An excellent primer from Black Shoe Diaries on the impetus behind all of the conference realignments that occurred from the early 1990s to today. That impetus is, of course, cash money.
...why are universities so eager to realign today? As best I can tell, there are five top reasons, as follows:
- Money, to fill gaps caused by bankrupt state budget cuts.
- Money, to fuel the fleet of university jets that universities can't afford not to have.
- Money, as future media rights payouts go through the roof. And,
- "Stability", defined as membership in a conference that will maintain its place at the (money) feeding trough.
More to the point, it's football driven TV money.
...the TV networks say that basketball sucks. ABC/ESPN told the ACC that they can have all the alley-oops they want; they can have a big alley-oop party in the middle of Tiananmen Square and it won't make a lick of difference, because basketball ads don't bring 30% of what football ads bring. Only football maters. Or, at least, that's how Clemson's Athletic Director explained it.
So what does this mean for the B1G?
...the payout to that 2-win Minnesota team (thanks, Hawkeyes!) is in the $20+ million range, and climbing. That's right, Tomahawk Nation. Minnesota and Indiana raked in north of $60 million over the last 3 years, winning an FCS-assisted average of a grand total of 3.57 football games, while you were making $11 - $12 million slogging it out against Oklahoma and Florida in your non-con. Doesn't that thought make you want to vomit? And that number is only going to increase, by the way.
The Big Ten Network is a cash cow that's only getting fatter; and, the Big Ten is the one power conference that has NOT renegotiated its first-tier (ABC/ESPN) football rights in the last couple of years, as far as I'm aware of. Yep - the Big Ten makes the most money today, with the oldest set of contracts, in a fast growth market. The ABC/ESPN deal expires in 2016/17. When that contract comes up for renegotiation, just watch out.
The post goes on to speculate about the desirability of several ACC schools and comes to the standard conclusion that Notre Dame is the only school that is worth the B1G's pursuit. My only comment to that is that perhaps it is, but if a next round of realignment occurs, the B1G will be looking for ND+1 or ND+3 or if ND stays steadfast in its desire to be an independent OR they go to the Big XII, the B1G will have to look for 2-4 candidates who may not be all that and a bag of doughnuts, at least from the straight cash, homie perspective. Candidate schools will have to:
- Help the B1G capture or solidify key TV markets (NYC, Washington, DC, Atlanta)
- Be good to semi-good in football
- Be good fits for the CIC
- Have intangibles that make up for something lacking in 1-3 (MBB, other sports) * +
Lots of ACC schools fit that profile to some degree or another, but especially Syracuse, Maryland, UVA, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech (geographically speaking (not only are these schools aligned north to south, but also east to west!)).
As a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia and a parent of UVA and VT students, my biases are plain. Get the B1G into the Old Dominion, Jim Corleone.