Big Ten Expansion Follow-Up Post #3 – More on the Financial Gap Between the Big Ten and Big 12, Notre Dame’s Independence in Question, East Coast Family, and Fallout in Other Conferences

I never intended this blog to be exclusively devoted to Big Ten expansion issues (and one of these days, I’ll get back to my regularly-scheduled moaning about the respective states of the Illini, Bears and White Sox as well as analyzing the inevitable Bulls trade deadline rumors that make “Texas to the Big Ten” seem like a lock by comparison), yet a number of recent comments from all of the wonderful readers out there and news events necessitate another follow-up post. If you haven’t already read them, here are the original Big Ten Expansion Index post and follow-ups #1 and #2.  As a side note, there’s been a bit of speculation that I must be an unemployed stoner or doctoral student (or both) to have the time to write such long posts.  In reality, I’m actually an extremely time-pressed attorney that is raising twin babies at home, which is why I hadn’t written anything prior to the Big Ten Expansion Index post for a period of 6 months.  Thus, these blog posts are the product of halfway-cognizant insomia (and I really wish I was joking about that).  Anyway, let’s go through everything in general categories:

1. Missouri Would Have a $10 Million Financial Boost with Big Ten Membership (and Texas would, too) – The St. Louis Business Journal has presented an analysis that shows that it would make at least $10 million per year more in the Big Ten compared to the Big 12. This is based on the current Mizzou revenue share in the Big 12 of around $8.4 million and the Big Ten’s revenue figures of today (which would assuredly jump with the addition of a conference championship game and additional Big Ten Network subscribers). What’s also noted in the article (but not emphasized since this is written from the Mizzou point of view) is that the Texas revenue share in the Big 12 was around $10.2 million last year (which was the most in that conference), which is even less than what I was basing my financial assumptions on in the original Big Ten Expansion Index post. For all of the squawking from non-Texas Big 12 fans that I’ve seen on virtually every blog and message board that has reviewed my blog posts, the supposed Texas control of revenue in the Big 12 amounts to less than a $2 million per year advantage over Missouri (not chump change, but not exactly dominating, either). Yet, according to the St. Louis Business Journal’s numbers, that $2 million difference would pale in comparison to the minimum $10 million per year boost that either Missouri or Texas (or any other Big 12 school) would receive by going to the Big Ten.

As Deep Throat once said to Bob Woodward in a dingy parking garage, “Follow the money.” Even if you reasonably believe that a school like Texas would ultimately have to reject an invite from the Big Ten due to political factors (which I fully acknowledge is a critical issue), the financial calculations from the St. Louis Business Journal would show why Texas would at least look at Big Ten membership seriously and that this isn’t a proposal that’s going to be ignored from the beginning (as a lot of non-Texas Big 12 fans seem to believe). Let’s put it this way: if some other company proposed to give you a $10 million raise for doing the exact same thing as you’re doing now, chances are that you aren’t just going to completely ignore it and say, “Nope. I’m not even going to listen.” Non-Texas Big 12 fans (as well as fans from a lot of other conferences) want or hope that’s what Texas is going to respond to an offer of at least $10 million more per year (or to put it in more impactful terms using simple multiplication, a minimum of an extra $100 million over the course of 10 years): “Nope. I’m not even going to listen.”  This isn’t even accounting for the fact that (1) people seem to expect Texas to just let Missouri walk away to double its TV money and concurrently weaken the already poor Big 12 contract (thereby pulling the Longhorns’ TV revenue down even further) and (2) the academic funding from the CIC dwarfs the athletic side of the equation. 

I can completely accept the argument that the Texas state legislature could kill this deal from a political standpoint, but I don’t think anyone can reasonably believe that any school is going to just automatically turn down at least $100 million over the course of 10 years without performing some heavy due diligence and analysis to see whether it’s worth it.  Plus, it’s not as if it’s only the beancounters from Wu-Tang Financial are considering this a real possibility.  For the skeptics out there that the Texas fan base would be completely against this, please look back at the comments from Texas alums to my prior posts along with the links to various Longhorns blogs and message boards and see what they’re saying.  In addition to all of that, here’s yet another fairly positive discussion from the Texas blog Burnt Orange Nation.   Once again, think like a university president as opposed to a sports fan here.  The Big Ten offers Texas and every other school in the Big 12 (and frankly, every other BCS conference) more money for the athletic department via its TV contract and more money for academics via the CIC.  Any university president is at least going to evaluate that type of proposal with some heavy consideration.

2.  Notre Dame Almost Joined the Big Ten in 2003 – Last week, Notre Dame basketball head coach Mike Brey spilled the previously unknown beans about how extremely close the Fighting Irish were to joining the Big Ten when the ACC raided the Big East back in 2003. If you read the initial Big Ten Expansion Index post, you’ll know that every single Big Ten school makes about twice as much TV money as Notre Dame’s NBC contract (and as shown by my first follow-up post, the additional money Notre Dame receives from the Big East basketball TV contract basically amounts to a rounding error to any school in the Big Ten). What’s interesting to me about the Brey story is that Notre Dame was so close to joining the Big Ten even when it wasn’t in its financial interest to do so at that time (since the NBC contract was the gold standard for college sports in 2003). Now that it is arguably very much in Notre Dame’s financial interest to join the Big Ten, maybe the “Notre Dame will never join a conference” line of thinking isn’t as iron-clad as previously thought.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick even acknowledged that the Big Ten makes substantially more TV money than what the Irish receive from NBC in this Chicago Tribune story from last month.  Look at Swarbrick’s quotes closely in that article.  While that story was widely cited by the national media as Notre Dame supposedly preemptively rejecting the Big Ten, as a fellow attorney, I recognize and respect how carefully parsed Swarbrick’s statements were and that he effectively didn’t say anything at all.  If Notre Dame were to join the Big Ten tomorrow, there is absolutely nothing that Swarbrick said that would’ve been a lie.  Still, Notre Dame depends upon alumni support more than any other BCS school and Sully’s comment on my Big Ten Expansion Index post is indicative of what they’re thinking. I’d still wager that Texas has more of chance of being invited and accepted into the Big Ten than Notre Dame at this point in time.

3. The East Coast Family – I’ve seen a fairly large number of suggestions that the Big Ten ought to go to the 14-school route with a full-on Big East raid of Rutgers, Syracuse and UConn.  The argument is that while none of those schools by themselves can deliver the New York City market, putting all of them together could very well do so plus gain traction in New England on top of that.  It’s a plausible scenario, but I still stand by my stance on the only way that it would be worth it to have a 14-school conference: “… using a historical NBA superstar comparison, if the 12th Big Ten member has to be at least at the level of Kobe Bryant, then the 13th and 14th Big Ten members have to be both Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.”  I’m confident that Texas fans will beat down any cable provider in its home state that doesn’t carry the Big Ten Network on basic cable.  I’d also say the same about a slew of other Big 12 schools, including Nebraska and Missouri.  However, I just don’t have that confidence in any of the Big East schools or even three of them together to deliver their own markets.  The Big Ten would only make a move for sure things and the problem is that the northeastern schools are the least sure moves out there (even if they have the greatest potential number of households).  Once again, the only “plausible” scenario that I see the Big Ten going up to 14 schools is that it absolutely must take Texas A&M in order to get its real target of Texas, in which case a 14th school on top of them is needed to round everything out.  3 additional schools would need to add over $60 million to the conference pot in order to maintain the per school revenue status quo, so it would take 3 blockbuster schools in order to do that.  I believe that the objective of a 14-school Big Ten is to make markets irrelevant – at that point, it’s all about making the Big Ten Network into an ESPN-esque must-have channel in every home in the country.  Otherwise, it’s not worth it to expand to that size.

Others have asked again that I examine some ACC schools, such as Maryland and Boston College.   Those types of schools are definitely enticing from an academic and TV market perspective (and I’d love Miami in particular for a lot of reasons), but I’ll reiterate that I don’t think that the Big Ten is going to be likely to lure anyone from there even with that conference’s own TV issues.   There’s a scene from Wall Street where Bud Fox is livid that Gordon Gekko has decided to break-up Blue Star Airlines (where Fox’s father worked at as a union leader).  Fox asks Gekko, “Why do you need to wreck this company?”  Gekko screams back, “Because it’s WRECKABLE, alright?!”  In terms of college conferences, the Big 12 and Big East are wreckable in a way that the other BCS conferences aren’t at this time, which is why I’ve continued to focus on expansion candidates from those two particular conferences.  The ACC, in contrast, has a collection of academically-minded universities that have similar goals from top to bottom much like the Big Ten and Pac-10.

At one time, I was completely convinced that the Big Ten would look eastward if it ever decided to add a school other than Notre Dame.  However, I’m suspending that thought until the marquee Big 12 schools like Texas are completely off the table.

4.  Nationwide Conference Fallout – Finally, part of the fun of speculating about what the Big Ten would do in expansion is how the other conferences would respond.  How would the Big 12 react if it loses a school?  What about the Big East?  Will the Pac-10 finally go to 12 schools itself?  How would the non-BCS conferences be affected?

If Notre Dame were to move to the Big Ten, it would probably be the biggest news but also have the least impact on other conferences (at least football-wise).  The Big East would have to replace a basketball member, which would likely come in the form of an all-sports school to finally give its football conference 9 teams.  Current Conference USA members Memphis, East Carolina and Central Florida (UCF) are considered to be the main options for the Big East, which is a whole lot of “meh” for a conference really needs a marquee football member that it probably won’t ever obtain (even though the conference has done pretty well overall since the ACC raid in 2003).  Still, Notre Dame going to the Big Ten doesn’t take away anything from Big East football.  Syracuse or Rutgers going to the Big Ten, though, takes a whole lot away from the Big East.  If the Big East ends up having to add one or more of the aforementioned options from C-USA in that scenario, that’s going to be a significant blow to the conference’s national reputation.  I personally think that the Big East’s automatic BCS bid will be safe if it only loses one school since the states that the conference represents are just too politically and publicly powerful through the media to kick out, but you might see a split from the Catholic basketball schools at that point (which would have massive repurcussions in conference alignment for basketball).

In the event that one or more Big 12 schools leave for the Big Ten, I believe that BYU and Utah would be the consensus top candidates (in that order).  I put BYU ahead of Utah for the simple fact that BYU delivers Utah’s market plus a national fan base with its Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) members (similar to Notre Dame’s hold on Catholics).  BYU’s religious underpinnings wouldn’t concern the Big 12 seeing that it has Baylor as a member and that school only started to allow dancing a few years ago.  (As you’ll see, though, those religious underpinnings will automatically kill BYU’s chances elsewhere.)  A lot of the public seems to think that TCU would get into the Big 12 if there was an open spot, but this is another classic case of people thinking like sports fans as opposed to university presidents.  If there’s one point that I hope everyone that has read my posts understands, it’s that the lack of major TV markets in the Big 12 outside of the state of Texas is specifically what makes that conference vulnerable (and why Missouri and Nebraska would accept a Big Ten invite in a heartbeat and I think Texas and Texas A&M would strongly consider it).  So, TCU provides exactly as much TV value to the Big 12 as Cincinnati and Iowa State would to the Big Ten: none whatsoever.  The Big 12 isn’t going to add yet another Texas school when the conference’s #1 issue is not having enough of a presence outside of Texas.  Thus, the only way that TCU gets into the Big 12 is if BOTH Texas and Texas A&M leave the Big 12 at the same time and the conference decides that it needs TCU to shore up its Texas home base.  Other schools that might be in the mix for the Big 12 are New Mexico (who is very underrated as an expansion candidate in my opinion since it’s a flagship with a good fan base in a growing state) and Boise State (who is very overrated as an expansion candidate since they’re very hot now yet I’m not sure if they bring that much value when they go through an inevitable down period).  In any event, the Mountain West is almost certainly screwed as a conference if the Big 12 loses a school.

The Pac-10 expansion situation is extremely difficult to predict because of this simple fact: any expansion candidate needs unanimous approval from all 10 members in order to receive an invite.  In contrast, the Big Ten needs an 8-3 majority to add a school.  So, the unanimous vote requirement is the key to virtually everything in the Pac-10.  I can’t tell you how many people that I’ve seen suggest that the Pac-10 will eventually invite BYU without understanding why it would neverever happen.  Let’s think about this for a couple of seconds: in order for this to occur, it would require the University of California-Berkeley to vote affirmatively to share money and associate itself with BYU and the LDS.  If that disconnect isn’t obvious to you for some reason, let’s spell it out at a rudimentary level: California liberals have complete disdain for the LDS because of how much money that the church poured into the state to kill all of the gay rights propositions over the past few years.  BYU happens to be the intellectual nerve center of the LDS.  The most liberal institution in the most liberal city in California (if not the entire United States) happens to be the University of California-Berkeley.  You will see riots in Berkeley that would harken back to the 1960s if Cal even considered for a moment to allow BYU to join the Pac-10.  This isn’t even accounting for other ultra-liberal schools in the Pac-10 like UCLA and Oregon.

Utah is a little more palatable, but remember that the Pac-10 couldn’t even agree on inviting Texas back in the 1990s (otherwise, the Longhorns would now be members of that West Coast conference).  If a clearly academically and athletically superior Texas couldn’t get a unanimous vote from the Pac-10, I don’t know if Utah would even stand a chance.  Granted, the Pac-10 would probably like a mulligan on Texas and they’d take Colorado, as well, but with the revenue disparity between the Big Ten and Pac-10 so large today, I doubt that Texas would choose the Pac-10 over the Big Ten at this point if it ever left the Big 12.  Also note that having each school play both USC and UCLA annually is critically important for recruiting, ticket selling and TV purposes.  This year’s Pac-10 football champ of Oregon, for example, had most of its players come from Southern California who were hypnotized by all of the green and yellow hues on the Ducks’ uniforms.  This is also the case for virtually every other Pac-10 school.  Therefore, if the Pac-10 were to propose to go up to 12 schools, anyone that has to give up games against USC and/or UCLA in order to play a Utah-level school will automatically vote against expansion, as well (unless you’re talking about another top TV market like Texas).  Academics are also as important to the Pac-10 as the Big Ten, so any candidate that doesn’t have top academic credentials (i.e. Boise State and UNLV) is going to rejected by the likes of Stanford.  With such a high standard to get expansion approved in the Pac-10 and a lack of any obvious expansion candidate on the West Coast, the Pac-10 is probably going to end up standing pat no matter what happens.

I have a ton more thoughts on how other conferences might react, but I’ll save for those for a later date.  Keep those comments coming and I’ll provide more feedback in the near future.

(Image from Population Statistic)


163 thoughts on “Big Ten Expansion Follow-Up Post #3 – More on the Financial Gap Between the Big Ten and Big 12, Notre Dame’s Independence in Question, East Coast Family, and Fallout in Other Conferences

  1. Pingback: The Big Ten Expansion Index: A Different Shade of Orange « FRANK THE TANK’S SLANT

    1. Terry


      Well written set of articles.

      Do you or any poster know if BTN expands to a new state, will the per subscriber rate move from “outside footprint” rates of $.10 to “inside footprint” rates of $1.00 or to something completely new?

      This could make a big case favoring some areas, such as St. Louis where BTN is now on Expanded Basic.


    2. DawgNBama

      Excellent analysis Frank, but with the recent news about the Pac 10 supposedly wanting to invite Texas, A&M, Oklahoma, OK State, Texas Tech, & Colorado, I’m thinking one of two things:

      1. Either Texas is trying to mount some real pressure to keep Missouri & Nebraska from leaving the Big 12…or…
      2. The Pac 10 is making a huge play for Texas.

      And it could be a little of both. I’ve also heard rumors that A&M isn’t too keen on the Pac 10 at all, and really wants to join the SEC (they almost did back when the SWC broke up, but politics prevented that). My hunch is that Texas Tech, who wasn’t a player in all of this before, is now in play because A&M is really gonna make a huge play for the SEC, and that Texas politicians will be content to let Texas & A&M split, so long as Texas takes Texas Tech with them. And since it’s looking like Texas might have to burn an OOC game on A&M, somebody was to get left out in the cold, but miraculously, OU is now involved in these discussions as well.


  2. Madison Hawk

    Another good article. As I said in a response to the original expansion post, there are few reasons for the Big Ten to expand:

    1A. Texas
    1B. Notre Dame

    As you indicate, Notre Dame is more willing to listen than they state publicly. At this point, Notre Dame needs the Big Ten more than the Big Ten needs Notre Dame.

    Texas would be the holy grail for the Big Ten from an athletic, academic and financial standpoint. The Big Ten is also very attractive to Texas. The biggest roadblock is Texas politics, circa the inclusion of Texas Tech and Baylor in the Big 12. The only way I see Texas leaving the Big 12 being politically feasible is if Texas A&M is taken care of, either by joining the Big Ten or another major conference, with the SEC being the most logical.

