I did not make this headline up
I was planning on simply responding to Seth 9’s diary, but this became way too long.
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With Barry Alvarez openly saying that the Big 10 is serious about adding a twelfth team, it is an interesting exercise to try and determine which team the Big 10 would add, given various constraints that either do or supposedly exist. I did some extensive searching, and could not the find Big 10 bylaws, so we have to go off what the greater internets tell us is the truth. There are two constraints I’ve seen thrown out:
1. Membership in the American Association of Universities (AAU)
2. Located in a state already in the Big 10 footprint or adjacent to the Big 10 footprint.
Assuming the bylaws won’t be changed and no one is added to the AAU, here are schools that meet both criteria (and play Div 1-A athletics:
<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Iowa State
The little bit of research I’ve done does not suggest that entering the AAU is as easy as those of us interested in Notre Dame might think, although Notre Dame has improved markedly in academics and would definitely meet the Big 10’s general criteria of a strong academic institution. That said, Notre Dame is clearly the obvious choice should NBC decide not to renew their TV contract in 2015. If the Big 10 were desperate enough, the Big 10 and Fox Sports could make an exception and let Notre Dame keep the TV deal for its home games.
The general assumption is that the Big 10 is interested in expanding solely to create a football Championship Game, with the goals of added revenue and increased national exposure after Thanksgiving. I believe that better basketball and non-revenue sports are secondary, but desired. To me, this means that the ideal candidate has a strong football program, a TV market without a Big 10 team, and strong recruiting base.
The base criteria—specifically football strength allows us to pare down the list to something like this, give or take a Syracuse:
Personally, out of those six teams, four are in good to excellent situations right now. I firmly believe that leaving the Big 12 would hurt Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. Their recruiting base is primarily Kansas south into Texas and only Nebraska even comes close to being a true national recruiter. Losing TV exposure in Texas would leave those schools with small local populations and a difficult road to hoe trying to pry athletes from Texas. Plus, TCU would likely be the school the Big 12 would add, which is a better choice for a BCS conference level Texas recruit—further diluting those schools’ recruiting bases. The Big 10 simply doesn’t have that great of an offer for a Big 12 team. Leaving a goliath conference with guaranteed schedules and a championship game for another goliath, etc isn’t a great sales pitch.
Maryland is in a similar boat, and really doesn’t have much in the way of historical ties to the Big 10. However, I see Maryland as a stronger option for the Big 10 than the Big 12 teams simply because their membership means more exposure in the fertile Maryland/DC recruiting region.
Like Seth 9, I see Pitt as a very strong candidate that the Big 10 has something to offer. The Big East has relatively little exposure nationally, no championship game, and only eight teams. Big East teams have to schedule five non-conference games and have a crappy TV deal. The Big Ten can offer eight conference games and a great TV deal, plus Ohio recruiting. Pitt provides the Big 10 with a (relatively) strong football team, good basketball team, and the Pittsburgh/Philly market. Win/Win situation.
Rutgers also has a lot to provide the Big 10, minus the strong basketball. Furthermore, it expands the conference footprint into New Jersey/New York, which would be great for recruiting and TV dollars. The Big 10 offers Rutgers better TV, a championship game, and Big 10 footprint recruiting—which combined with New Jersey and New York gives the Big 10 a much stronger recruiting base. To me, Rutgers is the best choice given the above constraints.
How would this break down into divisions? Let’s assume that the Big 10 decides to operate like the SEC and guarantee one cross division game per year and three rotating games with five games in each division. Like Seth 9, the East-West Divisions would break down like this (substituting Rutgers for Pitt):
This division breakdown does not have much parity, so the North/South is probably better, and might look like this:
To me, this works better parity-wise. Michigan would still play Ohio State, Iowa could still play Minnesota, and Penn State could keep its huge rivalry with Little Brother alive. Unfortunately, splitting Michigan and Ohio State up likely means moving the game to earlier in the season to prevent likely championship game rematches the next week.
There are tons of better teams out there that might be swayed by Big 10 TV money or other factors. Texas would be great for the Big 10, but would never happen ina million-billion years. Personally, I’d like to see us gain a foothold in the south by stealing Vanderbilt or Kentucky from the SEC. Unfortunately, like the Big 12 and ACC teams, the Big 10 doesn’t have much to offer.
ed: Response to comments about the importance of TV markets in today's hyper-media age.
