Just Waiting To Die Now: Orson/Brian Q&A

Submitted by Brian on November 19th, 2012 at 2:38 PM

I did a Q&A with Orson about this business.


SH: That hasn't been the sense I've gotten, but this is squishy and unquantifiable.

BC: The inevitable 16-team end game isn't even a conference anymore. You get one game against the other division. One!

SH: Yup. Current lineup in the SEC still has two, but yes. In a 16 team format you get one, unless we're talking about adding more games. We are inevitably talking about adding more games.

BC: At least there's that. If there's anything good that comes out of all of this it's the reduction of bodybag games like last weekend's SEC schedule. But what does one game do? It means you play the teams in the other division once every four years, ie less often than ACC teams will play Notre Dame. I stop caring about those teams when I don't play them. Instead of having a rich history with Iowa I have a vague relationship with them.

I think we should insert "Someone I Used to Know" here.

SH: Framed against a pic of Adam Jacobi.

BC: Yes.



Rest of it at the link. I'm apoplectic and this was before I'd found out what the divisions were going to be!



November 19th, 2012 at 2:50 PM ^

I think 16 teams could work better than 14 if you do it right.

First, 4 divisions of 4 teams. Every year the division 1 winner plays the division 2 winner, same thing with divisions 3 and 4. Winners of those games play in the conference championship.

Keep the 8 game conference schedule. You play everyone in your division once, and get one protected non-division game. This means 4 games per year are unchangeable, leaving 4 games remaining and 11 teams to fill them. This works out to playing the other teams once every 2.75 years, where our current 12 team model has us playing cross division opponents once every 2.5 years, and the 14 team model is once every 6 years.

Billy Ray Valentine

November 19th, 2012 at 4:27 PM ^

What you describe is tenable.  The traditional B1G matchups are ingrained in me as much as the next Michigan fan.  But a new day has dawn, likely arriving with the B1G Network.  At this point, it's either expand and consume, or remain stagnant and die.


I'm not trying to flame, but I don't long for the days of the 11-game schedule, with the highlight of our even years' conference home schedule being MSU in early-October.  The scenario you desrcibe has potential for utter awesomeness.


Imagine semifinals in Week 12 at the home stadium of the two divison champs with the best record.  That's a prosepct even Brian would embrace.  Michigan vs. Ohio could return to its rightful place on the Saturday BEFORE Thanksgiving.  Students would actually still be intown (empty seat jokes aside).  


Worried about playing OSU in consecutive weeks?  Simple.  Add the caveat that you can't play your cross-over rival in the semis.


So long as Teams 15 and 16 are decent football schools, I'd embrace this future.  Every year we'd control our own destiny, both in the conference and nationally.




November 19th, 2012 at 2:55 PM ^

16 teams is essentially just two conferences with a championship game.

There is absolutely no point to it if you are going to have one cross conference game. More games will only force football players to dedicate more time that they don't have to playing instead of studying.


November 19th, 2012 at 2:57 PM ^

Can MSU and Rutgers please be the protected cross-division rivalry?  Winner gets to have the Situation stand on their sidelines for the rest of the season;


November 19th, 2012 at 2:58 PM ^

IMHO 16 team super conferences are inevitable. There's just too much money to be made in TV to stop it. Therefore, while this seems like some weaksauce, I bottle most of my outrage until I see what the final product is. 


November 19th, 2012 at 3:37 PM ^

I totally agree. But unfortunately most things are about money. And college football crossed that Rubicon decades ago. There is no denying the fact that colleges are locked in an arms race. Coaches salaries are nuts. Facility expansion is crazy. As a Michigan fan, I am thankful for Jim Delaney's ruthlessness and vision. The guys big bets have paid off extremely well for the conference and will allow Michigan to enjoy relevance for decades to come.


November 19th, 2012 at 3:49 PM ^

It's easy to say that things don't need to be about money, but don't we want things that cost money? New facilities, top coaches, great non-revenue sports? In order to do all of those things, we need to optimize how much money we can make.

My wife and I have a friend who is an attorney. He makes very little money, only taking on clients who really need him but usually can't afford him. He rips on my wife who works for a big firm, saying she's just in it for the money, but the same night he'll complain about the shit hole apartment he lives in and asks us to pick up his drinks, because "we can afford it." Guess what, you can't have it both ways. You either need to not have nice things, or do what it takes to afford them.


