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Is The Big XII About To Become The “Allstate XII”?

A few weeks ago, I noted the possibility that we’re closer than ever to having ads on college football uniforms. While by no means a fait accompli, jersey ads are but one possibility as NCAA football seeks more and more reveune streams.

Another unsettling development that’s been taking shape in the past several weeks is the Big XII Conference is considering the sale of its naming rights to a title sponsor an advertiser, Allstate, a giant insurance company.

Big XII Commissioner Brett Yormark declared his conference is “open for business.” during the conference’s spring business meetings on May 31. Yormark formally introduced a concept to “sell the naming rights of the conference” in a deal which could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The sale of naming rights to Allstate depends on several factors, including the how the conference would be named going forward. It could range from “The Big XII Conference Presented by Allstate” to the “Allstate Big XII Conference” to “Allstate XII.” And even then there might be slight variations. Corporate advertisers have already proliferated Bowl games — think the “Capital One Orange Bowl” or the “Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl” — and yes, the Sugar Bowl has a corporate advertiser.

While changing a confererence name to that of an advertiser would be unprecedented, it’s probably just a matter of time. Just like MLB and the NHL “waited” for the NBA to put ads on unis, so too are the other conferences waiting to see who’ll go first here. And it looks like the Big XII will be first.

While “Big XII” carries some serious cachet, the question is whether Allstate (or any advertiser) will seek a full name change. Will they drop “Big” and just become “Allstate XII” or would they seek a slightly lesser profile to keep “Big XII” as part of any naming rights deal? It may depend on how much Allstate would be willing to pony up.

According to Yahoo, “The latest conversations within the conference have centered on retaining ’12’ in the ‘Big 12’ name and removing ‘Big.’ The corporate sponsor name would replace ‘Big’ — a significant change but one expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Last Thursday, Navigate, an entertainment/sports analytics company whose specialty is coming up with such valuations, estimated that changing from the Big XII Conderence to “The Allstate XII Conference” (or something similar) could generate approximately $3 million per year for each of the 16 schools currently in the Big XII.

The $3/M per school comes from Navigate’s range of informal estimates, from $30 million annually up to $60 million. If they go with the mid-range of $45 million, that would amount to just under $3 million per school per year. ($45M ÷ 16 = $2.81M). Obviously the higher the number, the more money per member university.

As noted in my article on jersey ad possibilities, the pending settlement of the House vs. NCAA case has blown a hole in most every university’s budget, and adding a corporate advertiser (which would be separate from jersey ads) will help schools to close that hole.

Allstate is already a major presence in College Football, from their ubuquitous goal post netting to the renaming of the Sugar Bowl to the “Allstate Sugar Bowl,” plus other stadium and field signage. Adding their name to the Big XII would be just another advertising outlet.

There already are big changes to NCAA football this fall: basically the PAC-12 is no more, the ACC is in lawsuits with several schools seeking to leave that conference, and the SEC and B1G have added several powerhouse universities. In fact, while the Big XII will feature 16 schools beginning in 2024, they recently lost both Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC. They added some non-Power 5 (well, Power 4 now) schools last season, and this year will be joined by four schools from the Pac-12: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah.

The Big XII was already falling tens of millions per school behind the SEC and B1G in the new round of media deals that followed the departure of Texas and Oklahoma and they won’t get as much distribution from the new College Football Playoff contract. In order to keep up with those two “super” conferences, the Big XII will need to bring in as much money as it can. Selling naming rights to Allstate would be one way they could keep up.

Nothing is set in stone. Yet. But the writing is on the wall, and the Big XII has made no secret of its desire to enhance revenue. Will it happen by fall? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Your thoughts?

Comments (42)

    This should be that bridge too far. I can’t assume the NCAA does anything because when it comes to the P4, they’re useless.


    The ACC & Big XII aren’t in the same stratosphere financially as the B1G & SEC.

    My thoughts are that the B1G and SEC would be foolish to do this, because their brand is more valuable than the advertising dollars. However, I could see them doing something like “The B1G, brought to you by Progressive Insurance”.

    It probably all comes down to how the schools see the future of the Big XII and whether CFB is headed to a Super League format. In the UK the Premier League used to be the Barclays Premier League until officials decided they wanted to be seen as the world’s best league and felt sponsorship got in the way of that goal/cheapened the brand. Meanwhile in here the NBA said “screw it, nobody cares about minor league basketball” and let Gatorade rename the D-League entirely. Full capitulation to a naming rights sponsor feels like one last pump-and-dump scheme before the entire sport shifts.

    How much of this would be going to the players who put their bodies and brains on the line?

    The latest conversations within the conference have centered on retaining ’12’ in the ‘Big 12’ name and removing ‘Big.’