    I don’t really believe the Big Ten wants Texas A&M (although they likely as attractive as Nebraska or Missouri), but would be willing to take them if the Big Ten could get Texas and Notre Dame. That is the only scenario I see the Big Ten expanding to 14 teams and I believe they would do it.


    1. Yes, I agree that the Texas/Texas A&M/Notre Dame triumverate would be the only plausible situation at this point where the Big Ten would go up to 14 schools. My biggest personal issue with a 14-school conference has always been that, if you keep an 8-game conference schedule (which would almost certainly be necessary to lure those target teams in the first place because they want to keep their main current rivalries like Texas-Oklahoma, ND-USC, ND-Navy, etc.) and split into 2 divisions, then you’ll schools that won’t play teams in the opposite division for up to 6 years at a time. Most of the current Big Ten schools flip out every time that Michigan or Ohio State falls off of the schedule for only 2 years (which occurs about once per decade) since those are the two marquee schools that drive season ticket sales, so I can’t imagine how it would be palatable to play conference opponents only 2 times every 8 years. Thus, you really do need marquee level schools like Texas and Notre Dame in order to soften the blow in that instance.

      I actually came up with a plan that I thought would resolve the scheduling issue with 14 schools: instead of separating into 2 divisions, just have each school have 3 annual rivalry opponents (similar to how each Big Ten school has 2 rivalry opponents today) and the rest of the conference 2 years on/2 years off (5 other conference games per season to rotate among 10 non-annual opponents). Then, the conference championship game would simply take the top two schools at the end of the regular season. There seemed to be a lot of benefits here: all of the natural and historic rivalries would be accounted for, all of the schools in the conference would still play each other on a regular basis, and there would be a stronger conference championship game since the top 2 schools would always play each other without having to worry about whether one division was stronger or weaker. The math completely worked out for this scenario.

      Alas, the very knowledgeable Syracuse fan omnicarrier, who has provided a number of insightful comments on my posts, informed me in a separate discussion that NCAA regulations require there to be divisions (where the teams must play all of their divisional members) in order to hold a conference championship game. I’m not going to depend upon any NCAA regulations being changed on this matter unless other conferences like the SEC start taking the 14-school conference approach, which is a bummer since it felt like a viable way to address the inter-division scheduling concern.


      1. Richard

        Well, do keep in mind that all Big10 officials I’ve read in the press have generally been dismissive towards the idea of having a championship game, even if they do expand. Yes, an extra 1M+ per school is money, but I can understand their thinking (they hide behind “tradition”, but I believe the financial calculations are that without a conference chapionship game, it would be easier to get a Big10 team in to the national championship game and thus easier for a Big10 team to win a title, and the increase in alumni/booster donations from contending for or winning a national title outweight the benefits of a conference championship).

        BTW, only ND would need an 8-game conference schedule due to their multitude of traditional rivalries. If TAMU is brought in with UT, they’d only have 1 non-conf game they’d absolutely have to keep (with Oklahoma), and no Big10 team has more than 1 traditional non-conf rival. While the big schools would favor an 8-game conference schedule still, the small schools would want to bring in Michigan, OSU, & Texas/ND as many times as possible.


        1. Richard – I’ve seen those comments that the Big Ten might not create a championship game, as well. I guess that I’m highly skeptical of that scenario since, as we’ve seen with the SEC (and, to a lesser extent, the Big 12) over the past several years, a conference championship game isn’t necessarily an obstacle to the national championship game or an extra at-large BCS berth (and with the SEC, it has even propelled 1-loss and 2-loss teams into the national championship game over similarly situated schools from other conferences). That being said, I do agree with conference officials that expansion isn’t being driven by any type of need for a conference championship game (which too many people seem to think) – that’s just a possible by-product that comes with a conference that has 12 or more schools and it’s not the key factor here. It’s just very difficult for me to imagine the Big Ten expanding and then affirmatively foregoing the opportunity to hold that conference championship game.

          You’re correct about ND being the only school that absolutely has to have more than 2 non-conference rivalries (USC and Navy are non-negotiable), but it’s also geared toward seeing how every school in the Big Ten (not just the power ones) is looking to get 7 or even 8 home games per season for athletic budgeting purposes. It would be the same for Texas and Texas A&M, where if they continue to respectively play Oklahoma and Arkansas at the neutral site of Dallas, they would both need 3 guarantee home games in order to get 7 home games per year (which necessitates having 4 non-conference games to work with). Now, the prices of those guarantee games have been escalating dramatically over the past couple of years, so maybe that changes the equation as to whether 7 home games would be an absolute necessity anymore (i.e. the price of that guarantee game is so high that you’re just better off playing your conference opponents for “free” even if it means losing a home game). It was really interesting to see that Michigan’s AD actually supports going to a 9-game conference schedule (and I know Ron Guenther from Illinois has wanted it for years). I’m not sure if Ohio State and Penn State, who like having 8 home games on a regular basis, feel the same way.


          1. Pat

            According to the Detroit newspapers, the two most frequent fan requests to the Michigan football program are for “more conference games” and more road games that are within “driving distance”. Michigan’s AD tried to schedule Indiana as a “non-conference” game recently, in addition to their 8 Big Ten conference games, but couldn’t work it out.

            Expanding to 12 teams, or more, would allow for a 9 game conference schedule. Notre Dame, Pitt and Missouri are within driving distance of several Big Ten schools and would be good candidates for expansion although they wouldn’t maximize cable TV revenue.

            South Bend and Pittsburgh are 1 day trips from Ann Arbor, I’ve done it. Pitt was 285 miles one way. Left Ann Arbor at 6:00am and arrived at Heinz Field parking lot at 11:00am for a Steelers game at 1:00pm. Left the stadium at 4:30pm and arrived home at 11:30pm, stopping for dinner along the way. It was a long day, almost 18 hours, but with four people sharing the driving it wasn’t too bad. Didn’t have to pay for a hotel or air fare, and used less than 2 full tanks of gas. For a Saturday game, you would still have all day Sunday at home with the family.

            A lot of fans like to go to road games at Purdue, Northwestern, Indiana and Michigan State where tickets are usually available. Even Wisconsin is doable if you take the car ferry across Lake Michigan from Muskegon to Milwaukee.

            Granted, Pitt and Missouri don’t maximize cable TV dollars, but it might be a good idea for the Big Ten to listen to it’s customers (fans). Customer satisfaction is usually the key to business success.


          2. Doug

            Ron Gunther, AD at Illinois, recently was qouted as saying that the added school would have to be a geographic and academic fit, saying it would have to be in a contiguous state with similar academic credentials.

            So, Pitt looks like the prime candidate with Rutgers, Syracuse and possibly Missouri as secondary candidiates, in considering only those 2 requisites. That leaves out Texas, and any other school not contiguous.

            Nebraska or Iowa State…probably not academically acceptable. Missouri…borderline academically acceptable, but does has solid research dollars – about 300-400 million/year, which doesn’t come close to Michigan’s 1.1 Billion. Pitt is strongest out of the bunch academically and research dollar-wise.

            Intangibles? A good point was made above about travel and going to road games. Missouri already has long standing rivaly with Illinois in both football and basketball and has Indiana scheduled in the near future, and has played Purdue often in the past. Also very close to Iowa, only about 240 miles. Northwestern and Wisconsin next closest, easily driveable.

            Pitt would attract Ohio State (150 miles) and Michigan fans (250 miles) to fill up their stadium, as well as having a good rivalry with Penn State.

            TV sets and other financial intangibles? Pitt adds nothing. Missouri has largest alumni base in Chicago to add more in that town with NW and Illini, as well as the rest of STL and KC. The NY market likes pro ball, not college.

            The winner is…Pitt. 2nd place…Missouri. Everyone else distant 3rd.

            All that is moot if ND wants in though.


          3. Pat

            Pitt would be a good choice. A lot has been made about their mediocre attendance and off campus stadium, but if they were put in a division with Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State, and continued to play Notre Dame as a non-conference game each year, they would have four marquee games. Play two at home each year and two on the road and they would probably sell out season tickets. People would buy season tickets for the two marquee home games and give the tickets for Indiana and Northwestern to the kid down the street. If ESPN or ABC didn’t pick up these games, they would great for the Big Ten Network which could use more content and better quality games.

            Pitt’s stadium is three miles from campus, but it was designed by the city to accommodate both the Steelers and Panthers. It’s a modern stadium with great sight lines and a beautiful panoramic view of the Allegheny River and and the tall buildings in downtown Pittsburgh. Reminds me of some of the newer baseball stadiums. The Steeler Hall of Fame under the stands has all the Super Bowl trophies, classic old uniforms and a lot of great pictures and memorabilia. If I were a college player, I would love to play on the same field as one of the premier, historic teams in the NFL.

            One bad thing is the natural grass field that gets torn up late in the season when the Western Pennsylvania high school teams have their playoff games at Heinz Field, in addition to the pro and college games. Artificial turn would be better, but the Steelers are adamant about having natural grass. It’s a tradition.

            All that said, I’m afraid cable tv revenue may win out and either Texas or Rutgers gets the call.


          4. Richard

            In terms of research, Maryland & Pitt lead the pack (when considering schools in contiguous states)

            Maryland, Rutgers, and Mizzou all would add new BTN subscribers, unlike Pitt.

            Mizzou (along with Pitt) do have the advantage of being closer geographically to other Big10 schools (though Maryland is about as far away from everyone as PSU).

            BTW, can you link to the interview with Guenther? I remember him saying that geography would be a consideration, not that candidates have to in a contiguous state.

            In any case, remember that as an AD, he doesn’t actually have a say on what the Big10 will do. I think in the end it will come down to some weighing of research vs. TV draw.


          5. Doug

            Here’s the Gunther link:


            You are right, the university presidents will decide all of this, but they will consult the AD’s..they’d be stupid not to. I think I remember one of the Big Ten’s coaches saying he found out about Penn State joining by reading the local newpaper. Hard to belive that though.

            All’s pretty quiet about the topic right now. It’ll crank up again as the next season approaches. Or until ND makes a press announcment.


          6. Richard

            ??? Why would it be stupid not to?

            I imagine the presidents all know their respective AD’s views on expansion, but since membership in the Big10 also means membership in the CIC, the presidents are responsible for concerns that aren’t in the ADs’ purview.

            Anyway, when PSU joined, the ADs didn’t find out until the decision had been made.


          7. Doug

            I would think that a Big 10 university president spends most of their time with budget, fund raising, academic, legislative and other “big picture” political issues. Only the AD’s truely know the logistics involved with running their operations.

            They would know what it would take to send a golf team from Iowa all the way over to Maryland and back, or a girls volleyball team to texas from Pittsburgh and back. If they invited Texas in, what happens when Indiana says, hey, we can’t afford to send our baseball team down there for a week. We’ll have to drop baseball.

            The AD’s would have their say.


          8. Richard

            Then they’d simply rejig the schedules of the non-revenue sports. The logistics don’t matter too much so long as they can be distilled down to cost numbers (and they can). The presidents have a grasp of the whole picture (research money vs. TV money vs. alumni contributions vs. athletic expenditures). The AD’s only have a firm grasp on 1 aspect and a partial grasp on 2 others. I’m sure the presidents will listen to their ADs, just as they will listen to their academics, their budget people, and their alumni links people.


          9. Great points Richard. Everyone also needs to understand that there really aren’t that many non-revenue sports that require lots of inter-conference competition/travel. Texas currently has 18 non-revenue sports. Only 5 of those really play substantive conference competition (baseball, women’s basketball, softball, women’s volleyball and women’s soccer). Sports like track and field, tennis and golf are largely played at regional meets with the main travel being to the weekend of the conference championships for each of those sports (which Texas almost always has to fly to anyway in the Big XII). As a BC commenter noted elsewhere, that school’s travel costs went up by about 20% by being in the ACC compared to the Big East, but that paled in comparison to the amount of extra revenue that came in. The revenue increases that we’re talking about for Texas going to the Big Ten would absolutely dwarf what BC achieved with the ACC.


          10. Doug

            I guess you know by now the Texas talks with the big ten are finally “out there.” I read where you were given kudos for suggesting texas way back in december…way to go Tank!

            I’ve been reading stuff from Austin. One author, Kirk Bohls, says the higher ups at Texas are saying “no way, no how” is Texas moving to the Big Ten:

            Just a gut feeling….i don’t think it will happen either. I see colorado to Pac ten and Pitt to Big Ten when it’s all said and done. Big 12 might add TCU and offer something to arkansas. Doubt Arky will move from best conference in the land. Maybe add BYU instead.

            Texas makes a lot of sense in many ways, and absolutely no sense in other ways. I’d bet the house that Texas doesn’t move.


          11. Jake

            So, this guy calls the Lawrence World Journal a “blog,” criticizes its use of unnamed sources, and then refutes its claims by quoting … unnamed sources. Smooth.


          12. Pat

            I listened to an excellent interview with Jim Delaney on Chicago radio station WSCR-AM 670 on Friday 2/12 and he made this comment; “I think the conference will continue to have a pretty significant geographic connectivity to it”. He mentioned the importance of geography multiple times and a concern about travel issues. I took that to mean Texas is out.

            Another interesting comment — But you asked: Is the speculation hard on other institutions? It is. But before we began this process, I called my colleagues in the Big 12 and Big East and told them how we wanted to handle it. We’re trying to keep lines of communication open.” What’s interesting is that he did not say anything about contacting the Atlantic Coast Conference. Not sure if this was just an oversight, or if it means Maryland is off the table.

            One other very interesting comment — “the Big Ten enjoys having it’s teams play each other more often, and if the conference gets too big, some teams may not see each other as much as they would like”. I took that to mean a 16 team conference might be a stretch. And, they would prefer to play 9 or 10 conference games.

            Reading between the lines, it sounds like geography might trump maximizing cable revenue. And, either one or three teams will be added out of Missouri, Pitt, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Syracuse. This would keep the “mid-west flavor” of the conference and not stretch the geographic footprint too much. Or, maybe, after all this hoopla, they do nothing:-)

            The full interview is at


          13. Pat,

            I heard that same interview with Delaney and his comments about geography. However, in the same breath, he talked about the population shifts to the South and how that can affect long-term thinking (since the Big Ten’s markets look great now but they might not in 10-20 years). As I’ve looked at and received more info over the past few days, I’m absolutely convinced that the Big Ten is looking at Texas (and insider Texas sites state that the Big Ten is indeed talking to that school and the Longhorns are exploring every option out there, including independence and the Pac-10). The geography comment from Delaney may be more interpreted to state that the conference doesn’t want any school on an island, which would mean that Texas A&M would be coming along.


      2. M

        My solution to the scheduling issue would be to have “rotating” divisions. The divisions would change each year, allowing a much more even schedule. In a 12 school conference, each school would have an “always in division” foe and each 3 of pairs would be joined to form a division. 14 would be more complicated, but I’m sure something along this line would work.


      3. Richard

        If you have 14 teams, and need to have divisions, rotating divisions would be needed if you still want to meet each school at least 50% of the time (BTW, it’s definitely doable).


      4. If the Big Ten expands to 14, then the best scheduling maneuver is to split the conference into north-south division for competitive balance and creating a natural cross-division rival so each team would play six inter-division games plus a dedicated seventh rivalry game and then a rotation of the six other schools in a nine game slate that still leaves three spots for either guarantees or out-of-conference rivalry like OU for Texas.

        The balancing works out better with ultra-expansion to 16 with four divisions of four. That way each university would play their own pod each year and then get matched up with another division on a two-year cycle for the championship set-up. The benefit with 16 is that with nine games you play everybody else twice in a four-year span.

        Frank, you may not feel like you have exhausted your Texas line or argumentation yet, but given that the Big Ten is going through a year and a half study, perhaps you should examine some Eastern schools as well. The unlikely option that intrigues me is Maryland. It provides a close rival for Penn St that also opens up the huge Baltimore/DC TV market. Any groups of fans that hates Duke as much as they do would be welcome in the Big Ten.


        1. I like Maryland a lot (and definitely above and beyond the Big East options), yet I’m still pretty convinced that the ACC is a tight conference. Certainly, Maryland would listen for financial reasons, but my take is that if the Big Ten wants to go after any ACC schools, it ought to go after the real big fish of the Florida schools (Florida State and Miami). It’s similar to the Big 12 argument that I’ve put forward – if anyone is in the Big 12 is up for grabs, why “settle” for Mizzou if you can get Texas instead? Despite being a private school, Miami is culturally more like a Northern school and I’m sure that Penn State would be ecstatic to revive that rivalry. Plus, Miami president Donna Shalala used to be chancellor at Wisconsin, so she has a lot of Big Ten ties and has made it a point of emphasis to improve Miami’s academic research credentials.

