Notre Dame to the Big Ten: Thy Will Be Done?

Big Ten expansion news continues to fire out at a rapid pace, which means that there isn’t any rest for me other than watching the latest episode of LOST and wondering if Bruce Weber was giving Demetri McCamey a lesson on the Bolshevik Revolution this past Sunday.  (OT rant – Joe Lunardi, why are you fucking with my head on the Illini?  What the hell do you see in us?  Does the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee secretly like teams with RPIs in the 70s that go down by double-digit deficits in the first half, mount furious comebacks within the last 10 minutes of the game, and then commit insane fouls like tackling opposing players to blow any chance of winning?  You’re telling me that I actually still need to care this week during the Big Ten Tournament and Selection Sunday?  Damn it all to hell. /OT rant)  Everytime that I think this story is going to slow down until the summer, something pops up that throws everyone for a loop.  The surprise this week is that the latest expansion tidbits are coming from the almighty University of Notre Dame itself.  Irish Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick basically said that Notre Dame’s hand could be effectively forced to give up independence in the event of a “seismic” shift in the college sports landscape.

Just as I wondered what purpose the Big Ten had in leaking its study of 5 different expansion candidates last week (including Notre Dame), I’m perplexed as to why Swarbrick started spouting his mouth about whether Notre Dame would end up joining a conference.  Up until today, there seemed to be a media consensus that Notre Dame was a “pipe dream” for the Big Ten (which I never really believed, but that was the perception), so it wasn’t as if though he was trying to bat down any specific rumors.  Maybe Notre Dame was just testing the waters with its own alumni base to see how they’d react?  (I already know the answer to this: it is vitriolic anger and they’d rather drop to football program entirely than dare join a conference.)  Perhaps the Irish were getting a little tired of hearing how great Rutgers would be in the Big Ten or that Texas would actually be way better for the Big Ten than the Domers ever could be?  Or could Swarbrick and Notre Dame’s administration be seeing the proverbial writing on the wall where conference membership will become a necessity in terms of having a financially viable athletic department and they’re preparing their alums for an unpopular decision down the road?

I really don’t think that Swarbrick is really saying anything that contradicts with what he’s stated before.  As I noted in point #2 in this post, he’s a shrewd attorney skilled at wordsmithing and there isn’t a single comment that he’s uttered over the past several months that would be considered to be a lie if Notre Dame joined the Big Ten tomorrow.  What’s a little more unusual in Swarbrick’s latest comments is that he stepped out with an affirmative acknowledgement that Notre Dame could indeed consider conference membership under the right circumstances.  Of course, everyone wants to know what those circumstances would be.

I’m not going to presume anything about Notre Dame.  As much as the Irish are criticized as being selfish, they have actually been willing to leave money on the table in order to preserve certain traditions.  Notre Dame doesn’t play games in South Bend in prime time even though NBC would love to see that happen, there isn’t any advertising in Notre Dame Stadium and its NBC contract is worth a lot less today than the Big Ten’s TV deals.  In contrast, Texas became the #1 revenue generating sports school in the country because it squeezes every penny out of its athletic department.  The Longhorns have every home football game sponsored by a major corporation (i.e. “Texas vs. Louisiana-Monroe is presented by JetBlue Airlines”) along with an electronic scoreboard that would make Jerry Jones proud.  It’s difficult for me to see Texas leaving any money on the table, which is why I’ve scoffed at the notion that an extra $10 million or more doesn’t mean anything to that school.  That’s not a criticism at all.  They’re just acting rationally in their economic self-interest in the same manner that almost every other school in the country would.

So, I fully acknowledge that Notre Dame is different from everyone else.  If you’ve been fortunate enough to attend a game in South Bend as I have (courtesy of Sully), it’s one of the most amazing settings that you’ll ever come across in sports.  The school’s self-image is intertwined with independence going back to the days when there was a horrible anti-Catholic sentiment across much of the country in the early 1900s, including within the Big Ten (who wouldn’t allow Notre Dame to join on those religious grounds).  Notre Dame became the team for Catholics across the country even if they didn’t have any direct connection to the school itself (AKA the Subway Alumni), which provided it a unique national fan base that has reinforced its independent nature.  That being said, it has been easy for Notre Dame to claim an adherence to independence over the past few decades when it was in its financial interests to do so.  When Notre Dame rejected an invitation from the Big Ten back in the 1990s, the Irish were making about twice as much TV money as every Big Ten school.  As of today, though, the positions are reversed.  I noted in the Big Ten Expansion Index post that Notre Dame is now #3 in TV money… in its own home state behind Purdue and Indiana.  Independence isn’t quite the no-brainer choice for Notre Dame that it used to be from the financial side of the ledger.

Here’s the other thing to consider and which I’ve alluded to before: whether the school wants to admit it or not, Notre Dame has the freedom to be independent only as long as it believes that it can join the Big Ten whenever it wants.  The Irish can proceed with independence with very little risk if the worst case scenario is having to join the Big Ten, which is the best case scenario from a financial standpoint for virtually every other school in the country.  When talk about Big Ten expansion centered on Rutgers and Missouri, that certainly didn’t give Notre Dame any pause at all.  Even if the Big Ten added Rutgers or Mizzou as school #12, Notre Dame could be confident that they could be added in a larger Big Ten if the Irish ever needed to join a conference 20 or 30 years down the road.  When Texas and Texas A&M entered the discussion, though, then that completely changed the story.  If the Big Ten added the Texas schools plus one other random school (i.e. Rutgers, Missouri, Alaska-Anchorage, Toronto, Little Sisters of the Poor, etc.) for a 14-school conference, that’s a scenario where Big Ten membership could very well be closed off to Notre Dame forever.  The Big Ten legitimately doesn’t need or even want Notre Dame if it adds a school like Texas.  That turns Notre Dame’s current worst case scenario from joining the Big Ten, with all of its academic and financial advantages, into having to join the Big East in all likelihood, whose ENTIRE football TV contract last year was worth $13 million to be split amongst 8 schools (compared to $22 million for every single Big Ten school).  Thus, Notre Dame faces a real risk of being completely screwed in the long-term if it passes up an invitation to the Big Ten in this round of conference realignment, which is something that it hasn’t faced before.

This leads to the key question: what change on the college sports landscape would be “seismic” enough to get Notre Dame to join a conference?  Swarbrick mentioned the notion of 16-school superconferences, although I have a hard time believing that those will come to fruition in the near future.  However, I would certainly consider the Big Ten adding Texas and Texas A&M to be a massive seismic shift in college sports.  Could Notre Dame seriously let someone else take the 14th spot in the Big Ten if that were to happen?  That would certainly satisfy the Irish need for a national schedule.  If the Big Ten couldn’t get the Texas schools, would simply adding 2 Big East schools be enough?  The scenario that I described as “JoePa’s Dream Conference” where the Big Ten would add Notre Dame, Rutgers and Syracuse could also represent a seismic shift.  That would effectively kill off the Big East while creating a massive East Coast presence for the Big Ten.  As much as Notre Dame might claim to not care about basketball and its non-revenue sports, I think that it still cares that those athletes are participating in a BCS power conference.  I have a feeling that the Atlantic-10 or even a league made up only of the Catholic members of the Big East wouldn’t suffice for Notre Dame if the Big East split apart.  Regardless, Notre Dame’s administration is starting to realize that it might not be an island that is immune to the greater market forces around them.  The alumni can continue to take a hardline stance regarding independence based on tradition and emotion, but Notre Dame’s leadership is going to be facing some extremely tough choices in the new economic paradigm in college sports.

Remember what I said at the end of my post on the Big Ten study that was leaked: “If the Big Ten doesn’t add Notre Dame, then it’s going to go after a school that’s even better (not secondary choices that are lower in terms of impact).  Call me naive, crazy or one-track minded, but money has a way of making ‘pipe dreams’ on paper  in sports fan terms become much more realistic.”  Jack Swarbrick just confirmed that at least one “pipe dream” might not be that far from becoming a reality.

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111)

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599 thoughts on “Notre Dame to the Big Ten: Thy Will Be Done?

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

    1. Justin

      IMO, I think the alpha males of UM, OSU and PSU may be reluctant to add both Texas and ND to the conference. You’d be talking about 5 of the top 10 powers of all time. At some point, having that many powers in one conference could be reason for pause.

      More importantly, Swarbrick basically confirmed that if the Big 10 ravaged the Big East, the Irish would get out while they can. I think the Big 10 adds the five schools mentioned in the expansion study by the Tribune — ND, Cuse, Rutgers, Pitt and Missouri.

      You would literally control the TV markets from NYC to St. Louis.

      I think adding Texas and ND is asking for trouble.


      1. Captainobviously

        That has nothing what so ever to do with the real world… These people aren’t forming a local bowling league… These are contractual relationships with clearly defined allowable behavior. Ego is irrelevent… This is a very different dynamic than you and your friends getting together Saturday afternoon to shoot the shit.


  2. M

    Not to be the crazy commentator, but Swarbrick’s statement today is exactly the response he would have if someone from the Big Ten told him that Texas and A&M were in and they wanted ND as the 14th.

    On the other hand, I do not think the Big Ten should start inviting schools from the Big East on the off chance that the conference destabilizes ND’s position to the point it might join. That is just too speculative.


    1. R

      You have concisely evaluated NDs reaction. The only ‘game changing/seismic shift’ would probably be Texas/A&M to the Big Ten. I don’t feel that any of the eastern four(BC, Conn., Rutgers, Syracuse) would cause ND to re-evaluate their position.


  3. greg

    Is there a way to subscribe to a thread without posting?

    This certainly is a surprising announcement by ND. Strange things are afoot.


  4. Pingback: Notre Dame watching expansion plans - Page 5

  5. Jake

    Alright, some Notre Dame news. Does this mean we can stop talking about Rutgers?

    This news reminds of that episode of The Sopranos where Tony gets out of the hospital after being shot and picks a fight with his massive bodyguard, just to remind everyone that he’s still the top dog. Maybe Notre Dame was just tired of being ignored in this conversation, or maybe they really do want in the Big Ten.

    So, what would the Big East do if they only lost Notre Dame? Just add another non-football member? They may add another football school anyway, as Frank suggested, but if they invited, say, TCU, would they still want another basketball school (note: TCU men’s basketball is a veritable Superfund site. Thank goodness we have baseball to get us through the long football off-season) to bolster that side of the conference?


    1. Seth9

      Notre Dame wants nothing to happen. I’m willing to bet that if expansion appears immanent, they’ll start dropping hints to the media that they’d be willing to consider joining the Big Ten in an attempt to bog down the process. Any move on the part of the Big Ten potentially cuts off Notre Dame’s ability to join the Big Ten and thus damages their room to maneuver and remain an independent (although they could always see if the Pac 10 would let them join…).


      1. Richard

        Which is why I think the Big10 will move ahead and call ND’s bluff. The Big10 loses nothing by talking with other candidates, and the other schools don’t gain anything by waiting to see if ND decides to join or not.


      2. R

        You are right, ND wants nothing to change. I think if Texas/A&M agree to join the big ten, then NDs hand is called. If they say no, then the big ten will have a huge choice to make. Add one of Rutgers/Missouri/Nebraska, leaving open the option of adding two more later, or add three of BC/Cuse/Conn/Rutgers/Missouri/Nebraska. Or, and I feel this might actually happen; go with 13 members for a year or two! It would give the big ten and ND time to fully digest the ramifications. Obviously this all is dependent on Texas/A&M. Without them, I doubt ND moves.


  6. Tom

    A move to the Big Ten could be flat out disastrous for the Irish, and I think it would be a bad move for the Big Ten also.

    Since ND is a so called “national” team, they are able to compensate for the lack of homegrown talent in Indiana, a state they have to share with two other BCS programs, by playing a national schedule and thus in theory playing everywhere. I think this year they played 5 west coast schools and 4 east coast schools, in addition to the traditional Big Ten schools. They showcased their program in just about every part of the country except the southeast, (although they did manage to get down and dirty in Texas.)

    If you put them in the B10, this limits their ability to schedule “nationally” unless they want to play a B10 schedule and load up the non conference schedule, thereby scheduling themselves out of the BCS. Therefore, the Irish schedule will start to look alot more like Michigan’s or Ohio State’s, (one marquee non-con game, and a bunch of patsies.)

    This is the problem for a Notre Dame playing in the B10. Where are you going to recruit now that you are playing strictly a midwestern schedule? (Save for USC and Navy, I assume that Pitt would be dumped in order for the Irish to get their two home cupcakes.) Are you going to out-recruit OSU in Ohio? No. Are you going to out-recruit PSU in Pennsylvania? No. Are you going to out-recruit Michigan in Michigan? No. That leaves Chicagoland, but ND will no longer be able to dominate this area like they once did seeing that Wisconsin, Iowa, and NW have all emerged as legit programs. 20 years ago, ND could have popped into Ohio, Michigan, or PA and gotten whoever they wanted, but that is no longer the case.

    I think that B10 titles will be very few and far between if the Irish in fact decide to join. In reality, the Big 10 is probably getting another tier two B10 program, similar to Iowa and Wisconsin, and not a tier one B10 program, Michigan (assuming it gets back on top,) OSU, and PSU.

