Jim Delany: Crazy like a fox?

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on April 20th, 2010 at 3:33 PM
So I was thinking about the words of Sun Tzu, and reflecting on how Jim Delany got the Bigtennetwork on basic cable at a profitable price by winning a pissing contest with comcast, and wondered if all this crazy expansion talk isn't just some big, awesome ploy.

Maybe there is no real desire to go to 16 teams.  I can't fathom how that would even work.  Maybe there is a half-hearted desire to go to 14 teams if the television markets are worth it.  

But I tend to think all this talk is just smoke being blown up Jack Swarbrick's ass.

Here's how the meeting goes down: (imagine 1920's gangster voices for this)

JD: This is your last chance, Goldy.  Join the big ten or else!

JS: Or else what? We don't need you! WE've got a TV contract with NBC!

JD: Yeah, you got NBC, "nothing but crap".  Your little contract mighta looked good back when you signed it, but it's worth nothing more than a bag of fleas now, see.

JS: Whaduya mean?  We're the richest school on the block.  Kids grow up dreaming about playing for us.  We're the stuff of legends.  

JD: You know what legends have in common?  They're all long dead and buried.  Just like you're gonna be, if you turn us down again.

JS: You're bluffing.  You got nothing.  

JD: Nah, see, that's where you're wrong Goldy.  It's you that's got nothing.  Whaduya got? You got 25 hours on a network that likes to lose money on sports.  They just spent all winter undressing the olympics.  ND football, it's just like men's figure skating in their eyes.  WE got a WHOLE FRIGGIN network.  24-7-365.  WE could buy you out 6 times over.  We could dump the stock just to watch you burn.  But we happen to want to help you.  This is your only option.

JS: IT'S NOT A TUMOR! We could still join the Big East in football, just like the rest of our sports.

JD: Naw, Goldy. You can't.  They're ain't gonna be no Big East.  Not when we get done with it...

JS: Whaduya gonna do?

JD: We're gonna take half their teams.  We already had our accountants work up the papers, see. We're taking Pitt, Syracuse, Uconn, even friggen Rutgers. What's left will be absorbed into the ACC and some small fish will be thrown back into the conf. USA pond.  It's over Goldy.  You got no place to turn.

JS: We'll stay independent then! Ain't no way we'll be joining your Godless commie conference.

JD: Oh, sure.  You could try that.  But tell me something, Mr. Smartypants?  Who ya gonna play?  You won't be playing Pitt anymore.  Or Syracuse or Rutgers or even friggen Purdue!  You know that 20 year contract you signed with Michigan... ... CONFETTI! And remember that cute little blonde you been seeing out west in the pac10 every year?  Well let's just say that she's gonna be busy with other suitors.  MWAHAHAHAhaha

JS: ...

JD: You've been backed into a corner.  There's no escape.  Join us.


JD: Rockne's dead, Goldy.  Long dead.  And there's something he never told you about us-

JS: He told us enough! He told us you were a giant suckhole!

JD: No, you are the giant suckhole.  


JD: Search your feelings.  You know it to be true.  How many bowl games have you won in the last 16 years? One friggen game. How old are your recruits?  Exactly.  You've been a giant suckhole for their entire lives.

JS: no... ... Lou... why didn't you tell me?

JD: But that can all change.  Join us, and together we can rule the BCS as we were meant to.

-End Scene

Kinda shifted towards starwars at the end, but you get the idea.  

I think Delaney has always had ND as target #1 but knew that they'd only say yes under DIRE circumstances.  And so, he's spent the last year or so creating the impression of dire circumstances.  

I'm sure there are real plan B's and C's.  But I'm guessing none of them really involve 16 teams.  

Anyway,I'm pretty interested to see how this all shakes out.



April 20th, 2010 at 3:39 PM ^

But I think Delaney’s dream scenario includes Notre Dame and whole the Eastern TV market. He could secure the latter with Rutgers, UConn, and Syracuse, then add Missouri to lock up St. Louis and K.C.

If he adds just one team, ND is the prize fish. But why stop at one?


April 20th, 2010 at 5:27 PM ^

I share your grander vision. I would hope that the Big Ten is going to keep positioning itself to become the first Power Conference. The first conference to do this will make mistakes but potentially reap tremendous rewards as well. Bigger just to be bigger isn't necessarily better, but well planned bigger has real potential.

Let's not stop at one!


April 20th, 2010 at 7:25 PM ^

many have asserted--likely correctly--that Rutgers does not get you New York, but Syracuse, UConn, and Rutgers (New York, NJ, and Conn) really probably DOES.

Even if Rutgers or Syracuse's football team doesn't draw a TV audience now, they may develop that audience as people tune in to see them play the major trad. powers from the B10. If they just become doormats, that might not work, but there's no intrinsic reason why all three can't become decent or good. UConn's on the way, Rutgers has threatened several times and lapsed lately, Syracuse. . . I dunno, someone tell me.

