Stop moping around.
I know adding Maryland and Rutgers to B1G was not exactly what you had in mind, but it is happening, so deal with it. Not only that, B1G will most likely add two more teams to make it even 16 before Devin probably graduates, so you better buckle up.
If you are in a fetal position holding on to an old tattered frame with a picture of Bo, let me at least give you some reasons why this is happening so you can make some sense out of this and also show you who is most likely to join B1G next.
There is a gold rush happening right now.
The bluebloods of college sports are pairing up to form 4 super conferences (with at least 16 teams each) that will divide up the country like the market barons of old and extract every cent of TV money they can by creating sports networks to go along with those conferences.
Three of those 4 super conference are already set with B1G and its BTN, PAC and the west coast, and SEC, with its super lineup of football powerhouses, the lord of the southeast. The last open spot will be a battle royale between Big12 and ACC.
But who is going to win that last spot? Most of you just shrug your shoulders and say “who cares?” But Jim Delany certainly cares. He cares because there
are were four seats available at the table and he wants to make sure those seats are filled by the biggest whales who can fill the B1G’s mighty coffer.
But who brings the most money? Whoever has the biggest cable market.
Big Ten Network is the teat that B1G suckles on. What is good for BTN is good for B1G (at least money wise). So, how does BTN make its money? From cable subscribers (more specifically, regional cable networks who offer BTN as part of a low tier package) – and more subscribers there are, more money B1G will make.
So, who has the most subscribers? Here are the top 50 TV markets in US.
Due to logistics and deep seated support, we can eliminate all of west coast (PAC) and south and southeast (SEC). Obviously, we can eliminate most of mid-west that we already own.
Eliminating those, the TV markets that are really in play (for B1G) are as follows:
1 New York
8 Washington DC
21 St Louis
27 Hartford & New Haven
31 Kansas City, Missouri
42 Norfolk–Portsmouth–Newport News
45 Oklahoma City
47 Greensboro-High Point-Winston-Salem
50 Providence–New Bedford
Obviously, the prettiest girl in the room is the #1 market in the country – New York. The second is Boston and the third is Baltimore/DC area. To say that Delany COVETS those areas would be an understatement. So, who are B1G’s possible opponents for those areas? The most obvious choice – Big East – is in shambles. The only other choice is ACC, especially now with the possibility of adding ND.
From B1G’s point of view, the most ideal scenario for the 4 super conference is for Big 12 to grab that last spot, not ACC. This eliminates the biggest threat to B1G for the biggest markets in US. It also has an added bonus where much of Big 12’s territory will overlap with SEC, and help keep SEC in check for the future (because you never know).
Now, that we have established that it is in B1G’s interest to make sure Big 12 succeeds, the decision by Delany to spurn Missouri makes a ton of sense. But SEC knew what was best for them and tried to break apart Big 12 by getting Texas A&M and Missouri.
This probably surprised Delany and forced his hands to attack ACC more directly. And what is the best way to attack an enemy? Divide and conquer. You attack the heart of your foe and divide their forces, cutting off the supply lines and causing mass confusion.
It just happened to be that a school right in the heart of ACC was desperately in need of help. Due to years of mis-management, Maryland athletic department was seriously running in red. They needed money and fast.
This was all the opening that Delany needed and he pounced. Maryland not only brings #8 and #24 market, it makes ACC that much weaker and makes it more likely for ACC powerhouses like Clemson and FSU to bolt to Big12/SEC, which would seal any possibility of ACC becoming a super conference.
Delany balanced Maryland addition by getting Rutgers to join, which bring the #1 market in play. With PSU, UM, and Rutgers, any existing college football interest in NY area will be squarely on B1G. This was a very, very shrewd move by Delany in many levels. It makes no difference how weak Maryland and Rutgers are in football. Those things are things that can be addressed. Turning #50 TV market into top 10 is significantly harder to achieve.
But now that B1G has 14 teams, it is not likely to stop there for very long. Getting to 16 makes a lot of sense in scheduling and logistics. It is just a matter of when.
But who are the most attractive targets now?
Some are saying Georgia Tech due to their football consistency and academics. But if you look at Delany’s modus operandi, I think this is unlikely. Georgia/Atlanta market already belongs to University of Georgia, Georgia Tech is not going to bring that market to B1G, and Delany is not about to play second fiddle to SEC in that market.
Looking at the list above, it is obvious which markets Delany will try to target; Boston and Raleigh/Charlotte.
The #6 market, Boston, is an interesting case as there are numerous colleges/universities in the area. The most obvious choice is Boston College with their solid football and basketball programs. But their enrollment is small (~15,000), and I am not sure if they really fit B1G’s mold. But if it means getting access to the #6 market, Delany will explore there.
The next largest market is Raleigh/Charlotte. There is a clear option there in UNC, which has almost ideal combination of size and quality (both academic and athletic) that B1G is looking for. I doubt that UNC is looking to move out of ACC right now, but if FSU and Clemson bolt for greener pastures, UNC will certainly be looking for a new home.
However, to convince UNC, it may be necessary to also add NC St or Duke. If Boston College does not work out, this is certainly a possibility, as North Carolina is a market that is growing.
The final area for expansion is Norfolk/Virginia. VT/UVA are obvious options there. But UVA with its profile is probably the best fit for B1G.
There are really no other options that are as attractive as these schools and B1G expansion will certain revolve around these schools barring some other titanic shifts in college sports. Adding any combination of these schools will lock up the NE corridor (and its lucrative TV markets) for B1G for the foreseeable future.
This should be a very interesting couple of years.