Landing Spots for Clemson in Possible Upcoming Conference Realignment

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware of Oklahoma and Texas leaving the Big 12 for the SEC.

At the time of this writing, the SEC’s gross revenue is $728.9 million annually ($45.3 million per team), which falls shy of the BIG 10’s $768.9 million ($54 million per team). That’s soon to change with the SEC’s acquisition of Texas and Oklahoma, the second and sixth most valuable programs in the nation, respectively.

For comparison, the ACC pulled in $497.2 million, with Clemson receiving the highest payout of $37 million, while other teams averaged $32 million. The average team payout in the ACC was dead last of the Power 5 conferences.

In order to keep pace financially with the SEC, other conferences have to start making moves. Keep in mind more money means bigger recruiting budgets, nicer facilities, newer and expanded stadiums, and higher salaries for coaches. So what are some possibilities for Clemson in the foreseeable future?

  1. Join the SEC. Yes, they are our most hated conference. Yes, they are home to our most hated rivals. Yes, it would be the hardest path to win games and make the playoff. Now that the cons have been listed, here are the pros: much more competitive games. Right now, we may have 1 or 2 regular season matchups that we HOPE will be competitive. Join the SEC, that won’t be a problem, guaranteed several big games per year. Recruiting advantages. Dabo Swinney and staff are some of the best in the business. Recruits all say the same thing; Clemson is just different. A special place. When we do occasionally lose a recruit, many times it is due to the player wanting to compete at the highest level, the SEC. No longer a problem. The obvious advantage; show me the money!!!!
  2. Seems like a stretch, but nothing is impossible, and since geography seems to no longer matter; Join the BIG 10. The obvious disadvantage here would be our fans’ ability to travel to games. Traveling across country isn’t cheap. Also, it is more competitive than the ACC, but still an easier path to playoff than the SEC. Not to mention, the extreme cold weather isn’t something Clemson has routinely had to endure. The money would likely be comparable to the SEC as well. Clemson and OSU would likely become THE marquee matchup in college football to boot.
  3. Remain in the ACC. As of now, the path to the playoff is the easiest in college football. Perhaps the ACC could add a few teams and renegotiate the terms of their terrible deal with ESPN. The question is, what teams are there that will actually add value? No SEC or BIG10 team will leave to make more money. The obvious team that could be in play is Notre Dame. They have the tradition, and revenue that could give the ACC a much needed boost. The remaining BIG 12 teams are in play, but all they would likely do is drown what is already a watered down conference.
  4. Join forces with the PAC 12. This is likely as much a long shot as joining the BIG 10, for the same reasons, other than cold weather. The path to the playoff would be tougher than it currently is, but still very reachable. It would be fun watching Clemson square off against the likes of USC, Stanford, Oregon, and Cal. This move seems least likely, but nothing is completely out of play here.
  5. Every competitive team competes under the SEC umbrella. There have been reports that the SEC has had serious conversations with Clemson, OSU, Michigan, and FSU. If they successfully poach these teams it’s only a matter of time until the remaining relevant teams in college football cross the line. They simply wouldn’t be able to financially compete otherwise. It would likely mean the end of the NCAA which would no longer be needed. In any case, buckle your seatbelt. This may be a very wild ride indeed! Let’s enjoy it. Dabo has stated he is ready for whatever is coming.

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