The New York TV market is the largest market in the country. According to a blatently pro-cable study (http://www.arbitron.com/downloads/cabletvstudy.pdf), about 61% of Americans have cable TV in their home. If anything, a blatently pro-cable study is going to guess high, IMO. According to the census, about 7% of Americans don't watch TV. This leaves about 32% of Americans without cable TV. Assuming those numbers are relatively constant across the United States, this means that several million people in New York/New Jersey don't have cable.
Adding Rutgers means ABC would likely televise a Big 10 game in New York during a time slot with an ACC game (Boston College vs. Virgina Tech) and a Big 10 game (Michigan vs. Iowa). If even a couple percent of those people tune in with their digital TV converter box, that is a few hundred thousand extra viewers, which means more money, etc.
- Alabama: 2:39 p.m.
- Arkansas: 3:39 p.m.
- Auburn: 4:08 p.m.
- Florida: 3:38 p.m.
- Georgia: 5:15 p.m.
- Kentucky: 4:03 p.m.
- LSU: 6:30 p.m.
- Ole Miss: 3:11 p.m.
- Miss St: 2:45 p.m.
- South Carolina: 4:38 p.m.
- Tennessee: 5:09 p.m.
- Vanderbilt: 3:57 p.m.
The average kick-off time in the SEC was 4:07 p.m.
Here's the average kick-off times for each of the Big Ten (again in alphabetical order and local times):
- Illinois: 1:25 p.m.
- Indiana: 3:15 p.m.
- Iowa: 12:41 p.m.
- Michigan: 1:18 p.m.
- Michigan St: 1:30 p.m.
- Minnesota: 1:08 p.m.
- Northwestern: 12:08 p.m.
- Ohio State: 2:38 p.m.
- Penn St: 1:52 p.m.
- Purdue: 12:08 p.m.
- Wisconsin: 12:00 p.m.
That means that games in the SEC start an average of 2 hours and 51 minutes later than games in the Big Ten. So what? Well, in the words of Chris Fowler, that's almost 3 more hours for fans to get "well lubricated." Fans with a few more hours of liquid self-confidence can make games that much more fun. A better atmosphere would be more appealing to better athletes.
I know there are other factors as to why the SEC is able to get better athletes. If the best states to recruit are in the southeast, California, and Texas, then those schools are much closer to home (by mileage or climate). However, this might be something to think about.
I don't think unrelated to this is the positive correlation to higher stars being drafted and drafted higher in the NFL. Perceived better players (real or not) are likely to receive more attention from better teams who have better coaches. This increases their chances of getting drafted. I don't have numbers to substantiate this, it's a thought to consider.
I may be way off but it is interesting. I know the climate could play into this, starting a game later in the day lets it cool off in the south. Or playing closer to noon in the midwest during October and November.
But wait! What's that you say?
The University is in the middle of a nine-figure renovation project to a facility that is only used eight times year, if it's lucky? I didn't even know about that. I guess they care more about athletics, huh? But I'm a student who plans on going to law school, making bank, and giving a lot back to the school. If I can possibly pay my ever-mounting loans back, that is. Why don't they invest in my well-being instead of a bunch of football players, most of whom won't play professionally anyway?
Oh! Really? The University makes more money off the football team? Shut Up! Athletics ended last year with a surplus?
Obviously there's a decent amount of sarcasm floating around here, the main point being that I think a University of this caliber and relatively progressive minded administration has what it takes to use some of the athletic budget elsewhere. If you haven't heard, some promises have been broken recently. That, combined with Mary Sue's opposition to the State Legislature's cutting of the Michigan Promise Scholarship, points towards a possible remedy, which I propose should be a commitment of aid from the Athletic Department.
In times like these, successful organizations need to step up in order to stop the bleeding. The financial prosperity of Michigan sports will not continue in isolation. In other words, the state's economic plight has the strength to bring the Big House attendance numbers down with it. The best way to ensure a turnaround is for increased investment from Athletics into the student body and their financial aid. This is something I am sure Martin's replacement could address, but won't.
MGoBlue and Coach Maloney released this upcoming season's baseball captains this week in senior catcher Chris Berset and senior first baseman Mike Dufek. The two have big shoes to fill, stepping up to fill the void of last year's captains Chris Fetter, Tim Kalczynski, and Kevin Cislo, but I'm sure they'll be up to the task.
Berset is in his fourth (split time with Doug Pickens in '07, but started more games) year as the starting catcher for the Wolverines, having already 91 starts in 110 games played. Chris has managed our pitching staff very well over the years, including the wildly successful campaigns of alumni Chris Fetter, Zach Putnam, Mike Powers, and current players such as Tyler Burgoon, Eric Katzman, and Alan Oaks.