    I think the B10 needs to weigh this decision carefully. Taking ND probably keeps the status quo of the Big East and Big 12. I don’t see Colorado moving to the Pac 10 unless the Big 12 crumbles first. Why would they? Less money and less exposure? The Big 10 smells blood in the water in the form of the Big East and Big 12. Does the league really want to leave those options on the table and perhaps let the Pac 10 pick up UT and the ACC pick up the usual suspects from the Big East?

    The only way I see ND being a plus, is if the Irish are part of a three team scenario either with the Texas two step scenario or the Joe Pa’s Dream conference scenario. ND as a 12th school probably makes the conference weaker.


    1. Brian

      “This is the problem for a Notre Dame playing in the B10. Where are you going to recruit now that you are playing strictly a midwestern schedule?”

      Answer: You do the same thing the other teams in the B10 do today, you recruit nationally. Claiming Notre Dame wouldn’t be able to recruit nationally as a member of the B10 is absurd.


    2. yahwrite

      If the right combination of a 16 team superconference emerges ND can keep a national schedule. Rutgers, Texas, Texas A&M (to get Texas), Notre Dame and one of Pitt, Syracuse, Missouri, Nebraska brings the Big Ten to 16. I prefer Nebraska. ND could play Rutgers in conference for games in the NY area, keep the USC rivalry for games in LA, and have some conference games in Texas. They keep Navy as a nonconference rival and then would have to rotate the third noncoference game (9 conference games in a 16 team conference) between BC, Pac Ten and other teams. They would likely have some bowl games in Florida as well.

      I didn’t like the idea at first, but the more I think about it, the more I convince myself their going to 16, and I’m starting to like it.


      1. Adam

        I don’t see how 16 is sustainable. There are only so many football games to go around. Even if you go to a 9-game league schedule, you miss 45% of the league’s membership *every year*!

        I agree with Frank that TV and money and business interests matter in all of this, but you can’t just throw spaghetti at a wall indefinitely. Hell, why not an 18-team league? 20? 40? There comes a point when I just don’t think you can come up with a competition format that works.


      2. Brice

        16 seems unwieldy, but I think the best way to think of it is as 2 leagues of 8 that play each other more often and have a championship game. From that perspective, it actually works out nicely.

        In addition to that, I once saw someone mention (on this site, I think) that having 4 16-team conferences would be the best way to a playoff. You just take the 4 winners, they play in a semifinal round, and then the two winners play in the championship. Voila, instant playoff.


      3. Playoffs Now!

        Because if the B10+ goes to 16 teams, the ACC and at least 1 more will also, as a matter of survival. If one of the big BCS conferences goes 16, we’ll relatively quickly end up with at least 3 of the 4 or 5 remaining BCS conferences at 16. At that point they have the numbers to push for a 13-game season. Many schools are now saying that conf games are more profitable and thus preferable to OOC games, so you could see a 10 or 11 game conf schedule for some.


      4. Playoffs Now!

        I’m not sure we’ll see the conferences shaft the BCS bowls for a 4-team, 2-bowl and +1 game playoff. More likely they’ll have 4 to 6 BCS bowls continue to be fed by an 8-12 team BCS ranking system, and add a +1 champ game taking the 2 highest ranked winners of the BCS bowls. The expectation being that most years the super conferences’ strength of schedules would propel 2 of their conf champions into the top 2 spots post-bowls. You’d have to leave a pathway for a non-BCS team to theoretically play their way into the title game, so as to keep Congress and the state AG’s off your back.


        1. I’ve written about this before. Personally, I’m all for an 8-team college football playoff. Realistically, the compromise for the near future would likely be the BCS adding a 5th bowl (probably the Cotton Bowl) and go to an unseeded plus-one system. Similar to what Playoffs Now! has said, the top 2 teams after the bowls are played would then play in the national championship game. The Big Ten and Pac-10 aren’t giving up the Rose Bowl and if the Big Ten expands with schools like Texas and/or Notre Dame, that’s going to give that conference even more leverage in terms of getting what it wants out of the BCS system. Here’s what I wrote about the unseeded plus-one option:


          1. duffman

            not to go to far off topic… but can we get a big 10 preview for the NCAA.. if one is already there i can’t find it with all the posts on expansion..

            on football.. at least a 4 team, but 8 would be better..


          2. Jake

            I know you’re not a fan of Joe Barton, but I think he has actually proposed the simplest solution to all of this: just stop calling it a national championship. You can do all of the tinkering with the formula you like, but under the current system there’s no way to guarantee that the two teams selected for the game are really the two best in the nation. Sure, you get the occasional no-brainer year with two and only two undefeateds, but most of the time you’ll have one undefeated from the BCS conferences (or none) and then a pack of 1-loss teams that all have a pretty equal claim to being #2. Or three undefeated teams, as we saw in 2004. Either way, this is no kind of system for naming a champion.

            An eight-team playoff would solve that (someone will argue that #9 deserved a shot at the title, but they won’t get much sympathy), but that isn’t likely to happen.

            The more plausible +1 system would eliminate most of the controversy, but you could still have a team like Boise go undefeated, win a BCS bowl, and end up ranked 3rd. Anyone with that record deserves a shot if the title is going to be legitimate.

            So, barring the adoption of a new playoff system (and what we have now is indeed a very limited playoff) that has some legitimacy, simply stop calling it a national championship. Call it the BCS Championship, or the Bowl Championship, but not national. The BCS wants to market a National Championship, but the NFL and MLB get by with a “Super Bowl Champion” and a “World Series Champion.” I know most sports fans aren’t big on government involvement, but while the postseason may belong to the schools and the conferences, it’s our nation, and America should have some say in who gets to call itself our champion.


          3. M

            The issue with an 8 team playoff is that the #9 wouldn’t argue that they could win, they would simply argue that they “deserved a shot” more than #8. Just look at the basketball tournament. No one is arguing that teams 66-96 have a chance at winning the title, but in a few years the tournament will expand again.

            In reality, there has only been a split national championship once in the past 10 years. I would say the current system is doing well.


          4. Michael

            Compared to the legitimate complaints from fans of ’04 Auburn, ’04 Utah, ’06 Boise, ’08 Utah, and ’09 Boise, the outcry from a #9 team would fall on deaf ears.

            The complaints from the “last four out” in basketball last all of four days, then the tournament starts and everyone forgets about it. It would be the same way with a #9 team. People might be sympathetic for a little while, but when the games begin, nobody would care anymore. Right now, people are still having an outcry for postseason reform because of a Utah team from two seasons ago and an Auburn team from six seasons ago.

            That’s the difference.

            Oh, and if the current system was doing well, i.e., being fair, then Utah and Auburn would at least have been part of a split national title.


          5. duffman

            yeah utah and auburn got hosed.. and maybe it is just me.. but if auburn had beaten USC i would be OK with that.. or if the championship with auburn and OK was what we saw.. yeah, i am fine with a little less “USC is the second coming” blather we have been subjected to..

            wether you favor texas or not, that NC game shut up the USC folks..


          6. allthatyoucantleavebehind

            Their might have only been one split NC in ten years…but there’s been plenty of controversy. As a PSU fan, I bemoaned us not getting a shot at the NC with a 11-1 record in 2008 (as did USC fans, Utah, Texas, Texas Tech, Alabama, Boise St.). Florida might have been the “undisputed” NC that year, but in reality, there was more to dispute than met the eye. The bowl results cleared up some of the controversy (PSU wasn’t as good as USC, ‘bama wasn’t worthy) but the truth is there is still controversy.

            I’d rather rip off team #9 (and we’re not really ripping them off at all) than teams #3-#8.


          7. derek

            You talk about eliminating the “National” from the championship game title…but then you say baseball gets by with “World Series”…which is worse national or world?
            That’s just the way American sports are. No matter if the title of the game is national championship or world series, they all mean the same thing. I don’t see how changing the name to a game that’s obviously created to try and find the best team (and make a butt ton of cash) would matter.


          8. Jake

            Derek –
            If the UN wants to pass a resolution forbidding the Yankees from calling themselves World Champions, I’d be okay with that. World Series Champions doesn’t mean quite the same thing.

            Ideally, I’d get rid of the BCS championship game altogether – I feel it lessens all of the other bowls. I’d like to see a playoff, but if we’re going to stick with a bowl system, let’s have a bowl system.


          9. Jeremy

            the only problem to your format if the number 1 and 2 teams are from pac 10 and big 10 then you will cancel the plus 1 game almost a month in advance. Im not sure if thats a bad thing, but if i were a planner id be pissed if i prepare prework and than it goes all down the drain becuase the rose bowl is the nationalchampionchip.


          10. Richard

            It would be the same thing as if OSU-Michiagn were 1-2 or the SEC finalists were 1-2; the Rose Bowl would just become a semifinal game.


      5. Adam

        Brice: this presumes that the conference champion is the best team in each league. As we all know, this is a major fallacy; it ignores between 25-33% of a team’s games. It will take a lot more than realignment to make a playoff; the bowl system has its own, separate set of entrenched interests being served by the status quo.

        And if you “think of it as 2 leagues of 8 that play each other more often and have a championship game,” you no longer have 1 league, you have 2 leagues. That creates much more distance between the groups of teams than I am at all comfortable with. This is one alum that would rather leave money on the table than lose a close institutional relationship between my school and the other fellow members of the Big Ten.

        Although probably a poor analogy, I compare it to the high school league in my area. 20 years ago, the league expanded from 8 to 16 (2 Divisions), and due to population shifts, expanded again from 16 to 24 (3 Divisions) to round up enough smaller, less competitive schools to form a separate Division for them. Now, nobody is happy: there’s a large, unwieldy league structure; since it’s one league, decisions get made “at the top” on a vote of all 24 schools, even though many issues affect either the 17 larger schools or the 7 smaller ones; a complicated yet meaningless series of “crossovers” try and fail to maintain internal league cohesion; and schools are encouraged to schedule league members from the other division as non-conference opponents.

        You get too big, too loose of a connection between member institutions, and it seems like that’s a risk. I mean, in theory, you could look at all of Division I-FBS as a “league” within the NCAA; you could even restrict that further and look at just the BCS conference schools as a “league” within that “league.” But there is very little esprit de corps between those subsets of schools; it takes closer, tighter bonds than that to create something meaningful. I don’t want the Big Ten to turn into the ECAC.


      6. Brice

        Adam: I’m not saying I think that it’s the best option, just an interesting one. However, I think the real fallacy is presuming that the team that wins the playoff (or NCAA Tournament in basketball) is the “best” team. They’re just the team that happened to play the best in each tournament/playoff game they were in. The real goal shouldn’t be to determine the best team, it should be to give everyone a shot at winning. In your example, the team that was the best team in their league but didn’t win the conference championship had their shot… they either didn’t perform as well as the eventual conference winner in their division, or lost to them in the conference championship game. What’s really not fair is the current Big 10 system where two teams can go undefeated because they don’t play each other.

        I do agree that there is a loss of the bonds between schools once you split them up into divisions, and the split gets bigger the less often they play each other. It’s definitely not ideal, but you will have strong bonds with 7 other schools still, and who’s to say that what comes out of that isn’t better than what existed before?

        But you’re right, that is actually my biggest concern about adding Texas. I’m worried that the cultural and geographic distances will just be too great for them to really feel like they’re as much a part of the new Big 10 as the current members do. Now, does that outweigh the financial and academic benefits that come out of adding them? As Frank tells us, “Think like a university president.” so I suspect the answer is “Probably not.”


      7. Adam

        I agree with you, Brice, that the winner of a tournament is not necessarily the best team. But all conference championships are only based on the outcome of conference games; non-conference games are only a tie-breaker, and rarely even a 1st tiebreaker. By having the playoff participants determined by winning your conference title, you’ve essentially written off any value to 25-33% of the season.


      8. Brice

        That’s a good point, Adam. The non-conference games really do become less important to the determining of the eventual champion. It’s conceivable that overall record would play into tiebreakers, but even if it doesn’t, could that be a good thing? Maybe if schools didn’t feel like 1 loss would endanger their season, they would be willing to play more difficult opponents, both to 1) Get their team experience against better competition and 2) Get more money and fan interest. I don’t know if that possible advantage overcomes the loss of importance those games would suffer, though.


      9. Adam

        At that point, non-conference games are little more than exhibition contests. Currently, your eligibility for the national championship is not directly tied to your league race; if you go 7-1 in league play, but 11-1 overall, you’re almost certainly better (or perceived as better) than a team that went 8-0 in league play but was 9-3 overall, and have a better chance at getting to the national championship game. The basis of consideration is “national,” not focusing on internal league races. Non-conference games matter a lot.

        In basketball, the pressure to go undefeated or with only 1-2 losses isn’t as great, but non-conference games still matter a great deal, because they allow you to get better seeding or make a case for an at-large spot. Non-conference games are reasonably important.

