BSD - Conference Expansion: Delany Goes Corleone

Submitted by MGoShoe on May 25th, 2012 at 11:54 AM

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:

  1. Money.
  2. Money, to fill gaps caused by bankrupt state budget cuts.
  3. Money, to fuel the fleet of university jets that universities can't afford not to have.
  4. Money, as future media rights payouts go through the roof. And,
  5. "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:

  1. Help the B1G capture or solidify key TV markets (NYC, Washington, DC, Atlanta)
  2. Be good to semi-good in football
  3. Be good fits for the CIC
  4. 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.

* My absolute favorite VT intangible.

+ My absolute favorite UVA intangible.



May 25th, 2012 at 5:13 PM ^

Rutgers, although another sub-par choice, would actually be better than BC because, unlike BC, Rutgets has a huge enrollment (like 50k) and therefore a huge alumni base, concentrated in the area(s) we're looking to target.  If you listed the criteria for adding a program, BC checks off almost none of them.


May 25th, 2012 at 3:27 PM ^

Football is so popular in New England that BC, their "only major team" managed to average under 36k per game, despite being near a major metropolitan area.  Sounds like people really love their BC football - let's jump on that. 


May 25th, 2012 at 9:01 PM ^

The only way BC would be invited to the B1G is if ND insists that they be part of a package deal.  (Truth be told, the B1G would probably take anybody that ND wanted as a package deal, as long as they're coming in with ND.)  

Hello Akron.



May 25th, 2012 at 1:32 PM ^

It's nice that Minnesota received that 24 million dollar payout or whatever it was, but doesn't that include ALL media money.

The SEC and Big XII schools can all negotiate their own Tier 3 rights. For Vanderbilt, I can't imagine that's a ton (although I figure it's north of 0). For the Florida's of the world, that's 10 million a year which means UF made nearly 30 million this past year.

What am I missing?


May 25th, 2012 at 3:34 PM ^

Why expand for the sake of expanding?  The only real candidate out east for me is Virginia Tech.  They would be a home run like Nebraska, but they have a better academic standing than Nebraska.

Pitt: Is already in a market we own

Syracuse: Poor football team

Rutgers: Poor sports teams in general/ pro sports fan area

Maryland:  Poor football team

Virginia: Decent football team/ hasn't had the success of their neghbor VT

Connecticut: poor football team/pro sports fan area



May 25th, 2012 at 3:45 PM ^

I do not want to see the Big Ten add someone like
UVA, VT, GT, UNC, etc. Makes no geographic sense to me. I am from the South, so it isn’t a matter of me hating southern schools. It’s just… weird. I wouldn’t imagine any of those schools would want to join the Big Ten anyway, for a bunch of reasons. This conference realignment thing is staring to annoy me. I wish teams would stay more or less where they have history.


May 25th, 2012 at 3:59 PM ^

Although I agree that would be nice, that's like asking underpaid employees to stick with their jobs just because they know everyone.  But if people can make more money somewhere else, they go somewhere else.  Same goes with college athletic programs.


May 25th, 2012 at 5:41 PM ^

I have the complete opposite reaction.  IF the B1G goes to 16 teams, UVA, UNC and GT (along with ND) are exactly the teams that I'd like to see.

UNC and UVA are two of Top 5 Public Universities in the US and GT is a strong school as well.  Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia would all be in the top half of B1G states in terms of population (and growing).  UNC basketball speaks for itself.  UNC and UVA lacrosse would put the B1G on the map in that sport.  GT isn't a school that I'd get excited about but it certainly looks like a viable option (in a fertile recruiting area).

Syracuse, BC,Pittsburgh and Maryland all seem like incredibly boring options to me.  Don't even get me started with Rutgers.....zzzzzzzz.




May 25th, 2012 at 5:11 PM ^

why does it seem like so many people are so eager to expand, i don't get why so many people think we need more more teams in our conference, 12 is more than enough, i have no problem with Nebraska, they were a good get. but more than 12 is too many. lets just keep things how they are.


May 25th, 2012 at 8:32 PM ^

I'm with you on not being behind expansion.

Though it's fashionable now, it dilutes the B1G brand too much at this point.

Even ND (gasp!) at this point I feel is questionable whether it's worthwhile to bring on board (mostly due to the need to bring ANOTHER team to maintain divisional balance... And I can't think of a team available that is worth bringing on for the sake of ND, especially since ND has ceased to be a worthwhile trophy program for awhile now.


May 25th, 2012 at 7:14 PM ^

I live in Atlanta so Im biased..It would be AWESOME to have Michigan teams play in Atlanta..

Ga Tech is a great academic fit and has a very good national athletic program not to mention the Atlanta TV market... and its straight shot down 75...Im guessing Ga Tech is closer than Nebraska /Penn St..maybe even Iowa


Bring in Ga Tech!!


May 25th, 2012 at 7:50 PM ^

Having made all of those drives I can tell you definitely that, from U-M, Nebraska is a little bit further than Atlanta, but Iowa and PSU are much closer.  Besides, geography isn't about the numbers on the GPS.  GT is a southern school.  Nebraska and Michigan are midwestern schools.  Even if it were about numbers on the GPS, the closest Big Ten school to GT is much farther away than the closest Big Ten school to any other Big Ten school.  It's obviously as geographically ridiculous as WVU in the Big 12.

Also: Atlanta is an SEC town more than anything else.  GT isn't big enough to turn it into a Big Ten town.

Zone Left

May 25th, 2012 at 7:53 PM ^

I think the next round of expansion, if it happens, will be a net neutral for the Big 10 unless Notre Dame is pushed into the fold by some crafty championship arrangements. I was one of the people who initially argued that Rutgers would be a great pickup to expand the BTN's reach, but I've come to side with Delany's view that quality football is what really matters. Nebraska was a huge, huge pickup for the Big 10, but there probably isn't another Nebraska out there. 

The Big 12 is suddenly very stable and no one is going to leave the SEC. The great pickups from a football standpoint in the ACC are all down south and much more likely to be pulled into similarly lucrative deals with the SEC or Big 12--which also happen to have more invested in other sports that Southern schools dominate, like baseball. In my mind, there isn't a Big East school worth pursuing and there aren't any independents left after Notre Dame.

To me, North Carolina would be a solid pickup to balance out a hypothetical addition of Notre Dame, but then they'd have to partially walk away from their rivalry with Duke and ditch NC State, which may be politically impossible. Virginia would be wonderful academically, but they don't bring much in terms of sports to the conference, which is the whole point of expansion.

In the end, I think the BIg 10 is too rich to become unstable and too powerful to not get an equal share of any new playoff/bowl arrangement. If that's the case, why add any school that isn't a serious net gain for the entire conference? The schools would rather split their TV and playoff/bowl revenue 12 ways instead of 14 or 16 if those additions don't increase everyone's share of the pie.


May 25th, 2012 at 10:45 PM ^

If we want to compete with the SEC, we need to bring in more strong football teams.  That's why insert random Big East school will hurt us in prestige and it would dilute our brand.