          Maryland is kind of like an East Coast version of Missouri – solid academics, solid athletic programs, solid TV market, yet not quite a national name that says “Wow!” if the Big Ten were to extend an invite. Miami, though, is a “Wow!” school. That being said, it would be ludicrous to see them switch conferences yet again after only 5 seasons in the ACC.


          1. Richard

            The biggest concern with Miami is their geographic remoteness. Of course, there are all those travel expense reasons, but I think the main reasons why Big10 people are extra careful about adding a school that’s far away is
            1. It’s easier to be disloyal if you’re in a different part of the country; if the economics change again & the SEC or ACC offer a more lucrative deal, what’s to keep Miami from jumping to the closer conference? They did so once already.
            2. People/corporations/governments there won’t consider themselves part of Big10 country, so getting Miami won’t really get more research funding flowing through the other Big10 schools.

            Texas is a big enough prize that these concorns don’t really matter, but South Florida’s population is in the range between that of NJ and that of Maryland/Missouri (and the U can really only be expected to deliver TV viewers in South Florida).

            That’s why I think Maryland would be the most likely ACC school, if any.


          2. Those are all good points about Miami. I guess I see Miami (both the school and city itself) as more Northeastern culturally despite its southern location. As the old adage goes, the farther south that you travel in Florida, the further “North” you go. If there’s one school that wouldn’t care about travel costs or being associated with Northern schools, it would be Miami. Even in the ACC, they have to get onto a plane for every single opponent as it is and they were a member of the widely-dispersed Big East. The only reason why Boston College and Syracuse were originally invited to the ACC (and of which BC ended up in) was that Miami insisted upon being in a conference with a Northeastern presence (which Penn State would provide in the Big Ten) because that’s actually where most of their students come from and their alums end up moving to if they don’t stay in the Miami area. On the flip side, the state of Florida itself (and specifically the Southern half from the Tampa/Orlando corridor down to Miami) happens to be the #1 location of Big Ten alums outside of the Big Ten footprint. It’s not an accident that, starting next year, the 3 highest paying Big Ten bowl tie-ins after the Rose Bowl will be all Florida-based bowls. Florida was basically built by Midwestern and East Coast transplants (and they still dominate its population), so I’m actually much more comfortable with the cultural fit between the Big Ten and the state of Florida (or at least the southern half of it) than with the state of Texas. The Big East obviously has never had a problem with its geography.

            Miami bringing only the South Florida market is also a consideration. The hook with them might the “penumbra effect” argument – the fact that there are so many Big Ten alums throughout the state of Florida already plus Miami would give the Big Ten Network penetration throughout the entire state. I’m not sure if that really works in reality, although I’d believe that scenario over the thought that Penn State plus any Big East school could give the Big Ten the New York market.

            The disloyalty part is definitely a massive concern, though. I don’t think it’s really based on geography, but rather what Miami has done in the past. Should the Big Ten really trust a school that would drop membership in the ACC (which Miami was pining after for many years) so quickly? Miami certainly dropped its Big East membership when it outlived its usefulness (even though you could argue that the Big East was the only conference that would provide them with a home when the program was down in the early-1990s) and if they were to leave the ACC (which is a tight-knit academically-based conference like the Big Ten) at the very sight of more money, then I don’t know if they could be trusted at all. That would be the #1 reason in my mind why the Big Ten wouldn’t look at Miami.


          3. Dave

            I would agree that the only way 14 teams should be considered is if UT and ND are two of the three teams.
            I think a threesome of UT, ND, and Maryland would be a better national footprint than including A&M. It seems bringing in an eastern school like Maryland would be seen more favorably than a 2nd Texas school if one were looking at ND’s reasons for finally joining the Big10.

            I think the Austin area would be an excellent location to be the early spring home for big 10 baseball, softball, and rowing. From the last week in February til mid march, UT could host an extended invitational in each sport, coinciding with the spring breaks of all the big ten schools. This may limit some of the northern travel of UT in those sports at well. It would be an opportunity to create a focal point event/events for the Big10 at UT that makes them feel more a part of the conference.

            I think you underrate Maryland’s research and academics in putting them on par with Missouri. Having a Big10 institution in DC may be helpful in obtaining more federal research dollars.

            I can picture ND being a part of a UT, ND, Maryland expansion, but I can’t see them wanting to be a part of a UT, ND, A&M expansion.

            Something to think about. A&M might improve and thrive athletically in the big 12 without UT there as competition. It gives both UT and A&M the opportunity to be conference champions at the same time.


          4. You’re definitely correct about Maryland being a better academic school than Mizzou – I didn’t intend to give it the impression that it wasn’t. What I meant was that Maryland is similar to Missouri in that hits all of the main marks on paper (and maybe even in a stronger manner than Mizzou with the DC/Baltimore market and stronger academics), but it’s not really a marquee name. I do think that the Big Ten would love to be able to get Texas or Notre Dame alone to keep it to a 12-school conference – if they’re able to do that, then I think the conference is satisfied. The reason why I’ve included Texas A&M in any 14-school scenario is simply political, where Texas state politicians might effectively force Texas to not join the Big Ten unless A&M is included. Essentially, the main (if not only) reason why the Big Ten would go to 14 schools is that in order to get Texas, it absolutely has to take A&M (and it would still be worth it since the Texas market is massive). There’s a bit of debate about that issue – there are a number of Texas alums that have commented that the political situation in Texas is much different compared to when UT has enough power now to leave A&M behind if it wanted to. Now, it’s not as if though A&M is some type of dreg – it’s a powerful football school with strong graduate academic programs itself (especially in engineering) – so this isn’t like the Big 12 having to accept Baylor. I concur personally that I’d rather see Texas, Notre Dame and then an East Coast school like Maryland or Syracuse to have a real national footprint, yet it’s just my belief that the Big Ten will only consider going to 14 schools in the limited scenario that Texas and Texas A&M is a forced package deal.

            It would be interesting to see what Notre Dame wants. The Irish actually seem to be very interested in traveling to Texas a lot more now (as evidenced by the “home game” in San Antonio against Washington State this year), so having A&M in the conference probably isn’t going to sway ND either way. I think the mere fact that the state of Texas would be in the Big Ten footprint at all is the real selling point – having Maryland or another East Coast school would be the proverbial icing on the cake, but not outcome determinative. Of course, this is assuming that Notre Dame looks at these things rationally (and no one can’t bank on that assumption).

            You made a great point with your last thought about A&M possibly doing better in a UT-less Big 12, as well. If you saw the exchange I had with a commenter named Longhorn Lawyer in the initial Big Ten Expansion Index post, I alluded to that where if Texas alone went to the Big Ten without A&M, the Big 12 would at least still survive with the Aggies still holding the Texas market to go along with Oklahoma and Nebraska as marquee names (and thereby protecting Texas Tech and Baylor). Having both Texas and Texas A&M leave the Big 12, though, would crush that conference (and Texas Tech and Baylor in the process). Maybe A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor are better off letting Texas leave in the sense that all of them would still be OK in that reconfigured Big 12, which would serve the important purpose of convincing Lone Star State politicians that this is an acceptable deal. That being said, A&M isn’t going to pass up more money anymore than the Longhorns would, so my guess is that they’d push really hard to continue to be tied with UT here.


      5. Richard

        Then some schools may not play others anytime in a 4 year period (and twice in 6 years). In the SEC, they are use to that (remember that before expansion, they only played 6 conference games and every school had a bunch of fixed rivalry games), but that scheme would not fly in the Big10. I think, if they needed divisions, they would have a rotating division setup so each school would play all the other schools at least 50% of the time.


      6. Dave

        If the divison champion was determined only by divison record, then there would be freedom for a subset of the conference to voluntarily schedule 9 conference games instead of 8.
        I could imagine 8 teams in a 12 team big 10 electing to play 9 conference games; and 10 teams in a 14 team big ten.
        Having even a subset of teams playing an additional conference game would help rivalries.

        I agree that rotating divisions is needed, at least in football. As a plus, the announcement of next years divisions and conference schedules could be a whole evening event on the big 10 network.


  3. Mark

    Yes!! You made my day doing a post.

    I agree that adding east coast schools (even 3) may not have as much impact, New York in particular and other east cost markets seem very focused on pro-sports. This might lead the Big Ten financial peeps to steer them westward, because the demand for teams west is much much higher in their home state than Rutgers in New Jersey.

    Interesting you say that BYU could join the Big 12 if they needed to fill a hole. I previously figured BYU was pretty much doomed to entering a major conference, but you make good points.

    Solid analysis on PAC-10, I can’t tell you how many pages on the internet I just quit reading mid-story because they start saying something like “Boise State should join PAC-10”.
    The PAC-8 did invite Arizona and Arizona State to become PAC-10, and obtained approval for them, it’s still interesting they didn’t get Texas. Think if in those days Texas were approved, and A&M went with them to make PAC-12, boy things would be really really different.


    1. Mark – I’m totally with you that most of the Pac-10 expansion hypotheticals out there just drive me nuts, as well. It’s even worse than a lot of the supposed Big Ten candidates that are thrown out without much thought. I’ll give a lot of the public the benefit of the doubt where most of them don’t understand how the Big Ten Network revenue streams work, which leads them to think that a school like Pitt (which would be a great candidate on a lot of levels if it wasn’t for its location in a market that Penn State already has covered) could be invited. However, I’m at a complete loss as to why anyone could possibly think that Berkeley would ever allow BYU or Stanford could ever vote for Boise State to join the Pac-10. The unanimous vote requirement is such a tough standard in the Pac-10 that it’s going to be nearly impossible for that conference to expand (unless it wants to go to 11 schools like the current Big Ten by inviting Colorado, which would likely be the only school other than Texas that would have a chance at convincing all of the members to vote for it today).

      BYU is a really interesting case for the Big 12. While BYU has religious restrictions where it cannot play any sports on Sunday, I think that can be worked around. As shown by the Big 12 having the Southern Baptist-affiliated Baylor as a member, I don’t think BYU’s LDS leadership is going to freak out the Big 12 (where pretty much every school other than Texas, Colorado and maybe Kansas is much more conservative than academia in general) in the same manner as the Pac-10. BYU also has a long-established track record of traveling to bowl games and elsewhere specifically within Big 12 markets (as noted by the Oklahoma-BYU game in Jerry Jones’ new palace in Dallas this past season). In that regard, BYU is more of a “brand name” than Utah. Maybe I’m underestimating any Big 12 opposition to BYU in the same manner as the general public seems to underestimate the Pac-10’s certain opposition to that school, but I’d love to see if other Big 12 fans have any comments on this issue.


      1. Xenon

        While I agree with you that the PAC probably won’t take BYU, I do think completely discounting BYU to the PAC10 violates your rule of “think like an AD and not a Fan”

        When the PAC talks about what they want … BYU is BY FAR the best candidate for them other than Texas. They want good football and basketball – check! They want good in all sports as measured by the Director’s Cup. BYU is ranked typically in the top 25 in the Director’s Cup, which compares nicely with most PAC schools. (For comparison Colorado is typically in the 40s or 50s, Utah in the 50s or 60s, BSU, SDSU, FSU are typically in the 80-100 range.) Only Texas is higher in the directors cup than BYU of the teams generally discussed for the PAC10. They say they want bigger stadiums – again BYU’s 65k football stadium and 22K Basketball arena dwarfs anything the any other school discussed has (EXCEPT Texas). They say they want good academics – check. For everything that the PAC10 SAYS they want, the BEST team in Texas, and the next best team in BYU.

        So, what I’m saying is … IF you listed the schools as School A, School B, School C and then picked the teams, BYU would probably be the best fit. SO, does the AD think with his pocketbook and his Brain, which would say take BYU, or with his emotional and political bias, which will go against BYU.

        Think like an AD – recognize that BYU is the best choice available choice to you, and over come your biases.
        Think like a FAN – ignore the economics and the facts of the situation, and go with your biases.

        NOW, if you want my gut reaction … the PAC WILL go with the biases and pass on BYU, and take a lesser team, like maybe Colorado State or something like that.


        1. Interesting – actually, my rule is to “Think like a university president”, which can be very different than what the athletic director thinks. In fact, the Big Ten university presidents didn’t even bother to tell their ADs that it was inviting Penn State, which made then-Michigan AD Bo Schembechler completely livid (since he was against expansion and anything that could devalue the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry). So, the university presidents have the ultimate say, which is why I take anything that any AD says with a heavy grain of salt and feedback from coaches are absolutely worthless. (Believe me, if Syracuse gets invited to the Big Ten, Jim Boeheim doesn’t have any input on whether it will turn down an extra $20 million per year for the entire athletic department in order to stay in the Big East that he loves so much.)

          Regardless, that’s what I mean when talking about the thought of BYU in the Pac-10 – there is absolutely no rational scenario where the president of the University of California-Berkeley will vote to invite BYU because of academics and politics. That alone will kill it off since the Pac-10 needs a unanimous vote to expand. The Pac-10 couldn’t unanimously agree upon Texas back in the 1990s (which is partially why Texas is in the Big 12 now) and not even the Big Ten unanimously agreed upon Penn State (I believe that Michigan and Indiana voted against the invitation). Seeing that even schools like Texas and Penn State couldn’t get unanimous votes, it’s very tough to see BYU get the unanimous vote required to obtain Pac-10 membership – the academically-minded people that make the ultimate decisions in the Pac-10 won’t ever allow it.


  4. Richard

    1993 was a different environment. The old SWC was wracked by scandals, boosters buying up players, and all sorts of recruiting violations. That’s the only reason I can think of for why Stanford would veto UT joining.

    Anyway, 2 points to Frank’s post:
    1. Minor quibble: thought a 75% supermajority was required for Big10 expansion, in which case, you’d need 9 of the 11 members to vote “yes”.
    2. 14 instead of 12 isn’t as big a deal as you’re making it out to be. Dealing with the amounts of the Big10 pot that are fixed (so excluding TV), assuming 15M for the championship game, the first BCS rep will bring in 17M, and the second would bring in 4.5M, that’s 36.5M divided by either 12 or 14 teams. If there are 12 teams sharing the pot, each gets 3.04M. If there are 14 teams, each gets 2.61M. The main thing is that teams 13 and 14 need to bring in about an extra 3M each on top of the $20M or so they’d need to to not dilute the TV pot. Obviously, adding either UT or ND by themselves would make more sense than adding any 3 other teams, but if both are willing to join, it makes more sense to take both (and TAMU as the 14th team) because that would get you more money per capita than just UT or ND. Even without ND, if the Texas politicians require you to take TAMU along with UT, you do it, because getting Texas in your TV deals is worth that much (remember that Texas has a many people as the 2 most populous Big10 states, IL & PA, added together).

    The biggest obstacle to getting UT isn’t the Big12, but UT independance (UT may decide that launching their own cable channel outside of the BTN, either as a member of the Big12 or as an independent, is more profitiable, or the Big10 may be afraid that UT wouldn’t have the loyalty to the Big10 that the other schools have so may look to bolt in the future if the financial situation changes and either independance or joining the SEC would make them more money).


  5. WPA

    Re: Texas Longhorn cable network.
    I don’t understand how one school can program a 24/7 channel. Football would be king, right? Especially in Texas. If independent, the school would have rights to boradcast/cablecast only home football games — the away games rights would belong to the home team. So that is 7 or 8 games each fall. That’s not too many hours of programming (even if you include pre-/post-game shows replays) over the course of 3/4 months.
    If in a conference,the conference holds the rights to sell those games through the established ESPN/ABC and Fox Sports contracts.
    Ditto other sports. If independent, home teams own the TV rights. There are simply not enough fresh programming hours to justify the Longhorn channel to cable companies. If it could be done by a single school, Texas or ND would have done it already.


    1. Richard

      The TV landscape is changing as we speak. Cable wasn’t the dominant source of TV revenues for sports even as recently as 5 years ago. In the future, more and more TV revenue for college athletics will come from cable and internet rights. This really helps a program like UT, which has a large viewership concentrated over a large local area vs. a progam like ND which has a bigger viewership but dispersed throughout the country.

      In any case, a UT channel doesn’t have to fill up all its hours with worthwhile programming; it could go offline for 16 hours a day, but so long as one cable provider in a geographic area carries it, it compels all the other cable companies to carry it as well, because UT fans will switch cable carriers just to get those 7-8 games every fall.

      After all, I can’t imagine that there are too many fans of Big10 schools other than PSU in Philadelphia, and nobody cares about PSU basketball, but just 4 PSU games a year against the likes of Akron, Syracuse, Temple, and Indiana on the BTN are enough to get the BTN in to Philadelphia.


    1. Richard

      I’ve thought about it, and while a Big10-Pac10 partnership makes some sense, the problem is how would you negotiate such a deal? The Big10 has already fought the battles, taken the risks, and done the heavy lifting of getting it’s channel distributed over a pretty impressive footprint, so they would naturally demand more, yet would the Pac10 is satisfied with taking an “unfair” share?

