I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
big ten expansion
Programming note: I am headed out of town for the annual approximately week-long Christmas vacation. I'll check in periodically but posts are not likely unless there is major news. I return on the 30th. Update: Tim will be around until Wednesday.
Adios. Donovan Warren is out:
Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren has declared for the NFL draft.
Warren told The Associated Press on Sunday he believes it’s the right time to take his game to the next level.
“I’m confident in my ability,” he said. “I’m ready for the next chapter in my life.”
There was a brief window in which it seemed that Warren would come back because Warren said words to the effect of "I'll probably come back," but at the Bust he said he was "heavily" favoring the NFL and after that it seemed like a matter of time. It was.
While Michigan fans aren't quite as attached to Warren as Tiger fans were to Curtis Granderson…
…the vast seeping hole full of pus and regret he leaves in the secondary has elicited a similar reaction. Justin Turner, now is the time to pupate.
About 14. The thing about 14 teams is at that point it's hardly a conference, it's two conferences with a scheduling agreement and a weird playoff at the end. Two divisions of seven have you face everyone in your division and then just two teams from the other division. We'd go from playing Penn State and everyone else in the other division 75% of the time (there are eight teams in the league that aren't protected rivals and we miss two of them every year) to playing them 29% of the time, and there's no way you can protect a rivalry game in the opposite division without making the situation even worse.
Unless you go to nine or even ten games there's just no way that makes any sense. So then you're trying to coordinate three new schools and take away at least one precious nonconference cupcake and argue which team goes in which division and trying to get eight of eleven votes to approve all this.
There is zero percent chance of this happening.
Syracuse thinks the Big Ten is great… for Boeheim to poop on. Jim Boeheim's opinion of the Big Ten was not glowing 20 years ago:
I guarantee, and you can write a story, Penn State basketball will never be successful in the Big Ten. I will give you my heart if they are. I’m talking ever. Just not going to happen.
The whole discussion came from talking about Miami coming to the Big East and how that saved us [Syracuse] from maybe having to go to the Big Ten. What I said was, there is no way Syracuse [football] could win in the Big Ten or the ACC. And I’m talking Syracuse. And now that Penn State is going, they would have an even lesser chance.
Wonk suggests that Boeheim won't be heading up the "Let's Join The Big Ten" committee any time soon, and that would just about preclude their entry into the conference. Playing Villanova and UConn and all those other schools in the Big East in basketball is more important than anything else. We can scratch them off the list of programs to assimilate.
Missouri, on the other hand, is ready to flirt. First, Missouri's governor—pictured with Willie Nelson—is all like "yeah, we should seriously look at it" about the Big Ten. Second, via The Sports Economist comes a fascinating, candid interview with Missouri's athletic director with some insight into just how much money the Big Ten is raking in:
Mizzou may get approximately $9 million in television revenue, all things being equal, and Texas would be about $12 million. Then Baylor would be around $7.5 million.
That gap is there, but more importantly, let’s take a look at Illinois. We’re not only competing against our league, we’re competing against Illinois. The question is, what is the difference between what Illinois is getting in revenue distribution from the league — that’s television, basically — and what Mizzou is getting? Ours is $9 million. Illinois’ is $21 million.
And maybe we should be giving Jim Delany more credit for the aspects of his job that do not involve speaking to the media. I'd like to cut this answer but it's all interesting so here you go:
Q: What was the sticking point for the Big 12 [creating its own network]?
A: It had to do with revenue distribution and fear of the unknown. The unknown being that a network had never been done with college athletics before. We had heard rumors about the Big Ten getting ready to do it. So various voices in the room were concerned that we were going into uncharted waters. We have this pretty good contract with ABC, ESPN and Fox, and why would we want to give up a sure thing for a speculative deal? By us backing away from that, the Big Ten went forward with that. It was fear of the unknown. We had the same presentation at the same time by CSTV. CSTV had talked to us at the same set of meetings about starting our own network based upon the theory of ESPN Classic. When ESPN Classic was started, everybody said, “Who’s going to watch this? Old video of teams that used to play, 24-7? How is this going to be successful?”
