Forbes' Most Valuable College Athletics Conference May Surprise You

By Kris Hughes
Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports


Forbes Magazine has the corner on valuating all kinds of businesses in their natural environments — whether it be in the private or public sector — or, in this case the business of college athletics conferences, of which college football makes up a huge percentage.

If you were to poll the average, passive college football fan about which college football conference was the greatest generator of revenue from one season to the next, what would be the likely answer?

I would say the SEC. And, in that case, you and I would be dead wrong.

In fact, it’s the Big Ten. Raking in $308 million from its primary revenue streams — which include a behemoth television deal, rights packages and merchandising — the conference dwarfs the closest competitor, which in fact is the SEC at $270 million.

Even though the SEC has a foothold for now in the second-place slot, that won’t last for long, given the massive new television deals signed in the past calendar year by both the Big 12 and ACC. This doesn’t mean, however, that the SEC isn’t looking to improve their situation, in fact it’s quite the contrary.

Ever aware of their station in the world of college sports, the SEC is pushing to sign new deals with the highest bidder — which will presumably be one of the usual suspects in either CBS or ESPN — that will dwarf even what we’ve seen up to now.

As expected, access to the Bowl Championship Series is a major boon for these conferences who earn massive payoffs up front and even larger licensing deals on merchandise and other related items when their member school qualify for one of the major bowl games. For the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 this is a dependable source of income that helps their individual schools grow with dependability from one year to the next, and, in turn, lines the pockets of the conference as a whole.

While the Big East is a huge earner in basketball for the time being, they won’t be for long with the departure of the “Catholic 7” schools to form their own conference. This is one great example of how having the right asset mix makes all the difference in the world when it comes to finances.

So, the moral of the story?

The rich will continue to get richer.

Need a personal loan? Give Jim Delaney a ring. I’m sure he’s got some cash to spare.

Kris Hughes is the College Football Network Manager for Rant Sports. You can follow Kris on TwitterGoogle Plus and Facebook

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