      The Pac10-ACC-Big12 alliances are more likely, because, with the Big10 and SEC properties off the table for the foreseeable future, if 2 of the 3 band together, they would present the only way for another channel looking to break ESPN’s stranglehold on college football. There are considerable risks as well, though; how will revenues be split? Who makes the final strategic decisions? What if one conference expands or loses members?

      Pac10-ACC makes the most sense (especially if the Pac10 expands), since they’re both conferences that don’t suffer from inherent weaknesses, have member schools with long histories with its conference, and would not compete at all against each other.


      1. I agree with Richard here. The Big Ten had all of the risk and heartburn of establishing the Big Ten Network, so as nice as the conference is with the Pac-10, they aren’t going to share the spoils now that it has paid off. The Pac-10 and ACC definitely is the combo that would work the best if there was some type of partnership – it would provide a coast-to-coast footprint and, as Richard pointed out, they really don’t compete against each other at all. Even the time slots work out – you can have the ACC on for prime time on the East Coast and the Pac-10 right afterwards for prime time on the West Coast. It’s all of the logistics that Richard has mentioned (how the revenue is split, where the control would be, etc.) that would be difficult to figure out.


  6. Doug

    If Texas were to leave the Big 12, that still leaves A&M, Baylor and Tech, and believe it or not OU fans who live in Texas to keep the Texas TV sets tuned in.
    From the TV market perspective, does BYU add what UT would take away? Maybe…Salt Lake city biggest town with most TV sets outside of current Big 12 configuration.

    New Mexico, as Frank said, is an under-rated market too. Maybe add BYU, Nevada, and New Mexico to gain 3 large city TV markets including Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and Albuquerque to make the Big 12 into a 14 team league. (Could the fact that Missouri has been playing Nevada and New Mexico on previous football schedules be foreshadowing things to come?)

    I don’t buy into the A&M has to go with UT arument at all. I don’ think the Texas State College Board or whatever they’re called that has a say in such things will allow it…just a gut feeling, really.

    I can see UT and ND and either MO or Nebraska all going to the Big 10. Both MO and Nebraska are AAU schools and have pretty significant research dollars, contrary to what some have said above. MO has closest ties culturally with about 1/3 of its students coming from Illinois/STL area. I think MO a stronger prospect than most realize.

    But, when it’s all said and done, adding one little school, ND, would be really all the Big 10 needs.


    1. Richard

      Texas has 24.8M people. Utah has 2.8M people (Nevada has 2.6M; New Mexico has 2M).

      If the Big12 hangs on to TAMU, they could still claim to have the Texas TV market when negotiating their next TV deal (due to the factors you listed above). If they lose both UT & TAMU, no collection of smaller schools would convince the networks that Texas is Big12 territory instead of Big10 territory (which is actually a reason for the Big10 to take in both UT and TAMU).


  7. M

    The “doctoral student” comment hits a little close for comfort.

    BC is another Syracuse: in a state with a major market without actually having an impact on that market.

    There seems to be an uptick in buzz about UConn latel, which I just do not understand. The idea seems to be that a school just a few year out of 1AA could become a regional power. To me, the whole premise that the conference could add a school based on “potential” is extremely far-fetched, as in “Rutgers could potentially grow to become a major part of the New York sports scene”. From the Big Ten’s view, the risk is not worth the reward. They would rather do nothing now than gamble on a school like Rutgers or UConn, especially since these schools could be added later if they do become regional powers. Any thoughts on this?


    1. I agree with everything that you’ve said. If anything, the ACC’s experience with BC is what has me much more down on any of the East Coast candidates than a couple of years ago when I initially examined potential candidates.

      You’re right about UConn – the youth of its football program is a complete deal-killer for the Big Ten. That being said, if we were to ignore the lack of football history, I’d take UConn over Rutgers if only because of its top tier basketball program (since the football programs are really about the same, which says something about Rutgers when it’s had a 140-year head start). There’s no way that the Big Ten is inviting anyone based on potential – either a school can deliver its home market with full confidence immediately or else it’s going to be severely discounted.


  8. Doug

    If one thinks that Miami is a viable choice and geopraphy means nothing, and thinking “outside the box”… then why not consider adding Navy?

    Academically great school, nationally stong football following that travels well, loads of history, been playing in bowls recently and located in Maryland, adding east coast TV markets?

    Not a land grant school, but neither is Miami or ND. Not a research pwoerhouse, but ditto. And not an AAU school, so ditto again, but why not?


    1. Richard

      Er, no graduate departments & research to speak of. There’s a difference between “weak research by Big10 standards” and “no research”.

      Navy’s national following is so strong that they can never get any game other than their games against ND & Army (or powerhouses like OSU) on to national TV. Buffalo and UConn are stronger candidates than Navy, and neither are strong at all.


  9. Chris

    Do you think it’s possible, if a Big East football school ends up leaving the conference, that the Catholic basketball schools split with the rest of the Big East and blow up the already-too-big A-10 to make a basketball-centric “Catholic Conference” consisting of Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, Seton Hall, DePaul, St. John’s, Dayton, Xavier, St. Joe’s, Duquesne, Fordham, LaSalle, St. Bonaventure’s, and St. Louis?


    1. As a DePaul law grad, I pay attention to Big East expansion matters almost as much as the Big Ten. It’s absolutely possible that the Big East could split up and the natural landing spot for the current Big East Catholic schools would be to align with a handful of Atlantic-10 schools (Dayton, Xavier and SLU would be certainly involved – if they can handle a secular member, then UMass would also be a great addition). That being said, I don’t that it’s a foregone conclusion that the Big East would split like a lot of people believe on the Internet. What happens to the Big East will heavily depend upon who would leave. Syracuse, UConn and Pitt are all schools that place a high value on continuing to play the Catholic schools in basketball (especially St. John’s, Villanova and Georgetown), so if all of those schools end up remaining in the Big East, I doubt that there would be a split.

      There’s also always a constant debate as to what exactly would be the point of a split in the Big East. From my view, it’s not worth it for the Big East to split unless it does something completely radical (which I’ll get to what I mean by that in a moment). While expansion is largely football-driven, the financial impact of it depends upon the movement of legitimate marquee schools (or at least ones that have substantial fan bases and TV marketability). The problem for the Big East is that there aren’t any top-level football schools available East of the Mississippi that would improve the marketability of the conference. If the Big Ten has only a little of a shot at Notre Dame, then the Big East has a less than zero chance (despite ND’s current BE membership in other sports). Thus, the main candidates that you see thrown around for the Big East are Memphis, East Carolina and Central Florida (UCF). With the Big East being the one conference where its basketball side is more valuable than its football side, is it worth it breaking up such an outstanding basketball conference that covers the New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington markets in order to add schools like Memphis, ECU and UCF? I personally wouldn’t pull the trigger on that move if I were running one of the Big East football schools.

      As for a potential radical move that might make sense, here’s one somewhat off-the-wall option if the Big East loses any members: the remaining football members could enter into a football-only arrangement with whoever is left from the Mountain West (since that school could be poached by the Big 12). That football-only conference would be strong enough to keep a BCS bid while the Big East Catholic schools would remain for basketball and the other sports. Alternatively, the old BE schools could just completely split off and form a all-around coast-to-coast sports conference with those Mountain West schools. I don’t know how much value a school like UCF truly brings to the current Big East members, but there are a number of Mountain West members that are legit BCS-level schools as of today. This is certainly outside-of-the-box, but I just think that a “meh” move for Big East football with one or more C-USA schools isn’t a good enough reason to break up such a great basketball conference (it would still be a “meh” football conference with a “meh” basketball conferece instead of top-of-the-line basketball conference today). Any thoughts?


      1. Richard

        Well, I’m not sure how much TV dollars the football side would get per school by combining a bunch of second-tier (in terms of viewership and TV attractiveness) teams across the country. You’d essentially have the old 16-team WAC, except spread over an even larger area of the country, and I don’t think they managed to score any great TV deals. Plus, the 16-team WAC broke apart because not everyone could play everyone else in football, so schools had to give up old rivalries, which many schools didn’t want to, etc. Then consider that each BE school would get half as much BCS money, travel costs would explode, and the basketball portion would get diluted. . . .and I just don’t see the attractiveness to the BE. The only scenario where they even consider something this radical is if the other power conferences decide to kick the BE out of the BCS, but it’s somewhat in their interest to keep the BE around (despite taking a share of the BCS money), because with the BE in the BCS fold, the BCS schools form a clear majority of the schools in FBS, and they would all vote to maintain the current system (and not institute a playoff or otherwise screw with the money train for the power conferences). If the Big East suddenly was kicked out of the BCS, the count for AQ vs. non-AQ schools (as it now stands) would be 58-62, and life for the power conferences would be less certain.

        Remember that college basketball actually generates about as much or more TV money as college football (CBS pays the NCAA $1B a year for the NCAA tourney), but because they have a huge playoff field, it’s not the conferences (who own the regular season games) who capture the bulk of the money, but the NCAA (who own the NCAA tournaments). Then the NCAA takes a large cut and distributes the rest of the money based on achievement, rather than fan support.

        This is why Jim Delany absolutely hates anything that hints at a playoff. He hides behind tradition, but right now, he can get the BTN in to every crevice of a Big Ten state even if they show only 3-4 OSU or PSU games a year (and only one of them is a conference game); because every regular season game matters and is must-see TV. That wouldn’t be as much the case if any power conference team is guaranteed of making a playoff with 2 losses.


      2. Richard

        OK, I just looked, and college basketball definitely brings in more TV money than college football. Even if you attribute all of the conference TV money to football, add in the $100M or $125M BCS money, add in all the non-AQ TV money (I believe the MWC gets the most TV money among the non-AQ conferences, at ~$20M, and all the rest take in considerably less), it still adds up to significantly less that the $1B that CBS pays for the basketball tournament.

        I was wrong in thinking that the NCAA takes a cut, though. A big chunk of the NCAA basketball tournament money actually goes to subsidize non-revenue sports at every NCAA DivI school.
        The Division I Men’s Basketball tournament is the only NCAA championship tournament (officially, the BCS Football Championship is not an NCAA event) where the NCAA does not keep the profits. Instead, the money from the multi-billion-dollar television contract is divided among the Division I basketball playing schools and conferences as follows:

        * 1/6 of the money goes directly to the schools based on how many sports they play (one “share” for each sport starting with 14, which is the minimum needed for Division I membership).
        * 1/3 of the money goes directly to the schools based on how many scholarships they give out (one share for each of the first 50, two for each of the next 50, ten for each of the next 50, and 20 for each scholarship above 150).
        * 1/2 of the money goes to the conferences based on how well they did in the six previous men’s basketball tournaments (counting each year separately, one share for each team getting in, and one share for each win except in the Final Four and, prior to the 2008 tournament, the Play-in game). In 2007, based on the 2001 through 2006 tournaments, the Big East received over $14.85 million, while the eight conferences that did not win a first-round game in those six years received slightly more than $1 million each.


      3. Richard

        Whoops, I was wrong; the CBS contract brings in only $545M a year. Still, that’s comparable to the TV money that football generates (though football TV money is really concentrated towards the most powerful conferences, while basketball money is distributed much more evenly).


        1. Yes – the revenue distribution is the issue, where the 6 BCS conferences get the lion’s share of football revenue while the basketball revenue is dispersed a bit more evenly. You’re absolutely correct that Jim Delaney (and any other BCS commissioner) loathe the idea of a NCAA Tournament-style college football playoff because of the value of the regular season plus that revenue distribution that heavily favors the Big Ten and other BCS conferences.

          Still, the NCAA Tournament credits represent a significant revenue source for the Big East proportionally. The Big Ten gets a good amount from the NCAA Tournament, as well (from what I’ve seen, the Big East and Big Ten are consistently #1 and #2 in terms of revenue from the tourney), but its impact pales in comparison with all of the football money. The Big East absolutely needs that tourney money, which is why it’s going to be pretty hesitant to mess with the basketball side of the conference. It might be the case that there’s even less of a chance that the Big East would split if it loses a football member because basketball will become that much more important to them.


      4. Terry

        I think the numbers given by Richard are incorrect. I believe the contract with CBS is for all NCAA championships (incl Men’s BB) in all sports (possibly except baseball). These funds do go the NCAA, and I have read the dispersal of monies due to March Madness performance in NCAA documents, but I do not believe they total the sum of monies from CBS,and the citations in the Wikipedia listings are all DOA now.

        The CBS contract FUNDS the NCAA. It is a significant portion of their revenues, but I have no citation as to the percentage. The possible shortfall of revenue when the CBS contract expires in 2015 is a nexus point in the debate on a D1 Football Playoff.


      5. Jason

        I was never a fan of blogs but you’ve made some great points on why Texas is the best option for the Big Ten. I always had a wish they would invite Pitt but after reading your blog I see why that will not happen. The problem with the Big East is that they are never proactive when it comes to football. Mike Tranghese gave ACC commissioner John Swofford the idea of asking Miami (FL) to join his conference. If Tranghese would have asked Florida State to join his first it would now have one of the top football conferences in America.

        The conference shuffle is about to begin again. The Big East should make an offer to Penn State to join the conference. Penn State will have a full stadium if they play Michigan or Little Sisters of the Poor. Penn State would become the marquee member along with Notre Dame in the Big East. The Big East needs to tell Notre Dame either join our conference in football or become an independent or join the ACC.

        If this were to happen the Big Ten then could ask Texas and Texas A&M to join their conference. Utah and Colorado join the Pac-10. TCU and BYU join the Big 12. The remainder of the Mountain West schools form a conference with the WAC.


      6. Robert Adams

        Why would Penn State join the Big East? How would that benefit them in any way? They are in one of the two premiere research intensive conferences in the country, get more in funds than any 3 teams combined in the Big East in revenue sharing in the Big 10, as well as get more respect when they get a high ranking as they competed against some pretty decent (well regarded teams except for SEC country) teams.

        So, why would they join the Big East?


  10. Frank, I’m glad you’re warming up to Maryland as a candidate. One could argue that were the Big Ten to consider an east coast school, Maryland would be the best choice since it has far more pull in the Washington/Baltimore markets than Syracuse or Rutgers do in New York. And there are plenty of Big Ten alums already in the D.C. area, so adding the Big Ten Network would sell. (And how could Comcast deny the BTN if it will feature men’s and women’s basketball games played in an arena named for the cable operator?)

    I don’t think Miami is the “brand name” it used to be; its home football attendance is nothing special, and its basketball arena is smaller than any other in the ACC or Big Ten.

    I could see Maryland complementing UT and A&M in a 14-team conference if Notre Dame didn’t approve.

    For more on the Big Ten and College Park, please go to


  11. Jeremy

    I was thinking knowing that NBC is under a new regime they are losing millions in the olympics, flip floped the Tonight show hosts. Maybe in couple years they may feel intrequed to make more money from notre dame. If the Big Ten want Notre Dame, then they could propose a espn styled prime time game. They already did that with Sunday Night Football.


    1. Jeremy

      Also, NBC is one of Notre Dame’s biggest excuses if NBC wants more than Notre Dame with the power they have it could sway Notre Dame in joining.


      1. Richard

        Outside of Texas, Colorado would be the Pac10’s top candidate. Then, they’d be left with a bunch of flawed candidates for the 12th spot: Utah is less populous than the rest of the Pac10 states; SDSU is already in SoCal, which the Pac10 has pretty well covered (plus, I don’t know if the UC schools can bring themselves to admit a Cal-State school in to their club, even though they took in ASU in the ’70’s); Air Force is a military academy, and I just don’t see the military academies bringing that many viewers (otherwise, Army & Navy would have contracts with the major networks or ESPN rather than CBS College Sports for all their games other than Army-Navy).


  12. Xenon

    Question on “Splitting a Market” ….

    Do you think there are any “rules of thumb” about splitting a TV Market …

    The “Texas” Market has been discussed … If Texas left for the BigTen, and TAMU, TTech, and TCU are in the BigXII, then BOTH conferences get to claim the Texas Market. For Conferences looking to expand TV markets and TV contracts, that is a nice “win-win” situation.

    So, what about other splits of multiple teams in a Market. Let’s say (my favorite what if for the PAC10) the PAC10 expands into the Texas market by inviting Texas Tech and TCU or TexasA&M and TCU. Is Texas then BOTH a BigXII and PAC10 market?

    Or take BYU-Utah. The Utah TV Market is good but not great. If the PAC10 takes BOTH BYU and Utah (yeah I know that will never happen, but go with the example for a minute) each of those teams only brings effectively 1/2 of the Utah market. However, If the PAC10 takes Utah and the BigXII takes BYU, then can BOTH the PAC10 and BigXII claim the Utah Market. That makes both teams more appealing separately then together.

    Take Iowa and IowaState … is it better for BOTH teams to be in different conferences and let both lay claim to the good but not great Iowa TV Market?