November 19th, 2012 at 3:21 PM ^

This may have been in the works for a long time, but it seems to me that they never bothered to check with the other universities or to get some opinion research from the fans.

Yeah, panic move is making more and more sense by the hour. Something else ibig is in the offing. Maybe the Big East and ACC ceasing to exist in 2 to 3 years.


November 19th, 2012 at 4:04 PM ^

How many times during the presser has a Maryland rep said something about "the long-term security of Maryland athletics"? I know it's all the administrator-equivalent of coachspeak but sometimes bits of truth slip through the blather and I think they do see the writing on the wall for the ACC.

The writing's no longer on the wall for the Big East--that wall has already collapsed.


November 19th, 2012 at 4:19 PM ^

This analogy doesn't work for me. The Big Ten isn't paying to ship the food. They're selling it. Someone else is letting it rot in the warehouse.

If they are able to fully leverage these new TV markets it's going to add $200 million in subscriber fees a year. That's a lot of cheddar. If eyeballs in these markets end up watching (it's possible) they will also up their ad revenues.


November 19th, 2012 at 6:03 PM ^

that the whole thing is built on a house of cards. Yes, right now, they can leverage those TV markets, negotiate with the cable companies to get BTN carried in NJ, DC, MD, NY, etc, and make money off the cable contract whether or not any viewers in those areas actually watch the channel. Right now. But does anyone else see the entire television show delivery system as itself very much about to undergo a major paradigm shift? How much do you pay for Comcast, or Time Warner, or UVerse, or DirecTV, or whatever you happen to have? And how does that price compare to what they were charging you 5 years ago? 10 years ago? Has your TV experience really improved by an amount commensurate with that increase in price? Have you ever watched a show on Hulu, Netflix, or AppleTV? (Or just plain pirated it for that matter.) How much leverage over Hulu do you think the BTN has?

I don't know if it's going to be a la carte pricing, if it's just going to be watching shows off the internet instead of the cable channels, or some entirely other thing, but I cannot believe the future of television looks much like the present. The fact that college football keeps whoring itself out more and more for television money, and keeps throwing away everything that made it a unique and valuable product in the process, is deeply sad. But when you combine it with the fact that they're increasingly hanging the success of the whole enterprise on a revenue stream that itself is due for major upheaval, it's hard not to see this all going from bad to worse to even worse than that.


November 19th, 2012 at 8:26 PM ^

House of cards? Nothing is more lucrative in TV right now that live sports. Despite living in an era of so many media options on cable and online, college football is experiencing it's greatest popularity. TV contracts have never been worth more.

1) The effect of online hasn't dimished TV's reach, it's enhanced it. Instead of the good old days where the family gathered around one TV set, we now have an era where everyone has a screen they can consume content on. And more than ever, that content is TV. TV viewing is actually up in recent years. People are watching more TV than ever before. Just on different screens.

2) True cord-cutters represent a very tiny % of viewers. And it's largely compensated for by the population growth we're expecting to see.

3) This notion that we'll all watch Apple TV or Hulu is not a short term prospect worth considering. Cable TV still holds way too much potential, especially with live events. Live sports, news and event television aren't going anywhere. I can't imagine a single sports fan I know who could live without cable. Just isn't going to happen.



November 19th, 2012 at 3:30 PM ^

Rich history with Iowa? What? the funniest thing about this entire realignment business isn't how absurd the connections are, its the glorifying of mediocare big ten teams that nobody cares about.  Somehow not playing indiana in football is the worst thing in the world even though nobody cares about indiana, no longer how long they have been in the division.  Same goes for purdue and as far as i can tell illinois.  Wisconsin only matters to people because they have been good for like 10 years and the only reason minnesota matters is because of a jug, nobody gives a shit about what happens to minnesota the rest of the season.  


November 19th, 2012 at 3:43 PM ^

Yes. I tend to agree with this. There's always resistance to change. It's natural. But in the big picture, what is a Michigan fan actually losing here? A couple games against middle of the road Big Ten teams.

This was a preemptive move. There's little doubt that the SEC and Pac-12 are looking to expand. I would expect the Big Ten to hit 16 in another couple of years. When that all shakes out, then people can decide if this was a good move or not.