    I don’t know what’s more stupid: adding a corporate name, or a 16-team league hanging on to the number 12. If you’re going to rename your conference, rip off the bandaid and do it all.
    Might as well rename all the conferences, while you’re at it, because none of them make any geographic or numerlogic sense anymore.

    I’d like for conferences to all just agree to stop putting numbers in their names.

    It used to be that if a conference expanded you’d change the name to reflect the expansion (à la Pac-8, Pac-10, Pac-12). Or, at the very least, when the Big Ten added Penn State they changed the conference logo to hide an 11 in there as a clever nod.

    But, I guess when you’ve got schools located on the Pacific Coast playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference there are even bigger problems with conference naming conventions.

    You mean the Atlantic Pacific Gulf Coast Conference?

    Actually that’s an easy fix. I call them the All Coasts Conference.

    All Coasts Conference is the one that has been thrown around that makes sense to me. And yeah, while I think something like the “Allstate XII” sounds much better than “The Big XII presented by Allstate,” drop the number altogether.

    I was coming to the comments section to say the exact same thing. I suppose the name “Big XII” has some cachet because of the history of the conference – you know, when the storied Big 8 threw a life preserver to four members of the foundering Southwest Conference, who then proceeded to act like the proverbial scorpion in Aesop’s classic fable (link) and completely destroy their new home. But if you remove the “Big” from the name, it is simply an inaccurate count of the conference membership with a lame advertiser’s name duct-taped to the front of it. If this happens, they should just blow up the whole name and come up with something else. I suggest “Allstate and the 16 Dwarfs.”

    All of it is stupid. Losing the BIG doesn’t do much, since there are plenty of Big Other Conferences. The XII is meaningless when there are XVI teams, or XXXIII% more than the name suggests. And most people think more fondly of the Big 8 than the Big XII.
    What is stupidest is that the universities are going to whore out for $3M per school. As mentioned in the article, the [YOUR NAME HERE] XII is tens of millions of dollars behind the SEC and B1G, so $3M isn’t going to solve their revenue issue.

    Id like to the see the analysis that shows adding this will actually drive new customers. Seems more egotistical reasons as the true benefit. For me personally when something is over advertised or especially a move like this I’ll never use the brand again.

    Yep, all ads are terrible. If I see an ad, I will purposely not buy or use that product. Unless I am already using said product.

    Not that it’s surprising that every single damn thing is for sale these days, but this does seem particularly unsavory, doesn’t it?

    The bigger question is, if you’re essentially going to rename the conference, why in the blue hell would they keep the “XII” part…when you now have 16 teams in the conference, and we all know it’s not going to stay at that number either?

    If you’re going to break, even if it involves being corporate shills, then break all the way…in this day and age, just get away from numbers altogether. I mean, it’s not like it’s been ALL that long ago when the Big 12 was still the Big 8. And surely the Allstate 16 isn’t going to last more than a few years before they become the Cheesecake Factory 20, right?

    The Big 10 really SHOULD do likewise…I mean, from a branding/marketing standpoint, they may consider themselves kinda stuck with it….but with 18 teams now, it’s just silly, isn’t it? Maybe rebrand as the “Big Time” Conference…that way if you say it fast enough, it still kinda sounds like Big Ten…

    I call them the Big Teen.
    And until they get to twenty, I’m going to keep calling them that.

    Some less important Euro pro soccer leagues have sold their naming rights to companies but the Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga of Spain have steered clear from this so far (or, as stated above, said bye to Barclays and called it the Premier League again). For me it indicates that the Big XII is becoming a beer league. SEC, BIG10 and ACC are wise not to follow this path.

    Unfortunately, Spain’s top division is officially known as La Liga EA Sports, and was previously Liga BBVA and La Liga Santander.

    I guess the only good news to come out of that is that pretty much every soccer fan I know ignores the advertising parts of those league names and just calls them what they’ve been known as for decades. I consider that at least partial evidence that some of this advertising isn’t as effective as the corporations who shell out ridiculous amounts of money might hope.

    You are right. They even had the previous league sponsors as a logo on the sleeve.

    I honestly think Allstate XII sounds better then something like Big XII presented by Allstate

    Why not? Everybody else in sports is whoring themselves out, so why not the XII? (Do they still have 12 teams?)

    And ads on uniforms are not going to stop at one. Teams will start selling multiple ads, and sooner rather than later.

    It’s getting harder and harder to care anymore.

    All I’m saying is that I hope that this doesn’t affect my car and house premiums.

    I think the large majority of programs need to really take a long hard look in the mirror and answer the question – can we ever compete in this environment, and if so to what end. What sense does it make for many of these teams to continue the chara

    There’s a Big Ten, a Big Twelve, and a Big East. Naming them after advertisers would be an improvement. Actually, only one conference has a Yankee Stadium amount of pixie dust, and that’s the Big Ten; I’d be surprised if that ever changed.