        In a regime where 4 conferences send their conference champion to a 4-team playoff, you’d have to go through your league to get to the playoff, which means that your playoff eligibility is determined solely on the basis of 8 (or 9, or 10) of your 12 (or 13) games. In a 4-team playoff, moreover, the importance of seeding is greatly diminished. Non-conference games become exhibitions. I can’t see where they’d be much different than pre-season NFL games: play your starters enough to keep them sharp and then sit them down to avoid getting injured for the games that matter.


      10. greg

        The non-conference games basically are exhibitions now, as it affects the national title. Texas and Florida both schedule TERRIBLE non-conf schedules. They know they need to go 4-0 in the non-conf, and that their conference schedule will be enough SOS for the voters.


      11. Adam

        Note, moreover, that I think that’s based largely on the difference in value between conference and non-conference games. If, on the other hand, you had a playoff format in which *everybody* (or *almost everybody*) qualified, the difference in value between league and non-leagues would be comparable to now (i.e., very low difference in value, at least for teams who expect to contend for the national title).


      12. Adam

        Greg: at least formally, the game counts, and the team has to play like it wants to win lest it face a Michigan vs. Appalachian State situation. The results of those games are not as effectively random as NFL pre-season games are.


      13. Playoffs Now!

        “The non-conference games basically are exhibitions now, as it affects the national title. Texas and Florida both schedule TERRIBLE non-conf schedules.”

        I’m sorry to pick on you, but I’m really tired of this falsehood regarding Texas becoming a football urban myth.

        With Florida you are correct, they haven’t left the region (or even the state?) for OOC since losing at Syracuse 2 decades ago. They have one of the most gutless non-conf sched and 7 or 8 home games year in and year out, relying on ESPN and the SEC Free Pass to reach the beauty contest title games.

        However, rarely mention is that Texas had Arkansas and Utah on the 2009 schedule until both teams backed out. Ya know, the previously undefeated Utah that destroyed an Alabama team that faux #1 Florida struggled with the game before, and did it on the SEC’s home turf. The Utah that had the most legitimate claim to #1 in 2008. And the Arkansas that forced the refs to bail out FL in Gainesville this season, including a phantom call the league eventually apologized for.

        Texas does try to schedule at least one good OOC opponent each year, usually home and home. Under Mack Brown they have traveled to UCLA (might ask OU how easy a win is out there…) N. Carolina, Ohio State, Arkansas, hosted TCU, etc. Michigan is on the upcoming schedule, and should be back to full strength by then. Had Utah and Arkansas not chosen to back out, UT’s SOS would have probably boosted them to #1 most of the season (though Utah might have also beaten us!)


      14. Brice

        Adam: You’re right, I’d hate to see anything that would render the non-conference schedule meaningless. I’m sure there are ways to improve, but you probably would need additional “at-large” teams selected by rankings or committee so that the non-conference games had some purpose.


      15. m (Ag)

        -I think you need to go to pods if you go to a 16 team conference in order to keep all the teams feeling they are part of the same conference, instead of 2 loosely affiliated leagues.

        I posted a long example of how it would work for a 16 team league at the end of the last thread, but the point is simple. If you have a 9 game conference schedule and use pods, you will see every team in your conference visit once in a 4 year period, and you will travel to every team in your conference once in a 4 year period. You will also get 3 annual opponents.

        In other words, there will be no team in your conference you play less often than Texas plays Nebraska now.

        -I’m not a big fan of playoff formats, but any format that leaves most of the bowls in play will keep non conference games important, as they will affect which team is invited.

        -I also think its silly for people to blame Florida for not scheduling a 2nd top tier non-conference opponent when they play Florida State every year. Yes, they’ve been down awhile, but it’s not permanent.


      16. Adam

        In response to m (Ag), I just don’t think that the pod system works. There are enough rivalries that teams want to play *every year*, not “no less often than once every 4 years,” and I question the ability of any set of pods to manage that reasonably. For one thing, almost everybody is prepared to write off rivalries they aren’t a part of (I daresay people who didn’t go to Michigan State don’t think their rivalry with Michigan is all that important, for example). In conversations with my friends, they’re always quick to write off the rivalries between Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, in large part because they aren’t from out there and didn’t attend those schools (usually something along the lines of “they need to get on board with what’s for the greater good of the whole conference”).

        Long and short is, I don’t want to be in a league that’s so big you have to come up with a complicated rotating pod system and 75% of the league is only coming to town once ever 4 years. That’s a sign that you need to stop trying to engineer a better solution and instead simply stop expanding.


      17. Richard

        Adam, here are the current Big10 “must-have” rivalries (IMHO):

        Maybe PSU-OSU

        Who am I missing?

        If these are the only “must have” rivalries, it’s still possible to develop pods around them. Granted, if ND joins, they may have to give up annual games against Purdue or MSU&Michigan to make pods work (but then again, they’re not playing MSU and Michigan annually recently anyway), and PSU may have to sacrifice it’s annual game with OSU (but it would gain several permanent Eastern rivalry games).


      18. Michael

        One thing that’s conveniently left out when UT people criticize Utah’s backing out of the game is that Texas refused to play a return game at Salt Lake. In Utah’s eyes, that was a raw deal, so they said, “Thanks but no thanks.”

        Don’t make Utah look like cowards in their scheduling when Texas wasn’t willing to play on the road.


      19. greg

        Here are the trophy games from wikipedia:

        # Illinois-Northwestern (Sweet Sioux Tomahawk/Land of Lincoln Trophy)
        # Indiana-Purdue (Old Oaken Bucket)
        # Indiana-Michigan State (Old Brass Spittoon)
        # Iowa-Minnesota (Floyd of Rosedale)
        # Iowa-Wisconsin (Heartland Trophy)
        # Minnesota-Wisconsin (Slab of Bacon/Paul Bunyan’s Axe)
        # Michigan-Michigan State (Paul Bunyan Trophy)
        # Michigan-Minnesota (Little Brown Jug)
        # Illinois-Ohio State (Illibuck)
        # Illinois-Purdue (Purdue Cannon)
        # Minnesota-Penn State (Governor’s Victory Bell)
        # Michigan State-Penn State (Land Grant Trophy)
        # Ohio State-Penn State (No Trophy)
        # Michigan-Ohio State (No Trophy, but Ohio State football players receive a gold pants charm if they win the game)

        And here are the currently protected rivalries:

        * Illinois: Indiana, Northwestern
        * Indiana: Illinois, Purdue
        * Iowa: Minnesota, Wisconsin
        * Michigan: Michigan State, Ohio State
        * Michigan State: Michigan, Penn State
        * Minnesota: Iowa, Wisconsin
        * Northwestern: Illinois, Purdue
        * Ohio State: Michigan, Penn State
        * Penn State: Michigan State, Ohio State
        * Purdue: Indiana, Northwestern
        * Wisconsin: Iowa, Minnesota


      20. Adam

        Richard, it seems to me ND has much less reason to join unless the structure can guarantee that ND keeps its rivalries with MSU, UM and PUR. Yes, those teams have occasionally fallen off of ND’s schedule, but that facilitated ND’s precious “national schedule.” If they lose their Big Ten rivals AND their “national schedule,” that seems like you’re losing reasons to join the Big Ten (other than dollars).

        Additionally, I think it’s arguable that PSU-UM is a “must have” rivalry, at least after any expansion goes through. I can recall Paterno calling for expansion and divisional play several years ago because he said he didn’t want Michigan coming off the schedule. Yes, PSU lives without Michigan on their schedule now, but it was my expectation that PSU wanted expansion in order to make Michigan an annual part of their life. Especially if the 12th school isn’t Rutgers/Syracuse/Pitt, seems like PSU could stand in the way (or at least oppose) expansion if they’re not placed in a group with Michigan as well.

        Similarly, if I’m Michigan, I can live without the Little Brown Jug being an annual occurrence because there’s only so many rivalries that the current alignment can protect, but I would be arguing to someone that, if expansion does occur, I want it to occur in a fashion that facilitates the most famous trophy game in college sports.


      21. Adam

        One other thing: while people are quick to write off ND’s “soft” concerns (“national schedule” et al.) as being kind of mushy-headed, why is it so foolish if it translates into real dollars-and-cents results? When people talk about what they like about college football, they talk about the pageantry and rivalries (not to mention goofiness) of it. While I’m not trying to create an escape hatch to get away from anything I disagree with, I do think it’s worth asking : will an *overly rational* (by which I mean maximizing economic self-interest) process/decision kill the goose that’s laying the golden eggs?

        I don’t want the college presidents thinking like NFL owners. I like college precisely because I can believe that a guy like Barry Alvarez isn’t sitting with some consultant at McKinsey & Co (or whatever) working out precisely which expansion option maximizes profit. I like college precisely because it gives me a warm feeling in my heart that a man like Gordon Gee can show up to work every day wearing a bow tie like he’s John Paul Stevens. I like college precisely because there is an *earnestness* to it (or at least aspects of it) from administrators down to athletes that just isn’t there in the NFL. When they start solely pursuing business interests and don’t provide a meaningful veneer of corny idealism, what makes college sports interest for me disappears.


      22. m (Ag)

        In the Big 12 and ACC right now, they play 5 teams from their conference annually. The rest they play twice every 4 years.

        With the system I talked about, you play 3 teams from the conference annually, and the rest twice every 4 years.

        Calling it complicated is silly. You play in one division for 2 years. Then you play in a slightly different division for 2 years. After that, you’re back where you started. After 8 years, noone would find it odd at all.

        I’d expect the Pac 10 to use permanent divisions if they went to 16, because they would actually want it to feel like 2 leagues (the Pac 8 + 8 interior schools), but the Big 10 can keep everyone feeling part of the same conference while still maintaining most of the important rivalries by simply switching divisions every 2 years.


      23. Adam

        Perhaps to put it another way: there’s an amateur character to college sports that appeals to me, and I think it’s why people like college sports generally (players are just “playing to win” or “playing for their school” and so forth). Well, part of that amateur character, for me at least, means you form a league with the other schools in your geographic section of the country, and make do as best you can with the media markets that are available without unnaturally extending yourself. The vision of college athletics I enjoy is one where Joe Paterno can call for expansion in order to keep Michigan on his schedule, and for *only that reason*, not as some kind of a front for a secret desire to have the money well gush a bit harder.


      24. m (Ag)

        One other thing on pods.

        By changing divisions every 2 years, your conference title game becomes another rivalry game. Thus it feels more like the final regular season game and less like a playoff game. With this format, there is only a 25% chance the 2 teams in the title game played that year, but there is a 100% chance they played twice in the previous 4 years. (In fact, if they met in a previous championship game, they could have met more than twice in the previous 4 years).

        Take this scenario: Wisconsin and Ohio State are in the same division for 2 years and both are good. The first year, they’re each undefeated going into their nationally televised mid-season meeting at Ohio State. Ohio State wins the game and goes on to win the division; Wisconsin goes on to finish 3rd in the division.

        The second year, they’re again both undefeated for their meeting. With ABC hyping it to the max, Wisconsin wins at home. Wisconsin goes on to win the division and Ohio State is second.

        Now in the 3rd year, they’re in separate divisions and don’t play in the regular season. However, they both win their divisions and now meet in the conference title game at a neutral site. The buzz for that game would be higher than it would be if those teams had only played twice in the previous 8 years (as they would with permanent divisions).

        This sort of thing will happen fairly often with pods. Since your division winners will usually be teams that have played well in recent years, the title games will be rematches of games that received lots of national attention when they were played in previous years.

        With permanent divisions, there will be a fair chance that the 2 teams haven’t played at all in the last 4 years. There will certainly be excitement over any title game, but more history between the 2 teams will bring even more excitement. This is especially true when the teams aren’t BCS title game contenders.


      25. Hopkins Horn

        As a Texas fan, I want to correct what Playoffs Now stated above. Though it is true that Arkansas canceled a home game against Texas in 2009 in order to schedule a ten-year series with Texas A&M at Jerry World, Utah was never on the Horns’ schedule for 2009. Instead, Utah canceled a two-and-one with Texas, which would have run from 2006-08, before it began, ostensibly because of scheduling conflicts when the MWC added a ninth team (TCU) and an extra conference game.

        Utah’s canceling the game almost certainly cost the winner of the game that was never played a chance at playing for the BCS championship, everything else being equal. A Texas victory over an otherwise-undefeated Utah would have given the Horns the SOS boost to pass OU for the Big XII South title, and a Utes victory in Austin over the Horns might have been what they needed to play in Miami instead of a one-loss Florida.


    3. James

      No one is going to the ACC if there is an offer from the Big Ten. In fact it’s not that strange to think a team like Maryland or VT would leave the ACC for the midwest.

      The Big Ten isn’t really in a situation where they have to act fast or else, and that’s because they can offer money way beyond what any other collection of schools currently can.


    4. GrBoiler

      For all the talk about a national schedule, in 2009, ND played 8 games in the state of Indiana, 1 game in Michigan, and 1 game in Pennsylvania. That is 10 games within the current Big Ten outline. [The remaining two games, one was in Texas and one in California.] Heck, Indiana University only played 6 games in Indiana. IU played each of their remaining 6 games in 6 different states. It could be argued that IU played a more “national schedule” than ND.