There is a difference in the play of our team with him behind the plate. Pitchers feel confident in throwing that hard breaking slider in the dirt with runners on base and being aggressive because they know that Berset will block the ball.
On offense, Berset had a solid rebound to his sophomore slump of a season in 2007. From MGoBlue:
Berset, a three-year letterwinner, posted a career high in doubles (7) and runs batted in (21) despite missing 24 games due to injury last season. The switch-hitting catcher had a breakout sophomore campaign in 2008, appearing in 42 games with 37 starts behind the dish. Michigan was 27-10 in games Berset caught as he helped lead the team to its third straight Big Ten title and NCAA Regional in Ann Arbor.
Chris also honed his leadership skills with a trip to this year's World Baseball Cup, playing for the Great Britain team. While the GB team didn't make it past the 2nd round, Berset did well, hitting .387 with a key home run against Croatia.
Mike Dufek will be making his second straight season as the starter at first base, his third season to be at least a semi-regular starter. In his sophomore season, Dufek commonly came in to play first base when All American Nate Recknagel shifted to catcher or designated hitter.
Dufek is the big hitter in the lineup, registering 17 home runs last season and a .647 slugging percentage. Dufek is also a solid closer for Michigan, with a 95+ mph fastball that leaves opposing hitters whiffing at nothing.
Dufek earned first team All-Big Ten honors as a first baseman last season after starting all 55 games and leading all Big Ten first basemen with 17 home runs. He tied for third place on the U-M single-season homer list while finishing with a team-best 19 doubles. Dufek also appeared on the mound 11 times, posting a 1-1 record with three saves and a 2.70 ERA.
"What I look for in a captain are players who are committed to the team," Maloney continued. "Captains should look at things bigger than themselves, and I think Chris and Mike have demonstrated that quality throughout their careers. It's not about them; they want to win for Michigan."
Congratulations to Chris and Mike on your honor.
Images from mgoblue.com
The #13 seed Michigan defeated #4 seed Stanford tonight in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Volleyball tournament. Michigan won in 4 sets by scores 25-18, 23-25, 25-22, and 25-11. Michigan came out with their highest focus level all season and it showed.
In set one, Michigan's big players, Alex Hunt, Juliana Paz, Veronica Rood, and Lexi Zimmerman all came out on fire. Michigan registered only one hitting error with a hitting percentage of almost .535. Hitting percentages are like batting averages in baseball. A .333 percentage is very good. .535 is unreal. We did it.
We had balance on offense. Hunt was surgical on the outside. She cut blocks right and left. Paz was powerful, blowing through blocks for kills. Veronica Rood got the attention from Lexi that she should, providing a distraction for the Stanford blockers, opening up the outside. Lexi was perfect on the set, but she was also a force on the block. The first set was only close because Michigan was pushing hard on the serve, leading to 4 extra Stanford points.
In the second set, Michigan jumped out to an early lead of 5-2, but Stanford came back to tie the game at 8. Stanford got their block going, especially on Hunt, but Michigan managed to slowly cut the lead down and even tie the game at 23. Down 23-24, Michigan let a serve by that looked to be out. It was ruled to have landed on the line and Michigan lost the set. The call was close, and that play ended up being the difference.
Set three saw Michigan return to dominating. Michigan had two different 7 point leads in the set, mainly thanks to a couple of runs by Rood and Hunt. Stanford managed to bring the game back to a one point Michigan lead at 20-19, but when Rood rotated back into the front, it was set over. Michigan pulled away and won.
Set four was all Michigan. Stanford's wheels began to fall off as they had back to back serve receive errors against both Paz and Donhoff. They never really got "in system", meaning they never were able to get into a normal bump-set-spike rhythm. Michigan steam rolled over the Cardinal to open the set 16-3. From that point, Michigan traded off points to the final 25-11 score.
- Lexi Zimmerman was great all night. Her sets were crisp and clean. Her blocks were timely and huge (I think she had more than the 2 assist listed in the gametracker). She did a great job of mixing the sets. She incorporated everyone in the game plan and didn't force too many 2's (quick hits by the setter instead of actually setting the ball to another player). Lexi has forced a lot of 2's lately, and today she definitely let Rood/Bower be the change of pace attacks.
- Alex Hunt's hitting from the left side won the match for Michigan. In the first and third sets, she was splitting blocks, pinpointing her hits to go off the block, and just smashing the ball. Her 18 kills lead the team
- Juliana Paz had a great night with 15 kills, 3 service aces, and a solo block. Despite these numbers, Paz really wasn't a huge part of the game. Her .250 hitting percentage was lowest of the major contributors, and might have overshadowed just how good she played. The two service errors also looked pretty bad, but those happen.
