Beat of Sports

Beat of Sports

The Beat of Sports with the voice of UCF Sports Marc Daniels. Delivering sports the way you like it - Weekdays 9a-12p


Monday Notebook: Conference Buyouts, Markelle's Return And Express Lanes

2021 Big 12 Championship - Oklahoma State v Baylor

Photo: Getty Images

February 28, 2022 8:30 a.m.

UCF football fans are planning for a 2023 season in the Big XII. Will the Knights, Cincinnati and Houston be playing in their new league next fall? That is the $30M question. At least that's the rumors about the buyout number for the trio leaving the AAC early. That number may be north of $30M. That's a lot of money for those schools juggling dollars and trying to build their budgets to be competitive with their new rivals. Meanwhile, the figure for Oklahoma and Texas to leave the Big XII is said to more than $90M per school,

Count me among those who think there is a good chance the Big XII has 14 members for the 2023 season. While the Longhorns and Sooners have lots of money, the amount to leave for the SEC now is a steep one. But is it in everyone's best interest to find a way to make things happen sooner than later.

I admit, spending someone else's money is a dangerous thing. If I was AAC commissioner Mike Aresco and the BIg XII's Bob Bowlsby, I would want every penny I can get. But does it benefit the SEC and the Big XII to get to its future sooner than later? The Big XII has a new media deal on the horizon. The SEC has a new media deal but they'd love to start planning schedules and deliver their newest members to the content package.

What if the SEC and the Big XII assisted in getting their new schools in sooner (no pun meant here) than later? What if the both conferences advanced half the money their schools needed to assist with the buyout and take it from future media earnings? If you are an AAC school needing $30M+ to leave the league, does paying $15+ up front and taking $5M+ less each year over three years from your future media money make sense? Same for the scenario in the SEC, who would be fronting a lot more. 

Any such plans would require membership approval and there may be little to no interest for such a plan. But is it not in the best interest of all parties to get all this done now? All of these schools are already getting the cold shoulder from their current leagues and the discomfort will only continue.

Oklahoma and Texas do not need to increase their budgets to be on par with others in the SEC. All three AAC schools are trying to increase their budgets, some to the tune of $20-25M, to be financially competitive with their new partners.

That all adds up to a lot of new money needed. But the ever changing media landscape and scheduling now more challenging than ever, the path to making all these moves happen sooner seems like something in the best interest of all. But then again, money in college sports is never an easy topic for all parties. But fans of all programs should know, these are real dollars needed to make these changes happen on a schedule you want. It's why the next nine months will be so interesting to see how this plays out...

One more note on the delay to expand the college football playoff: one television executive, from a network who doesn't currently carry the playoff games, told me he wasn't surprised when the powers could not agree to a plan to expand now. He adds there will be multiple parties interested in the new plan for 2026 but says he would not be shocked if the new plan does not include G5 leagues. His message was, it is always about how many eyeballs you bring and 9-3 teams from major conferences still bring more fans than the regional school having a big season. His point is a three-loss Michigan will always be preferred over a 13-0 directional school from a smaller league- no matter the ranking. He also added one note I found interesting about Notre Dame. He wonders what would happen if the Power 5 leagues forced Notre Dame to either pick a conference or agree to a scheduling partnership with all of them for the right to keep an equal vote in playoff plans....

January 6, 2021 is the last time Markelle Fultz played in an NBA game. He returns tonight for the Orlando Magic as they take on the Indiana Pacers. The Magic are 14-47 and I don't think the return of Fultz will jeopardize their chances of landing a top pick in the draft. Fultz is a paid professional and if healthy he should play. In five NBA seasons, Fultz has played in just 113 games. The odds are stacked against Fultz to become an all-star after the injuries he has suffered. He is under contract for two more seasons at a reasonable(for NBA economics) salary of $16.5M and $17M. By the way, in that trade that sent Fultz to Orlando, the Sixers got a first round pick and that pick was Tyrese Maxey. In less than two seasons, Maxey has played in 112 games and is averaging more than 17 points a game this season and is a budding star in Philly...

Great season opening win for Orlando City. The Lions blanked Montreal 2-0 and dominated the match. MLS Commissioner Don Garber was in Orlando and that should not go unnoticed. Garber knows Orlando can be a major city for the league but he also knows the significance of the Wilf ownership to the league. It is another sign of strong ownership for a league competing for better players. But Garber knows the Wilf's will spend money and make Orlando City competitive. The list of owners that have come into MLS in the last five years is impressive. It includes owners of NFL teams, hedge fund leaders and powerful names in tech and entertainment. It has become cool to own an MLS franchise and valuations have soared in the last few years...

We should celebrate Bucs lineman Ali Marpet who announced his retirement at age 28. Instead of wondering if something is wrong or if he is leaving because Tom Brady retired, just celebrate a great story. Marpet is young, rich and healthy and wants to enjoy his life and family. He is leaving $10M on the table, his 2022 salary. He has made $36M in his career and walks away healthy.

Marpet had no offers from major programs coming out of high school and went to play at Hobart College in Geneva, New York. He lost one regular season game in four seasons and his performance at left tackle earned him a surprise invite to the 2015 Senior Bowl. He dominated the week in front of NFL scouts and his draft stock soared. Taken with the 61st overall pick in the 2015 draft, Marpet became one of the players at his position in the league. Voted a team captain multiple times, Marpet clearly had a plan and it doesn't include football any more. Good for him to be able to do what too many players can't....walk away and feel good...

Anyone want to breakdown the latest on MLB labor talks? Nope.

This week is the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Thirty years ago, Fred Couples won the tournament by nine shots at 19-under par. Couple won the $180,000 first prize and the total purse that year was $1M. This year's purse is $12M and the winner gets $2.16M...

My wife and I were headed home from a date night Saturday when she challenged me to try the new Express Lanes on I-4. I am always up for a challenge. There was no traffic advantage of taking the new lanes at that time of the day but we wanted to see how the exiting process works. As I got on my wife asked if you can drive as fast as you want. I had to remind her this was not the autobahn but it is tempting. My daily trek to work likely won't see me need or use the new lanes but bravo to the many who built the new look I-4. After all the years of construction, it looks pretty good. But now can we expand those lanes down by Disney that bring traffic to a screeching halt not because of an accident but because too many cars are squeezing into too few lanes?

Final thought: MasterCard, Cooper Tires, Office Depot, Nestle, Hertz and the Florida Citrus growers are the corporate sponsors over the years since the tournament started in 1966.

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