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Thread: Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

  1. #1

    Sunbelt Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

    Copied from the Sun Belt BBS board.

    Due to the nature of my employment I get to talk with a bunch of people who I trust to me "in the know" around USM and throughout the years they have feed me information that turned out to miss the mark on only a very few occasions. And here is the rundown of what I put together from what several different people would even comment on.

    In the last 3 years USM has tried to do its part to "strengthen" CUSA and ties with teams. But some of the schools in this conference came into this conference not actually giving a crap about it. It took some nagging by some influential USM boosters and staff to convince the school president to initiate a vote to have Judy removed as the Conference Commissioner. It required a certain number of yes votes from other conference presidents to do. And in each situation no more than 4 school presidents would even entertain a vote on it. The first time it was USM, UAB and Marshall. Around the 3rd year 2 more school presidents were on board, WKU and MTSU. Very specifically the Texas schools flat out refused. And to be totally honest, you could lay the current predicament that CUSA finds itself in squarely on the shoulders of the Texas members.

    USM's AD, being that he spent time as AD at a Sunbelt School had made some calls to other conferences (AAC mostly to be honest) only to be told that they have no shot based on media market alone. Because for what ever reason people in charge in other conferences give Tulane credit for the New Orleans media market but have failed to realize that USM has more fans in N.O. than Tulane does. So with that out the window he began to call some contacts in the sunbelt 2 years ago around a plan that apparently they had thrown around in the past while he was at his prior SBC school. These talks were to to gauge interest into some form of a super conference merging CUSA and the sunbelt and possibly a few other schools. Those he spoke with were interested if CUSA were. When he brought this up with other CUSA institutions it was immediately shot down. So with this, and with the failing of the president to get enough votes to try to remove Judy, they quietly began looking for an out. Which means that he contacted his SBC contacts and said "hey, what about if we just join your conference outright?" This was done before the 2019 football season. And just after the SBC had had talks with ESPN about their media deal.

    The sunbelt, like CUSA, signed their media deal in 2017. The media payouts were similar between the two, within 100k per team of each other. Then you add on all the other stuff to get the amount of money distributed by the conference to each team. CUSA has a higher total distribution due to more bowl tie ins and such for example. BUT the media payouts per team were similar...........at first. The Sunbelt will not openly speak about its media deal. Thats actually part of the deal. But every year or so they have a meeting to look at what the ratings were of the games and all the associated numbers and they can "slide" their payouts for a year or two. The sunbelt had seen a viewership increase per game of over 130% per year since the contract was signed. The media part of the deal was increased a bit. And before the 2019 it was more that CUSA's. The only reason CUSA's payouts per team was higher per year was because of more bowl tie in's essentially. But the feasibility study that was done showed that USM could save AT A MINIMUM $400,000 per year in travel expenses in the sunbelt. Up to $1,100,000. The difference in the sunbelt and CUSA payouts were not even that far apart. So for USM, this is not only a no brainer at this point but required to try to save the program. The only catch was that at least 1 other school had to come along. UAB, La Tech, and Marshall were approached (this was before the 2020 football season) and USM was basically laughed at by Tech. UAB had already found out that if anything happened with the AAC they could be called so they weren't willing to commit. Only Marshall entertained the idea.

    Now in summer of 2020 when the sunbelt sat down with ESPN to talk about the viewership stats and contract and such it was mentioned that they were in talks to bring in Southern Miss and maybe another school or two. ESPN has a chart with every school and a value of viewership they place for each school, regardless of that schools success or conference affiliation at the time. Given the way the sunbelt has grown viewership, and the proximity of its institutions to USM specifically, and the fact that ESPN considered they have 0 of southern miss's viewers subscribing to their services due to USM not being in a conference with a ESPN contract, then they had a value to add. Reportedly the first deal was that ESPN would kick in enough money to flat out pay USM to be on equal footing with the rest of the sunbelts payouts without the rest of the schools having to take a cut to their payouts. And not only that, but just based on the normal stats with the SBC schools ESPN was increasing the media payout again. The exact amount wasn't shared with me. But I was told by 3 different people the same exact phrase. "The media deal alone per school is about 3 times what conference usa's is." CUSA gets more money from bowls due to more bowl tie in's. But the yearly distribution per conference will be almost exactly the same, maybe a couple hundred thousand in the sunbelts favor after this.

    So its not like both conferences have 500,000 per year per school media deals. CUSA may have 500k, and sunbelt may have 1.6m. But then in the actual payouts both may be 2 million per year per school. Then ESPN basically agreed to throw 2 million more at the SBC to give to USM just to get them on board (and gain those perceived extra viewers they think they will give according to their chart).

