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How “The Alliance” Benefits and Hurts Wake Forest

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NCAA Football: ACC Kickoff Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Today the ACC, Pac-12, and Big Ten formally announced a merger in order to ensure they have a seat at the table in this new wild, wild west of college football.

While a lot of the focus has been put on the ability to now have a voting block that can stand up to the SEC, especially after the additions of Oklahoma and Texas, there are a wealth of issues to be solved, compromises to be figured out, and adjustments to be made. Nationally, the headlines are going to be, “well how does this affect Clemson, Oregon, Ohio State, Notre Dame?”

I can’t particularly tell you how this will play out for anyone, especially the top dogs, but I can hypothesize a couple of ways this will affect the team in Winston-Salem for years to come.

Stability

The main goal of the alliance is protectionism. The voting block helps fire back at the SEC, and also ESPN to an extent, but also helps protect some of the smaller teams. A shuffling of the deck in terms of teams doesn’t make all too much sense right now. If you’re trying to maximize your TV markets, aka your money, adding teams like West Virginia, UCF, Cincinnati, etc. doesn’t make sense for anyone, but especially the ACC. Having an alliance kills two birds with one stone.

It gives a sigh of relief to the smaller schools in the conference by keeping them in the fold, while also adding people of value both on the field and in the wallets of the ones making the decisions. For the time being, you won’t have to worry about people getting dropped, added, or poached. Wake doesn’t end up with any sort of influence, but protection in a landscape that everything is happening behind the scenes is extremely valuable. The worry right now however is, there’s nothing legally binding ANYTHING in terms of, well, anything. It’s just a bunch of suits making promises to each other.

Non-Conference Schedule

The second part is the possibility/probability of scheduling impacts in the future.

According to reporting by Pete Thamel and Dan Wetzel, conversations have included a proposal where “each football team in the three conferences would play one opponent from each of the other two leagues on an annual basis.”

If you’re projecting this for 2021, no this scheduling won’t go into effect for years, Wake’s nonconference schedule would more than likely go from ODU/Norfolk St/Army/UNC to something like ODU/Oregon State/Northwestern/UNC. Looking at this, it takes two games Wake would be more likely to win, with lesser ratings and ticket sales, to ones where the probability of winning goes down a bit but is a bit better for TV inventory and fan attendance. You also will have the years where Wake catches Ohio State, Wisconsin, Oregon, etc.

The downside is obvious, winning fewer games and now making a bowl is bad. Winning games, going to bowls, and getting recognition is how you make more money. It puts your teams who aren’t reloading every year in a precarious spot, with little upside if the TV deal for the ACC isn’t reworked, given it’s in effect until 2036. Meaning adding value isn’t the easiest thing, even with the added boost in nonconference games. Plus, it’ll be much closer to the end of the TV deal, versus say 2026 when OU and Texas probably make the jump to 2022

On the other side of things, it gives a team like Wake a chance to build more credibility and the opportunity for fun matchups. If an ACC team runs their schedule, or even has a loss, but then beats 2 other P5 members, their schedule automatically looks better than the ones who are scheduling Mercer and Southern Mississippi every year as their out-of-conference foes. It probably forces the ACC to take a long, hard look at pods in order to maximize matchups and play a bit of protector for Clemson/FSU/Miami/UNC. Which would help Wake permanently play the other in-state schools and let them add an easier nonconference game. It adds more validity to the brand itself and less of “lol it’s just Wake Forest, kick them out.” It also creates some honestly hysterical matchups. I’d love a season where Wake-Rutgers and Wake-Stanford happens. Same idea in basketball, automatic resume boosters in getting to play better nonconference opponents while also taking away

Reality

Ultimately, this is going to take a while to see what happens outside of simply just votes on stuff like expanding the playoff, player compensation, etc.

The ACC has locked themselves into a 360 deal with ESPN and when it comes to room for nonconference games... there isn’t much.

New ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips has walked into a mess when it comes to reworking the ACC into not continuing to fall way behind the SEC, and Big 10 for that matter, but he’s going to have to play magician if he wants to truly maximize this alliance and pump the money into this conference.