With a renewed state of upheaval in conference realignment, everyone in college football is asking the same question: who’s next?
The sudden and shocking departures of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten once again threw college athletics into a state of disarray. The news came on the heels of last year’s surprising relocation of Texas and Oklahoma into the SEC, which gave way to a short lived “alliance” between the ACC, Big Ten, and Pac-12. The news of USC and UCLA means this alliance is all but dead less than a year after its announcement. So as observers try to predict who could be next, an analysis of television ratings may have the answer.
For the analysis, Staples analyzed teams that are not joining or currently apart of the Big Ten or SEC to see who had the most games with one million or more viewers since 2015. He also cleverly excluded games in which those teams played an opponent that is joining or part of the Big Ten or SEC.
Ratings Favor the ACC and Pac-12 North
The top two teams were not surprising. Clemson and Florida State were the top two teams as each had more than 30 games of a million or more viewers. Those two teams (and their rabid fanbases) have felt destined to end up in the SEC for a few years now.
But after those two southern powerhouses, the list becomes more interesting. Washington comes in after Florida State with 28 games. And Oregon is just behind them at 26. That may not be totally shocking as they’ve been rumored to follow in USC and UCLA’s footsteps to the Big Ten. Still it is intriguing since they were much higher than Miami, who took the fifth spot at 22 games.
After that we get the biggest surprise: Washington State. The Cougars, despite playing in remote Pullman, were barely behind Miami as they had 21 games with a million or more viewers. That was more than Utah and Big 12 powerhouse Oklahoma State, despite the fact WSU has certainly not been nearly as relevant on the field as those two programs. For more perspective on the impressive number, Washington State was higher than Texas Tech, Iowa State and Kansas State combined.
This news bodes well for the teams in the Pac-12 north and much worse for the residents of the Big 12, who were for the most part lagging behind their counterparts in the ACC and Pac-12. As the conference realignment game of musical chairs continues, it may be surprising to see who gets left without a place to sit.
For more on this, check out Andy Staples’ article on the Athletic. Be sure stay tuned into Gridiron Heroics for all your NFL and college football news!
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