    1. It’s really determined on a case-by-case basis: some schools truly deliver their markets while others don’t. The way that I define “delivering a market” is that it has fans and viewers in that market that go far beyond its alumni base and aren’t bandwagoners (that is, people with absolutely no connection to that school still watch en masse whether they win or lose). Texas and Texas A&M can each truly deliver the Texas state market on their own because they have lots of viewers outside of their own alumni bases. So, if the Big Ten grabbed Texas and the Pac-10 grabbed A&M, then I would say that both conferences now have the Texas market. However, the other Texas-based schools such as Texas Tech and TCU don’t really do that or have bandwagon fans when they win that disappear when they start having mediocre seasons. That’s really an issue that has come up with a lot of the eastern schools like Syracuse and Rutgers – while they appear to have good markets on paper, we don’t really know whether they can actually deliver their markets.


      1. Xenon

        I certainly agree that a case-by-case basis is necessary …

        Take as an example the Salt Lake and Denver Markets…. While nominally, the Denver TV Market is much bigger, I would bet that the actual College Sports TV Market in Salt Lake is actually the same or larger than Denver, in large measure because Denver has PROFESSIONAL teams in Football, Basketball, and Baseball. We lived in Colorado for a year or so, and Denver was certainly NOT nearly as crazy about CU Buffs as Detroit (where we lived before that) was about Michigan and/or Michigan State.

        I wonder if the same is true for TCU in the Dallas Fort Worth area (i.e. split with all the Pro Teams). I think it is definitely true for San Diego State.

        So how about Missouri? Does Missouri actually bring 100% of the Missouri TV Markets, or only 75% or 50% or 25%? Nebraska certainly brings 99.9999% of the Nebraska TV Market!


        1. That’s really the attraction of Texas – it’s a school that can deliver its market like Nebraska can with the difference being that such market has about 10 times more households. I’m not sure if it’s so much a percentage evaluation but a Gladwell-esque tipping point – there’s a certain point where there’s a large critical mass of fans exist in a market whereby that market is considered to be delivered. If you don’t have that critical mass (i.e. the concern with Rutgers and Syracuse in the NYC market), then the school doesn’t really deliver that market. I would say Mizzou can be counted on to deliver Missouri and Colorado can be counted on to deliver Denver, but TCU can’t be counted on to deliver the Dallas area (although Texas and Texas A&M have that type of market power).


          1. Richard

            I think TCU can be counted on to deliver Ft. Worth (just as Cincy can be counted on to deliver Cincinnati). The problem is, such an area is much smaller than the state of Texas or the state of Ohio. BTW, I don’t think UT by itself locks up Texas he way Nebraska locks up its state; there are as many TAMU fans as there are UT fans. Get both schools, though, and you get the whole state.


          2. Doug

            OK, so UT and A&M go to Big 10. Need one more.
            Probably an eastern team with lots of research money…Pitt fits the bill.

            Um, so what does the Big 12 do?

            If Big 10 goes 14, why not Big 12 too? Add Morman state (BYU), Christian State (TCU), and the methodists (SMU) to create a holy war on the football field every year.

            Just joking….this blog needs a little levity.


          3. Doug

            On a more serious note…i just read in a KC paper that kirk Herbstreit says from what he has hear, Notre Dame is going to be the 12th team.

            We’ll see.


          4. Jon Morse

            UT does lock up Texas by itself. So does A&M. The alumni and fanbase spreads throughout the state for both schools; it’s not like “Dallas is a UT town” or anything. Maaaaaybe you don’t pick up West Texas, but in terms of warm bodies that’s really not much of a loss.

            Now, Austin’s obviously far more heavily on UT’s side, but if the Big 10 were to inexplicably invite only A&M, the BTN would still get carried on Austin cable providers.


      2. Jon Morse

        The interesting thing about splitting markets, especially when considering the Mizzou candidacy, is that Mizzou doesn’t actually deliver Kansas City in the sense most people think it does — and it certainly doesn’t subtract it from the Big 12. Kansas City is “neutral ground” for football, and it’s KU territory in the winter. When the expansion process was first announced and Missouri alumni started chomping at the bit, there were a Big 12 folks whose attitude was “that’s okay, we can replace St. Louis (which Mizzou doesn’t really completely ‘own’ either anyway) with Utah or New Mexico and it’s a wash.”

        Now, that’s stretching things a bit, obviously, but it does point out a weakness to the Missouri bid which even Frank hasn’t touched on: the Big 10 already scratches on St. Louis, which makes the potential benefits even less than they appear. (I’m not sure to what extent the BTN is carried on St. Louis-area systems, but I’d have to imagine there’s at least some penetration.)

        The Big 12 will be fine, really, unless both Texas and A&M go away. Unfortunately, having lived through the Big 8/SWC “merger”, I don’t see just Texas going. And if that happens…

        Well, let’s just say that we might wake up one morning to find Colorado in the Pac-10, the Mountain West actually raiding the Big 12 (Texas Tech would probably be a goner, and they might even make a play for KSU and one of the Oklahoma schools), and the usual Big 12 expansion suspects asking “Why would we bother?”


      3. Richard

        Nah, the MWC won’t ever raid the Big12 so long as they have both Oklahoma, Nebraska, and the BCS bid. If UT, TAMU, and Colorado all go, the Big12 could adopt the Big East strategy of staying small so everyone gets a bigger piece of a smaller pie or (more likely), they’d take in BYU, TCU & Houston (because Texas is just too big for the Big12 to just cede it to the Big10), or maybe Utah if they’re availble.

        The Big12 would want to stay big in a bid to keep Oklahoma (who’s in the heart of the Big12, but would have to seriously consider the SEC at some point if the Big12 weakens significantly).


    2. Richard

      Utah has 2.8M people, which is less than any state in the Pac10 (and less than half of any state in the Pac10 outside of Oregon), less than any state in the Big10 (and no Big10 state is close besides Iowa), less than any state in the Big12 besides Nebraska, and less than any state in the SEC. I know the mountain west is growing but there’s a reason why Utah & BYU haven’t been picked up by any BCS conference yet.

      BTW, BYU has an advantage over Utah because they can bring Mormon viewers outside of Utah to a conference.


    3. Jon Morse

      I can’t reply to your reply to Frank directly, so I’ll slide over to the left.

      “So how about Missouri? Does Missouri actually bring 100% of the Missouri TV Markets, or only 75% or 50% or 25%?”

      In terms that actually matter, Missouri brings 100% of the Missouri TV markets that the BTN doesn’t already penetrate, as every outlet in Missouri would almost certainly choose to add the BTN. (Well, maybe Springfield… it’s a Valley town, but they don’t play FBS football, so I’m sure they’d sign on too.)

      However, Missouri would NOT bring 100% of the Kansas City market as a whole. Having grown up in Johnson County, I can assure you that finding Mizzou fans on the Kansas side amidst the KU/KSU haystacks is like hunting for snipe. They MIGHT get carriage, but it won’t be because folks in Overland Park and Olathe are clamoring for it so they can follow the Tigers.


  13. . (Believe me, if Syracuse gets invited to the Big Ten, Jim Boeheim doesn’t have any input on whether it will turn down an extra $20 million per year for the entire athletic department in order to stay in the Big East that he loves so much.)

    Same thing with Gary Williams and Maryland. Gary might love the ACC, but with that extra revenue, he’d be all for it, too. (Especially since Gary, who’s been active in fundraising at College Park, coached at Ohio State and probably has a feel for the academics of the conference.)


    1. Vincent – do you know if Maryland has been having specific issues with the ACC other than the financial issues? There’s a ton of acrimony in the Big East and Big 12 that go even beyond money, yet I’ve always felt that the ACC is tight-knit (especially the original members like Maryland), which is why I’ve been less inclined to consider them to be viable expansion candidates. The ACC has great academics, so the CIC might not be the lure that it would be for a school from the Big East or Big 12. Certainly, Maryland would love to play Penn State for football, but does it outweigh playing Virginia/VT/Miami as of today? I guess money always talks, so I’m sure Maryland would listen for that reason alone.


  14. Frank the Tank Says:
    January 23, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Reply

    Vincent – do you know if Maryland has been having specific issues with the ACC other than the financial issues? There’s a ton of acrimony in the Big East and Big 12 that go even beyond money, yet I’ve always felt that the ACC is tight-knit (especially the original members like Maryland), which is why I’ve been less inclined to consider them to be viable expansion candidates. The ACC has great academics, so the CIC might not be the lure that it would be for a school from the Big East or Big 12. Certainly, Maryland would love to play Penn State for football, but does it outweigh playing Virginia/VT/Miami as of today? I guess money always talks, so I’m sure Maryland would listen for that reason alone.

    There are no blatant issues with the ACC from a Maryland perspective, but I sense the school is not all that satisfied with the benefits of ACC expansion, particularly where football is concerned. The conference as a whole has become more competitive, but not any stronger. Maryland just added suites to Byrd Stadium, and would find them easier to sell with Big Ten opponents. Putting Virginia Tech into the conference has drained one of Maryland’s prime sources of football talent; joining the Big Ten, some schools of which have recruited very well in the metro D.C./Baltimore market, might shift things back for the Terrapins.

    As I’ve said in the past, otherwise there isn’t much inherent dissatisfaction with the ACC, but there is recognition of the academic and athletic opportunities resulting from Big Ten membership. The university president formerly worked at Cal-Berkeley and well knows how the Big Ten is deemed the most prestigious group pf public land-grant universities (save for Northwestern). Maryland has substantially improved its academic reputation in recent decades, and Big Ten membership would make that visible to the public while also boosting the university’s economics.

    If the Big Ten presidents deem Maryland a good enough fit for conference membership — and since College Park gets plenty of federal research dollars, it could be a significant boon to the CIC — Maryland would make the jump in a heartbeat if asked…indeed, it’s the only conference it would leave the ACC for. I sense university officials are playing mum on the matter because 1) they recall what happened in 2003 when ACC expansion rumors went public, and 2) because the fan base and area sports media would put this in almost an exclusively athletic context (i.e., no more basketball games with North Carolina and Duke). This is much bigger than that.


  15. Xenon

    One More “Domino” Effect Question …

    If the BigTen does invite a BigEast Team, what is the likely BigEast reaction … Expand West or Expand South?

    Expand West is teams like Memphis, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Marshall, MTSU, etc.

    Expand South is teams like UCF, TCU, Tulane, UAB, etc.

    I think expanding the Southern Division of the Big East makes more sense, adding rivals for USF and moving into the football crazy south …


    1. Richard

      Realistically, if the Big East needs a team, they’ll add one of Memphis, UCF, or East Carolina, with the first 2 being the favorites. No way they’ll add a MAC team. TCU is interesting, but they’d be pretty far away from the rest of the BE schools. Still, it’s possible. UCF, Memphis, and TCU would all be in talent-rich regions.


  16. 78Lion

    Great work. What is to stop the Pac 10 from making a preemtive strike against the Big 10 by offering Texas first and putting the politicos in turmoil? The PAC 10 is hurt by the Big 10 expanding. It puts them into a worse position than they already are now when it comes to tv negotiations. Most conferences should be making a pitch to Texas and Texas A&M and throw this whole thing into a bidders war. While Texas would never go to any conference other than the Big or Pac 10s, the other conference could price the deal to a point where it won’t happen.


    1. Richard

      The Big10 offers more money and sharing of academic resources. There’s no reason for UT to jump at a Pac10 offer unless the Big10 tells them clearly they’re not going to invite UT.

      The Pac10 wouldn’t be hurt by Big10 expansion as much as the conferences bordering the Big10 & Texas (every other major conference. However, the SEC already has their long, sweetheart, FIXED TV deal, and no other conference brings as much to the table as the Big10.


      1. I agree with Richard here. Culturally, Texas definitely likes the Pac-10 a lot (as that was really its first choice after the SWC imploded). However, it’s a hard sell for Texas to leave the Big 12 without an immediate uptick in revenue and the Pac-10 TV contract is even worse than the Big 12’s deal. In contrast, the Big Ten offers to dual stream of vastly increased athletic revenue and access of even more academic funding via the CIC. As I stated earlier, I think that the Pac-10 is the least likely to do anything because of its unanimous vote requirement – when “no-brainers” like Texas couldn’t get into the Pac-10 back in the 1990s and Penn State had 2 votes against it in the Big Ten tally, it shows how extremely difficult to get 10 schools to agree on anyone. The Pac-10 isn’t really competing for fans and TV sets in the same way that the Big 12, Big East and ACC have to constantly compete directly with the Big Ten and SEC. The main shackle on the Pac-10 is the one thing that it can’t change: its West Coast location means that prime time games for them start extremely late in the Eastern and Central Time Zones.


  17. Buckeye DJ

    First off,I LOVE the insights you are giving here. As a huge OSU fan, I would love to see Texas or ND (or both) in the Big 10!

    But I have a question about the possible future of cable TV networks. Yes as it stands now, the Big 10 is making large amounts of money from their network, and they are the first conference to do so. That gives them alot more money than any other conference now. But can (or will) that change when the other conferences start to put out their own network?

    Some posters have already mentioned a UT Longhorn Network. But what IF the Big 12 had its own network? Could that greatly lessen the financial reasons for UT to bolt for the B10? Look at it this way. Say it becomes known that UT is looking into the B10. The B12 could then come to UT and say ‘we are going to start up our own conference network and within 5 years we will be making as much as the BTN”. So instead of $10 million a year, the increase is only (LOL) $1 or 2 million a year. At what point – if any – does tradition trump the dollars?

    And further to this point, I know that I brought up the costs of the non-revenue sports having to travel – which was quickly shot down by your second post. But if the B12 can get its network to be CLOSE to the BTN in financial terms, then maybe those options come back to the table.

    And finally what happens to this vast pool of BTN dollars in the future if we customers can finally pick and choose what channels we want to pay for and view? I have to believe that with technology that day is coming soon. While not the most technological person, I am already seeing articles on how to dump your cable and get all your TV viewing online. I can see the day when cable TV becomes the newspaper business – slowly dying as consumer preferences move into newer areas. When that day happens I can see the schools screaming bloody murder as they will be totally addicted to the money they used to get every year to fund all sorts of silly things. . . . and now that money isn’t to be found anymore.


    1. Richard

      Well, one of the reasons the Big10 gets so much more TV money isn’t just because they were the first to start their own channel, but because they have more viewers than any other conference. However, other conferences could certainly start their own cable channels as well, though even if they do, how much money that would generate is a question mark. The MWC has it’s own channel, but makes $1-2M per school off of it. Granted, all of the BCS conferences besides the BE would do much better, though probably none would have a channel as profitable as the BTN. Still, the only reason why a Big12 channel could approach the current BTN numbers would be because of Texas, and UT & TAMU know that (which is why UT is exploring starting it’s own channel). If they stay in the Big12, they could get TV revenue approaching that of the Big10; if they join the Big10, they could get TV revenue that is head and shoulders above anybody else in college football (including the SEC).

      As for cable & newspapers, etc., remember that what is important isn’t owning the delivery mechanism, but owning the content. As the schools own the content (the actual football games), even if everything moves to the internet eventually (I don’t think it will be soon), the biggest conferences & schools (assuming they’re not too stupid) will still be paid. Already, the BTN offers pay-per-view.


  18. Richard

    BTW, here’s the breakdown between football & basketball per conference (only Big10 numbers are a little inaccurate because the BTN has been more profitable than projected, I assume):

    Big Ten
    • Big Ten Network: 25 years, $2.8 billion* through 2031-32

    • ABC/ESPN: 10 years, $1 billion through 2016

    • CBS: 10 years, $20 million for basketball through 2018-19

    • ABC/ESPN: Seven years, $258 million

    • Raycom Sports: 10 years, $300 million for basketball

    (Both run through 2010-11.)

    Big 12
    • ABC/ESPN: Eight years, $480 million through 2015-16

    • Fox Sports Net: Four years, $78 million through 2011-12

    • ABC/ESPN: Five years, $125 million for football

    • Fox Sports Net: Five years, $97 million for football

    • ABC/ESPN: Six years, $52.5 million for basketball

    (All run through 2011-12.)

    Big East
    • ABC/ESPN: Six years, $200 million through 2013

    Mountain West
    • Comcast/CBS College Sports/The Mtn.: Seven years, $82 million through 2013-14

    Conference USA
    • CBS College Sports: Six years, $45.8 million

    • ESPN: Six years, $22 million through 2010-11

    Exact terms for the MAC, WAC and Sun Belt could not be located.

    Interesting that the ACC gets almost as much for basketball as for football; it _really_ makes the ACC expansion look bad, considering that those football schools didn’t seem to add anything to the total football pot (of course, the main reason they did it was because FSU was threatening to leave if the ACC didn’t expand).


