Greg McElroy ‘found it hard to believe’ Big Ten, SEC would join forces

On3 imageby:Barkley Truax02/07/24

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The SEC and Big Ten are expanding this summer, creating a power imbalance in college athletics — and now they’re going one step further.

It was recently announced that both power conference are now coming together to create a joint advisory group of ADs and university presidents in an attempt to improve college athletics for the student-athlete. ESPN’s Greg McElroy explained why partnership this took him by such a surprise.

“I must be honest, having followed college football and been in this line of work for a decade,” McElroy said. “I always envision there being some semblance of collaboration. I think we all did. We understand the power brokers in the sport are gonna have to at some point work together. But will admit that I just found it very hard to believe that the SEC and the Big Ten would come together in a way that they’ve come together in the last couple of weeks.

“It’s borderline mind-blowing. I mean, it feels like two universal truths on either side of the college football world,” McElroy continued. “… This feels very concrete. I mean, this feels like there’s a real opportunity for the sport to forge forward in a way that’s going to create more opportunities down the road.”

This coming together of the two biggest conferences in college football wasn’t something that happened overnight, McElroy said. Tony Petitti, the current Big Ten Commissioner, met with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey in Birmingham to begin the dialogue that eventually turned into the recently announced partnership.

“These guys are leading rival businesses, but businesses that must ultimately work together for the greater good,” McElroy continued. “And I think when you look at just how we got here to this point, it’s it’s pretty interesting. And it’s pretty obvious why this has accelerated here in at least the last couple of weeks.”

In the coming months, SEC is set to add Texas and Oklahoma, while the Big Ten doubles that total with USCUCLAOregon and the 2024 College Football Playoff runner-up in the Washington Huskies.

By the time those teams are settled in, this alliance — spearedheaded by Petitti and Sankey — will have a few months of coopoeration under their belt to better serve the two conference’s moving forward. Whether this partnership flourishes in the new landscape of college football, or if it crumbles like the failed Power Five alliance of 2021 remains to be seen.