The same people that started ESPN Classic came to us as a league and wanted us to use a similar model to start our own network, based upon this pro forma that had been shown. And we couldn’t come to a consensus. It was pretty frustrating. So we stayed the course and continued the same direction we were, and what we found is we found today that the SEC contract is worth $205 million per year, the Big Ten contract is worth $190 million per year — and both of those leagues share equally — and the Big 12 Conference contract is worth $80 million per year and we don’t share equally. That is a significant gap.
Back to the topic at hand. Missouri prefers to stay where it is:
We need to keep making Mizzou stronger and stronger and making the Big 12 stronger and stronger. We need to keep saying — and we are — proud members of the Big 12 Conference. We’re fortunate to be associated. If you’re asking me personally, my preference would be to do everything you can to strengthen the Big 12. That’s what you’ve got to do.
But given the whole "freakin' Illinois gets more than double what we do from the conference" thing, they'll listen. Given that and the Big Ten's academic attractiveness, which is something certain folk might not be taking totally seriously…
[Former Big 12 commissioner] Kevin Weiberg was quoted as saying this a few days ago in USA Today — he was commenting on the Big Ten — he said, “Rest assured, this will not be about athletics.” Everybody in our world thinks this is about athletics, but it’s not. Conference realignments are always based primarily on academics.
…but that doesn't mean people suggesting schools that have nothing to offer except academics haven't swung too far the other direction.
Anyway, read the whole thing if you're interested in the subject since it's one of the best interviews I've read recently.
Digression about those numbers above. Why isn't the Big Ten picking off successful Big 12 coaches? IE: why is Gary Pinkel still at Mizzou? Though I basically dismissed Braves & Birds' SEC fixation relative to expansion, he does have a point about Big Ten schools' hiring decisions. Minnesota fired its coach and hired a TE coach. Not even a real position coach! Illinois hired Ron Zook. Michigan State hired a .500 Big East coach with two years of head coaching experience. Purdue brought in Danny Hope, coach of Eastern Kentucky. EKU made the playoffs once in his five-year tenure, losing in the first round. There are a couple of coaches in the league who were elevated in trying circumstances—Fitzgerald and Lynch, but the guys before that were elevated internal hires or MAC coaches.
The one actual A-level hire* in the league the last decade or so was Rich Rodriguez—not exactly setting the world on fire—and the transitions that seemed like the best decisions other than that were Wisconsin grabbing Bret Bielema, who had been a superb defensive coordinator at Kansas State for almost a decade, as a coach in waiting, and Jim Tressel's hiring at Ohio State. (Tressel may have been a I-AA coach but he was a guy who'd won multiple national titles.) The overall picture is of the exact opposite sort of thing going on in the SEC.
Evidence: an Outside the Lines bit from Mike Fish detailing the absurd lengths SEC teams have gone to with their coaching hires. Some of them border on the insane, most prominently the huge outlay Tennessee has made to hire an idiot:
Tennessee was so hot to rid itself of Phillip Fulmer after a 5-7 record in 2008 that it paid a $6 million buyout. This came a year after a 10-win season for which Fulmer had received a contract extension. Then, UT hustled to sign a deal with his successor, guaranteeing Kiffin $14.25 million through the 2014 season. Kiffin will be due $7.5 million if he is fired without cause.
That's actually not quite as outrageous as it's framed, as Fish loves to give overall numbers instead of yearly ones so they seem crazier. But at almost $3 million a year for a guy that definitely wasn't going to get that much from anywhere else—IIRC, Washington was the only other school interested—is an unnecessary outlay before you get to the unprecedented money given to the assistants:
The elder Kiffin is the highest-paid assistant in college sports, guaranteed $1.5 million this year. His $300,000 retention bonus alone, due after the season, isn't far from the interim president's annual salary.
Two other Tennessee football assistants, Ed Orgeron ($1.95 million) and Jim Chaney ($1.17 million), are guaranteed more than $3 million between them for the next three seasons.
Again this guy doesn't do us the service of dividing, but Orgeron is making over 600k per year. And yet if you look at the revenue numbers, Big Ten schools aren't far off the SEC folk.
There's a gap here. I'm not saying I'd like Big Ten teams to blow as much money on questionable hires as the SEC does, but surely they can make better stabs at winning coaches that Tim Brewster. Why is Brian Kelly at Notre Dame? Because half of the Big Ten passed him up.
