Jim Delany, Man On Top Of Oil Comment Count

Brian March 5th, 2019 at 11:02 AM

Jim Delany's retiring in 2020, spurring the usual round of kow-towing to a rich guy who was just in charge of things. Since Delany didn't do anything good, these pieces have to talk about how important he is. And when people talk about Jim Delany as a "transformative" or "influential" figure, this is what they're talking about:




Ah, crap. That's not the right graph. This is the right graph.


Maybe this one?


Sorry, sorry, all these graphs look exactly the same, they're hard to pick apart.


Netflix, fractioning audiences, sports is the only live thing a lot of people, etc. Crediting Jim Delany for the Big Ten's revenue surge is crediting Saudi Arabia for being on top of a lot of oil. Delany didn't create the Michigan and Ohio State fanbases. He just exploited them.

And exploit he did, as anyone who's been to a football game in the past decade can attest to. The increase in revenue came with a commensurate increase in commercial time, to the point where there were several stretches in Michigan games where there were more commercials than plays over the course of an entire quarter. Adding injury to injury, one of those games was against Rutgers, and another was against Maryland.

Delany's never-ending quest for revenue made every Big Ten fan's experience worse, and the money then went to everyone except the people actually earning it. While Delany was ruthlessly strip-mining every dollar out of my fandom and yours he was simultaneously asserting that if the courts gave players even a tiny slice of the increased revenue that the Big Ten would drop to DIII, a level that has no scholarships, out of pure spite.

That's who Delany is.

He did indeed sit in one of the most powerful chairs in college athletics for 31 years. He used that perch to reinforce the con of amateurism for his personal benefit. He regularly issued ludicrous proclamations. He spearheaded the Big Ten's fart-sniffing "Legends" and "Leaders" divisions. He added Maryland, an athletic department so out of control it killed one of its football players out of pure negligence, and Rutgers, an athletic department that finishes at the bottom of the standings in almost literally every sport it competes in annually. He did this so he and people like him could have more money. He happily takes personal credit for industry-wide trends.

Whoever replaces him probably won't be any better or braver. But they could hardly be worse.



March 5th, 2019 at 12:45 PM ^

Not saying Delaney is some genius, but it is quite possible to screw up sitting on top of a bunch of oil. See Venezuela, Iraq, Iran just off the top of my head.

There is value is just not screwing up the cards you are dealt, and I think Delaney did a good job of that.

Complaints about commercials are as old as commercial TV, that's just a non-issue. It doesn't seem any worse today than 30 years ago. A TD near a quarter end has always been a parade of commercials breaks, pro or college. At least now DVRs exist.


March 5th, 2019 at 3:58 PM ^

I think this is mixing up the thing measured. Venezuela, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc. absolutely have more total wealth when oil is being pumped out than when it wasn't. Does that mean that the country is better off for the typical person? Absolutely not. For nations that do not have a well-established democracy (and even some that do), it puts a very large amount of wealth in a very few hands, which makes dictatorship and bad governance more likely. I think the metaphor here works. Having more money coming in actually enabled and exacerbated Delaney's bad governance.

Mpfnfu Ford

March 12th, 2019 at 12:40 PM ^

I think if you switch the two nothing much changes. The reason the Pac 12 is in the shape it is isn't Scott really, it's because it's a shit conference full of schools that don't really care about sports all that much in tiny TV markets. 

Scott's big move was to add Texas and Texas A&M, and if Texas hadn't been run by complete idiots it would have worked and we'd all be sucking him off for it. He can't help the conference he works for has Washington State and Oregon State in it, and its best team is in a huge metro market that only cares when they're winning. 

If he had Ohio State and Michigan and Penn State, his idea for 100% ownership would have maybe made the league even more money to be spent on 27 assistants to the athletic director.

matty blue

March 5th, 2019 at 11:25 AM ^

one need only look to pac-12 headquarters to see how it could be worse.


that jim delaney still lives, thus depriving me of an opportunity to take a long and satisfying piss on his grave, is just one of my ongoing daily disappointments.

i may be exaggerating.  a bit.


March 5th, 2019 at 11:56 AM ^

The Pac-12 is only worse because they've somehow fucked up the money grab.  But make no mistake, their money-grabbing intentions (for people like themselves, which is a great phrase) are pure. 

If they weren't jealous peers, Delaney would be an aspirational model for them, the university mandarin equivalent of the CEO titan.  In that regard, Brian's post applies to all of these prick conference admins, who have profited off of fan devotion for a workforce that hasn't shared in the massive revenue growth (except incidentally through facilities).  Yes, there's some mix of devotion to university and player, so that can be argued.  But what can't be argued is that all of the cash has gone to one and not the other. 

SirJack II

March 5th, 2019 at 11:34 AM ^

The main thing I can think of on the positive side is the creation of the B1G network.

The main thing on the negative side aside the obvious (i.e., the addition of Rugters and Maryland and arguably the addition of Penn State and Nebraska) was his threatening to move The Game to earlier in the season. 

Whirled Peas

March 5th, 2019 at 7:11 PM ^

Not sure why you assume everyone else’s product was or will be better than the B10 network.  It was an innovative $$$ grab that everyone tried to copy.  The Pac10 fell on its face and the Longhorn network arguably blew up an entire conference.

Lots of kids are born rich.  They don’t all stay rich.  The B10 is still filthy rich.  For better or worse, the commish still has the B10 as the premier destination for most every university president considering realignment.


March 5th, 2019 at 11:35 AM ^

While I personally 

No longer watch the NFL, Sec football and can barely make it through watching my Beloved M football due to commercials and commercialization of these games

Your charts tell a story of what any commissioner hopes to accomplish.

31 years tells you Delaney's bosses were more than pleased.


March 5th, 2019 at 11:51 AM ^

Yes Brian.

And more fundamentally, i.e., evolutionarily, i.e., taking one's pattern recognition from the 4.54 billion year sample space of evolution: World culture's dominant app—people deploying monetary code—can't generate selectable relationships in-&-across Geo Eco Bio Cultural & Tech networks, and across Time.

Exhibits A & B: Sky; Ocean.

The app's information-processing competence lacks Reach Speed Accuracy Power & is often used to throttle Creativity... all of which are fundamental info-processing criteria for passing selection tests.

Verily, if your culture's relationships with the Sky & Ocean are deadly, your cultural genome sucks.