  19. You forgot a few key rules in all of this….

    1. if the Big Ten were to go to 14 teams, you can bet your ass that the SEC would consider it to. THe SEC has the best TV contract and do not want to lose it, ever….
    2. Texas and ATM will never be separated, due to state politics.
    3. Where does Oklahoma land in all this? That rivalry will need ot be maintained. Maybe the Big ten should go for them if the Big 12 were to implode, instead of Texas fits better geographically(taking Mizzou) and still delivers chuncks of the atexas market.
    4. SEC can offer a proposal just as stong, if not stronger, than the Big Ten.
    5. If the SEC were to expand to 14 teams as well, you can bet their chief targets would be ATM and Texas. Both have tradiitonal rivals within the conference already (arky, LSU) and TEx ATM fit culturally/travel/competitiveness with the other programs in the SEC much more than with the programs of the BIg Ten.

    In summation, Big Ten’s best targets are Notre Dame, Uconn, Mizzou, Syracuse, and Nebraska.

    I can see the Pac Ten taking BYU and UTAH.


    1. 78Lion

      The SEC academics would stop the addition of Texas in it’s tracks and was the primary reason they didn’t even consider the SEC when the SWC broke up. Does the SEC even have anything that resembles the CIC?


    2. Richard

      Read some of the stuff written before. As noted above, the SEC has a 15-year TV deal and no cable network. Thus, adding any team to the SEC in the next 15 years will mean a shrinking of the pie for everyone in the SEC and no benefits until 2024.

      UT-OK was a non-conf rivalry for a long, long time. Some how they made it work.

      BTW, “the best TV contract” that the SEC has gives Florida, Alabama, and Georgia less TV money each year that what Indiana, Purdue, and Northwestern get.


    3. Jared – if you’re actually from EDSBS, I want to to thank you for the link today and your blog is absolutely incredible with probably the funniest take on college football on the web (I’ve been reading it for a long time). That being said, I’ve addressed pretty much all of the items that you’ve brought up in prior posts. The Big Ten has larger TV revenue than the SEC, although both the Big Ten and SEC are on a completely different playing field than everyone else right now (akin to the Yankees and Red Sox in baseball). Texas will absolutely not go the SEC because of academics – their choices outside of the Big 12 (and Texas alums will tell you this themselves) are the Big Ten and Pac-10. Texas A&M, on the other hand, would love to head to the SEC. Oklahoma isn’t an AAU member and doesn’t have a really high overall academic ranking like Notre Dame to compensate for it, so it’s very unlikely that the Big Ten would consider them, but the Sooners could also be a very good choice for the SEC if they deem it worthy to go to 14 schools. However, as Richard has correctly pointed out, the Big Ten Network provides a more direct incentive for the Big Ten to expand beyond 12 schools compared to the fixed TV contract of the SEC. Therefore, the SEC actually cannot offer a stronger proposal than the Big Ten (especially when you add in the CIC for academics). I could only see the SEC expanding as a CYA measure if schools like Texas A&M and OU completely start bolting for new homes whereby all of the BCS conferences start going up to 14 schools and the SEC can’t pass that up.


  20. Westside P-R-O

    PAC 16






    This is just a scenario from a fanboy. I understand that there are more pressing matters like money, culture, and politics that would need to be researched and talked about more before something like this can even begin to happen. I am just hoping there are dreamers out there like me who can actually do something about this : )


  21. Doug

    Let’s see, think like a U president. Need to hit a home run:

    Big 10 takes Army, Navy, and Air Force to make 14 teams.

    All are top notch acedemically, all have national draw, lots of history, tons of government money.

    Just thinking outside the Texas box….


    1. Richard

      1. No research money.

      2. National draw is so big that all their games except for Army-Navy (or whenever one of them play ND or another national power) is shown on CBS College Sports.


  22. Barry


    The Big XII has not re-done their TV deal yet. So who knows how close to SEC numbers they’ll get. The BigXII is much like the SEC in National Appeal. The SEC w/ Miss and MisSt sharing a small state, Ala and Aub sharing small State, Vandy, Kent, etc.
    I.E. SEC has a big contract because of National Audience for flagship Teams Fla, Tenn, Bama, Geo, and LSU.
    Rumors are NBC and FOX are wanting BigXII. ABC still wants them too. FOX would be interesting because it can show both afternoon and night games.
    The Big XII and SEC don’t have the population masses that Big10 has, but they get better rating and carry a more national appeal.

    So I when your comparing financial numbers now, you might want to wait and see what the BigXII re-negotiates. AND then see the whole picture.


    1. Barry – with all due respect, you’re completely looking at this from the rose-colored glasses of a Big 12 fan. The Big 12 has 3 schools that have national appeal: Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. It also has one decent “depth” school in Texas A&M (which would the equivalent of Wisconsin or Michigan State in the Big Ten). Otherwise, there’s very little appeal nationally for the other schools and they are in small markets, to boot (unlike, say, my alma mater of Illinois which is definitely not a national name for football but has the benefit of ties to the Chicago market). As a result, there would be little chance of the Big 12 increasing its TV contract to anywhere near the level of the Big Ten or SEC.

      In fact, your argument needs to be juxtaposed. The SEC, similar to NASCAR, has extremely strong regional appeal where it draws NFL-type ratings in the South but has only a smattering of fans elsewhere. Of course it draws well when it features a #1 vs. #2 matchup in the SEC Championship Game, but the top-rated non-bowl game of the past decade happened to be Michigan-Ohio State in 2006. The Big Ten’s calling card for TV contracts is that it has a strong population base within its footprint but also a wide distribution of alums outside of that footprint (particularly in California, Arizona, Texas, Florida and the Northeast corridor) – that’s part of the reason why it was able to leverage a national carriage deal with DirecTV upon the formation of the Big Ten Network. If you don’t believe me about the national appeal of the Big Ten, please take a look at the ratings for all of the BCS bowl games since the major conference realignment in 2005. Outside of the national championship games (which always draw high ratings no matter who is playing), there have been 7 BCS bowls that have received over a 10.0 rating. What did all of those bowls have in common? Every single one of those bowls featured a Big Ten school (and they weren’t all Rose Bowls, so you can’t attribute it to “everyone watches the Rose Bowl”). Neither the SEC nor Big 12 had the same track record over that time despite appearing in a similar number of BCS bowls. Please see the following TV ratings information:

      Also consider that the Big Ten and SEC deals were penned when money was still flowing through the country pretty well. When the Big 12 re-negotiates its contract, it’s going to be dealing with NBC (who is losing hundreds of millions of dollars per year to the point where GE had to sell it off to Comcast to stop the bleeding and is in drastic cost-cutting mode, which makes how it acted during the Conan/Leno fiasco even more ridiculous), ABC/ESPN (where ABC is constantly moving away from over-the-air sports to the point where it’s not even showing college basketball anymore and ESPN’s Saturday time slots are already largely committed to the Big Ten and SEC), CBS (whose Saturday afternoon time slots are committed to the SEC) and Fox (whose Saturday time slots are committed to Major League Baseball for half of the college football season), all of whom are suffering in massive downturns in advertising revenue. The Big 12’s TV deal couldn’t approach the Big Ten and SEC even in a great economy. Instead, the conference is going to have to be happy just to get a slight increase over what it’s receiving now with TV networks cutting back on spending. If I’m running a Big 12 school, I wouldn’t be optimistic about the next TV contract at all, which is why you see “Big Ten expansion” blog posts and threads across the country but absolutely nothing whatsoever about the Big 12.


      1. Barry

        I understand some of your points.

        But there are 2 different arguments. The big10 is looking/needing cable outlets to my understanding.

        My point was the Big XII and SEC bring higher national audiences.
        The bowl rating argument is week in that this year happened to have 2 Big 10 teams in BCS bowls, which will get better ratings… yet the Iowa game, which is a Great exciting game, was beaten by school that don’t have a national fan base in TCU/Boise, and was beat by Fla killing Cincy and TV sets off by half-time.
        Please don’t argue that people turned into watch MichSt, the whole country was tuned into TTech/leach(less).

        But my argument on ratings/and National stage is that when ABC wants to put a team on Prime-Time, they don’t look to the Big 10. They watch OkieState, TxTech, OU, TX, Mizz,Neb and gulp TX vs KU… ABC is looking for ratings.
        Appearing on Prime-Time:
        USC 17
        OU 10
        TX 9
        Cal 8
        Neb 7
        tOSU 7
        Okie State 6
        Neb 6
        TTech 6
        ND 6
        Mizz 5
        PSU 5
        Iowa 4
        Ore 4
        KU 3
        Mich 3

        all else have 2 or 1.. but only Baylor hasn’t been shown in prime-time and NW, Minn, and Ind have yet to be shown.

        College football rating have been going up.. CBS has done great with SEC.
        and ABC has said their Prime Time games are doing Great.
        ABC has a choice of who to show, and the go after the ratings for a national audience.

        Can’t find 2009 highest rated regular season games, but here is 2008
        December 14, 2008
        Final college football ratings
        9:47 AM Sun, Dec 14, 2008 | Permalink
        Barry Horn/Reporter E-mail News tips
        The Big 12 dominated college football viewership during the regular season. Here’s the most-watched games, according to the Nielsen folks.

        – The Florida-Alabama SEC Championship game was No. 1 with more than 15 million viewers. It was the most-watched non-bowl college game since 2006.
        – ABC broadcast the next seven games on the list, with an average of 8.2 million viewers for its 11 prime-time broadcasts.
        – Alabama had the highest local rating among the top 10 BCS teams. Forty percent of households in the Birmingham Area tuned in to watch the Crimson Tide every week.
        – Ohio State and Oklahoma each pulled in 32% of their respective markets each week.
        – Texas was at 23.1% in Austin

        Game/Viewers (millions)
        1. ALABAMA vs. FLORIDA (SEC Title), 15,1
        2. TEXAS vs. TEXAS TECH, 12.2
        3. OHIO STATE vs. USC, 11.8
        4. TEXAS TECH vs. OKLAHOMA, 10.8
        5. PENN STATE vs. OHIO STATE, 10,4
        6. OKLAHOMA vs. OKLAHOMA STATE, 9.5
        7. MISSOURI vs. OKLAHOMA (Big 12 Title) 8.7
        8. OK ST vs. TX TECH, 8.5
        9. ALABAMA vs. LSU, 8,1
        10. Texas vs. OKLAHOMA, 7.7

        College football is just getting bigger. My point is that the Big XII and SEC are better Nationally on TV. I like Big 10 football, my family is from Columbus and my uncle is a dean at Purdue. But it has been a nation wide joke, mostly because of the loudmouth SEC fans. Big 10 showed it was very good.
        And while espn paid big for SEC, they will do so for BigXII too. ABC loves the BIG XII on Prime-Time.
        I actually here more about Fox bidding strong for Big XII because of Sat games, Prime Time, and then lesser games on fox affiiates.

        But who knows. If there is a Big XII breakup, I believe TX will be heading West to Pac10.
        Oh, and I agree w/ N.Mex.. No different then when Az and ASU were part of WAC and joined PAC8.. small but growing states, etc…


        1. I’ve seen that ratings info for last season and thanks for posting it here. The Big Ten Network is on basic cable in every state throughout its footprint plus national basic carriage on DirecTV – it’s typically on the sports tier everywhere else. So, it’s really looking for new markets where it can be bumped up to basic cable (with Texas being the single biggest possible prize). 2008 was a fantastic season for the Big 12 with Texas Tech being so high in the rankings to go along with Texas and Oklahoma, but my point is that in 2009 when Texas Tech came back to Earth, the national interest wasn’t there (at least until Mike Leach started using closets for concussion treatment). What the networks pay a premium for are “rankings-proof” schools that draw viewers whether they win or lose – Michigan, for instance, has still been getting national TV appearances despite going through probably its worst stretch in history. Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska are undoubtedly rankings proof from a national perspective, much like Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State in the Big Ten, but the difference is in the depth once you get past that top tier. Illinois and Northwestern deliver the Chicago market, Minnesota delivers the Twin Cities and Wisconsin, Indiana and Purdue deliver their entire states. Those key markets (especially Chicago) matter greatly to TV executives and trounce anything outside of the state of Texas for the Big 12.

          Also, the Big Ten has a scheduling rule that it doesn’t play any prime time games after October. (There are also certain schools, such as Michigan, that will absolutely refuse to play any night games at home no matter what time of year.) ABC and ESPN would absolutely LOVE it if the Big Ten would change that rule so that it can get Big Ten rivalry games into prime time during the November sweeps period and the networks have continually asked the conference to change its policy, but there hasn’t been any movement on that front. (Basically, the Big Ten has actually agreed to forgo prime time TV money as a nod to its fans so that they don’t sit in freezing weather in the dark.) That’s really the main (if not only) reason why you see more Big 12 prime time games on ABC late in the year because the conference allows them to be played throughout the year. ABC/ESPN has shown who they prioritize – in the 2:30 pm CT time slot, every Big Ten game gets national coverage through the reverse mirror with first priority before all other conferences (which means in front of the Big 12, ACC, Pac-10 and Big East, who ABC/ESPN has deals with for that time period), where if the Big Ten game isn’t on ABC in a particular region, it will be on ESPN in that region guaranteed. That deal is in place until the latter part of this decade, so there’s no room for the Big 12 to move there. The SEC also has a guaranteed prime time game on ESPN every week, so there’s also no room for the Big 12 there. I’m extremely skeptical about the other over-the-air networks really adding to their college football coverage and even if they did, they can’t afford to pay what ESPN can do at this point. Maybe Versus will step up its sports spending, but every conference that has its games on Versus today (not to mention the NHL) typically complains about how they aren’t on ESPN.

          I’d agree that the Pac-10 is a good fit on a lot of levels for Texas except for the financial part of the equation (which we all know will probably be the biggest factor). The overarching point of these blog posts isn’t necessarily that Texas is going to go the Big Ten, but rather that Texas is very open to moving to another conference in general (and the Big Ten happens to fit a lot of academic and financial criteria for the school). Whether it can actually happen when looking at the political situation in the state of Texas remains to be seen.


          1. Jon Morse

            “(Basically, the Big Ten has actually agreed to forgo prime time TV money as a nod to its fans so that they don’t sit in freezing weather in the dark.)”

            I bet the Big 10 wouldn’t object to night games in Austin in November. Yet another selling point for UT.


      2. Richard

        Actually, using number of primetime games isn’t a “fair” metric because the Big10 only allows ABC to show their games in primetime if they were scheduled as night games before the season started (and no night games are allowed after October). It’s possible that the Big12 being more flexible makes them more appealing to national TV networks, though, as noted before, the money is increasingly going to be in cable instead of over-air TV.


      3. Richard

        BTW, ESPN paid big for the SEC mainly to keep it from emulating the Big10 and starting it’s own cable network (which really makes sense for a conference like the SEC, due to it’s rabid yet concentrated fan base).


  23. wpa

    I searched the KC Star and all I could find was Herbie saying he thought expansion would happen. He didn’t say ND would be it. Am I missing another source for the Herbstreit quote?


  24. Richard

    BTW, the penumbra strategy to get NYC really only works if ND is one of the 3 teams (along with Rutgers & Syracuse or Maryland). Maybe the Big10 would find it worthwhile to add a couple fo Eastern teams even if they get ND but not UT.


  25. I think you’re missing something about delivering on the markets argument. Everything I’ve read about the deals between the Big Ten Network and the cable/sat companies has 2 different prices, one for out of conference footprint ($0.10/subscriber) and one within ($1.00/subscriber). So it wouldn’t matter if people in NYC cared about Syracuse or Rutgers. It would just matter that a) the channel was available in the state and b) people in the market subscribe to said cable/sat company. The same would go for Texas. So adding Texas, Syracuse, and Rutgers would add about 53 million people to the conference footprint or almost a 79% increase. Throw in ND and Nebraska for their immense national following and now cable companies are scrambling to add the network, bowls are upping their bids to get even the 8th place team from the 16 team super-conference, ESPN/ABC is trying to sweeten their deal for fear of the BTN taking over completely, and the conference paves the way for playoffs by having semi-finals before the conference championship.


    1. Richard

      True, but if not enough people in a state care about a school, the cable companies would just not add the BTN and nobody would complain.

      I also don’t think the NCAA allows semifinals before a conference championship game. Go to 16, and you run the risk that the whole conference would break up the way the 16-team WAC did. Go to 14, and the original 10-11 teams still form a bloc who would prevent traditional rivalries from being broken.


    2. Terry


      I believe you are missing one extra dimension. The cable issue is all about whther the company puts BTN in the Digital Sports Tier or in the Expanded Basic package.

      The rates you quote are what I have seen, but the question is if Rutgers or Syracuse et al can get a cable company to move BTN to the much more widely subscribed Expanded Basic (and thus incur more revenue to BTN from NYC/NJ) or have it left on Digital Sports Tier, which would be mildly subscribed. As well as the inside/outside footprint rate change.