*(Conventionally defined as a guy who's built a top ten-ish program himself, right?)
Bler recession bler. The Wiz digs up an article noting that schools are actually spending money to lobby congress in favor of the freaking BCS:
Politico reports that Purdue and Michigan have spent $515,000 and $415,000 respectively, to lobby this year against a bill that aims to cut federal money for colleges that participate in a Division I-A season without a playoff.
I tend to blame whichever congressman no doubt from Texas or Utah decided that screwing with federal funding for universities because of sports is a great idea more than either university; obviously a bill like that would be a disaster. It's one thing to goof around with an annoyance bill; this is on another level.
Delicious. If you're like me and still harbor bitterness towards former ESPN exec Mark Shapiro for things like "I'd Do Anything," Sports Media Watch's list of the ten worst sports shows of the decade is fantastic. Most of the shows on it were his idea, and most include brilliant quotes from Shapiro like so:
"Stephen A. is ringing a bell. People like him and dislike him, but they still watch him. These days, it’s hard to find a talent who strikes a chord that way" (SBD, 8/1/05). (On a related note, Shapiro reminisced about lobbying for Smith's hiring in '03: "There were 28 people in the room, and they were all vehement: ‘No way, never, never!’ I said, ‘We’ve gotta get this guy in here.'"
In fact, no one wanted to watch a shouty dwarf and Quite Frankly was an epic bomb.
Etc.: Despite rumors about seemingly every viable Michigan assistant coach out there (Corwin Brown, Vance Beford, and Scot Loeffler), Buffalo goes with Cincinnati offensive coordinator and presumptive future ND OC Jeff Quinn to replace Turner Gill. Quinn had been with Kelly forever, so this is good. Van Damme anger fairy. Vada Murray's latest update is excellent.
I give up. All anyone wants to talk about is potential expansion, so more potential expansion bits.
Inside info! Someone close to the Rutgers athletic department says that RU will push hard for Big Ten entrance. Not like that is surprising, but there you go.
No, just no. Sorry, Teddy Greenstein, but…
Don't discount this: the Big 14.
I am discounting it. It is now 100% off for a limited time only, and by "limited time only" I mean "forever." Just because some guy in the Big Ten office says "anything is possible" does not mean that we shouldn't be shocked if a conference that's attempted to expand three times in the last fifteen years only to come up empty all of a sudden adds three teams to become an unwieldy beast of a conference in which you only play about half the teams every year.
Fourteen is ridiculous. The WAC was sixteen for a while until it exploded because at that point you're not a conference but a Thomas Jefferson-style loose confederation. Where is the common sense? Where is it? Is it in Russia? No.
Lloyd != Bo. This is not exactly "to hell with Notre Dame":
"I'd love to see Notre Dame join the Big Ten," Carr said. "I think certainly it would be a great thing for the Big Ten, and I think it would be great for Notre Dame.
"But, of course, they're fighting a lot of tradition there (at Notre Dame)," which has resisted overtures from the Big Ten previously, Carr added.
This, of course, is not happening. Notre Dame people believe that the Big Ten's only desire when it comes to engulfing Notre Dame is to destroy the university and therefore the very soul of America itself, and in this they are correct.
Also no just no. Sporting News colleague Dan Shanoff is a nice man who has a bad habit of coming up with an off-the-wall idea and posting it without running it through even the most cursory sanity check. Witness his suggestion that Navy should be the 12th Big Ten team:
*Academic credentials are impeccable.
*Football program is solid.
*Triple-option is "3 Yards/Cloud" 2.0
*Can keep trad'l games w/ Army, AFA, ND.
*Better than Notre Dame.
*Nearly beat Ohio State this season.
*Non-competitive recruiting strategy.
*But expands B10 footprint in the East.
*Feds could use the BCS bowl revenue.
*It is entirely uncontroversial.
Wrong, debatable, irrelevant, irrelevant, wrong, tiny sample size, irrelevant, wrong, irrelevant, irrelevant. The Big Ten is not a charity. Navy is not an AAU member, does not have any national TV cachet, would not be a compelling reason for local cable operators to carry the Big Ten Network because no one in DC is going to have a riot as long as the Army game is on CBS.
