Paul Finebaum speculates on why SEC, Big Ten decided to partner

On3 imageby:Barkley Truax02/08/24


The SEC and Big Ten’s partnership has been the talk of college football over the past week — and for good reason.

These conferences represent the biggest adaptors to the ever-changing landscape of the NCAA and have acquired a healthy helping of brand-new, brand-name programs joining their ranks this offseason to show for it.

SEC Network host Paul Finebaum joined On3’s Andy Staples to discuss the alliance between the SEC and Big Ten — and explained why this is happening now and not earlier on.

“I think it’s a combination of a lot of things, but I think the biggest issue is all of these court cases that scare everyone inside the arena, so to speak, and I just think it was inevitable,” Finebaum told Staples. “And I think, obviously, it’s Kevin Warren leaving the Big Ten. [SEC Commissioner Greg] Sankey reached out to Kevin Warren in the past and Kevin Warren thought he was always the smartest guy in the room and he never was.

“So I think ultimately Tony Petitti having a history with the SEC with some of his other jobs and reached [to Sankey] very quickly.”

During an appearance on McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning earlier this week, Finebaum explained that the alliance between the two most powerful conferences in the NCAA puts every other league behind, especially the ACC.

Still, matters such as NIL, the transfer portal, and general rules and regulations have become the talk of collegiate sports in recent years. Whether due to the issues themselves or how the NCAA governs them, many have grown tired of the direction in which athletics at the level have been heading. Now, the SEC and Big Ten are joining together to make sure they improve the life of the student-athlete.

Texas and Oklahoma join the SEC while USCUCLAOregon and the 2024 College Football Playoff runner-up Washington all head to the Big Ten Conference. By that time, Finebuam believes the rest of college sports are going to be playing catch up to the new partner conferences — and we have Sankey and Petitti to thank for that.

What this partnership ends up doing, or what it ends up looking like remains to be seen, but it’s clear there is an effort being made to have the entities representing the strongest group of programs all be on the same page heading into an even newer landscape ahead of them during the 2024 college football season.