College athletics was rocked Monday afternoon when college presidents agreed to create a new 97-team football conference. The new league will include most current members of the Football Bowl Subdivision and be named the Southeastern Atlantic Pacific Double Big American Rocket Mortgage Football League.
“We’re excited to enter into a partnership with the SAPDBARMFL,” Jay Farner, CEO of Rocket Mortgage, said. The company reportedly paid $147 million and an undisclosed number of kidneys for partial naming rights.
The move came after reports last week indicated that Texas and Oklahoma were considering leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference. That led to a flurry of deals between other schools hoping to not be left behind. The culmination of which was Monday’s announcement at noon.
Current SEC commissioner Greg Sankey will head the new league.
“This is a great day for college football and it will give surety to our stakeholders going forward. I’d like to welcome all the schools to the Southeast Pacific, uh, well, you know the name here,” Sankey said while pointing to a hand-written poster board featuring the conference name, the Rocket Mortgage logo, and a football bursting at the seams with dollar bills.
When asked how teams like Wyoming would fare against Alabama, Sankey said, “They can’t be any worse than Vanderbilt. Seriously though, Wyoming brings a lot to the table. They’re the Badgers, right? No, wait, that’s Washington. Anyway, think of Wyoming as a little boy and Alabama is a grown man … that reminds me, I need to call my son today. It’s his 12th or 13th birthday and his nanny has been hassling me for weeks to be there for it.”
Members of the new conference would play a 36-game regular-season schedule followed by an eight-team conference championship tournament and then a 48-team playoff.
“We considered 64 (teams) but that’s too much,” Sankey said.
The season would begin in late July and culminate the following Independence Day.
Notre Dame, which has been loathe to join a conference for decades, will be part of the 97-team group.
“I don’t like it. It destroys tradition and will be a burden on our student-athletes,” coach Brian Kelly said before being shown his new salary. “But then again I have been wanting to get a third boat.”
One notable exclusion from the new conference was Kansas whose blue-blood men’s basketball program was unable to offset its moribund football team. The Jayhawks announced that it would form a new conference with Black Hills State, Cal-Davis, Azusa Pacific, Minnesota-Crookston, the Colorado School of Mines, Sarah Lawrence College, and The New School. No name has formally been adopted but sources report that the Elba 8 is a strong contender.
The NCAA was unavailable for comment as it spent much of Monday investigating allegations from six years ago that former Auburn football coach Gus Malzhan bought a bus ticket for a player who was otherwise unable to go home for Thanksgiving.
It remains unclear what will happen to other sports.
“Other sports? You mean, like, what football players do when they’re not playing football?” Sankey said. “Oh, right, basketball, baseball, and all the ones girls … I mean, women, play. Well, they could figure something out. Maybe we could divide the conference into divisions of, I don’t know, 10 to 14 teams, grouped by geography. They could play amongst themselves and then at the end of the year they could have a big tournament to crown a national champion. That’d be something, wouldn’t it?”
Near the end of the day, rumors began to circulate that Texas was unhappy with the new conference and had begun exploring other options.