Simply comparing Navy to Pitt and finding that Pitt was better in literally every way other than supporting the troops—why does the Big Ten hate America?—would have shot this down before it worked its way onto the internet and sat there being embarrassing, like if the GEICO money was made out of shots of you picking your nose when you were six.
Yes, yes, Terrance Cody's gravitational pull makes everything revolve around the SEC. Braves & Birds tends to see things through two lenses: World War II and SEC superiority. So in retrospect this was obvious:
I have no doubt that this move is motivated by a major case of SEC envy. Barry Alvarez was probably sitting on his couch for the first weekends of the past two Decembers, watching the #1 and #2 teams in the country play each other in the Georgia Dome and thinking to himself "man, we need something like that." However, what the Big Ten needs is not the game in early December; what it needs is teams of the quality of Florida and Alabama. …
And so, to come full circle, the Big Ten right now reminds me of the Third Reich in the summer of 1944. Germany was about to get hammered in the East by Operation Bagration and in the West by Operation Cobra. Faced with major issue, Hitler decided that the way to win the war was by firing a bevy of V-2 rockets at London. His decision was a classic case of praying for some sort of saving throw the the dice when faced with basic shortcomings.
Did Clay Travis steal B&B's login information? The Big Ten has looked at expansion every five years since Penn State joined; were those all motivated by jealousy of the SEC, too? Did the Big Ten come off championships in 1997 and 2002 only to think to itself "that god damned SEC" and look at expanding the following year? How many rhetorical questions can I stick in one paragraph? Five?
I blame Joe Paterno for this annoying meme floating around. Here's his quote from March:
We go into hiding for six weeks," Paterno said, referring to the hiatus between the end of the Big Ten regular season and the BCS bowls. The other major FBS conferences play into the first weekend of December.
"Everybody else is playing playoffs on television," Paterno said. "You never see a Big Ten team mentioned. So I think that's a handicap."
People forget that Paterno is an 81-year old man who has little say over his own football team, let alone the conference it is in. The Big Ten is pushing its schedule later in 2010. Which is next year. To get increased exposure late in the season, all the Big Ten has to do is play.
This has nothing to do with the SEC except insofar as everything designed to get money is part of the arms race and the only conference that even competes with Big Ten is the SEC. They'll do it if they think it's a good idea; they won't if they don't. The big difference this time around is that Notre Dame seems permanently off the table and Pitt has built itself into an attractive basketball power with accompanying decent football program. B&B then goes off on the league's mediocre coaching as if expansion and hiring Danny Hope are in any way dependent. They are not linked.
Yes, expansion is an attempt to make the league better on and off the field. I can't fathom why this has anything to do with the SEC except insofar as everyone who lives in the South is legally obligated to assume everything is because of the SEC. Clay Travis is writing up a column right now about how the New York Times is holding up health care reform by wasting their time on recruiting hostesses.
I really, really, really don’t look forward to 18+ months of mindless speculation over Big 11 expansion.
…which I think we can all agree with. But then it appears that what Pitt Blather wants is speculation about Big East expansion that includes adding Villanova, a I-AA team, and Charlotte, a nonexistent team, instead of Memphis, a team with a billion dollars from FedEx guy.
Welcome. Now give us money. I don't actually know about this but I thought it was interesting. Smart Football's Chris Brown asks about a potential holdup with Team 12 (and team 13, and 14, and 52):
Someone sent me a question regarding whether a new Big 10 member could afford to join, and you seemed like the guy to mention it to.
The concern was whether any potential new Big 10 school could afford to "buy-in" to the BTN. Specifically, he said: "News Corp paid $66M to Big Ten for BTN in '07. Rough numbers put the value today at ~$400M. What school has ~$40M for buy-in?"
According to wikipedia, the member schools own 51% and Fox/News Corp owns 49%. The buy-in would not necessarily be 1/10 the value of the overall entity; it just needs to buy enough shares or units to have 1/12 of the 51%. I don't know how it is structured, but I bet the member schools jointly own an entity which itself owns 51% of the joint BTN venture with News Corp. That way a new school could just buy the units from the other schools, or they could issue new units, such that each school would then own 1/12 of the member schools' portion of the entity. Make sense? If you assume BTN really is worth $400m, that means that a new school would just have to buy 1/12 of the 51%, which comes out to around $17m.