    And this was all decided before the 2020 football season was over. At least for USM's part. As negotiations continued (mostly between the sbc and media partners and other schools about joining) by summer of 2021, and another year of the sbc increasing viewership, and the list of schools potentially to join USM into moving into the sunbelt (Marshall was basically a done deal at this point, everything else since then has been smoke and mirrors) the payout scale shifted again. I was told before the news that USM was even talking to the SBC broke that "USM, with travel savings figured in will see a 1 and a half to 2 million dollar revenue increase in the first year in the sunbelt. And it could push 3 million".

    Then there is the CUSA payout. No school that left CUSA before 2009 ever paid a penny of exit fees they owed the conference. There was said to be a loophole for the founding members that USM and possibly UAB could exploit to may no or only a portion of the exit fee. Worst case for USM it would forfeit the 2021-2022, and 2022-2023 CUSA distribution (about 1.5 million per year) to cover its fees. However its also said that the USM "had the donations to pay the fee all at once before the end of July". USM could forfeit this year cusa payouts, next years cusa payout, but play in the sunbelt and get a full payout from them, and essentially only have a loss of 1.5 million. Which they would save at minimum almost a 3rd of that on travel. So only a 1 million loss.

    And then there is this nugget. The only thing that keeps the CUSA distributions higher than the sunbelts the last few years. The bowl tie ins. CUSA has more of them.................till now. Do you think CUSA will maintain all its tie in's? No. It will not. The sunbelt will pick up a couple of them, thats almost a certainty. Maybe you see a flip where the SBC has 7 and CUSA 3. There is zero chance that CUSA will have as many as the sunbelt by the time the new bowl contracts are worked out. Which will further tip the financials in the sunbelts favor going forward.

  2. Default Re: Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

    Juicy


  3. #3
    covcaj is online now Ragin Cajuns of Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Fan for Sure

    Default Re: Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

    We will probably never know if this is what happened, however, it does make sense, at least to this amateur observer.


  4. #4

    Default Re: Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

    Quote Originally Posted by covcaj View Post
    We will probably never know if this is what happened, however, it does make sense, at least to this amateur observer.
    Man, that’s some detail. Looks like he knows what he’s talking about.

  5. #5

    Ragin' Cajuns Re: Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

    Quote Originally Posted by LaCajunsFan View Post
    Man, thatís some detail. Looks like he knows what heís talking about.
    I'd say too much detail to have been made up!

    #cULture
    #WeAreLouisiana
    #GeauxCajuns
    #ConferenceChampions

  6. #6

    Tickets Re: Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

    Quote Originally Posted by NOCajun View Post
    I'd say too much detail to have been made up!
    …….But very logical and believable!!!!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

    Quote Originally Posted by CajunRebel View Post
    Copied from the Sun Belt BBS board.
    Does USM really have more fans in NOLA than Tulane? That's hard to believe.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

    Quote Originally Posted by zephyr View Post
    Does USM really have more fans in NOLA than Tulane? That's hard to believe.
    I can believe that. Most of Tulane's students come from out of state and leave as soon as they graduate. Even the ones from La move out of state for opportunity. I would imagine that statement includes the North Shore as well.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

    Quote Originally Posted by zephyr View Post
    Does USM really have more fans in NOLA than Tulane? That's hard to believe.
    UL has more fans in NOLA than Tulane. Hell, STM has more fans there, too.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Esqueleto View Post
    UL has more fans in NOLA than Tulane. Hell, STM has more fans there, too.
    USM is closer to NOLA than UL. I’ve never felt like there were more USM alumni in the area than UL. Strictly a feeling.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

    Quote Originally Posted by CajunRebel View Post
    Copied from the Sun Belt BBS board.
    I'm not an insider, but from what I heard...the filtered down source is a member on the USM Board, this is pretty damn accurate.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

    Just another reason that Zombie LoTech was never a serious candidate instead of USM. They were damned serious about getting away from Zombie CUSA.


  13. #13

    Default Re: Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

    Quote Originally Posted by CajunEXPRESS View Post
    USM is closer to NOLA than UL. Iíve never felt like there were more USM alumni in the area than UL. Strictly a feeling.
    I agree wholeheartedly.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

    Quote Originally Posted by CajunEXPRESS View Post
    Just another reason that Zombie LoTech was never a serious candidate instead of USM. They were damned serious about getting away from Zombie CUSA.
    If I’m a true Tech fan that wanted in on the SBC, there were plenty, I’d be furious!

  15. #15

    Default Re: Interesting behind the scenes account of USM & conference realignment

    Oh they wanted in too late. We had to offer their team political pressure


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