      1. @GrBoiler – Exactly. I completely understand the emotional and traditional reasons why Notre Dame wants to remain independent based on how the school was a representation of Catholic pride in the early-20th century. However, the national schedule argument is now bunk. When ND was playing Miami, Florida State, Nebraska, Penn State and UCLA on a regular basis on top of USC and Michigan, THAT was a real national schedule. Under the 7 home games/4 road games/1 “guarantee game dressed up as a national neutral site game” scheduling formula that ND now uses, though, it’s not a national schedule any more. They’re playing just as many games within the Big Ten’s footprint as any Big Ten school.


      2. Richard

        Good point. In 2010, they’ll have 8 games in Big10 territory, 1 in Boston, 1 in Cali, and 2 in NYC. In 2011, they’ll have 1 game in Cali and one game in DC. In 2012, they’ll have a game in Ireland, a game in NO, a game in OK, and a game in Cali. In 2014, they have a game in Boston, and a game in Cali.

        If the Big10 adds a few East Coast teams or the Texas schools, The only region ND wouldn’t be playing in if they joined the Big10 wuold be Cali, and they’d still have the trip out to USC every year (as well as the Navy neutral-site “away” game). I’m sure schools like orthwestern and Indiana wouldn’t mind playing neutral site “home” games against ND in Florida every so often either.


      3. Adam

        I always took the “national schedule” to mean teams from a more or less national cross-section, not necessarily games played in all portions of the country. Games in South Bend are on NBC everywhere. TV matters more than the physical location of the game. I always took ND’s argument here to be that they don’t want the lion’s share of their schedule to be Midwestern/Big Ten *opponents*, irrespective of where the game is actually played. (I find ND’s position untenable, but I think it’s misconstruing the “national schedule” argument to focus on the location of the game; it’s the identity of the opponent, no?)


      4. greg

        Notre Dame doesn’t really play a national schedule, they don’t really play a tough schedule, they aren’t really a football power. Nowadays, its all about perception rather than reality. They want to continue to convince themselves and their alumni that they are “special” and “unique”.

        As I said in the Rutgers thread, they are a terrible fit for the Big Ten, other than football. They are a small, private, non-research institution with a much different mission than the rest of the Big Ten. Northwestern is the only school vaguely like them, and even they aren’t that similar.

        There are pros and cons to them joining the Big Ten. I would like to see them join so that Iowa can kick their tail regularly. 🙂 But if they don’t join, I don’t see it as a huge loss.

        I would rather see the Texas two-step come into the fold. And a research power like Pitt.


  7. c

    Big 10 priorities:

    “What if realignment impacted the shape of the BCS?” he said. “Also, the Big East has been a great home for us [in other sports], but if there are fundamental changes to the Big East as a result of realignment, what does that do? What if a few conferences further distinguish themselves from the field? What are the competitive ramifications of that?

    “… That’s why I’m spending 50 percent of my time right now talking to people [about this].”

    1) Would Big 10 be satisfied with ND as team 12 and stop there or would Big 10 focus on the big prize of Texas and Texas A&M and go to 14 teams?

    Regardless of what ND decides, adding Texas seems to be a huge opportunity from every perspective: CIC, regional and national TV coverage, athletic competitiveness, affinity of a dominant state school in an attractive location.

    Focusing on Texas puts Big 10 in far stronger position with respect to attracting ND since the conference is unlikely to go to 16 and there will be no shortage of teams wanting to be team 14.

    If the ND AD is spending 50% of his time on this subject then it’s likely that many other schools are also evaluating their options.

    One has to wonder what kind of “research” is really required for the Big 10 or Texas or ND to just go ahead and offer or decide to say yes or no?

    Probably the research needed relates more to gaining a concensus of key decision makers, alumni, contributors, fans (political leaders with respect to Texas).

    The airing of trial balloons is an integral part of the decision making process. When does Texas air a trial balloon?

    2) Would ND as team 12 or 14 want a “partner school” where the Big 10 adds further to their national footprint?

    Does ND have that type of leverage, since expanding to 16 teams is far less likely to gain a concensus vote of existing Big 10 schools who don’t want to further dilute their existing conference matchups.

    3) Might the Pac 10 decide after study the advantages of expanding are not as obvious and thereby ease the pressure on other Big 12 teams to look for an exit?


    1. Captainobviously

      Probably the research needed relates more to gaining a concensus of key decision makers, alumni, contributors, fans (political leaders with respect to Texas).

      bingo!!!… And therein lie the true questions. If Mr BigOil MoneyBags decides he’s not funding the new science building because he hates the big ten… We have a problem.

      If Jerry Jones decides he doesn’t want a national super conferance encroaching on his empire… We have a problem.

      I could go on and on… What we saw today was Notre Dame sending a message to all the bigwigs inside the Notre Dame tent


      1. Mike

        IIRC, Jerry Jones and the Longhorns are not the best of friends. The quote I heard (from Barking Carnival) was “Jerry is a pig [i.e. Arkansas Razorback] and we hate him.”

        But your point is valid if you subtitue someone else (Tom Hicks?)


    2. indydoug

      In short:

      (1).No, I think they go to 14 regardless if ND says yes. Unless Texas also says no, then who knows;
      (2).Don’t see B10 cowtowing to ND demand for partner school (who would that be BTW?);and
      (3).If B10 expands, which it will PAC10 will follow.


      1. c

        Re: in short by indydoug

        !) If ND says yes and Texas says no, then interesting to see whether that affects Big 10 expansion taking 1 or more Big East schools versus taking 1 or more Big 12 schools to get to 14.

        If Texas says no there may be lack of concensus in expanding beyond ND due to dilution of existing conference matchups or whether to expand east vs west.

        2)Re ND partner schools:

        My impression is they value a “national schedule” so they might prefer a conference team in the NY metro region beyond PSU or even an additional private university besides Northwestern. In that respect, if they decide to join a conference they may talk to the ACC as well as the Big 10 to evaluate their options. I doubt they have any leverage with Big 10 if Texas is in play.

        3)Pac 10 expansion could be interesting since they may well offer Texas and with only 10 schools be more flexible in expanding to include up to 4 Big 12 teams so Texas feels more connected to a PAc 14.

        If Texas joins Big 10, then doubt Pac 12 goes beyond 12 and if Texas stays where they are, Pac 10 may decide expansion is not that attractive versus obtaining a concensus to expand and incur dilution of existing matchups.


    3. m (Ag)

      The Pac 10 isn’t going to do anything they think will lose money. So even if the Big 10 goes to 16 teams, the Pac 10 won’t add any teams unless they are confident each current Pac 10 school will make more money.

      However, reading recent articles from Pac 10, they seem to understand how far they’ve been left behind and how the Big 10 is making money. The schools are also very eager to get more money for themselves. This is why I think the Pac 10 would be willing to go to 16 schools if Texas is included.

      Without Texas, however, I think they add 0 or 2 schools.


      1. c

        Re Pac 10 expansion by m (Ag)

        I tend to agree. It is very possible nothing is going to happen or that a huge realignment is going to happen.

        The Pac 10 will be the wildcard here and I agree that Texas has to be their key target. They have flexibility to add 4 schools to accomodate Texas if they are willing to expand beyond 12.

        If Texas joins the Pac 10 then the Big 10 plans to expand will need to be re-evaluated if they are willing to go beyond adding a single school and that may ease the pressure on ND..

        Also if the Pac 10 doesn’t offer Colorado up front or another Big 12 school that may limit the pressure on the Big 12 schools to jump ship since everyone including the Big 10 will be waiting for Texas to decide as the prime and first mover rather than them reacting to a Pac 10 invitation to another Big 12 school or schools.


    4. ot

      I see the Big Ten expanding in the following order:

      1. Because both Notre Dame and Texas are both playing a combination of “High Stakes Poker” and “Kabuki Theatre” with the Big Ten and neither want to make the first move, the Big Ten will admit Rutgers as the 12th school in order to grab a sizeable chunk of the digital basic cable/satellite TV households in the New York City TV market: namely Northern New Jersey and New York City (assuming that FOX Cable can get digital basic cable deals done for the Big Ten Network with Time Warner and Cablevision in New York City itself before Rutgers is admitted to the Big Ten.)

      That will leave Missouri, Pitt, Syracuse, Nebraska, etc. all out in the cold.

      2. The Big Ten (and FOX Cable) would then make the move to “massage” the Texas State Legislature in order to bag Texas and Texas A&M as the 13th and 14th schools.

      3. Notre Dame will then have to beg the Big Ten for admission as the 15th school after it becomes crystal clear to Notre Dame that it has no choice but to join the Big Ten after seeing the “seismic shift” taking place.

      4. The Big Ten can then set its sight on landing USC as the 16th member if the Pac-10 can’t get its act together to increase TV revenue (and there is no reason to believe that the Pac-10 can bridge the revenue gap between itself and the Big Ten or the SEC; adding Colorado and Utah won’t be good enough.) A jump by USC from the Pac-10 to the Big Ten has the added benefit of instantly upgrading USC’s basketball program because USC can offer local basketball recruits something that Pac-10 schools cannot offer: playing during East Coast prime time every week on ESPN, ESPN2, or Big Ten Network.

      5. If USC won’t jump, then the likes of Missouri, Maryland, Miami (FL), or Colorado can then be considered if the Big Ten wants a 16th school instead of stopping at 15 after adding Notre Dame.

      (I am assuming that the 12 SEC schools are all untouchable because of the fat 15-year TV contract it managed to scare ESPN, Inc. into signing.)


      1. c

        Re: “sequence of Big 10 expansion” by ot:

        What’s interesting about this process is the factors of inertia versus incentives to act and the number of options available to the various parties and the unpredictability of the whole process.

        Beyond the informal and private discussions this process is likely to become very public as the decision making process unfolds.

        ND may consider an ACC option; Texas may consider a PAC 10 option; the Big 10 may be considering package options.

        1) ND and Texas (along with Texas A&M) may be hesitant to make the first move but my assumption is the Big 10 will work with them to help make the case for inclusion first rather than as later additions.

        In this respect getting Texas and ND at the same time may be an easier sell than getting them one at a time.

        I doubt the Big 10 wants to expand to 16 and if they do expand beyond 12 they probably want the first invited schools to be prime targets and part of a package.

        2) My guess or assumption is they will try to have firm committments from cable and TV carriers and potential advertisers as to a range of money they will get for each potential candidate school or combination of schools.

        An interesting question is how precise the network or channel carriers or potential advertisers may be in providing numbers that can be relied on.

        If a school other than Texas or ND is invited my guess is they would really only invite that school if ND and or Texas say no
        and if they are assured the income they will get from the invited school will more than meet their goals and that the school invited meets all their criteria, which may include affinity, geography, research credentials as well as TV market and income.

        Perhaps Nebraska or another school might be invited before Texas or ND but I doubt there would be a concensus unless both Texas and ND say no thanks.

        3) If the Big 10 expands to 14 without ND, ND risks missing the train. I really question whether the Big 10 Presidents are willing to to overwhelmingly approve a 16 team conference which is essentially 2 conferences even if ND wants in.

        4) If the Big 10 truly wants USC they are going to have to upfront offer a package deal and conduct negotiations with Texas, USC and ND at the same time. USC joining the Big 10 under any circumstances seems unlikely but as an isolated 16th member seems beyond unlikely.


        1. @c – I think that you’re right that it’s easier to get Texas and ND to join at the same time instead of one at a time. The piecemeal approach is both risky and may not even be as effective as doing a single mass move. I’m very skeptical about a 16 school conference, although I’ve heard of various scenarios where that could happen (such as Jim Delany turning into Emperor Palpatine and going after USC AND UCLA on top of the Texas schools and ND). I think there are really 2 main strategies for the Big Ten for a 14-school conference: going for the NYC market by adding ND, Rutgers and Syracuse or adding on the Texas schools plus either ND or Rutgers. A 16-school conference could combine those two strategies where the 5 schools added would be ND, Rutgers, Syracuse, Texas and Texas A&M. (Yes, I know a lot of you think I have an irrational love for Syracuse! I still think if you want to execute a Northeastern strategy to cover the NYC market, they need to be part of the puzzle.) The states of Texas, New York and New Jersey would be locked down and the addition of Notre Dame would likely make the Big Ten Network into a national channel. It’s still very hard for me to phathom – I have a hard enough time seeing the Big Ten university presidents going up to 14 schools.


          1. c

            Re expansion options (Frank)

            I agree with everything you just posted.

            If the Big 10 gets Texas, Texas A& M, ND, USC and UCLA then that would be an amazing conference in every possible way. And if that is the goal, then the Big 10 should go full speed ahead on every possible front.

            With respect to the “eastern ” option of gaining the NY metro region, the 5 teams (suspects) you mentioned added to the existing schools would be a national “must carry” conference across the nation.

            If ND remains ND and Texas remains Texas and the eastern option is considered I also believe 2 NY regional teams are important, even considering PSU is added to the mix.

            With respect to SU, their BB program could have an energizing impact and benefit the Big 10 BB teams whether based on fan attendance or TV coverage far beyond it’s regional market numbers. And their new football coach and facility improvements make me believe they are on their way back.