But again, how do we know what the BTN is worth? Mandel threw some revenue figures together but those seem pretty darn loose. And in any event the biggest factor would be what kind of growth rate do you see from the Big 10 Network. I think we both agree the business model is fluctuating.
Finally, my friend made the point that he didn't think a school had that much money. I don't see why an athletic department couldn't borrow that money and then pay it down with future revenues; any school but Notre Dame would undoubtedly have their overall sports revenues increase.
Any thoughts on this? Specifically, whether buying into the BTN would be any kind of hurdle for a new member school? Also let me know if I'm looking at the structure wrong. I don't have any firm info and am just going off some stuff I saw online.
That would depend on how much the school in question brings to the table. If Notre Dame got really drunk and decided to sign up I doubt the Big Ten would push the issue much since adding them to the network would be a big win. Pitt or Rutgers or whoever might be asked to pay for their slice of the pie.
I don't think that would be a major hurdle since you're really cutting the school in on something with excellent growth potential; the school in question could justify buying in with a section of their general fund since it's an investment that should grow in value.
For the record. One man's list of the five most insane schools proposed for Big Ten expansion:
5. Iowa State. Yes, their athletic programs are that historically bad that a land-grant university in the geographic footprint makes this list.
At this rate by the end of these 18 months I'm going to be guest-posting trash talk about Iowa State on BHGP.
4. Toronto. Only mentioned because it's in the AAU and Toronto is so starved for entertainment that they'll sell out MLS games. Problems: the pilot program for NCAA induction of a few Universities only applies to D-II and will get a few schools out West in within ten years, Toronto doesn't play American football, and Michigan State would have to forfeit all its games there because Canada wouldn't let them into the country.
3. Navy. Previously discussed.
2. Cornell. Cornell is an Ivy-league school without a I-A football program. And yet…
1. Rice. It's got all the downsides of Texas combined with all the downsides of Iowa State. Its only asset is that its band integrated e^x during the Rice-Michigan game a while back just so they could spell "sex" in front of 110,000 people.
The lamentation of your women.
via user chunkums
He loves it. The lamentation.
All American. I'm pleasantly surprised that both recruiting networks named Brandon Graham to their All-America teams after he was snubbed by the first of the infinite lists that came out—FWAA or something. Graham and Zoltan the Inconceivable also feature on the AP's second team, which is nice. Zoltan got the second team nod at Scout, too.
This Drew Butler kid who stole first team honors and the Ray Guy award… well… probably deserved it. Before you stone me to death—a fate I willingly accept for such heresy—please let me note that Butler averaged almost 49(!) yards a kick and Georgia led the country with a 42.8 yard net average.
Expansion bits. Various notes and errata on possible expansion:
- Sentiment is running strongly against a move to the Big Ten at Syracuse blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician with 56% opposed to a move versus just 19% in favor. In the comments the most commonly cited reason is John Boeheim, who is credited with assembling the Big East with his bare hands and would instantly quit if he had to play in a different sandbox.
- BHGP points out that the BFD with the CIC is post-grad Research I stuff, not necessarily undergraduate education, which Big Ten schools are supposed to look at as a necessary evil.
- Missouri's chancellor said MU would "listen" to the Big Ten should it come calling, so they will at least flirt with a Big 12 departure.
The useful comment thread from the Grid of Judgment has these additional bits of information:
- Pitt's got a monster endowment: $2.334 billion, according to unnecessarily precise poster Don. That's more than anyone in the league except Northwestern and Michigan.
- Multiple posters suggest that Nebraska is seriously pissed off you guys about Texas's reign as supreme unquestioned ruler of the Big 12 and could really give a crap about the rest of the league save for Colorado. Oklahoma already rotates off their schedule.
- Rutgers is apparently a mediocre school on the decline, which explains why there are so many kids from Jersey at Michigan.
And any thread on expansion comes with an increasingly preposterous series of candidate schools that make sense in no way whatsoever: Texas A&M, TCU, Toronto, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Auburn, Rice—seriously, someone suggested Rice—etc.
