Who Are the Most Valuable College Football Teams?

College football is changing before our eyes and will likely never be the same. The product in the field will still be entertaining and eye-catching on TVs, but 10 years from now it will look and feel very different.

The realignment of the conference has changed the face of college football over the past 30 years. From the dissolution of the Southwest and Big 8 conferences, to the expansion and contraction of the Big East, to the realignment that found four of the Big 12 programs new homes a decade ago, to what we saw last year have seen the move to large conferences as powerful programs.

Oklahoma and Texas’ commitment to the SEC and USC and UCLA’s promise to the Big Ten were the final straw that broke the backbone of the storied college football we love.

As the sands change in college football, profitability and value are just as important as results on the field.

With the conference’s realignment just beginning, let’s take a look back at the 2019 Forbes list of the 25 Most Valuable College Football Programs. It was the last time the list was updated, but it is telling.

The redesigned SEC with Texas and Oklahoma features 12 of the top 25 programs on the list. The only conference schools not listed are Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Missouri, and Mississippi State. The redesigned Big Ten has eight of the top 25. Oregon, Notre Dame, Clemson, Washington and Florida State make up the rest of the list, and each has been mooted for a possible move to the SEC or Big Ten.

The ACC would be in good shape were it not for its media rights agreement, which runs until 2036. With future media rights deals for the Big Ten and the SEC estimated to be in excess of $1 billion, the ACC is financially lagging behind.

This reality could create a situation that will lead to more moves for college football’s most valuable programs in the near future.


Clemson Tiger

January 1, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) warms up prior to the College Football Playoffs semifinal match against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Friday, January 1, 2021. Adam Cairns-USA TODAY sports


Ole Miss Rebels

January 1, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana; Mississippi Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin reacts after a game against the Baylor Bears in the first half of the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports


Wisconsin Badgers

Oct 12, 2019; Madison, WI; Wisconsin Badgers defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk (97) celebrates after he tackled Michigan State Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke (14) in the third quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports


Michigan State Spartans

Dec 12, 2020; University Park, Pennsylvania; Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Jalen Nailor (8) makes a catch and runs the ball in the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports


Iowa Hawkeyes

October 1, 2021; College Park, Maryland; Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback Spencer Petras (7) crawls during the second half of a game against the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports


Nebraska Cornhuskers

September 4, 2021; Lincoln; Nebraska Cornhuskers linebacker Luke Reimer (28) pressures Fordham Rams quarterback Tim DeMorat (17) in the first half at Memorial Stadium. Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports


Washington Huskies

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports


USC Trojans

Dec 4, 2004; Pasadena, California; USC running back #5 Reggie Bush passes the UCLA defense on his way to an 81-yard touchdown run during the Trojans’ 29-24 win over the Bruins on Saturday at the Rose Bowl. Photo by Joe Robbins-USA TODAY Sports.


Arkansas Razorbacks

September 11, 2021; Fayetteville; Arkansas Razorbacks running back AJ Green (0) celebrates after a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Texas Longhorns at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Arkansas won 40-21. Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports


South Carolina gamecocks

December 5, 2020; Lexington, Kentucky; South Carolina Gamecocks running back Kevin Harris (20) scores for a touchdown against the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field in the third quarter. Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports


Florida State Seminoles

Florida State Seminoles defenseman Asante Samuel Jr. (26) after Clemson fails to complete the pass as the Florida State Seminoles play the Clemson Tigers in college football at Doak S. Campbell Stadium on Saturday, October 27, 2018 line up Alicia Devine/ Democrat


Oregon ducks

December 6, 2019; Santa Clara, California; Oregon Ducks running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio (33) rushes against the Utah Utes during the first half of the Pac-12 Conference championship game at Levi’s Stadium. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


Penn State Nittany Lions

November 9, 2019; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Micah Parsons (11) celebrates after firing Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan (not pictured) in the second half at TCF Bank Stadium. Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports


Tennessee volunteers

November 20, 2021; Knoxville; Tennessee Volunteers head coach Josh Heupel speaks to offensive lineman Javontez Spraggins (76) during the first half against the South Alabama Jaguars at Neyland Stadium. Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports


LSU Tiger

April 17, 2021; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; LSU Tigers huddle together during the warm up before the annual Purple and White Spring Game at Tiger Stadium. Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports


Chestnut Tigers

Sep 25, 2010; Auburn, Alabama; Auburn Tigers quarterback Cameron Newton (2) arms South Carolina Gamecocks linebacker Tony Straughter (44) in the second half at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn defeated South Carolina 35-27. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports


Florida Gators

December 19, 2020; Atlanta, GA; Florida Gators tight end Kyle Pitts (84) runs the ball against Alabama Crimson Tide defenseman Jordan Battle (9) and defenseman Josh Jobe (28) during the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports


Georgia Bulldogs

Dec 12, 2020; Columbia, Missouri; Georgia Bulldogs defenseman Eric Stokes (27) returns an interception against the Missouri Tigers in the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports


Notre Dame fights the Irish

November 13, 2021; Charlottesville, VA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Logan Diggs (22) carries the ball past Virginia Cavaliers in linebacker Nick Jackson (6) during the fourth quarter at Scott Stadium. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports


Oklahoma earlier

November 16, 2019; Waco, Texas; Oklahoma Sooners running back Rhamondre Stevenson (29) and quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) in action during the game between the Bears and the Sooners at McLane Stadium. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


Ohio state horse chestnuts

January 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Garrett Wilson (5) catches a touchdown pass against Alabama Crimson Tide defenseman Brian Branch (14) during the third quarter of the 2021 College Football Playoffs National Championship at Hard Rock Stadium. Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports


Alabama Crimson Tide

January 10, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) falls back to throw against the Georgia Bulldogs in the third quarter of the 2022 CFP National College Football Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


Michigan Wolverines

November 2, 2019; College Park, Maryland; Michigan Wolverines defenseman Kwity Paye (19) and linebacker Jordan Glasgow (29) before the snap during the 2g against the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports


Texas longhorns

September 11, 2021; Fayetteville; Arkansas Razorbacks running back AJ Green (0) rushes for a touchdown in the second half against the Texas Longhorns at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Arkansas won 40-21. Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports


Texas A&M Aggies

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

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