            However, like you I doubt the Big 10 wants to expand to 16 unless USC and UCLA are teams 15-16.


          2. mushroomgod

            I’m sorry, but this is completely silly.

            First, no way in hell would USC and UCLA be interested in joining the Big 10.

            Second, no way in hell the Big 10 woulds be interested in breaking up the Pac-10, with whom it has a 70 year relationship.

            Let’s keep it real here folks….


          3. Richard

            Well, if the Big10 takes all 4 Cali Pac10 schools (and I think it would be all 4 or nothing), they wouldn’t need to play the Pac10 winner; the Rose Bowl could become the de facto Big10 championship game. I don’t think the Rose Bowl would have problems selling out even if no Cali team was represented, either; every Big10 team that has sent a team to the Rose Bowl has always sent a bunch of support (including Northwestern, which sent more fans to the Rose Bowl than they do to their home football games). Even if a Texas team went, I’m sure they would fill up their half of the Rose Bowl as well.


          4. m (Ag)

            I’ve read the Big 10 and Pac 10 actually own the Rose Bowl game, though I can’t find it online. If so, that would mean whoever was left in the Pac 10 would be able to keep their team playing in the game. Does anyone know if this is so?


          5. Playoffs Now!

            Exactly, which is why when Swarbrick mentioned a possible seismic shift, I think he was talking about the possibility of even just the loss of Rutgers tipping the tenuous Big East into implosion. With the mix of all sports and non-football schools it may not be as simple as just plugging in another school. The BCS losing one of its six conferences, unloading several refugee schools to beg other conferences, or attempt to meld an all-sports replacement conference from parts of CUSA/MWC/WAC (including petitioning for an AQ) could be quite disruptive.

            So I’m doubting that his statement is indicative that Texas is likely to turn the Big Ten into the Big Tent Conference.


          6. ot

            The Tournament of Roses Association, not the Big Ten or the Pac-10, owns and operates the Rose Bowl game.

            The Big Ten and the Pac-10 are contracted to send their conference champions to the game unless they are selected to the BCS Championship.

            For the 2011-2014 contract cycle, on the first time the Big Ten or the Pac-10 champion qualifies for the BCS Championship, the Rose Bowl is contractually obligated with the BCS to take the highest-finishing team from a non-automatic qualifying conference (Mountain West, WAC, MAC, C-USA, Sun Belt) if that team were to have a BCS ranking of 8 or higher.


          7. Stopping By


            I also think people getting carried away devoting so much attention to 16+ team conferences….not gonna happen (at least in the near future). IMO – I dont think anyone will actually go to 14 either.


          8. Stopping By

            That last response was in agreement to mushroomgod saying that USC and UCLA to Big 10 is completely silly to even speculate.


          9. ot

            The Big Ten taking USC and UCLA together makes no sense. 2 teams but only 1 TV market. The California state legislature may also oppose separating UCLA and Cal.

            However, the Big Ten taking USC only (to go with Rutgers, Texas, Texas A&M, and Notre Dame) makes sense for both the Big Ten and USC from the revenue perspective. Furthermore, USC would gain a recruiting advantage in basketball vs UCLA and the Arizona schools.

            If the Big Ten were to raid 2 Pac-10 schools instead of one, the most expedient choice besides USC is Stanford.


          10. Michael

            You’ve got to draw a line somewhere.

            Sure, a few years ago we’d all have agreed Texas or Notre Dame as Big Ten teams were nothing but pipe dreams. That’s changed.

            But Pac-10 teams? Give me a break.

            Yes, on some levels, it might make financial sense for a Pac-10 school to join the financial juggernaut of the Big Ten. It also makes sense, on some levels, for California & Texas to split up into multiple states; they’d have more senators represented in Congress, more governors to represent more localized interests, etc. But those states know they’re much better together than separate, if based on nothing else than tradition dating back prior to each citizen’s birth. Likewise, the Pac-10 schools, save for the Arizona schools, have been together since before Joe Paterno was born. They are truly a united front. The Big Ten can’t touch them, even with a huge TV contract.


          11. spartakles78

            SC athletic dept. is under scrutiny with b-ball & Reggie Bush. Add Lane Kiffin’s penchant for getting as close to the line on recruiting, it’s sort of a NASCAR prep if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin’ view of the world.

            Univ. of Cal system would not be interested in adding CSU schools like Fresno St. or San Diego St. in the major sports like football & basketball. They’ll play soccer or baseball in a league etc. but not the marquee sports. A Western Alliance might work for TV but then you have a similar situation like the Big East, small schools like CSU Fullerton playing baseball with the Pac 10 being pushed aside since they don’t play football. It all adds up to a lot of complications that would need to be thought through before adding and dropping schools.


          12. m (Ag)

            I agree with others that the Big 10 probably wouldn’t want to risk upsetting the Rose Bowl by stealing teams from the Big 10.

            But, even if they would, I doubt the 2 teams could be USC and UCLA. I don’t know California politics, but UCLA is part of the same university system as Cal, so I’d be really surprised if they could leave Cal. (I think it would be much easier for Texas to leave Texas A&M, since they represent separate university systems)

            If you make a play for only 2 Pac 10 schools, USC with Staford, UCLA with Cal, or USC with Arizona might maybe be feasible.


          13. ot

            @m (Ag):

            If the Big Ten really needs another west coast team to go with USC (I doubt it, as I believe USC will be paired with Notre Dame), then Stanford would be the most expedient choice because 1) the Big Ten won’t need to deal with any state legislatures, and 2) Stanford would represent another 2 million expanded basic cable TV households from the San Francisco Bay Area TV market (even though Stanford really doesn’t command the attention of the market.)

            UCLA and Cal both belong to the University of California system. There is no way the Big Ten would want either one of them. UCLA football has been nearly invisible for a decade (playing 2nd fiddle to USC in the LA market, which hasn’t had the NFL since 1994), while Cal does not command the attention of the San Francisco Bay Area market (no major sports team, pro or college, captures the attention of the Bay Area unless they win regularly.)


    5. ot

      The perfect “partner” school for Notre Dame in the Big Ten, should Notre Dame enter the Big Ten as the 15th member (after Rutgers, Texas, and Texas A&M) would be…



      1. Richard

        They’d still be 3-4 hour flights away from every other conference member (and it’s not like the Big10 needs partner schools). I don’t see USC coming unless as a package of all 4 Cali Pac10 schools, and that is highly unlikely (though pretty cool).


      2. c

        Re perfect partner for ND

        If the Big 10 expansion includes Texas, Texas A&M, USC and ND, that would certainly make the Big 10 an incredible national conference.

        However if the Big 10 wants UNC they need to offer USC along with Texas and ND FIRST and not after choosing a 12th school unless they are confident that RU is equal to the other schools you mention.

        If Texas wants a partner, I assume USC would want at least one one as well. Now you are into an 18 team conference.


  8. c

    Re ND’s actions during ACC expansion:

    After the ACC took in Miami and VT, they spent more than a month talking with ND before deciding to end talks and invite BC.

    ND no doubt wanted some kind of reduced schedule for football where they could continue their national OOC games.

    That strategy is off the table with either the Big 10 or even another conference, like the ACC which has other private schools including BC. So the decision is either in or out.

    However, they showed several years ago they can jump in at the last minute if it is to their advantage. So maybe they play a waiting game if Texas and Texas A&M are not in play and the Big 10 only looks to be expanding to 12.


  9. Kyle

    I’m not sure why Notre Dame was ever on the JoePa dream conference.

    “If I had my choice, someone that can give us the biggest TV exposure in the East,” Paterno said, offering as possibilities “Syracuse, Pitt, Rutgers. Not in that order.”

    “There’s some pressure, I would suppose, to maybe go back to Notre Dame and ask again, which I would not be happy with,” Paterno said. “I think they’ve had their chance.”


    1. MikeR

      Good observation. JoePa (1) has never let go of his “Big 10 of the East” dream and (2) is still peeved at ND for blowing off the Big 10 in 1999. That’s what his statements add up to. So JoePa’s dream would probably be to add Pitt, SU and RU, grafting his dream conference onto the conference he’s in.


  10. Scott

    Texas remains the belle of the ball in my eyes. They hit all the right notes.

    As for Notre Dame, why would you invite someone into your Big Ten home when they’ve turned down your invitation before, and all they ever say is how they’d “prefer” to be elsewehere and would only “consider” your invitation if they were circumstances forced their hand?

    The Big Ten offers a lot more to Notre Dame than the Irish offer the Big Ten. My prefernce is to go with Texas. Then bring TAMU and Nebraska along for good measure.

    The Irish can schedule more games with Navy.


    1. CTBucki

      I have to agree. It has to be Texas, if for no other reason than it would rip my heart out to watch the Longhorns go off and join the SEC.

      Where we are with sports now, talking about ND is almost like talking about Pitt: they’re a good geographic and academic fit, but the football has been middling and, frankly, I think Notre Dame’s national allure will diminish once they lose their independent cachet.

      There’s nothing that ND offers that Texas can’t match in spades besides the geographic fit, which isn’t supposed to matter anymore.


    2. MikeR

      I think you’ve nailed the sum and substance of Swarbrick’s statement. At the end of the day, as the research figures show, Notre Dame is a better fit for the ACC (with schools like BC and Wake) than it is for the Big 10/CIC. I think Notre Dame will realize that as well.


      1. I wouldn’t surprised if ND ends up in the ACC since that is actually a good conference for them in terms of institutional fit with a number of undergraduate-focused private schools. If the Big Ten gets Texas, then I don’t think many of us will care at that point.


      2. Playoffs Now!

        Ultimately I don’t think ND feels it has to have a B10+ option safety net, since the ACC, P10, B12, and even SEC would take them before we reached a 4 conference 16 team build out. But of course those have big variances as to cost, benefits, and best fit. ND to the ACC would force them to drop too many of their longstanding rivalry games, even if they could convince the ACC to go with a 7-1 conference schedule (7 division, 1 cross-conference game per year. Maybe the new plateau is five 12 to 14-team BCS conferences, but four major 16-team super conferences seems to be the more natural endpoint to contingency plan against.) Joining the B10+ or P10 brings 2 of those inside and makes it more manageable. Same potentially for their strength of schedule (though, um, increasingly ND’s ‘performance’ makes SOS irrelevant…)

        The “This is taking 50% of my time” quote was the mindblower for me. For the first time now I feel that some kind of big BCS shakeout is more likely than not. Still wonder if ND to the B10+ makes Texas more likely to join, or push them towards the P10 where they wouldn’t have as much competition for the limelight, might have an easier road to the conf champ game, and may (or may not) have more conf influence and control of their own revenues. OTOH, can the B10+ quantify and sell an “NFC East Effect” argument to Texas about the benefits of competing in (what would be) the primary conference for NYC, Philly, and perhaps DC/Balt?


  11. spartakles78

    Pipe dreams are not so crazy when university presidents know they must respond to the current business model. If anyone remembers the Knight Commission, they released a Presidential Survey last October which shows the perceived discrepancies between the haves and have-nots.

    “Despite widespread concern over financial stresses created by the “arms race”
    and exacerbated by the recession, the most common sentiment expressed by
    presidents regarding current levels of spending was their desire to increase
    revenue rather than opt out of the system or push for systemic change.” (FBS Presidents Study Pg. 10)


  12. Madison Hawk

    With all of the various leaks and public discussions (despite the Big Ten’s official announcement in December saying there would be no discussions for 12-18 months) indicates that things are moving fast and the Big Ten is thinking big. I would not be surprised to see the Big Ten go for the home run of a 16 team conference by adding Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Notre Dame and Rutgers. The advantages of this setup are obvious:

    — huge television market stretching from NYC to Texas

    — ND can still play a “national” schedule by having games in NYC/NJ and Texas as well as OOC games with USC and Navy

    — Clean divisional setup based upon time zone

    — Significantly weaken the Big 12

    — Opens up fertile recruiting bases of Texas and NJ

    — $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$


    1. yahwrite

      Exactly as I see it. The fan in me would pick Nebraska over Missouri, but I can understand if they want the greater state population.


    2. michaelC

      Count me in on this as well.

      Going to 16 presents a lot of logistical issues, but if one is going to set things for the long term why not choose the shape of the future now while holding the best cards compared to every other conference?

      My vote is Missouri over Nebraska because of academics (research). The discussions here center on football (but certainly acknowledge the importance of academics as a qualification), but I think a move to 16 makes CIC membership considerations more important.

      This is just to suggest the Big Ten/CIC is playing to become the dominant power in two games: NA athletics and WW research. Both realms involve prestige and real money.


      1. Richard

        Mizzou and Nebraska are equally marginal (with respect to the Big10) in research. The decsion between the 2 does come down to greater national reputation vs. greater home state population.


      2. Richard

        Eh, not really. Iowa City & Madison are equally close to Lincoln and Columbia. Champaign is closer to Columbia, but the Twin Cities are closer to Lincoln. The only difference is that the Indiana schools could conceivably take a bus to Columbia and they can’t to Lincoln. Everyone east of Indiana would fly to both places anyway.