Virginia Tech seems plausible at first blush but after UVA fought tooth and nail to get them into the ACC lest the governor get out his pimp hand a jump to the Big Ten seems wildly improbable. They would probably be more willing to jump than any other ACC team since they could give a crap about basketball and don't have longstanding rivalries with anyone in the league. Last time I brought this up I mentioned Boston College as a crazy off-board option, and I guess they remain one. They bring a huge market with them but one that is slightly busy with other things, and they don't fit the Big Ten's huge public research university model. They would get tripped up by the Research One thing.
Pitt still looks like the strongest candidate by far. For people wondering about money, remember that Pitt can be slightly less marketable than the Big Ten average—which I don't think they are given their currently monstrous basketball program—and still be a major asset because of the championship game and increased profitability from the Big Ten Network.
As far as divisions go, there's no way to make them work geographically without turning into a version of the Big 12 on steroids by chucking Penn State, Michigan, and Ohio State into the same division. You also can't keep all the rivalries together if Pitt is indeed the pick. You try to split this into six team divisions:
Can't be done without murdering one traditional rivalry or the entire point of putting Pitt in the conference. Missouri is much easier, since you just throw them in with Illinois and Northwestern and put them in the Michigan pod.
I'd prefer an expanded status quo with a ninth conference game, guaranteed rivalry pairs, and a couple byes but apparently you have to have two divisions to have a title game, which is inane but true.
Heismens of all varieties. So the actual Heisman went to a good running back on an undefeated team instead of, you know, the best player in the country. Or even the best running back. A lot of this can be ascribed to the Heisman's bloated list of voters and their lack of accountability. I mean, seriously, here's a guy with a Heisman vote whose ballot read Ingram, Tebow, McCoy:
I never saw Gerhart play an entire game (we work all day Saturday and Saturday night) and only saw a few minutes of Suh’s game against Texas. I refused to vote for somebody based on highlights.
I'm impressed that this guy managed to spin his ignorance into a principled stance against voting "based on highlights" instead of taking a principled stand against voting based on the three football games he saw this year.
So hurrah for the Sports Blog Heisman coming out approximately correct by handing Toby Gerhart the trophy over Ndamukong Suh by one point. Here's guessing that everyone who voted saw Gerhart and Suh for at least one game. Not that bloggers are perfect. A few years ago when Rakes of Mallow was running its now-defunct version of the same thing, the winner was Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, which ugh.
Of course. Here's Fielding Yost curling in a silly hat:
Etc.: Corwin Brown is out at Notre Dame. If there is an opening on the coaching staff, could he fill it? He doesn't coach LBs, unfortunately, but has slayed on the recruiting trail. Wonk asks "What Happened to Michigan?"
Schools that have been brought up at one time or another but are not worth a fuller discussion for various reasons.
Schools that would say no
Texas. Blame those Texas newspaper articles describing UT's flirtation with the Big Ten after the SWC exploded, but Texas comes up whenever this topic does. Despite the travel involved the Big Ten would do that in a heartbeat; Texas is a fantastic school that opens up copious television markets and is a national power in both football and basketball.
Texas would not, though. They are the master and commander of an entire conference with weak revenue sharing relative to the Big Ten. They have longstanding rivalries with virtually everyone in the Big 12 South. And their nationally competitive baseball program would be badly hurt by joining what's basically a mid-major conference.
Nebraska. Massive football tradition and geographically somewhat feasible but there's no way the Cornhuskers would give up a 100 years of rivalries for the Big Ten. Have no links to anyone in the conference.
Notre Dame. If the Big Ten is doing this when Notre Dame's NBC contract has six years to run, the Irish are not in the mix.
Schools that don't offer enough
Iowa State. Why on earth would anyone want Iowa State in their conference? No TV market and no success in either major sport. If Iowa doesn't want them, and I'm sure they don't, why would anyone else?
West Virginia. Tier III institution would probably get rejected by the presidents. Good programs in football and basketball but brings zero recruiting base and zero television market. If the only considerations were on-field performance they'd be the obvious #1 choice but all their peripherals are poor.
Cincinnati. Legitimate traditional basketball power (two national titles in the 60s to go with the Huggins era) and nouveau riche football school, but probably destined for a major drop with Brian Kelly out the door. Academically, a non-starter: it's a tier III commuter school.
Louisville. Geographically and athletically plausible but a tier III institution.
