College football may have changed the talent on the field, but consumers and fans can expect a lot more of the same when it comes to the business of college football. The CFP is firmly entrenched, conference politics and league expansion will be discussed, player compensation will come up in conversation, and the major sponsors that built campaigns around football Saturdays will be back on TV and in major brand activations at stadiums.
In terms of those sponsors, that means a lot of Dr. Pepper. Dr. Pepper has been a major sponsor for college football, divisions, and the CFP for some time now. Everyone who watches football on Saturdays knows Larry Culpepper, the Dr. Pepper pitchman who somehow pops up at every major game — and sometimes takes credit for the CFP becoming reality. Well this year Larry is back, but Dr. Pepper will be amping up the type of advertising it is doing. Get ready for more digital and social. There will be Snapchat filters. Dr. Pepper will leverage as much inventory as it can. It wouldn’t be the same if they didn’t.
League expansion will surely come up as the Big 12 looks to catch up with the other Power-5 conferences. There has already been discussion that some schools such as Houston, BYU, Cincinnati, and Memphis are being considered for Big 12 expansion. It feels like we are going on year 10 of expansion talk. There is still a lot of money out there, and conferences want to make sure they have enough exposure before the TV bubble pops.
At some point the compensation of college athletes will come up as well. It is inevitable. The industry has kind of reached a lull since the O’Bannon case, but that doesn’t mean the discussion about paying college athletes is finished — especially as Under Armour/UCLA is discussed and Michigan/Nike/Jordan deal is unveiled on the field of play.
Even the CFP hasn’t changed. There has been no talk of expanding the field from four to six or eight teams. That will leave one Power-5 conference out in the cold — it could be two or three in Notre Dame, Houston, or one conference puts in two teams. And even though ESPN finally won its battle that will move future CFP games away from New Year’s Eve . . . this year will still have the difficult scheduling most likely creating lower ratings.
That means more of the same in regards to the business of college football. The industry behind college football may have reached a –very — momentary stasis. For business, sometimes lack of change isn’t a bad thing.