adding in some other programs like Fresno State and Nevada (or maybe UNLV for the vegas market).

BIG 10 gets UVA, VT, Pitt and WVU, as well as Syracuse and BC for the NY and NE markets. American conference... I dunno they get whatever is left on the table that I have lost track of. ACC falls apart in this scenario. My SEC one is the ideal though, I guess I would stick with SEC as a title since that just sounds good. I could also call it the “we’re better than you” conference or the WBTYC.

Chris: I’m with Logan, an SEC that’s actually the geographic southeast would be great. Make it all strictly geo-based: give me a real southeast conference, a midwest conference (basically the Big 10), a west coast conference (basically the PAC 12), a mid-country conference (basically the Big 12), and then a northeast conference (maybe have them steal some of the current Big 10).

Jack: I’ll have to come back to fleshing that idea you have here, but another idea I have is just let the 50 states all figure out a way to find a state champ, and then we have a 50 state knockout tournament in a US Open Cup style format with regional areas. Can Delaware State get past the bohemoth Penn State? Will the Idaho Vandals do the impossible and drown the Ducks? The Battles for Texas and California? I’m in.

Jake: This could be a whole article. Years ago, I was working on a “every team in the US gets N protected rivals” scheme per year + playoff at the end of the year that completely axed conferences in favor of generating the most interesting matchups, and I really should dig that back up. I think that would be awesome, but probably totally infeasible. I’ll try to dig that up here eventually.