  26. mushroomgod

    Interesting stuff Frank. If TX were to join alone, or with A@M and Pitt (let’s say) the eastern nnd western divisions would break down nicely–there would be enouigh power in the west………

    If TX and TX A@M joined, I’d go with Pitt in the east, to limit travel time etc….


  27. mushroomgod Says:
    January 28, 2010 at 2:43 pm |

    Interesting stuff Frank. If TX were to join alone, or with A@M and Pitt (let’s say) the eastern nnd western divisions would break down nicely–there would be enouigh power in the west………

    If TX and TX A@M joined, I’d go with Pitt in the east, to limit travel time etc…

    With Pitt, you’d also not give the Big Ten Network any new cable systems and added subscription revenue. Better you make a Maryland or Syracuse your 14th team. Syracuse, N.Y. and metro Washington, D.C. are easier to reach than State College, Pa..


  28. mushroomgod

    Vince and Frank—I’d pick Pitt for the 3rd team in the event TX and A@M wanted to join because of geography and the natural rivalry with PSU….Adding the 2 TX schools would be very unsettling anyway…no need for more “trauma” involving MD and Syracuse….adding the TX schools would ensure more $ than anyone could spend anyway….and Pitt would be within driving distance for IU, Purdue, OSU, UM, MSU, and PSU fans….


  29. mushroomgod Says:
    January 29, 2010 at 8:49 am | Reply

    Vince and Frank—I’d pick Pitt for the 3rd team in the event TX and A@M wanted to join because of geography and the natural rivalry with PSU….Adding the 2 TX schools would be very unsettling anyway…no need for more “trauma” involving MD and Syracuse….adding the TX schools would ensure more $ than anyone could spend anyway….and Pitt would be within driving distance for IU, Purdue, OSU, UM, MSU, and PSU fans

    You’re acting as if Syracuse, N.Y. and College Park, Md. are Fairbanks, Alaska. And if proximity is priority #1, would Austin and College Station be too far removed from everyone else in the conference? So if you’re going to add Texas A&M and Texas, Maryland or Syracuse is not such a stretch…plus they add new Big Ten Network markets that Pitt doesn’t.

    And while Pitt is a fine academic institution, it’s more a municipal type of university. Maryland is a land-grant flagship school along the line of most Big Ten members. while Syracuse is a private institution that doesn’t quite have Pitt’s municipal focus. SU is not quite an eastern version of Northwestern, but it’s a solid match for the conference (and would be even more so if it boosted its research).


  30. Adam

    Just a few comments; I might as well chime in.

    1. Frank, I’m curious to know where you found out that it takes 8 votes to get into the Big Ten. I contacted the league office and while they confirmed that the “rule” about new members needing to be within or adjacent to the current footprint was an internet urban legend, they would not disclose the required voting margin.

    2. I think that Frank’s “think like a president” rule needs to be scrutinzed. As-is, the university presidents don’t “think like a university president.” If they did, we would not have been sitting on an 11-member league for the last 20 years. We would play night games past October. Schools like Michigan would not be in a position to simply say “no night games, period.” When Gordon Gee (OSU President) was the head man at Vanderbilt, he eliminated the Athletic Department and reorganized all intercollegiate athletics as part of the school’s generic administrative unit for student activities, due to his concerns about commercialization/professionalization of college sports. The Big Ten recently went to an 18-game schedule in basketball, which is the fiscal equivalent of burning money for heat (conference games are zero-sum because every home conference game is a road conference game for someone else; non-conference games allow all teams to play home games and bring in revenue). The league was one of the last to begin playing a conference basketball tournament (think of how quaint the Ivy League’s lack of a tournament is, and how as recently as the mid-90s, the Big Ten was doing the same thing). I’m not saying Frank is wrong, per se, but I think that it’s too easy to write off a particular decision as seemingly irrational; the Big Ten presidents seem very willing to make irrational decisions when an ideological concern trumps “rationality.” I think this needs to be accounted for, particularly with “outside the box” options like Texas.

    3. Frank, I can confirm the rule that your knowledgeable Syracuse fan mentioned. The NCAA Division I Manual has all of the various sport season scheduling limitations. Rule contains the exceptions to the 12-game limit, and says that “[a] conference championship game between division champions of a member conference of 12 or more institutions that is divided into two divisions (of six or more institutions each), each of which conducts round-robin, regular-season competition among the members of that division” does not count against the 12-game limit. You can’t conduct “round-robin, regular-season competition among the members of [a] division” unless you know ahead of time who belongs to the Division. I know of at least one limited exception to a literal application of this language: the Mid-American Conference. Because it has 13 members, one Division has 6 (West) and the other 7 (East). What it boils down to is that, if the East Division teams all play each other, they only have 14 inter-divisional games to offer the West (assuming everybody plays an 8-game schedule), and 14 isn’t evenly divisible by 6. Similarly, the West has 18 inter-divisional games to offer the East, and 18 isn’t evenly divisible by 7. At one time, the compromise was to have everybody play everybody else in your Division, and only the intra-divisional games counted towards the Division Championship, with the overall conference record being only a tiebreaker, but they didn’t do that this year. Anyway, there’s some kind of limited exception for their arrangement, perhaps because the MAC is below the radar of anybody at the NCAA offices who would care to police that.

    4. Something for the Big Ten presidents to consider: there are alums (like me) who do not want Texas to join the Big Ten. I will tell you now, if they invite Texas, I am done with everything Big Ten related. I’ll follow the MAC instead, I have a lot of family members that went to MAC schools or live in MAC towns. I am not interested in being affiliated in any way with an institution that has any connection to a State in which the Governor can seriously argue that the State has a sui generis right to secede. It is just a cultural connection I want absolutely no part of. If Texas joins the Big Ten, I wash my hands of the whole business. How many other people are out there like me? I’m sure most of the readers of this board think that’s backwards and stupid, but it’s how I feel and I’d like to think (a) I’m not alone and (b) there are enough like-minded people that the league presidents need to take that into consideration.


    1. Richard

      1. I believe 75% is what’s needed, so you’ll need 9 of the 11.

      2. University presidents may very well be thinking like university presidents when they don’t seek to maximize current revenue (and some times, their actions do maximize revenue even when it doesn’t appear so at first view). 18-game conference schedules mean higher average attendance, if less home games. No conference tournament makes the regular season a tad more important (and higher attendance). Not jumping to add a 12th team allows for the possibility of ND or a similiar big name joining later.

      4. I’d reckon maybe 1% of the Big10 fans out there (if that) think like you.


      1. Skunknuts

        Great well-reasoned blog and comments (for the most part). Anyway, I’m in the “1%” that thinks that Texas is largely ass-backwards when it comes to beliefs (represented in their law) such as executing the mentally retarded, popularity of secession, and, yeah, thanks for the worst. president. ever….That being said, in the words of a simpleton, “bring ’em on!” I’d love for my Badgers to destroy Hank Hill’s over-inflated sports-driven ego. (Also, more rationally, I know that Austin and UT are more aligned w/ my world-view than W’s hordes).



    2. mushroomgod

      Adam—Isn’t Austin itself pretty liberal? I would think A@M would be the school you’d have a problem with….I’m not thrilled about them myself.


      1. Adam

        mushroomgod: It isn’t Austin I have a problem with. It’s the State of Texas. The Big Ten is a Midwestern conference. It should always be a Midwestern conference. If that changes, I’ll switch to following a different Midwestern conference.


  31. Tom


    Not sure if there is any truth to this, but there appears to be some people in the know claiming that believe it or not, Pittsburgh is expected to announce its intention to join the Big Ten, and according to these sources, the annoument is expected to occur sometime this week.

    Now, granted this is all still speculation, but there appears to be some truth to it:

    Back when the Big Ten made its initial announcement, I felt that Pitt would be a great addition, (improving football and great basketball,) but then as I stumbled across this blog and others, I saw how in reality, Pitt wouldn’t be that great of a choice.

    The only thing I can think of is that the Big Ten desperately wants that championship game and Pitt may be the one school that is a slam dunk to accept. (Pitt does have pretty well regarded academics and its endowment would put it 4th in the Big Ten.)

    However, I find it odd that the Big Ten would simply give up on Notre Dame, (and possibly Texas,) so soon after only what, 45 days into its 12-18 month evaluation process? Maybe this is step one in going to 14 teams? After all, if you could add Texas along with A&M / Notre Dame, that 14th team would be a throwaway.

    I guess we will find out whether this is in fact true in the next few days.


    1. 78Lion

      Much, if not all of this rumor, started on Pitt and WVU message boards. Given the speed of kids typing on keyboards this spread like wildfire. The Bleacher site is really no better than the National Enquirer. Anyone can get a login and create a news story. If you know proper formatting, you can make it look like something special.

      the one tidbit I did learn while this was going on was the size of the research going on at Pitt. It is quite large and would be a great asset within the CIC. Pitt brings little else to the equation hoewver.


    1. Tom

      Personally, I find it hard to believe, but all of sudden this story sort of broke and multiple people are corroborating it. (Granted, the sources are from message boards and internet blogs, but the recent discussion is unlike most concerning Big Ten expansion, with people claiming that this is more likely a done deal.)

      I also question it just because it seems to me that if the Big Ten wanted that 12th team so bad, it would have invited Syracuse long ago. (Remember, ‘Cuse used to have a mighty fine football program for much of its history before falling off the face off the earth in the 2000’s.) Perhaps the conference put out feelers through back channels to Texas and Notre Dame, and maybe these two indicated that they would not be interested, so then the Big Ten moved on to the next group of candidates.

      I don’t think Pitt is a horrible choice, but I don’t think the Panthers are the best choice. The issue of expanding the Big Ten network seems to me as if it would be the number one factor in expanding the Big Ten, and Pitt clearly does not do this. However, university presidents may not necessarily be thinking like a TV network executive, and instead see Pitt as a solid academic institution worthy of being a Big Ten school.


    2. Richard

      The only way this move makes sense is if the university presidents care almost exclusively about expanding research funding sources or research-related ventures. Pitt, Maryland, & UT all are better than the other candidates when it comes to research. UT & Maryland (and ND) may not have been interested (or deemed the move too risky).

      We know the conference was looking to expand mainly to get new sources of resource funding and increase the TV footprint. We didn’t know what weight each component had in the decision-making process.
      Of course, the source of such rumors isn’t exactly solid.


    3. A bunch of message boards have linked here in connection with that rumor and, quite frankly, the story has tons of holes in it. The rumor is that the Pitt athletes had a closed door meeting last week where they were informed that the school was joining the Big Ten. As an attorney, I would be absolutely mortified that literally hundreds of late-teens/early-20s students would be informed of such highly confidential information a week before it would go public, not to mention that all of those students have roommates and family members that they would tell right away. At the same time, as much as I like to bash the mainstream media, this story would’ve been reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or ESPN if that many people knew about this information – it’s hard enough to contain leaks with just a handful of people, so I highly doubt that hundreds of students could’ve kept that a secret.

      Regardless, I’ve seen some other message board posters confirm that the athletes-only meeting is something that happens annually at Pitt where they simply go over the spring sports schedule and congratulate the fall teams – it was nothing more than a standard administrative meeting. I’ll certainly look foolish if Pitt is invited considering everything that I’ve written, but this rumor looks like a hoax from everything that I’ve seen.


      1. Jon Morse

        For what it’s worth, I have never once regretted immediately dismissing any unsubstantiated rumor posted on Bleacher Report. 78Lion’s National Enquirer comparison is quite apt.


    4. For what it’s worth, here’s a Tweet from EJ Borghetti, who is Associate AD at Pitt:

      “Now hear this: rumors on Internet message boards should be read for amusement purposes only, and not consumed as responsible journalism.”


  32. Denny from Pittsburgh

    Hi Frank – Outstanding blog and thanks. The rumor mill is running flat out that Pitt is It as twelfth Big Televen team. Based on your unassailable logic and research, I don’t see it. Pitt is excellent academically and has a good football program. Fan base is bandwagon city. No national appeal to speak of. Most importantly, they bring zero added sunscribers to BTN.

    As a Villanova grad, I read with great interest your take on what would happen to the non-football BE schools if they were ever kicked out of the BE. Take the Catholic schools in the BE and join up with the Catholic schools in the A10, and you have a super-conference. Equal quality basketball to the ACC, B10 or the ‘old’ BE.

    Thoughts please?


    1. I’ve got enough thoughts on the Big East where I plan on putting together a separate post on that conference. I’m not quite as convinced that the BE football members will split off from the Catholic schools even if the BE loses a member (in fact, the conclusion might be that the conference will need to depend on basketball even more than now), but a conference made up of the Catholic schools from the BE and Atlantic 10 is definitely something that I’ve thought about before since it makes sense on a lot of levels. I’ll expand upon that in the near future.


      1. Jon Morse

        Frank, the original plan that was floated in the ACC-induced expansion actually was to split the Big East along football and non-football lines, mostly as a result of the fairly vocal objections by some old-guard Big East administrators to having a league that large.

        Unfortunately, questions were raised about which part of the conference would remain “the Big East”. Apparently, if the basketball schools kept the name, due to the contracts involved the football schools would lose their BCS bid; likewise, if the football schools kept the name, the basketball schools would (temporarily) lose their auto-bid to the tournament.

        As a result… they did nothing, even though splitting in half makes entirely too much sense in almost every other regard.


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  34. Zach

    Hi Frank and fantastic write up. But I have few questions. College sports is primarily based on the passion, for the love of the game, where emotions and adrenaline run so high from the players to fans. Therefore, do you think university presidents would want to risk eliminating huge rivalries. I understand the “follow the money” idea, but if texas left the big 12, it would definately one or two of the rivalries with Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, even Misouri, so i can see why Texas fans would be mad. On the hand, the Penn State vs. Pitt rivalry will be renewed if pitt gets offered. But it about T.V. markets and Penn State is in complete controll of all of Pennsylvannia, even Alegheny County (Pittsburgh). Even further, Notre Dame already has rivalries with Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, and the occasional Penn Sate ever 8 years now. Personally, I dont even want Notre Dame, they had their chance, if they cant swallow their pride thats their problem. Should you also take into consideration other sports though? The Big Ten is strong in Basketball, football, wrestling, volleyball, soccer, hell even fencing and field hockey. Which is even another attractive side of Texas.


  35. Frank, while you have insisted that we must think like university presidents you cite fan comments as having probative value as to why Texas might join. The fact is that the Texas president very well may turn down $20 million a year since Texas already rakes in more money with its athletic department than anyone else. Moreover, Texas supports 20 sports while Ohio State supports 33 or so.

    Secondly, it isn’t the president that has the final say on joining the Big Ten anyway — it would be the board of regents, which are appointed by the governor. This consists of 9 adults and one student. Normally such bodies rubber stamp whatever he president wants but this would not be a normal decision. This is where the political influence would be leveled and I suspect that whatever the governor says will determine the outcome.


  36. I’m sorry, a typo got through. I meant the Texas U president might happily turn down $10 million, not $20. $20 extra million for doing what they are already doing might be hard to turn down.


  37. Matthew

    One thing I wonder about is the effect a championship game would have on the conference’s chances of getting two BCS bids. I think if Texas is the 12th member, then that’s a non-issue. But I was thinking about this year, where OSU, Iowa, and Penn State all finished 10-2. Suppose OSU beat one of those other teams in a title game. Would the conference still get a second BCS team? I realize that the example is highly imperfect because with divisions those teams might not have been 10-2. But still, I wonder. My guess is that the league still would have gotten two bids, but I think it’s a worthwhile question to consider.


    1. Richard

      In this year’s case, the BCS would have taken either PSU or Iowa (whoever didn’t lose in the championship game). In any case, a second BCS team is worth $4.5M. A championship game is worth $15M. The bigger concern is that a championship game makes playing for a national championship harder.


  38. Hey frank, I am a fellow Illini Alum and was wondering if I could get your email. I really enjoyed all your expansion posts and would like to ask you a few questions regarding a different story.

    if you are interested please email me at:

    cuillini aT hotmail dot com



  39. Adam

    Frank, or anybody else, here’s a question for you:

    This blog has done excellent work on comparing the financial picture between the major conferences in terms of their TV deals. It’s abundantly clear that the Big Ten blows every other conference (including, shockingly in my view, the SEC) out of the water.

    But here’s the question I have: what is the financial impact of the CIC? Even if we can’t get precise data, can we ballpark it? Can we get some discussion of exactly what services the CIC offers, and how this differs from programming offered by other conferences? It seems like that’s an important dimension to understand.


  40. Paul

    I noticed that Indiana is moving their home game with Penn State this year to the Redskins stadium in Washington, DC which seats 90,000. It’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving and Indiana will get $3M if the game sells out, much more than they would make in Bloomington. Indiana has a lot of alumni in DC and is treating this as a “bowl game” for their fans. I’m not sure which network is televising the game, but it’s a conference game so maybe the BTN gets it.