      3. glenn

        ‘the decision between the 2 does come down to greater national reputation vs. greater home state population’

        richard, i think that is a simplistic view.

        first, let me ask what i am missing. we have all seen that the big ten is actively considering missouri. top five, i gather. what makes us think that nebraska is even one of the secret 15? did i miss something?

        second, if what i hear is right – no insider, just longtime close watcher – the problem with nebraska is not its base academic reputation or research portfolio but its 15-year reign as point-man in blunting the attempts of texas and texas a&m to improve the big 12 enough for the two schools to call it home. those who suggest that texas has no desire to continue the relationship may be right. i am not at all sure about this and have been reluctant to mention it, but if it is obvious to all that nebraska fits better football-wise and maybe even tv-wise, maybe what i have heard is true and explains some of why the big ten is saying what it is saying. maybe the big ten isn’t interested in thumb-wrestling nebraska either, regardless of texas’ direction.

        you may get the impression that i don’t like nebraska and that isn’t the case. i’ve always had some fondness for nebraska, and i like osborne – and devaney before him – a lot. i am, however, pretty sick of hearing about our dealings with nebraska the past 15 years, and i just don’t want to partner up with them and hear it all again.

        another question. i see talk here of an academic threshold where all schools above a base cutoff will be considered essentially similar in that regard. has the big ten said that is the case? or is there precedence for the big ten behaving that way? where is that coming from?


      4. mushroomgod

        Columbia is closer to Ill, NW, Ind., Purdue, OSU, UM, and MSU—-and I doubt that few of the fans from those schools would fly to away games at Columbia.


      5. Richard

        Many Big10 people have mentioned the academic/research cutoff. The Illinois president mentioned that that was a reason for why Mizzou hasn’t gotten an invite in the past. I read somewhere else that when the search for expansion that led to PSU’s inclusion was conducted (way back in the ’80’s), the Big10 presidents had 2 strict rules:
        1. The new school had to be in the upper half of the Big10 athletically (football).
        2. The new school had to be in the upper half of the Big10 academically.

        They looked at every school in the north, and PSU was the only school that met both criteria at that time.

        As for Nebraska, it seems that your sticking point with it is mainly it’s dealings with Texas. From the Big10’s perspective, that would all be past history, and if schools join the Big10, everybody will get along as happy little Big10 members.

        In any case, it’s possible that neither Mizzou or Nebraska meet the academics criteria, and in any case, it looks like Delany & company are more keen to capture the Northeast/NYC market than any place else.


      6. Richard

        I doubt anybody from east of Indiana would be roadtripping to Columbia either, so it still comes down to the Indiana schools. Oh, and my school, Northwestern, which definitely wouldn’t be sending over any away fans.


      7. greg

        Schools that would satisfy the top half of the league academically and athletically:

        Pitt – not sure about athletics
        Texas – easily for both
        Notre Dame – If research isn’t considered


      8. Richard

        I think the criteria’s changed, though (because TV money is so much bigger now). Otherwise, yes, Pitt would be attractive. As it is, Rutgers is more attractive than Pitt (same caliber in football and research, but they bring more cable subscribers).


      9. Mike

        Other than the PQ discussion of 15 years ago (which Nebraska agreed to but asked for a delayed implementation) what are you referring to?

        Nebraska has been voting with Texas on most big things matter (i.e. unequal revenue sharing). However, we may not be having this discussion if Texas didn’t veto a Big 12 network. What more do you want them to do?

        If anything it’s the little 8 of the Big 12 that may end up making it hard for Texas to stay in (See Missouri’s coach’s comments that I posted on the Rutgers thread on fixing revenue sharing for example)


      10. glenn

        certainly i am not privy to specifics but have heard of frustrations over the years. like i said, i have been reluctant to mention this except as a possible reason why the word ‘nebraska’ has not been publicly spoken by anyone from the big ten, and when i see someone saying that everything points to them over missouri, i just don’t see that happening and offer this possible explanation.

        regarding the top half athletically and academically, just because a school must be in the top half in those categories doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t face further scrutiny against any other top half program. what is there that would indicate that?


    3. Rick

      Opening up recruiting areas like NJ is an interesting point. Having lived in NJ most of my life before moving to CT I have watched the NJ recruiting battles first hand as well as being recruited personally coming out of HS in the mid 70’s. I ended up at Rutgers for football before the lean years. At that time and for the years since until recently, the Big Ten and Notre Dame did very well in NJ for top recruits. They could and would come in and cherry most of the highest ranked 4 and 5 star players every year. Butch Woolfolk to Michigan was one from my HS. Way back. Things have changed over the last 10 years as Schiano’s Rutgers program, PSU, PITT, BC, ND, and now Florida, have sealed up the best players for the most part. Currently the “State of Rutgers” recruiting focus is NJ, PA (mostly eastern), NY, MD, DE, and Fla (1/4 of each class typically comes from Fla). For the recruiting class of 2010 in NJ for instance for 4/5 star ranked players (a weak year for 4/5 star talent), the teams other than Rutgers that signed players from NJ were PSU 1, PITT 2, and BC 1. In the other states that Rutgers focuses on mentioned above other than Fla, PITT had 4, BC had 1, PSU had 9, Florida 5, Michigan 2, GT 1, Alabama 1, Ohio State 1. From the Big Ten that is 1 of the 4/5 star players from NJ, and 12 from the rest of the “State of Rutgers” PA, MD, DE, NY. 13 players from from the very densely populated DC to NY corridor from 11 teams. That I believe is a big decline from previous years. So opening up the Eastern seaboard for recruiting would be a big plus if the coaches and AD’s have any input into this. The incoming Michigan AD mentioned opening up recruiting areas as an expansion benefit recently. This is probably a small part of the overall decision but it could not hurt having Big Ten football on TV in the eastern seaboard and NY/NJ in particular to enhance the current recruiting efforts of Big Ten schools. It also would greatly enhance the Rutgers recruiting efforts as well and a better Rutgers team in the Big Ten helps overall competitiveness, rankings, Bowl revenue, and BTN TV revenue. FWIW.


    4. ot

      @Madison Hawk:

      A bigger “home run” for the Big Ten would be to add Rutgers, Texas, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, and USC.

      The Big Ten would be able to lock up expanded basic cable TV households in the 5 biggest TV markets.


    5. The problem with this is that the ACC could respond by adding UConn, Pitt, Syracuse, and West Virginia. And dominate the entire East Coast in football and basketball.

      Rutgers? Please.


      1. Richard

        The Big10 will let the ACC have those schools.
        UConn, Pitt, Syracuse, and WVA will have trouble getting attention in NYC when OSU, PSU, Michigan, and Texas come to town.


      2. Rick

        The ACC values academics very highly and Rutgers would be highly regarded in that conversation and the ACC would probably opt for Rutgers and their academic, athletic, and TV market value, over West Virginia. If the University presidents of the ACC were to choose between the two I don’t think it would take long for them to choose Rutgers.


  13. OrderRestored

    I really doubt that the Big 10 would choose Missouri over Nebraska. As an alum of Michigan, Missouri just doesn’t add anything; we would be watering the conference down enough by adding Rutgers…as a Big 10 alum, go with the Cornhuskers.


  14. cory

    If a Big East team (or 2, or 3) joins the Big10, then the Big East must add a team to likely retain BCS tie. Without a BCS tie, keeping the remaining FB programs will be difficult if they have the opportunity to go to a conference with an automatic spot for the league champion. If someone leaves, the Big East won’t be strengthening their FB power with any addition school (unless ND joins, very unlikely if they won’t come to Big10). Why is this important to ND? Because if the Big East can’t keep their BCS tie, the FB will decline as recruits will look elsewhere automatic BCS qualifying conferences. As a result, the conference becomes even more unstable to the top FB schools left looking to join ACC, Big Ten, SEC etc. Thus, the already weakest conference has been destabilized even further, which will have some impact on ND’s non-revenue sports either through smaller revenue sharing, great travel distances, or complete dissolution of the conference as it stands.

    Also, remember that ND desperately needs to go to a BCS bowl game to get that $4.5 mil payout. If they can do this consistently, then it makes their situation easier to remain as an independent. However, ND needs to be at least #8 in the polls for an automatic invite. If the Big Ten beefs up, then it is likely that 2 teams could go pretty much every year…ditto for the SEC. With champions of the ACC, Big 12, Pac-10, and Big East getting automatic qualifiers (currently) that makes it much more difficult for ND to compete for that 8th ranking every year. ND will probably not be ranked 8 with more than 1 loss due to the strength of schedule for all other conferences. In turn, this makes the crucible of the ND head FB coach even hotter. The poorer he does the quicker he is fired, the quicker he is fired the more turnover and instability in the FB program where stability and dominances are the essential components for ND staying independent.

    Not to mention that if the Big East loses a member, they may pressure ND to join or be kicked out for non-FB sports. The Big East has catered to ND for many years by allowing ND to have the best of both worlds. However, if the Big East is floundering and ND is unwilling to step to the plate to stabilize it, they maybe just maybe they get thrown overboard to lighten the load in the rough seas.

    These are all things that may lead to ND to greatly risk the future of the FB program just to stay independent. However, ND isn’t going to be the one to change the status quo, so something needs to trigger the situation or ND needs to be convinced that someone is either inevitable or that all scenarios lead to the same place if the Big East changes.


    1. Jake

      The payout for BCS bowls is a little higher than $4.5 million – it’s closer to $18 million most years. But that definitely has to be a consideration for them. If they stay independent, then they keep the entire payout from their bowl games. Of course, they have to consider that they might not get to a BCS bowl as often as they’d hoped, and they didn’t go to any bowl this past season. If they join the Big Ten they have to share their bowl winnings, but they also get to share in the bowl revenues from the rest of the conference, which will include two BCS games nearly every year as well as the conference’s regular tie-ins, which aren’t too shabby. At this point, they may increase their bowl revenues by joining the Big Ten, but I’m sure that’s something they have carefully calculated. It may turn out to be a push, but the revenue in the Big Ten would be more consistent year-to-year, which is generally preferable.


      1. Jake – ND used to receive a full conference share of $18 million when it made a BCS bowl and $0 in years when they didn’t make it. It’s very different now. In exchange for receiving some guaranteed annual income, ND only receives $4.5 million each time that they make a BCS bowl (which is equivalent to a conference’s extra share if it gets 2 BCS bowl bids), but they also get around $1.1 million in the years that they don’t make a BCS bowl. Considering that all of the schools in the Big Ten and SEC are generating a lot of virtually guaranteed bowl revenue (they are almost assured of receiving multiple BCS bids in the current system and their second-tier bowls like the Capital One Bowl have high payouts) and ND’s best bowl tie-in after the BCS is taking the Big East’s spot in the Champs Sports Bowl for a maximum of only 1 out of 4 years, the bowl situation is, at the very least, a wash (if not better with much stronger non-BCS bowl tie-ins) for ND if it joins the Big Ten.


      2. Jake

        I was just reading that. I’ve spent so much time grumbling about the Sun Belt getting a share of TCU’s BCS payout that I’d forgotten about ND’s current deal – it’s hard to calculate since I don’t know exactly how the Big Ten shares bowl revenue (is it even, or do the bowl teams get more?), but it seems that all Big Ten teams (even the ones that don’t go to a bowl) are getting more bowl revenue than Notre Dame every year, except when the Irish make a BCS game. It’s not as big of a gap as the TV money, but it’s got to weigh on their decision making.


      3. duffman


        i think the sec did the best.. last year or the year before.. it got 9 or 10 out of 12 schools in post season bowls. sorta surreal.. but if we go back to the 2 mega conferences.. it would give the big 10 and sec a hammerlock on post season bowls…


  15. OrderRestored

    Being a very avid fan of college football I was a big playoff proponent when the idea was first being tossed around, but upon further thought I think a playoff would ruin college football. The idea of 16 team conferences just reeks of the NFL and who wants another version of the NFL with all its parity? I enjoy watching teams attempt to go undefeated. I enjoy that feeling of “ok, if we don’t hit this field goal to win the game, our national title hopes are gone”. With a playoff I believe you lose that to an extent. I would like to see a +1 system long before I see a playoff. That being said I really hope the Big 10 stops at 14 teams; anything bigger than that is just unnecessary and starting to really take the game away from the fans due to the broad geographical regions these mega conferences encompass.


    1. allthatyoucantleavebehind

      The playoff would need to be VERY large (i.e. 16 teams or more) for the regular season to truly lose its impact and excitement. With a 4 team or 8 team format, “missing that field goal” still means that you’re releasing control of your own destiny. Think of Florida in 2008. Lost to Ole Miss and had to fight all season to get back in the title game. Plenty of excitement there. Some years, you make that “field goal” and you still get screwed out of a chance…think Auburn 2004, the other 11-1 teams than UF in 2006, the other 10-2 teams than LSU in 2007, the other one-loss teams (and Utah) in 2008, and Cincy/TCU/Boise St. in 2009. I’d rather trade a shred (just a shred, mind you) of that regular season excitement for some kind of format that doesn’t screw numerous worthy teams out of a NC shot every single year.