Rutgers. Hypothetically brings New Jersey and New York markets into play, except few really care about Rutgers when they're not good and they've rarely been good. Very rarely. Basketball program a nonentity; football was a nationwide punchline until the arrival of Greg Schiano, at which point they've had one standout year and a bunch of middling ones that end in nondescript bowl games.
Missouri. Geographically adjacent and has longstanding, if on-and-off, rivalry with Illinois. Good, not great, state school that would be the worst-ranked school in the league but not by much, especially after a post-CIC bump. Brings a new, large TV market into play. Also brings Don Draper with it.
Negatives: neither football or basketball is the sort of program that brings any wow factor, though the football program is a solid and developing one under Gary Pinkel. And Mizzou has been in the Big 8/12 since its inception. Fevered rivalry with Kansas and the sort of non-rivalry with Nebraska that saw Mizzou on the end of dozens of heinous beatings to the point where if Pinkel hadn't run up the score in the final year of Callahan he would have taken he would have taken heat for it.
Would Mizzou go? I mentioned them on the radio yesterday, at which point someone who grew up in the area called in to cast doubt on the possibility the Tigers would even consider leaving the Big 12. He certainly knows better than I do. On the other hand, some Mizzou folks have started a pro-Big Ten blog and the Rock M Nation thread discussing BHGP's discussion of a potential move is split down the middle. The local paper's Mizzou beatwriter, however, is adamant:
RT @Kevin_Baum What's your take on mizzou's chances of joining the big 10? ... To quote Dean Wormer, Zero Point Zero
I don't know. I expect that Mizzou would at least flirt with the Big Ten in an effort to get the Big 12's revenue sharing increased.
Pitt. Obvious natural rivalry with Penn State that makes the Nittany Lions less of an odd duck in the league both geographically and culturally. Brings another TV market, though Pittsburgh is an area that already gets the BTN. Rich tradition in football and has been intermittently decent over the last decade; basketball program has recently built itself into a national power but has little in the way of history.
Scholastically Pitt would be an average Big Ten team, which is very strong relative to other serious candidates. And there's no question whether they would jump or not: Pitt would kill to get in the Big Ten. They'd get to play Penn State, they'd get a ton more football revenue, the basketball would be fine, and they could play WVU out of conference.
Negatives: they play in a sterile NFL stadium that's usually half-empty, though a Big Ten fan with road-trip inclinations could view that as a positive. And adding Mizzou or Syracuse or whatever puts another state in the BTN footprint; Pittsburgh doesn't. And you could see this hurting Big Ten schools' Pittsburgh-area recruiting. Now players in the area can pick between the Big Ten or staying close to home; in the future they can have both.
Syracuse. Geographically somewhat awkward; football program has totally imploded since Paul Pasqualoni fell off. On the other hand, an excellent school (almost exactly on par with Pitt) with a powerhouse basketball program. Their location is a blessing and a curse: it's far away but also makes the Big Ten considerably more important in New York (state, not City).
Syracuse might like it in the Big East enough to shoot down an overture, though. They're decidedly more eastern than a lot of Big East schools.
Grid! Grid of judgment!
A legend: teams are graded on a 3 point scale, where 0 is
uncatchable a factor so poor it disqualifies the program in question, 1 is is an active detriment, 2 is "meh", and 3 is a positive. The "average" column does not include "willingness," since it's an attempt to judge the attractiveness of the teams only.
"Other sports" rankings derived from Director's Cup standings.
Your winners amongst the even distantly feasible: Pitt and Missouri, and Missouri is only distantly feasible. Both are clearly poor options relative to Notre Dame, but that ain't happening. Your projected 12th Big Ten school: Pitt.
I got a couple requests in the inbox for a take on Big Ten expansion after Barry Alvarez made a comment the other day about the Big Ten adding that elusive twelfth team. On the assumption that Alvarez was just making an idle statement and expansion was a distant possibility at best, I was going to dig up the post I made two years ago detailing pros and cons of various candidate schools and leave it at that.
But it appears that Alvarez was not just idly speculating:
It has been 19 years since the Big Ten expanded to 11 teams, and it appears the conference is ready to seriously explore moving to an even dozen.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was expected to release a statement later Tuesday to say the conference is ready to consider the addition of a 12th team.