    Instead of the Big Ten adding an eastern team, I wonder if we will see more of this type of game relocation in the future to build the Big Ten brand name and add television viewers. Northwestern, Purdue and Illinois don’t sell out their home games and could be future candidates to relocate games to the Meadowlands, Yankee Stadium or DC.
    I read something where Northwestern is talking about moving one of their home games (Iowa or Illinois?) to Wrigley Field to boost attendance, so it appears Big Tens teams are open to relocating games.

    Maybe Big Ten expansion goes west to Missouri, Nebraska and Texas, and forget the Big East.


    1. Richard

      Realistically, only Indiana and Northwestern would be willing to move games. Purdue has a 65K stadium that they regularly fill with 50K or more, so the slight bump in revenue from moving home games to NFL stadiums wouldn’t be worth the negative affects of giving up home field advantage and engendering negative feelings amongst alumni/donors/boosters. Also, while NU moved a “home game” againt OSU to Cleveland several decades ago, I don’t see any school moving games against UM & OSU to Michigan & Ohio in the future, because of the shame factor (you have to at least pretend these will be neutral site games if you move them). Realistically, that means (unless there is expansion), only DC/FedEx Field & NYC/Giants Stadium are viable. Games against PSU would be able to fill both; _maybe_ games against UM and OSU, though it’s riskier. Possibly some games in Florida, though it’s also riskier (and while Indiana would be willing to do it now, NU would have to go back to losing/bowl-less seasons to entertain the idea, unless there’s extra TV money involved).
      Maybe games against Illinois in St. Louis. Add UT & TAMU, though, and you open up the possibility of “neutral” site games in Texas & New Orleans; maybe SoCal as well. Add ND, and you could see even more neutral site games.


    2. Richard

      However, I do like the idea of a conference game outside the Big10 footprint every year.

      Let’s say UT, TAMU & ND join, and Minnesota and/or NU are in the same division as the Texas schools while Indiana & Purdue are in the same division as PSU & ND.

      Then you could have a rotation of New Orleans, SoCal/Arizona, Florida, DC/NY, one per year in a 4 year cycle.

      Say TAMU vs. Minnesota in Nawlins, Texas vs. NU in SoCal, ND vs. Purdue in Florida, and PSU vs. Indiana in DC.

      Make them November games set in primetime (all of these sites could be considered warm-weather locations except NYC), and you could make a TV event out of matchups that normally wouldn’t be noticed by anyone else.

      Don’t know if the schools would go along initially, but for the conference as a whole, such a plan would be a boon for recruiting & exposure(–> TV).


  41. K Mills

    I have read almost every comment on this blog and find it very, very interesting. We get the BTN on local cable, but I don’t bother to watch it cause I’ve never been interested in the Big 10 and know practically nothing about any of the schools except OSU, Michigan. Big 10 is pretty close to a nonentity here. That’s why I was surprised when I started reading some of the statements indicating that it might be a possibility that Texas would go to the BT. Of course, Texas would be a great catch for any conference but I still think the distance would be prohibitive. And, for non citizens of Texas, the ties between Texas and TAMU are stronger than you might think. Many families in the state have members that are alumni at both schools (TAMU is only 80 miles from Texas). Although there is a love/hate situation there, it is nontheless one of comradeship and brotherhood. And, both have very strong alumni bases in state politics. I read somewhere recently that Texas has 500,000 active alumni…that’s a lot of butts in the seats and eyeballs on the tube. And, you can believe it when someone tells you that Texas can deliver the Texas market. Not sure that TAMU can deliver the Texas market. Although, the prospect of new rivalries and new faces in the sporting arena is intriguing, I seriously doubt it can be worked out. But, on the other hand when the SWC joined with the Big 12 Texas stabbed 4 other local Universities in the back and left them floundering after having relationships with them for decades. So, who knows…I’ll be keeping up with this to see what happens.

    What I’ve been most surprised by is the difference in attitudes and comments by commentors in the BTN and those from other BIG 12 schools…it appears that most of the fans from other Big 12 schools seem to have a big resentment for Texas and wouldn’t care if they left (they would care though if it does happen and they end up in the Big 3, the Big 4 or some other such conference), but the fans and alumni of the BTN for the most part seem to be welcoming and even a little excited about the prospect of having Texas in their conference.

    Good stuff and information on here.


  42. Jake

    Thanks for your well-researched and impartial look into Big Ten expansion. It’s amazing that so few of the professional journalists who have been weighing in on the subject have bothered to put a fraction of the effort into it as you have.

    As a TCU alum, I’m mostly interested in how my beloved Horned Frogs will inevitably get screwed over by this round of conference realignments. It’s always fun to think that we might get into the Big 12 (and while alumni sentiment is strongly in favor of this, it’s far from unanimous), I see us either getting left in a diminished MWC or (best-case scenario, sadly) being invited into the Big East. It’d be nice if the Frogs had a bigger following, but at the moment we’re feeling pretty good if we can get the D/FW area behind us. You can’t get the Mountain West Network here unless you have DirecTV; meanwhile, the Big Ten Network (with all of its alternate feeds) is on my basic tier for AT&T Uverse.

    It might be interesting to see how the upcoming gubernatorial election will affect the situation. The two main candidates in the Republican primary (which amounts to a general election in Texas) are incumbent Rick Perry (an A&M alum) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (a Texas alum). It would be intriguing to hear what they have to say on the matter. I don’t foresee the legislature being as big of an obstacle this time around, as Tech, Baylor and A&M should be okay, even without Texas in the Big 12.

    I would like to hear more on your case for Miami to the Big Ten. I’ve heard they aren’t really all that well supported in Miami – do you see that move boosting the Big Ten’s profile in Florida that greatly? Do the Canes bring anywhere near as much to the table as the Longhorns or Irish?

    Also, what incentive does the SEC have to expand? Under what circumstances would they invite an A&M or OU?

    Again, thanks for elevating the level of discourse on the topic, and I look forward to reading more of what you have to say about it over the next 12-18 months (and beyond, undoubtedly).


    1. Richard

      I can see the Big12 taking in TCU and Houston only if they lose both UT & TAMU (with 4 Texas teams, they can still claim to have Texas in their footprint even without the 2 biggest schools).

      While as a fan, Miami in the Big Ten sounds great, that’s much less likely than Texas to the Big10. Consider, Miami brings in as many local viewers as Maryland & Rutgers, is a weaker research institution than Maryland & Rutgers, and is much farther away.

      The SEC doesn’t really have any incentive to expand until their current TV deal ends (IN 2024)


    2. Jake – your comment is extremely prescient! I’m planning to write some posts on the Big East in the very near future. As a preview, if the Big East needs to add a football member or split, then I believe that TCU is going to be heavily in the mix with all of its recent success and very well suported athletic department. Many of the same arguments for “Texas to the Big Ten” apply to “TCU to the Big East”, albeit on a smaller financial scale.

      Miami is a strange case of a school that has poor local support but is a great national TV draw. The Canes definitely don’t bring as much to the Big Ten as Texas or Notre Dame and it’s not a top-level graduate institution (although it’s a top 50 undergrad school), but the state of Florida is probably the most “natural” extension of the Big Ten footprint if the conference wants to head to the Sun Belt. The University of Florida is locked into the SEC and Florida State is truly a Southern school in character by the Panhandle, but Miami is really a Northern school that happens to be located in the South (reflecting the city of Miami itself). My hunch is that the combination of Miami plus the massive number of Big Ten grads and Midwestern/Northeastern transplants in the southern half of Florida (it’s the #1 home of conference grads outside of the Big Ten footprint itself) would probably be enough to deliver that state to the Big Ten. This might be a bit of a case where I’m actually thinking more like a fan than a university president, but it’s still an intriguing option from a market perspective. That being said, as Richard pointed out in an earlier post, I don’t know if the Big Ten could seriously trust Miami if it were willing to bolt the ACC so quickly just because it’s a good deal today.

      I talked a little bit about my skepticism regarding the prospect of superconferences in “Follow-up #1”. The Big Ten is really the only conference in theory that has a direct incentive to move past 12 schools because it could potentially add more Big Ten Network homes at higher basic cable prices with each new market. Even then, though, it’s an extremely high standard to make the financials work out to split the pie 14 ways as opposed to 12. As long as the SEC has traditional media rights deals in place (which it does for the next decade or so), then it likely doesn’t have an incentive to add anyone even if it’s a market like the state of Texas (although I know that the SEC is studying this issue). If the SEC ever creates its own TV network, though, then the conference would have the same type of incentive to add another large market like the state of Texas in the same manner as the Big Ten does today.


  43. Tom Smith

    I looked at Ron Guenther’s quote. He listed
    criteria in this order:
    1. “value added” (added TV revenue)
    2. academic fit (research, AAU membership, etc.)
    3. geographic fit (He did not say contiguous state, only that it didn’t seem right to look at a school
    6 states away.)
    But as Richard above pointed out, he is an AD, so how much weight do you give his comments?? However, the priority of list appears appropriate to me.
    Value added rules out Pitt. PSU already has market of PA. No one fit last time and wasn’t Mizzou, Pitt and Syracuse looked at last time expansion was explored? If so why would B10 look at them again?
    I still feel TX is top target followed by ND.
    Texas A&M, Maryland, and maybe Rutgers may be in the mix if B10 goes to 14 schools.


    1. Here’s the Guenther interview:

      I can’t see the Big Ten bending on the “value added” and academic fit requirements at all. That leaves geography, which I’ve long believed is the area where the conference is going to be more flexible. Remember that the Big Ten has evaluated Missouri, Rutgers, Syracuse and other schools in contiguous states several times already and they’ve never been deemed worthy. So, that’s why Purdue’s AD has stated that this is a nationwide search and Big Ten spokesmen have gone out of their way to discredit the Internet myth that the Big Ten charter has a contiguous state requirement.

      For what it’s worth, Bob Asmussen, who wrote that article, sent me a message and stated that he agreed with my conclusion that Texas is really the only choice for the Big Ten.


  44. Pat

    Utah to PAC-10 ?

    SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) – The University of Utah to the PAC 10? BYU to the Big 12?? It could happen.

    This is all speculation…but sources are telling ABC 4 Sports that Utah will be invited to join the PAC 10 conference, but not BYU. The Cougars could wind up in the Big 12…or staying put in the MWC.

    Several dominoes have to fall first, but here’s how it could all play out…

    The Big 10 wants to expand to a 12 team them a conference championship game in football, like the SEC and Big 12. Pittsburgh could be asked to join the Big 10..or possibly Rutgers.

    The PAC 10 would then follow suit, and it would need to invite 2 schools, and it could be Utah and Colorado.

    BYU would not be invited, primarily because they don’t play on Sunday…and the PAC 10 has a lot of Sunday games. Officially, the PAC 10 would say Utah is a better fit, because it’s a research institution and has a medical school, like most of the other PAC 10 schools…and BYU does not.

    Again, this is all speculation, but the PAC 10 TV deal is about to expire, and a new TV partner would want the league to have a football championship game, which requires the league to have 12 teams.

    According to reporter Jon Wilner’s blog, PAC 10 commissioner Larry Scott said today, “We’re looking at it very seriously. If we were ever going to look at expansion, this would be the logical time.”

    Utah and Colorado would be good fits for the PAC 10, giving the league exposure in 2 new, top 35 markets.

    Utah would make that jump for several reasons, the 2 biggest being it would get them into a BCS conference, and it would be a huge boost for recruiting.

    As for BYU, the Cougars could stay in the MWC, or accept an invitation to the Big 12 to fill Colorado’s spot, although the Big 12 also has some Sunday competition.

    If a team was to leave a conference, they would have to give a 1 year notice, so if a school was invited to join a new conference by June of 2010, it would play the 2010–2011 season in the old conference, then begin play in the new conference in the fall of 2011.

    And again, if this happened, there would be more dominoes to fall. Would Boise State join the MWC…would Utah State be asked to join??? Would the MWC fall apart without Utah and BYU? It’s all speculation, but once the dominos start falling, it could be very interesting.


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  48. HudiBlitz

    “If that disconnect isn’t obvious to you for some reason, let’s spell it out at a rudimentary level: California liberals have complete disdain for the LDS because of how much money that the church poured into the state to kill all of the gay rights propositions over the past few years.”

    Two quibbles with that:

    #1 – “Disconnect” is a verb, not noun. Yes, I know almost everyone uses it as such, but it’s still wrong.

    #2 – The Mormons didn’t so much pour money into California to kill a gay rights proposition as they did pour money into California to support an anti-gay rights proposition (Proposition 8). There’s an important distinction there.

    I also think Berkeley the school is far less liberal than most Americans believe. The public perception is based largely on 1960s stereotypes and on the actions of Berkeley residents who often aren’t affiliated with the university in any way. John Yoo is on the Boalt Hall faculty, for goodness’ sake.


  49. Nova_Tex

    As to Kirk Bohls, he is not exactly a great journalist. In that article he only talked to two “officials” only one of whom was “higher up.” We have no idea if those officials were just giving uninformed knee jerk reactions or if they had done their homework and thought it politically impossible. More importantly, we have no idea if the opinions of those “officials” means anything at all when it comes to decision making. Dont worry that one journalist in Austin thinks it wont work. There are much, much smarter people who will analyze the situation.


  50. Nova_Tex

    Frank –

    Been reading you since that December post. Love all the research you bring to the table. Excellent analysis.

    1. I’m pleased that you noticed Texas fans’ generally positive attitudes towards the Big 10. Yes, we are in fact thoughtful people when it comes to football, and we do appreciate (and dare I say enjoy) the traditions, rivalries and competition of the B10. SEC mouth-breathers we are not.

    2. In regards to travel expenses, people are ignoring a critical issue. The issue is not UT travel costs in the Big 10 versus UT travel costs now. The issue is travel costs in the Big 10 versus travel costs in whatever new conference Texas joins.

    If Texas is in the Pac 10, the travel costs are actually higher than travel in the Big 10. If Texas was in the SEC (which it would never do) costs would be comparable to (if slightly lower than) Big 10 travel.

    Travel expenses in whatever conference Texas ends up in will not exceed the revenue Texas left behind if it refused offers from the Pac10 or B10.

    3. People who discount the possibility of a dying Big 12 lack foresight. The TV contract is terrible and will not get better. The conference members openly distrust each other. Within the next 5 years either or both of CU and Mizzou (and possibly others) will leave, thus gutting the Big 12. Adding Utah,BYU, BSU, Houston or TCU does not make up for either of those schools. The Big 12 WILL implode. Even if Texas refuses to leave the B12 now, it will be forced into a new, even less favorable conference/tv contract sometime this decade.

    Final question for Frank or anyone else: If Texas really is in the drivers seat and is the gold standard for B10 expansion, could Texas negotiate for the Big 10 conference to offset travel costs for non-revenue teams? If the Big 10 picked up the tab for baseball, swimming, track-field, etc, travel then it could be the deal maker for UT.

    Personally, I feel that UT is a better athletic and cultural fit with the Pac10. True, the Pac was only half ready in 1990. But that was when UT was on a 10 year downturn in football, it had no basketball to speak of, and it was dragged down by the albatross that is Texas A&M. Those things are all completely reversed in 2010, not to mention we’ve been to the Rose Bowl three times in the last 6 years which establishes a lot of visibility. My main problem with thinking of the Pac 10 as a good fit is their TV deal and the time zone difference. If Texas joined the Pac10, I imagine that their contract negotiation in 2012 would be fairly decent.

    Having said that, you have to think about what matters most, and that’s money. BTNet plus CIC equals megabucks for Texas in every facet of the University. They could not lose. I would be ecstatic if UT joined the Big 10. Absolutely overjoyed.

    For rivalry sake Michigan, OSU and MSU would have to stay in the same division. PSU and UT would be in the other to have a good balance of power.

    Big 10 Great Lakes Division – UM MSU OSU Purdue NW Wisc
    Big 10 Plains Division – PSU Texas Minn Ill Ind Iowa
    Or, you could go political:
    Big 10 Red State – Texas, OSU, Iowa, Purdue, IND, Wisc
    Big 10 Blue State – Mich, MSU, Minny, Ill, PSU, NW

    If Texas plus Colorado joined the Pac 10, I’d arrange my divisions to preserve rivalries and an equal balance of power.
    Div 1: Tex, Col, ASU, ‘Zona, Stan, Cal
    Div 2: USC UCLA Ore OrSt WSU UW


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  52. Doug

    Now THAT’s thinking like a university president.

    Heck, just merge the 2 conferences sans Colorado for the Big 22. Iowa state, K-State, Texas Tech, OU and OSU aren’t idiot schools. Snooty Big 10 snobs think they’re all just growing corn and moving cattle around there. They all have research strengths in certain isolated areas. Adding 2 oil states wouldn’t hurt either.

    So, why not add ALL the TV sets between the rockies and the Mississippi?


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