      I don’t think the Big 10 will be the first to go to 16 (I’m sticking with ND, Texas and aTm as my choices), but when it happens, I’m not worried about how that will affect the BCS/playoff scenarios. I believe tradition and fairness can be balanced out.


    2. mushroomgod

      People talk about 14 and 16 team conferences as if they are no big deal…..but look at the internal issues the ACC has had adding the 3 teams from the Big East…

      Delaney has said a 12 team league is most workable. In that situation, you play 5 games against the same division, and 3 against the other division, leaving 4 NC games….If you go to 14, you either skip a team or two in your division, or start playing teams from the other divsion every third year or so, which isn’t good….

      If you go to 14, you could play 9 conf. games; however ND would never go for that, and I don’t think it’s desireable in any event…

      The real dilemma now for the Big 10 is whether to wait for ND, as ir dithers like Hamlet, or go ahead and grab a 12th team for the conf. championship…

      I think the Big 10 will wait to see if the Pac 10 trys to add Colorado, to see if TX might be interested under that scenerio….if not, I think the Big 10 doesn’t wait long to add Rutgers or Pitt. They then pause to await developments…


      1. I personally would rather just see 12-school conferences. As much as these massive conferences look cool on paper, they don’t really mean much if schools don’t actually play each other with any regularity. That being said, if getting Texas and/or Notre Dame requires going up to 14 schools, then I think that the Big Ten should pull the trigger because the other options that are available as single school additions would simply be settling for the sake of a conference championship game. The schools that are worth getting are going to require some sacrifices or compromises. With the Big Ten’s financial position, the conference shouldn’t be adding someone because they’re easy to get.


      1. duffman

        nope.. the oregon duck.. and i mean this from live games.. that duck goes after the other mascots.. one tourney i was at.. i think it came to blows with the badger or the owl.. seriously.. maybe 10 – 15 years ago.. it was surreal.. and i have been to other games where the duck was.. and i wanted to have them trow the duck out of the venue…

        antics is cool in mascots, aggression is not..


    3. Richard

      A 16 team league wouldn’t mean there would be more parity, and whether the regular season matters or not would depend on the postseason structure, not the size of the conferences.


  16. OrderRestored

    My argument against a playoff also stretches to the fans, what about them? For example, say Michigan is in this 8 team playoff……the first round is in Pasadena against a Pac 10 team. What fan is going to be able to afford to go to Pasadena from anywhere in Michigan, and then turn around and follow that team through the playoffs in Dallas (the cotton bowl), New Orleans (the sugar bowl), Glendale (the fiesta bowl), or Miami (the orange bowl)? I think this format is really taking the game away from the people who helped create the landscape college football currently finds itself in, the fans. Besides that, which of the major bowls would actually be ok with being second round hosts? The fans who made it to the first round probably won’t spend the money to go to the second round; and the people who want to go to the championship game probably won’t go to the second round games because they are anticipating going to the site that holds the national title; I’m not sure the Bowl sponsors would be excited about the prospect of dwindling attendance in this way. All in all, if it isn’t broke, do not fix it. I believe the best team in the nation has won the national title (despite Boise and Utah’s undefeated seasons, let’s be real; they weren’t the best teams in the country). The less tinkering the better, so if there has to be some change; just take the best two teams after the BCS bowls and play them in a +1.


    1. Richard

      The thing is, with our current system, we have no way of knowing whether Utah or BSU were the “best team” that season. Even more unfair is that they have no way of showing whether they were or not. I’m not a big fan of an 8 or 16 team playoff cheapening the regular season, but a plus 1 should give almost all undefeated teams a chance most years.


    2. duffman

      you make a good point.. i have noticed “favoritism” in indy getting final fours (having the NCAA headquarters can’t hurt) .. but it is good location for the fans.. via central location.. if it was always on the east or west coast.. it means major travel..

      if it means altering rose bowl (and i understand the the history – this is a what “if” question) to decrease travel – would the fans accept it.. i am thinking the NCAA dealing with the basketball, and trying to keep teams close to home..


    3. Playoffs Now!

      “What fan is going to be able to afford to go to Pasadena from anywhere in Michigan, and then turn around and follow that team through the playoffs in Dallas (the cotton bowl), New Orleans (the sugar bowl), Glendale (the fiesta bowl), or Miami (the orange bowl)?”

      Which is why a playoff wouldn’t be set up that way. The first round of the playoffs would be 4-6 BCS Bowls (basically what we have now, but played to its logical conclusion. Might add Jerry World for a 10-team playoff, and perhaps even move up a 6th bowl to BCS status for a nice 12-team system.) The next round/rounds would be on campus games hosted by the higher ranked teams. The champ game would be another neutral field trip, but in a playoff format that is going to be as big as the Super Bowl and the Final Four, with corporate buys and a fan lottery scarfing up all the tickets. Would be foolish to bank on making it to the champ game and getting a ticket for under $500, so any fan that can afford that can afford two trips in a magical year for their team. Nope, the bowls would remain the primary vacation draw that they are for fans.

      Probably would start with a 10-team system. Rose gets B10+ vs P10+ (and every year guaranteed, no more losing a team to a faux champ game) Sugar gets SEC+ and wildcard, Orange takes ACC+ and wildcard, Jerry Bowl and Fiesta each get first dibs on wildcards (or maybe the B12 champ if the conf survives or the winner of a new Wannabees, Runts, and Leftovers Conference.) Wildcards teams determined by BCS rankings, but as a concession to the bowls they get to pick where the wildcards play.

      That leaves us with 5 BCS bowl winners after the holidays, with the top 3 teams getting a bye and #4 hosting #5 on campus. Perhaps with the caveat that only conf champs can host games. The next week #1 hosts that winner on campus, and #2 hosts #3. Winners meet in an actual legitimate title game rotated among the 5 BCS bowl sites.

      If Congress and the state AG’s are still antsy, they could easily add a 6th bowl and move to 12 teams while still making sure that no school hosts more than one playoff game (thus reducing potential drop off in fan travel to bowl games.) Such a playoff basically adds an extra home game in January for 3 of the 10 or 4 of the 12 that go to BCS bowls. A real playoff that protects the bowls, makes a team actually earn on the field a legitimate title, and keeps the regular season VERY meaningful. A January home game in the 2nd round is big incentive to win conference and every game, plus being 1 of 12 out of 120 is much harder than being 1 of 12 out of 32.


      1. Richard

        It still cheapens the regular season. If one loss means your chance of contending for a title drops dramatically, people will turn in to see a team ranked in the top 5 play some under-500 stiff. If the teams in top conferences get a “mulligan” (which would happen if the playoffs increase to 8-16 teams), there’s not only less incentive for neutral fans to watch top teams play, but fans of teams in the top 10 also wouldn’t have much interest in watching the games featurign other top teams. As the regular season football games on the BTN and ESPN are the cash cow for the Big10, there’s no way they’ll support an expanded playoff system.


        1. This is why I’m becoming much more of a fan of the unseeded plus-one system. All of those BCS bowls mean something again as opposed to being glorified consolation prizes, the importance of the regular season is kept intact or even enhanced (how you’ve done in the regular season materially impacts your chances of getting to the national championship game, but anyone that makes it to a BCS bowl could have a sliver of a chance of making it if everything breaks the right way) and once you’ve played the BCS bowls, there’s at least more information to make a reasonable judgment on who is #1 vs. #2. It’s not as clean as a playoff, yet if the idea is to make some progress, I think this is the next step.


    4. Order, You speak to a large majority of home state fans…but forget about the fans scattered across the country. For example, I was prepared to watch PSU play in the Fiesta, Rose, or NC game this year since I’m currently in San Diego. I had the money saved for that event. However, I wasn’t going to have enough for New Orleans or Florida. (Plus, the stakes weren’t as high for the Capital One Bowl they ended up in.) I don’t know how many people I speak for here on the West Coast, but there is a LARGE contingent from any major university waiting to flock to a game in the area.

      So, PSU plays (let’s say) a regional game in New Jersey or Indianapolis in mid-December. Fans from nearby cities (and the state of PA) flock to that game. PSU wins that game and makes the “final 4” bowl game on New Year’s Day. Now, the same 50,000 people who went to the first round will NOT be able to afford a game in Florida or New Orleans or the West Coast as well, BUT there are thousands of other fans who will.

      If PSU wins that game and the final championship game shifts to another major Southern city, I can guarantee that another set of fans (some from the first round site, some from the second round site, and thousands more “fair-weather” fans) will flock to that stadium to see PSU’s first championship game appearance in over two decades.

      Not to mention that you’d draw in more casual college football fans if you escaped the traditional format of “home games and bowl games and none of them mean much in determining a fair champion.”

      I’m not worried about filling stadiums or catering to PSU fans who want to see every single playoff game live or they’d rather not have a playoff system at all.


  17. Dennis


    These series of Big 10 expansion posts have been very interesting, thanks for all the work. HOWEVER…

    The big thing you’re missing regarding Notre Dame’s economic interest in joining the Big 10 is the fact that Notre Dame receives 100% of its licensing revenue as an independent. They would have to share that money in the Big 10. Is that money enough to make up the difference between ND’s NBC contract and the Big 10 Network? Probably, but no one knows exactly how much money they actually make. At least, I think it’s safe to say, that amount makes the tv contract disparity close enough to give ND a reason to maintain tradition and stay independent.

    This fact also makes Swarbrick’s “seismic shift” comments understandable. Basically, in the current landscape, ND doesn’t have enough economic incentive to join the Big 10. However, if a seismic shift were to occur … IE- Texas moving to the Pac-10 (Pac-10 expands to 14 teams [Utah, Boise, whoever]),then, as a result, the Big 10 would expand to 14 teams as well. In this scenario, with 2 14-team superconferences, ND would no longer have an economic incentive to stay independent. I think that’s what Swarbrick’s getting at.


    1. If someone out there has a link or access to concrete info about how the Big Ten shares licensing revenue, that would be great. I thought that individual schools actually keep a greater percentage of those royalties, but I could be wrong. Regardless, it’s not as if though Notre Dame is #1 on that front anymore. In fact, the #1 college for merchandising royalties is the other school that we’ve talked the most about: Texas. I’ve seen figures where Texas generates around $8 – 9 million in licensing fees each year. Even if that amount were to be cut by joining the Big Ten (and I’m not sure that would be true), if TV revenue goes up by $10 million or year or more, it’s still a net positive financially.

      I’m fairly certain that if Notre Dame doesn’t join the Big Ten, it will have nothing to do with money. It’s clear that Notre Dame would make more money in the Big Ten. The question is whether the “soft” factors, like its history of independence, are more important than that revenue increase.


      1. Rick

        Frank, these two sites have searchable databases that break out revenue and include line items for Licensing (although licensing is lumped in with sponsorship) Unfortunately it does not include conference splits. Probably does not answer your question but it might give you a big picture of individual schools and that part of their revenue budget. The database is for academic year 2007-2008.


      1. duffman

        i would be surprised if they shared “team” license revenue.. individual schools might have to pony up for a big 10 tag, but it is nominal for the product.. i am guessing the majority goes straight to the individual school’s bottom line..


      2. Pezlion

        I’d be stunned if schools share licensing revenue. Each school negotiates their own sponsorships and licensing agreements. Unless the Big Ten logo or other conference schools are included in whatever is being sold (i.e. on a t-shirt), I would surmise that each school is pocketing whatever they negotiated.


    2. Jake

      Hadn’t heard anything about sharing licensing revenue. I thought TV and bowl money were the only things being shared.

      If the Big Ten expands to 14, I don’t think it will be because another conference did it first. I don’t see them as a conference that feels like it has to keep up with anyone else – they’ve gone almost 20 years without adding a 12th school, and if they add one more and stop, it will be because they feel that’s what is in their best interest.

      Also, Boise State isn’t going to the Pac-10. No matter how well they do in football, their academics and their market will make that move a non-starter for many years to come. They haven’t even gotten themselves a MWC invite yet.


  18. M

    On second thought, this comment by Swarbrick seems like pure posturing for alumni donations. “Please give us more money, or we may be forced to join a conference”.

    If ND comes to the Big Ten saying “We want to join” then the Big Ten should listen. Unless that happens, the conference should focus on other schools and ignore the legalese bullshit coming from South Bend.


  19. JRT

    I think Swarbrick’s comments were actually meant for NBC. As in “It’s gonna take B10 TV-esque money to keep us, otherwise we’ll look to take our business elsewhere”. They are currently signed thru 2015, so will be falling substantially behind over the next 5 years, but the negotitions for 2016 and beyond may be just around the corner. Silly as it seems, if they know a big pay day is on the horizon they may be content to tread water until then. As FtT said, they’ve been known to leave money on the table to preserve tradition before.


    1. JRT,

      I wonder how interested NBC is with keeping the contract. It seems like I read somewhere that NBC sports was having difficulty making ends meet even at the $9M they pay annually for the Notre Dame Product..
      But Ebersol thinks he can still sell the product…It seems to me market share and ratings are what sell advertising and if there are only so many households watching, I am not sure how NBC charges any more per ad…So if that is the NBC warning shot, might NBC say, “C ‘ya” and we can find something, or someone, else to broadcast in that same time slot?