Frank Drebin

April 21st, 2010 at 8:58 AM ^

While the NY market would be great, only 40% of the revenue of the BTN comes from viewers, with 60% coming from advertising. The real value of adding 16 teams would be the additional live game opportunities with football, basketball and hockey games, as well as the Big Ten championships. 16 teams would allow the BTN to broadcast something like 20 more football games per year, have BBall games on every night of the week and also have a Big Ten Championship game. All of these would be huge money makers in advertising, as live sports pulls in big bucks for advertising. Why do you think ESPN always shows live sports, even if they are lower tier games. They make their money in the advertising during live games. This would offset the notion that adding more teams takes more of the pie. If you have more live games and more advertising money, especially if those live games involve teams such as Nebraska or ND with large, loyal fan bases, then the money will keep rolling in with or without the NY market.


April 20th, 2010 at 4:45 PM ^

I definitely share your opinion of this whole situation, Pitt is the only other school I can see with a great Big Ten resume, so I think this is all just to scare ND into joining. Hopefully it works!


April 20th, 2010 at 4:51 PM ^

I think this whole we are going to take the whole Big East conference is just us trying to scare Notre Dame to joining. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out though.


April 20th, 2010 at 4:54 PM ^

Or are we threatening the Big East?

Threatening to destroy the Big East may scare Notre Dame a little and could possibly encourage them to join the Big Ten to avoid the huge disruption to college sports, but I wonder if we're not threatening to destroy the Big East to get the Big East to save themselves by encouraging ND to join the Big Ten.


April 20th, 2010 at 6:30 PM ^

We're going to go 16 teams, you're losing at least 2 to 3 teams from your conference to us and the Pac Ten, either join us or have fun playing in the worst major conference making less dough.

Then again, I'm probably just having wishful thinking.


April 20th, 2010 at 9:44 PM ^

What in the world is happening?? My brain is on overload!! Someone please tell me what is about to happen!! Midwest 12? Big 14? Super 16? I cant take it any more!!


April 21st, 2010 at 4:09 AM ^

...they can raid the ACC and have the same net effect of dismantling the Big East (because who is the ACC going to raid (again)?) Therefore the talk of Rutgers and UConn are not a necessity if the intention is to topple the Big East and lure Notre Dame.

Consider the Big 10 taking Pitt and Syracuse from the Big East, and Boston College and Virginia from the ACC. Delany gets his fingers into the New York, Boston, and Virginia/Washington DC markets while solidifying Pennsylvania; the Big 10 acquires four highly respected undergraduate institutions, as well as two of the top medical schools in the nation (Pitt and Virginia - and all the medical research $$$ associated with them;) and the Big East still crumbles which brings in Notre Dame.

(I still prefer Texas to Notre Dame, but that's probably just because I can't wait for Michigan to meet Texas on the field again...)


April 21st, 2010 at 8:12 AM ^

Jim Delany is a canny business man. He wants to be out front and he knows that the off season story for the last few years about the Big Ten has been the Big Ten's failure on the national stage. So, he throws out the idea that the Big Ten is pondering expansion, on a 12-18 month time table. Now, consider all of the Big Ten talk since the expansion timeline went out, speculation of who would be invited, would they be a good fit, is the Big Ten powerful enough to do this, is it a good idea. While negative in some cases, it's all hypothetical negative, but it has the impact of keeping the Big Ten at the forefront of the discussion as one of America's premier and powerful conferences while taking attention away from the dead horse storyline of how the Big Ten is not so good in January.*

I'm not saying it's a smoke screen, I'm not saying the Big Ten won't expand. What I'm saying is that Jim Delany gets eight months of speculation out of this, always keeping the Big Ten's name in the picture, before we go back to talking about what's happening on the field.

*--Admittedly, the Big Ten's performance in this past bowl season helped out with that, but there was no guarantee of this when the expansion time table was announced.

Wolverine In Exile

April 21st, 2010 at 8:33 AM ^

Going along with Yostal's idea... by having Delaney keep talking about expansion this offseason, the Big 10 has gotten more publicity than any other conference and publicity = increased interest = potentially more viewers on BTN = greater revenue. Well played, Senor Delaney, well played.

Also, I always envisioned the meeting between Delaney and Swarbrick to more like Tom Hagen's visit to the hollywood producer in The Godfather. Only instead of a horse's head, Swarbrick wakes up with the Leprechaun head in his bed.

Cue music. Cut to dark smokey office in Chicago where Delaney sits in a leather chair with David Brandon flanking him.


April 21st, 2010 at 6:10 PM ^

The original thesis that Delany is playing brinksmanship with ND strikes me as very possibly (hopefully in my opinion) true. Its clear that the entire reason (if not rational) for expansion has to due with BTN money and not really with the idea of a conference championship game. Anyway, if its all about increasing BTN revenue (and worth) why not just have the BTN bid for the Big East's TV rights? You get the east coast market and dont have to muck up your the OSU-Michigan, not to mention all the other traditions. OF course there are a bunch of caveats, not the least being another conference raiding the Big East and not getting BTN on basic cable in those markets, but in theory you get all the benefits (money to the Big Ten schools) without the inconvenience of a killing the 'true' big ten.
Also, Delany should just threaten the Big East if they dont kick ND out he will destroy their conference. Seems like we have a lot of ways to paint them into a corner now...