November 19th, 2012 at 3:56 PM ^

I agree too. The only legit rivalries we have in the Big Ten are OSU and MSU, and I'm sure we'll always play them. Beyond that, we'll always play Nebraska which will become a big rivalry, and we'll switch up who we get from the other division. This is hardly the end of the world. Yeah, we'll play Purdue and Indiana less, which no one should care about, and we'll see PSU and Wisconsin less than we'd like but that's life.


November 19th, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

It's interesting that people sort of cling to the past in these situations, instead of looking forward. I keep thinking back to 2006 and watching the SEC championship game and thinking that the Big Ten was so behind the times. And that Michigan was always going to be crippled by that.

These moves may hurt in the short term and look bad on paper, but they are necessary to keep pace. Sucks to lose the Penn State game, but I will gladly take meeting them in the championship game instead.


November 19th, 2012 at 4:27 PM ^

Ah, nothing like the charge of "clinging to the past" to deflect criticism of bad decisions.

Beyond that, if this hurts in the short term, and looks bad on paper, what's the convincing explanation of how this is necessary to keep pace?

The Big 10 already outpaces every other conference in terms of revenue. In the current situation, Northwestern, the AD with by far the lowest on site revenues in the conference, is easily able to dump $250 million into a renovation. This isn't about keeping pace, it's an imperial move, colonizing the weak but advantageously place schools in other conferences to mine their resource of tv sets. It's about a form of accumulation that seeks any possible marginal advantage, no matter the consideration for long term stability. 

This move hurts Michigan, in locking us into a competitively disadvantageous situation vis a vis our division competitors. But it also hurts the Big 10 by lashing it to two historically underperforming institutions mainly because they sit amidst lots of TVs.



November 19th, 2012 at 8:37 PM ^

If you're of the belief that 16 team conferences are coming, and I am, then this move was inevitable. Conference realignment is like playing musical chairs. You don't want to be left standing at the end. Look at the Big East right now. 

"The Big Ten already outpaces other conferences."

But that's not a given for the future. They won't outpace the SEC when it gets itself a network. The Pac-12 is drawing major $$$$ for their content. In order to stay competitive, the Big Ten need to add to it's membership. This will drive network revenues up and increase the value of their rights packages when they're available. 

The Big Ten is not Kayne West making it rain. It was not easy for NW to dump $250 million into their facilities. They scraped and battled to get that cash. And they did so to keep pace with everyone else.


November 19th, 2012 at 4:10 PM ^

You say you're waiting to die and you don't link to Townes Van Zandt.  I'm disappointed.


Lyrics from the 4th verse of this song:

A friend said he knew where some easy money was
We robbed a man and brother did we fly
The posse caught up with me, drug me back to Muskogee
It's two long years, just a-waitin' 'round to die

Ed Shuttlesworth

November 19th, 2012 at 4:39 PM ^

The four-team thing will never happen.

The conference juggling is heading toward what it's been heading toward since it started.  Four major conferences that will be the feeders for the playoff.  The "conference" championship games will be de facto quarterfinals.(*)  The Big East and ACC either won't exist, or all their good or even kind of good football teams will join one of the four power leagues.  They'll play basketball and non-BCS-caliber football.

At this point, who really cares who else joins the Big Ten?  The Big Ten isn't a conference anymore; it's just a pod.

(*) And eventually, the conferences will pool "their" quarterfinals for TV purposes and, at that point, there's no reason not to just juggle or seed the 8 sub-conference "qualifiers."


November 19th, 2012 at 8:11 PM ^

Have you noticed that nobody wants this . . . not the Maryland fans, not the Big Ten fans?  Nobody.  Who is it benefiting if nobody actually wants it?

This whole thing only benefits a hand full of overpaid administrators and coaches.  Like .001% of the people involved.  Even the Chinese Politburo feels the need to be more responsive to its constituents.



November 19th, 2012 at 8:40 PM ^

Maryland fans may not have wanted it, but I'm sure their AD and President did. They recently axed several sports to alleviate their debt. With the Big Ten $$$$ in place, they will be bringing those sports back. I'm sure those athletes affected will be happy with the move.

Ask Rutgers fans in a couple of years if they would rather be in whatever the Big East looks like then or the Big Ten.