this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
The link is here: http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/terps/bs-sp-terps-big-ten-1107-20131106,0,2282119.story. Some excerpts:
The public relations campaign was meant to help turn the tide in favor of the move. It included hiring a corporate communications consultant to help shape the message and also working to prevent news of the negotiations from getting out before the move was imminent.
Ullmann [Asst VP of marketing and communications] also wrote that the school planned to "engage professional assistance in helping to drop positive messages into the blogs, comments and message board sites. I will arrange for this service today."
Many of the emails discussing the PR strategy copied top Maryland administrators such as president Wallace Loh and Anderson. The school routinely circulated emails chronicling and commenting on stories, blogs and tweets about the Big Ten move. Consultants also reached out to certain media members, either criticizing them for negative commentary or praising them for supporting the move.
Lee Zeidman, the corporate communications consultant who helped Maryland draft letters and talking points, said Wednesday that it is "standard operating procedure" in the business world to weigh in directly on message boards. "There are special PR agencies who work in the digital space who bombard blogs and newspaper sites where no one puts their name," Zeidman said.
In the days before the Big Ten discussions were made public, Maryland and its consultants considered how to release the story.
"Scott Van Pelt is a powerful voice in the media and a loyal UMD grad," public relations consultant John Maroon wrote to a Maryland communications official before the story broke. "It would be in our best interest to let Van Pelt break the story and talk about all of the positives."
It's interesting to me that blogs like this one would be the targets of this kind of activity. But I suppose it's not surprising. This is the brave new world of college athletics and conference expansion, I suppose. With so much money at stake, administrators needs to control the message as much as possible.
The conference formerly known as the Big East will now go by the name of 'American Athletic Conference'. Which, originality, man. Which teams will be in the conference are still TBD, but hey, they got a name!
What is interesting to me is the inclusion of 'Athletic'. To me, the Big Ten, Pac-12, etc. are even more than athletics. I personally think "American Conference" or "Pan American Conference" or something without the word 'athletic' in it would look, feel, and sound better, but that's my opinion and probably the reason I didn't get paid millions of dollars and participate in a focus group on the issue (jk, it was the university presidents). Mike Aresco favored "American 12 Conference" but, presumably due to the fluid nature of the conference, university presidents didn't want a number in the conference name.
According to the minutes of the council's December meeting obtained by the Columbus Dispatch, Gee told councillors that "there has been ongoing discussion" within the Big Ten about expanding beyond the conference's current 14 members. Gee reportedly stated that he "believes there is movement towards three or four super conferences that are made up of 16-20 teams."
And in perhaps the most interesting comment from the minutes, Gee told a student member of the council that the Big Ten had "opportunities" to either add more schools in the Midwest or "move further south in the (E)ast." (Link)
Kirk Bohls of the Austin-American Statesman is reporting that the Big 12 is looking into a possible alliance with the ACC and two other unnamed leagues that could affect scheduling, marketing and maybe even television contracts among the member schools. One of the byproducts of such a move is that it could put a halt to further expansion by these leagues.(Link)
Interesting read on ESPN early this morning. Apparently, it would "be an upset" if the 7 catholic non-FBS schools (DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova) stay in the league. Fine, we knew that.
What is interesting is that the Big East can dissolve by a 2/3 majority vote, and because of the defections/attrition/general craziness, there are 10 schools that could vote: the seven catholic non-football schools, Cincinnati, UConn, and South Florida.
The schools may not only leave the league, but they could dissolve the league entirely.
It's unknown if they would attempt to dissolve the league or leave the league as a group. The league can be dissolved by vote of the league members by a two-thirds majority, according to Big East by-laws. With all of the Big East's recent defections, there are only 10 members (the seven non-FBS schools, plus Cincinnati, UConn and South Florida) that can vote on the league dissolving.
A source told ESPN on Wednesday, Temple, as a football-only member, has voting rights, but can't vote on dissolution of the league. With Temple unable to vote, that gives the seven basketball schools enough votes to dissolve the league.
Full article here.
Boise State, San Diego State, and BYU are in conversations about returning to the Mountain West Conference (before even officially leaving). This is fun.
Now that Maryland is officially joining the B1G, with Rutgers soon to follow, let's get your tinfoil hats out and figure out WHY*
I think my favorite somewhat-crazy idea is that this is a big F U to Notre Dame. When all the conference expansion hoopla was happening everyone pretty much figured that there were going to be 4 conferences left, with 16 teams each. The 4 conference champs get the 4 football playoff spots. Made enough sense.
The question is which of the 5 "power conferences" would get destroyed and join the other 4. Well, the B1G is making a move to insure that the ACC won't survive with any clout. The B1G, SEC, and PAC12 are on great footing and sure to make it. They have their own networks, best financial footings, and (historically) great teams and rivalries.
The BigXII has Texas and Oklahoma after being raided by the SEC. The ACC is getting raided by the B1G.
The SEC is at 14 teams, with room for 2 more to become a Superconference. The B1G will be in the same spot now, and the PAC12 needs to figure out which 4 teams it can get to join them. Texas and Oklahoma are the obvious answers, with maybe Boise and another team I'm not thinking of. The SEC will take FSU and probably Clemson.
ND will have a choice, do they stay in the ACC/BigXII conglomerate with the likes of Duke and Baylor? Or do they become a member of the B1G?
What's your tinfoil hat telling you? How does this all shake out?
*Besides TV markets and Money. because those are the real, boring answers