Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has long held the position that college football will eventually break off into super conferences, espousing last year that even after the latest round of realignment, there was more to come.

“Each year we take another step towards that and I think it’s inevitable,” Whittingham said of super conferences. “The timetable, who knows, three years, five years, seven years, but I believe that’s the direction it’s headed.”

Back in August of 2023, on his ESPN 7000 coaches show, Whittingham expanded on his thoughts on where college football will ultimately go, including breaking away from the NCAA.

“Everything is going to be predicated and set up on where’s the most money and that’s why you’re going to see another round at least of change and it’s ultimately going to streamline into one or two super conferences,” he said.

The SEC and Big Ten both made moves in recent years to expand their footprint with the SEC starting the realignment frenzy by grabbing Texas and Oklahoma. The Big 12 responded by expanding with BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston, then Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State as the Pac-12 Conference fell apart. The Big Ten, for its part, swayed USC and UCLA before eventually gobbling up Washington and Oregon.

What was left by the time the madness was over was effectively four power conferences, but the SEC and Big Ten are the clear big dogs in the new college football order, with the Big 12 and ACC a distant second.

Example No. 1: The College Football Playoff model that goes into effect in 2026 includes a 14-team playoff field but will have unequal revenue sharing in favor of the two conferences.

According to The Athletic, the Big Ten and SEC will annually receive 29% of the playoff revenue, with the ACC earning 17% and the Big 12 earning 15%. Group of Five leagues earn just 9% collectively.

However, a new “super league” proposal includes some of what Whittingham says is coming eventually, including breaking away from the NCAA and consolidating into a single league.

College presidents and an executive from the NFL are among a “powerful” 20-person group trying to shape the future of college football and put together a “super league,” according to a new report by Andrew Marchand and Stewart Mandel of The Athletic.

The group — “College Sports Tomorrow” — is headed by Len Perna, who is the CEO of search firm TurnkeyZRG, which “places nearly all the top conference commissioners,” according to The Athletic.

They’re trying to rid the sport of some of its current ills — a playoff decided by a committee and a virtually unchecked NIL and transfer environment.

Real Salt Lake co-owner and Philadelphia 76ers owner David Blitzer, Syracuse chancellor Kent Syverud, West Virginia president Gordon Gee and NFL executive Brian Rolapp (the NFL itself is not involved, according to Marchand and Mandel) are among the group’s members.

In CST’s proposal, college football would break away from the NCAA and be its own entity with its own playoff. Seventy schools would be permanent members of the super league, including all universities from the current SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and former Pac-12, plus Notre Dame.

However, the article states that there still would be unequal revenue distribution in the CST proposal, “as top brands like Alabama and Notre Dame would receive more of the financial pie.”

There would be seven 10-team divisions, Mandel and Marchand write, with 10 additional spots forming an eighth division. That eighth division would consist of the best teams each year not in the group of 70 permanent super league members.

The eight division winners — and eight wild cards, based on record — would go to the playoffs — no need for a selection committee.

A players’ union would be created, and would collectively bargain with the new super league to pay players directly, and TV deals would be negotiated for the entire league, like the NFL’s television deals currently are. Rolapp orchestrated the NFL’s latest $100-billion-plus TV deal.

While there are some powerful people in CST’s group, the players that matter — ESPN, FOX, Big Ten and SEC — aren’t terribly interested in the new league’s structure, and why would they be? Right now, the two networks, alongside the SEC and Big Ten, hold the power in college football’s current state of affairs, and don’t want to relinquish it.

While the ACC listened to a presentation from CST in February, according to The Athletic, subsequent meetings with the Big 12, Big Ten and SEC were called off.

“Leagues have been hesitant and canceled meetings so as not to upset their current broadcast partners, including ESPN and Fox, according to one executive briefed on the commissioners’ thoughts,” Marchand and Mandel write.

TV deals for the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and ACC are all locked in through at least 2030, so a “super league” can’t happen in the near future.

There’s one thing everyone can agree on: The future of college football will likely look a lot different. What that will look like — a “super league,” Big Ten and SEC football breaking off from the NCAA, or players directly being paid by universities — is unknown right now.


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