Pete Nakos: ACC, Big 12 'feel like they're on outside looking in' following Big Ten-SEC alliance

On3 imageby:Kaiden Smith02/08/24


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As both conferences head into the summer of 2024 with new members and a foundation of premier programs that arguably make them the strongest two conferences in college athletics, the SEC and the Big Ten decided to join forces, recently announcing a joint advisory group of ADs and university presidents in an attempt to address what’s ailing college athletics.

Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey will look to tackle the most serious issues facing college athletics in an ever-changing landscape as the two biggest leaders and figures of the college sports enterprise.

Sankey joined the Paul Finebaum show on Wednesday to discuss the partnership, college football’s pressing issues, and the future of the College Football Playoff. But On3’s Pete Nakos joined Finebaum on Thursday and specifically touched on where the SEC-Big Ten merger leaves the ACC and Big 12 Conferences moving forward.

“I had someone ask me last week, they’re like ‘Hey, do you think that the ACC and the Big 12 would join?’ I’m like ‘No, there’s a reason why they were left out at the beginning.’ So yeah, I definitely think that those two conferences definitely feel like they’re on the outside looking in right now,” Nakos said.

The ACC and Big 12 have participated in the latest round of conference realignment as well following the SEC and Big Ten’s major moves, with SMU and Stanford joining the ACC and Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah joining the Big 12 this year as well.

The moves help bolster both conferences and expand their national reach, but pale in comparison to the strong SEC adding Oklahoma and Texas and the Big Ten adding USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Washington to the fold of their already loaded roster of programs.

Sankey and Petitti will look to solve some of the problems that have been presented by new changes in college athletics like NIL, the transfer portal, and how both impact recruiting. But the two are also looking address changes regarding the future of the College Football Playoff, which expands to a 12-team format ahead of the 2024 season and could potentially benefit the two strongest conferences in the sport.

“Commissioner Greg Sankey talked about the College Football Playoff yesterday and wanting to move to the 5 and 7 model, that would be better for the SEC and the Big Ten,” Nakos said. “So yeah, I think that the ACC and the Big 12 right now they’re not best positioned right now and maybe they’re going to have to come together and try to figure out how to kind of gain a little bit more power because it’s so clear right now that the Big Ten and the ACC control all the chips.”

The ACC and Big 12 may not be able to join forces with the SEC and Big 12, but them potentially collaborating on their own accord could potentially combat the two most powerful conferences in the sport continuing to distance themselves from the rest of the pack in the ever-changing future of college athletics.