That would be in about half an hour. It's time to update the above list, which I am in the process of doing right now.
Yeah, it's him. At least some of the coach twitter feeds are written by low-level marketing flacks, but Charlie Weis' is legit:
I, personally, am working on Nevada, our first opponent, this week; Michigan, our second opponent, next week; and Michigan State, our third opponent, the week prior to Memorial Day. Go Irish!
(FTR: That's two tweets conjoined.) Charlie Weis, personally, is on the case. Unlike all those other times people use the word "I".
Coach Cobra Kai. Hopefully Michigan will get to the point where this isn't a hypothetical situation:
That's part of the locker room door; as Michigan Football Saturdays points out it's not too far from that to "sweep the leg." Maybe we can be Bill Simmons' favorite college football team now.
Also, I'm pretty sure I know exactly which default photoshop gradient was used to do the effect there.
Kickin' up dirt. JoePa broached the topic of Big Ten expansion—he's in favor of it and name-dropped Pitt, Syracuse, and Rutgers as possibilities—sending everyone into the usual tizzy. Jim Delany said "eh, not so much" and life continues on. There's not much more to add than the usual, but I would like to address this:
Adding a twelfth team to the conference implies, in the minds of most, a move to a two-division structure not unlike that of Big 12, ACC, and SEC, all of which hold
moneymoneymoneygrabchampionship games before declaring a champion. So what would the divisions look like?
That's We Will Always Have Tempe, which is frequent OSU gadfly poguemahone's new joint. WWAHT then goes through a bunch of scenarios that all point to the same thing: there's no division that makes geographical sense and hardly one that makes competitive sense.
Q: why do we have to have divisions? As we've seen in the Big 12 of late, sometimes you get the second-best team in the conference sitting at home crocheting asterisks to put everywhere as a far worse team shows up to get blown out.
If you add another team you can then add another conference game without running up against the horrible realities of math, and then you can just play everyone except two other teams and have a championship game between the top two. It would basically be like what we've got now except with a championship game on the end of everything. Sometimes this would be pointless, but I think it's better than the alternative of having the Michigan-OSU division and then a Penn State-someone else division unless that someone else is Notre Dame, which is not happening.
Score. The Daily scores an exclusive interview with Threet with a bunch of interesting stuff and one major typo: a "Feagin" where a "Mr. Plow" should go. For the record: Justin Feagin has not left the team or transferred. The rumor persists because the Free Press quoted from it on their blog*, linking to a Yahoo reproduction of the interview that hasn't been corrected like the original has.
Items of media interest:
- The Free Press "blog" is, ironically, the exact sort of blog media people always complain about: it adds exactly zero to the content it lifts and doesn't even have the decency to blockquote the material so it's obvious the content is not Free Press content.
- The Daily killed the Threet transfer story, absolutely wasting every other media organization out there, and the interview is the cherry on top.
- …and they're pissing away a good chunk of the linkjuice and hits by allowing the syndication of it to UWire and therefore Yahoo.
To the interview itself: Threet directly addresses the "inconsistent like always" comment, downplaying it, and says point blank that he didn't think he'd keep the starting job with "the way they run the offense" but that it's hard to say for sure. Here's the kicker:
S: What does Michigan need to do to make sure last year doesn’t happen again?
T: They need to make sure that everyone is putting the work in to getting better at executing their job. There were a lot of times last year where maybe one guy didn’t do his job at 100 percent, and that’s the difference between a touchdown and a three-yard loss. Working together like that is especially important offensively. Defensively, you can get bailed out sometimes, but offensively it really does take all 11 guys.
The whole thing is well worth reading.
Zoom! More to file under "Denard Robinson is made of dilithium":
Dauntia Dotson, Adrian Witty, Cassius McDowell and Denard Robinson sent the crowd home contented by running a school-record 40.82 -- the second-fastest time in the country this year, to win the Region 3-4A title.
''I think we can go 40.50, maybe even faster,'' Witty said. ``Who knows? It's our work ethic. We don't want to lose. This means a lot because we broke our own state record twice this year.''
You'll note that Witty is also on this blazing fast relay—good news for his prospects at M—as is Deerfield Beach junior running back Cassius McDowell, who says Michigan leads.