- Veronica Rood needs to be cloned. With middle blockers, you almost always have two of them in your rotation at any time. This way, you have one in the front at all times (the other is usually subbed out by the libero). When Rood is in the game, Michigan can't be stopped offensively. Rood's blocking on the season isn't quite as impressive as most other middle blockers in the BigTen, but her offense is top of the line. Her quick hits (zero sets) and her slide/cutting hits when she moves to her right then hits are money every time.
- Megan Bower, like Paz, had a quiet set of kills as well. Bower totaled 9 on 17 attempts for a .471, but her bigger contribution was a change of pace in set 3. After Stanford really started to key in on Hunt and Paz, and with Rood subbed out on the back row, Bower had a strong kill from the opposite side that helped get Rood back into the front row quicker. That was a big swing in the game.
- Karlee Bruck really struggled in this game. She had 3 kills and 3 hitting errors in 15 attempts for a .000 percentage. She seemed a bit slow to the block (but registered 2 block assists) and was also off on her attacks. She did do really well on a couple of one-on-one plays at the net where the ball came down up for grabs.
- Sloane Donhoff and Maggie Busch both played excellent defense today and contributed quite a bit at the line. Donhoff had 4 service aces (2 errors) and Busch had an ace (1 error) from the serving line.
With the win, Michigan advances to the Elite Eight and will play the Hawaii Wahine tomorrow night (11:30pm ET) in Palo Alto. Earlier today, the Wahine defeated an Illinois team that finished ahead of Michigan in the BigTen. Illinois looked flat, but Hawaii did what they were supposed to do and didn't make errors.
Hawaii appears to be a team very much like Michigan in that they are aggressive, focus on their serving game, and rely on a pair of hitters. This should be a really good, really tight game. Hawaii is a power program in the WAC, comparable to Boise State in football, but with a much longer track record of success in the NCAA tournament.
I'll update this with media information as I get it. I think the game will be streamed again, but I'm not sure.
Go Blue, Beat the Wahine.
I love that there was already a "Stanford Sucks" tag.
A quick preliminary note: If the Big Ten becomes a twelve team conference, it should no longer be called the Big Ten. The Big North would be more appropriate, as would the better, yet redundant, Awesome Northern Conference of Awesomeness and Death (the ANCAD).
And now on to the important stuff:
I do not think that Notre Dame is likely to join the Big Ten. It is what the Big Ten wants the most, but because of Notre Dame's current financial situation, it is unlikely that they will be willing to make the move in the near future.
Instead, I think the most likely candidate is Pitt. They have geographic proximity, acceptable academics, competitive athletics, and a natural rival in Penn State. Now if Pitt were to join the
|From Big Ten + Pitt|
Geographically, there are two ways to separate the schools into divisions. The first is an East-West division and the second is a North-South division. Let's look at a straight East-West division first:
This system would be terrible. Like the Big 12, there is no competitive balance, with Michigan, OSU, and PSU in the same division. So instead, let's look at a North-South division:
This system is much better, with very good competitive balance in football and basketball, and rivalries are preserved. Allowing for one permanent inter-division game* per team, every major rivalry (and most minor rivalries) would be preserved. Michigan and Minnesota fans can rejoice at the Brown Jug becoming a yearly rivalry, while OSU and Illinois (well, OSU) can enjoy fighting over the Illibuck. In fact, out of the 14 rivalry games in the Big Ten, 12 would be played every year (with MSU-Indiana and Minnesota-Penn State being played only 4 years out of every 10, but honestly, who cares). Currently, only 10 are annual games. Additionally, Penn State benefits by getting Pitt every year.
The only real detriment here is that the Michigan-OSU game would have to be moved from the final week of the season, in order to avoid a potential (and often likely) rematch in the conference championship. A possible solution here would be to have Michigan and OSU open up conference play every year one week earlier than other teams. To elaborate, I would have all teams play three non-conference games to start off the year, then have Michigan play OSU while the rest of the teams either take a bye or play another non-conference game (obviously, there's room to maneuver here). Michigan would then close out with MSU (which would make MSU happy) and OSU would close out with Penn State (Pitt would still close with WVU in a non-conference game, so there's no real issue here). I think that opening conference play with OSU could easily keep the game in the national spotlight.
I know that this model isn't exactly ideal, but I think it's a pretty good one considering the realities of the situation. Any thoughts?
*Permanent Inter-Division Games
Michigan State-Penn State
Note: I matched the last three games on the competitiveness of the teams more than anything else.