    I know this is common in European soccer – including with the Premier League in England and La Liga in Spain – so that’ll be the justification. But I hate it. I don’t know much about how soccer works, so instead let’s focus on just the CFB aspect of it.

    CFB has seen an explosion of revenue related to TV over the last 35 years. First, that revenue went to nicer facilities and to better paid coaches, and also to a proliferation of women’s sports – the latter of which was probably an unintended consequence, but one I’m happy with. It also led to the idea of amateurism being false and immoral, so, against the will of the people in charge, it’s now finally going to the players generating the revenue. So make no mistake – this isn’t the fault of paying the players. They generated revenue and some 35 years later, are finally reaping the rewards. Those rewards have gone to a lot of other things, some great, some deserved. And for the fans, it has also led to an increased accessibility to your favorite teams, nationwide.

    But it’s also led to an incredibly bloated telecast, far longer than the NFL’s, and to rule changes that have led to their literally being less football during a longer telecast. Conference commissioners tried to compare this to MLB’s pitch clock – but the pitch clock led to the same amount of baseball being played, just quicker. CFB’s rules has led to less football in the same amount of time. It’s in fact the opposite of the pitch clock.

    But there’s also now a disparity between a number of schools that all want to be competing at the same level – there always was, but the recent rule changes to letting players transfer more easily and being paid for their own likeness has exacerbated the gap between haves and have-nots. This is further exacerbated by a number of the most watched schools banding together into 2 Super conferences, and leaving behind a number of schools who previously had been in the “haves” to band with some “have-not” strivers. The Big 12 is a conference on the cusp of have/have-not. And so they’re trying to raise revenue in unique ways. Best-case for them is this is genius for a few years, and then the Big Ten and SEC become “State Farm Presents…” leagues, a la the Rose Bowl, and the gap returns rather quickly. Worst-case, it just emphasizes that the Allstate 12 is something of a minor conference with some good teams, a la The American. But also, if CFB imposes some sort of a salary cap – then the revenue the Big 12 makes would mostly go to coaches’ salaries, admin salaries, and non-FB sports.

    And what do the fans get out of this? More competitive teams, maybe. The rich TV deals gave us more accessibility to watching our teams. But what does this do for anyone? Will telecasts get shorter because advertising is everywhere else? (spoiler: nope). Will players be paid more? (maybe? but collective barganing is still hard for college athletes). Will Women’s Sports continue to flourish? Or will AD’s give themselves fatter paychecks, with the justification that they generated more revenue by selling out their name and jersey space? (spoiler: almost certainly)

    It’s not the worst but it’s not great.

    This would not be the first time a US league changed to a sponsor name. The NBA G-League (“G” is for Gatorade) used to be known as the NBA Development League, or “D-League” for short. Then a few years ago they sold the league sponsorship to Gatorade, and changed the name to the G-League. True, its not a “major” league, but it’s a clear case of a corporate sponsorship of an entire league.

    I do miss the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, and its’ lower tier Busch Grand National Division.

    the horse has left the barn – “Big XII” should bow down and become the Allstate 16 (or is it XVI?) . . . in fact the NCAA should get rid of all conference names that have numbers in them – none of them are accurate . . .

    Apostrophe catastrophe: “…the Big XII has made no secret of it’s desire to enhance revenue.” Should be “its”…

    Would prefer to see a Southwest Airlines sponsorship so we can rightfully return to…

    The Southwest Conference.

    There are enough ads all over. No need for more. They are getting easy to gloss over because there are so many.

    If Allstate were to be the league sponsor then they should just be called the Allstate Conference. No Big 12, no Big XII bullshit. Allstate actually sounds generic enough to be an actual conference. Of course you’d eventually get jerkwads poking fun at it, as if the conference was composed of football players who made the All State teams in high school.

    Tangentially, college football has lost me. It’s been getting worse every year by expanding playoffs, teams bolting for new conferences and over-exposure everywhere. It used to be I could look forward to a random Saturday in October and watch football from noon until midnight basically. Nowadays I don’t have the interest or energy for it anymore. One thing I do look forward to though is the 5 & 1 on Sunday mornings!

    The jerkwad who does the 5&1 list has mixed feelings about this… ;)

    Hate the idea of sponsored conferences. Ridiculous but inevitable.

    Keeping 12 in the conference name is necessary because it’s the logo! It’s not feasible to ditch the “XII” logo suddenly.

    Somebody needs to do a post on how to write all the conference names.

    Big 12 not Big XII
    Big Ten not Big 10
    Pac-12 not Pacific-12 or Pac 12 or PAC 12
    CUSA not C-USA

    Logos can change. The Big Ten changed theirs when they became the Big 11, then changed it again to the B1G.

    Lose the XII…or the 12.

    Next step: sponsoring the teamnames. The Allstate Horned Frogs playing the AT&T Gators!

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