    2. Seth9

      NBC has all the leverage here. Notre Dame wants to maintain independence and ensure that all of their games are televised nationwide. They need NBC for this. In contrast, NBC might be shut out of college football by losing Notre Dame, but that’s just a drop in the bucket, especially considering that the audience for Notre Dame games has significantly declined recently.


      1. Michael

        NBC won’t necessarily be shut out of college football without Notre Dame. New TV contracts for the ACC, Big East, and Pac-10 are coming up within the next couple of years. Surely they’d listen if NBC were to approach them. Even if all three leagues were signed, they’d still each get a more widespread audience. Right now, those three leagues have to share the 3:30 ET coverage on ABC with the Big Ten and Big 12 as well, meaning all five leagues’ games are often limited to their own region.


      2. I agree. I am sure that part of the reason for $warbuck$ statement, including the part about the “tepid media opportunities(?)” is that he has alread gotten a whiff of what the NBC offer is going to be when it comes time to renegotiate, and it has him nervous or sitting there in disbelief. You can only rely on the rich alumni for so long and then revenue generation becomes very important. NBC is probably looking at getting into college football bigger and wondering how it can be the only network not making money…I know that’s what I’d be thinking if I ran NBC.


      3. JRT

        Another factor to consider is Comcast bought NBC and will be wanting to pump up VS. which could be done with some of ND’s non-marquee games. The duality of his message could be for NBC to be ready to pay up while priming the fans to be ready for change. Then to quiet the outrage over 4 games per year being moved to VS. Swarbrick can shut them up by repling “It was either this or join a conference”.


  20. Frank,

    Not sure where this comment will show up, but I am posting on the Domer Addition Discussion. One vital, and often overlooked, fact of the Domers is that they are “not” a public institution and therefore they don’t have to reveal any of their incomes, costs, etc. I know there was speculation on the Weis buyout, but I still don’t think anyone knows for sure.

    Would joining the Big 10 finally force the Domer’s hand and would they need to disclose the financials of their revenue, etc. and would that be enough right there to kill it?

    Otherwise, everything up to this point is spot on. The Domers are looking at this as a financial windfall, $warbuck$ knows it and he needs to make sure that somehow, the Domers stay part of the Big 10 equation either now or in the future. And bailing on the BEast isn’t going to be that big a deal for them.


    1. @MIRuss – Interesting question – I’m not really sure what the Big Ten’s stance is regarding disclosing financials. Does anyone know how this is handled by Northwestern?

      Regardless, I would think that this would be no different than companies exchanging confidential financial information in an M&A transaction. I would be shocked if the Big Ten would proceed with any type of move without having the opportunity to look at Notre Dame’s books and I’d be equally shocked if ND actually took the position that it wouldn’t provide any financial information. That’s just unreasonable.

      There’s a quid pro quo, too. I’m sure that ND would want to perform a thorough independent audit of the Big Ten’s revenue projections and other types of financial information. The more that I think about, I really don’t see how the parties would want to keep information from each other if they want to get the deal done.


      1. I forgot about Northwestern. And yes, it would be in everyone’s best interest to open the books…I have trouble thinking like an attorney at times. It’s the engineer in me.

        After perusing the usual ND sites (NDNation in particular), the masses are out in force and vehemently expressing their displeasure with $warbuck$ latest statement. Suffice to say, where I thought that newer, trendier fans of Notre Dame would start to see the light, they seem to be even more entrenched and stubborn than usual. Is it perhaps because one of their own is making sense and speaking like one of the perceived enemies? I just don’t get it. Logic fails, money fails, is the Big 10 going to be happy with the Domers on board and is it worth all the hassle to get them?

        I would much rather have a member that wants to be part of the party vs. dragging a child in kicking and screaming the whole way…


      2. Richard

        Their appeal is fading a bit anyway. In any case, go to 16 teams with schools in 2 of Texas/East Coast/Florida (or all 3 with Texas, TAMU, FSU, Miami, & Rutgers), and you’ll get a league with national interest even without ND.


  21. Playoffs Now!

    Exactly. A plus one is good enough for now because it opens the door. Once initiated it will inevitably expand and evolve into a playoff system.


  22. Mike R

    Count me in for the +1 but no more. As a Big 10 fan, the national championship is great but the Rose Bowl is my first love. I would favor the +1 because that would preserve the Big 10-Pac 10 Rose Bowl tie, even when teams from those conferences are competing for the NC.


  23. Pingback: UPDATED: Iowa’s QB/RB Situation, Bulaga/Clayborn News, and Expansion Analysis « LawHawk SoapBox

  24. OrderRestored


    The statement that Columbia is considerably closer to the Big 10 than Lincoln isn’t necessarily factual. Not really at all. That argument is about as much of a wash as the academic argument; the only thing Missouri has going for them over Nebraska is state population and if the Big 10 would get Notre Dame and Rutgers, then Rutgers would be the team bringing the state population to cover for Nebraska’s lack thereof. Nebraska brings a national name that Missouri can’t even touch; that is the difference and the reason Missouri will not be chosen over Nebraska. The name ‘Nebraska’ makes a splash, when Missouri is mentioned everyone outside the Illinois fan base has the same reaction “really?, all this fuss for Missouri?”


    1. mushroomgod

      See my reply above on geography–Mo. is closer to more Big 10 schools than Neb…..makes a difference in terms of “doable” road trips….

      2 other advantages of Mo are at least SOME basketball tradition—do you know that NEb has NEVER won an NCAA tourney game—and 30000 enrollment v. 24000 for Neb.—which is something since most Big 10 scholls are above 40000.

      I would agree that academic issues are a wash (Neb seems to have some investment momentum), and both have solid overall ath. programs (both are in the 30s in Director’s Cup standings….Pitt and Rutgers are both in the 90s)


  25. ot

    Funny now Notre Dame is now testing the waters when the Big Ten potentially can get to 14 members and grab tens of millions of cable TV households by adding Rutgers, Texas, and Texas A&M.

    I had written before that Notre Dame may have to beg the Big Ten conference for admission as the 15th member if the Big Ten were to admit Rutgers, Texas, and Texas A&M.

    I still see USC as the 16th member of the Big Ten if Notre Dame were the 15th member (unless the Pac-10 can find a way to hold onto USC.)

    Sorry Missouri, Syracuse, Pitt, Maryland, Nebraska, Colorado, etc.

    (I live in Pac-10 country and I have 2 degrees from Cal. I see the writing on the wall for the Pac-10, which is in decline and is way too top heavy with USC bringing in most of the money.)


  26. OrderRestored

    From what I know of the subject, yes Nebraska did oppose much of what the Texas schools wanted; but what the Texas schools wanted is far from bettering the conference as a whole. (which is why Missouri and Colorado are anxious to bail on their Big 8 brethren, to get away from Texas politics) Texas is the culprit in bringing the Big 12 to its knees, not Nebraska.


  27. Playoffs Now!

    “One thing that’s conveniently left out when UT people criticize Utah’s backing out of the game is that Texas refused to play a return game at Salt Lake. In Utah’s eyes, that was a raw deal, so they said, “Thanks but no thanks.”

    Don’t make Utah look like cowards in their scheduling when Texas wasn’t willing to play on the road.”

    False story. If that was the case, then why would Utah schedule it to begin with? And why would it be ok to fail to honor a commitment made?

    But the real story is that Utah had to back out of a non-conference game each year to make room on their schedule when their conference changed (when TCU was added?) The agreement was for Austin games in 2007 and 2009, and in Utah in 2008. No one called Utah cowards. Florida? Yes, they are cowards. I root for Utah, TCU, Boise, and most so called underdogs who all too often get screwed over in the sports press and polls.

    Arkansas was also different than Utah. Arkansas backed out in order to accept an offer to play aTm in Jerry World. Though I believe that they postponed the UT game until another season, rather than completely canceled.


    1. Interesting. I believe that sentiment to a point, but the Big Ten is obviously being open that it’s still studying Notre Dame (as shown in its leaked study from last week). If ND calls up the Big Ten saying that they’d be interested in seeing how much a Big Ten Network would be worth with the Irish included, then I have a hard time seeing the Big ten just cutting off that dialogue out of pride. It’s not a bad strategy, though – the Big Ten could be saying, “What makes you think that we want you anymore?” Now, I think that’s a bunch of crap if the Big Ten’s plan is to add Rutgers or Missouri. If the bigger fish like Texas are in play, though, then the Big Ten does have the power – they don’t need Notre Dame at that point.


      1. After reading this, it makes me wonder why the Domers even intitiated the discussion in 2003 if they then subsequently backed out…Leverage over NBC? I mean, unless you were ready to pull the trigger and you approached them, said okay, and then said “No”? I guess if I’m the Big 10, I’m ticked, too… Which goes back to my other comment of why do I want Notre Dame? Texas and Texas A&M are the prize(if we must take A&M) and then you can throw Rutgers in there…I guess. I’m still not completely sold on that as something that makes sense. I think the 3rd spot is much better filled by Mizzou or Nebraska… Frank, as you said: If the ACC had their choice and took VaTech, Miami, and BC and skipped over Syracuse and Rutgers, why again does the Big10 want or need one or two BEast teams?


        1. 2003 was all about whether the Big East was going to split or not. If it had split apart, then ND would’ve joined the Big Ten. Once the BE confirmed that it was going to stay intact at the 11th hour, ND decided to stay with the status quo.

          If it’s a choice between Texas and Notre Dame, I’m taking Texas 1000 times out of 1000. In terms of future population growth, TV markets, national profile and institutional fit as a major graduate research institution, Texas is the single most valuable school out there for the Big Ten (or anyone else). Their sports programs, whether it’s football, basketball, track and field, or baseball, are all top notch. Even Texas A&M in and of itself is a great addition. I’d like Notre Dame because they’re still a national name and we’re kidding ourselves if all of the Big Ten schools won’t get excited to play the Irish, but the Big Ten legitimately won’t care if we end up with Texas and Texas A&M.


          1. SH

            Can ND stay relevant forever? Really, only if they start winning and start winning soon. And I personally think they will, but of course I thought the same thing under Weiss. But they will never have the national appeal they did. So many more people go to college now, and they are going to identify with their university.

            ND may not need the B10 now or in the next 10 years, but at some point they will. Frank is right in that as long as the B10 was an option, ND could continue with the status quo. UT on its own, or a UT/A&M plus another school may closes that door forever (unless the 16 conference is a possibility – but that is a big if).

            For the same reason that ND has been able to hold off joining the B10 for all these years, I think the B10 can continue with the status quo until UT is either in or definitely off the table (such as by joining the Pac 10 or the Big XII securing a large long-term TV contract).

            For the past 10 years, time has been on ND’s side, and it may now be forcing them to show their hand. With respect to UT, time is on the B10’s side. UT is the big fish and compared to ND, I agree with Frank, you take them 100% of the time.

            Is this what the B10 wants? I hope so. Did the B10 start the expansion talk merely to get the public conversation going knowing full well that UT is its only target? Is Frank secretly working for the B10? We’ll see.


    2. Michael

      Who says it would be made public if ND did approach the Big Ten?

      All that information could be kept confidential. Even if there was a leak from “a source close to the situation,” ND and the league office could simply deny it as a false rumor in order to save face for the league’s newest member. Plus, ND won’t even have to approach the Big Ten, per se. They’ll just have to get their lawyers to approach the league’s lawyers. Any statement that the Irish did not approach the league would therefore be false.

      Also, the Big Ten already has credibility in the field of denying rumors. Remember the Pitt rumors? The league proved those to be BS. So I don’t think Notre Dame would be in any danger of appearing to be “begging.”


      1. The media is in a tricky position. They have to report the facts…and that’s what is given to them by the leaders of these institutions. One party (ND) says one thing; the other denies (the Big 10). The truth is never actually known. However, at the end of the day, once a deal is reached, no matter how much cutthroat politics went on for the 12 months prior, both parties will be all smiles and back patting. The statements will only be about “mutually advantageous situations” and the begging and posturing that’s going on today will be forgotten.


    3. Mike B.

      Did anybody actually read Teddy’s article carefully? The quote from his source is a month old. The quote is likely “inoperative” at this point.


  28. Michael

    Texas is the bigger gold mine, and that’s great news for the Big Ten: I’m betting they’re more likely to join the league than Notre Dame. My reason for that belief is simple. Texas is far more unhappy with the Big 12 than Notre Dame is as non-football Big East member and as a football independent.

    I’d be shocked if UT agreed to join without Texas A&M. As it is, UT rarely schedules more than one difficult non-conference opponent. Last year they really didn’t even have one. Without A&M in the Big Ten, UT would have two tough non-league games a year (OU and A&M, assuming the Aggies eventually get better) on top of several perrenial Top 25 teams in the Big Ten. That would leave UT almost never feeling flexible enough to schedule any additional tough non-league games such as USC, LSU, TCU, Arkansas, or any other former Big 12 conference mates. With A&M in the league, UT would retain that flexibility, and I do think UT does have the leverage to insist the Aggies join with them. There are just too many potential BTN subscribers in Texas for the league not to agree to that request.

    So if UT and A&M join, I suspect the Big Ten’s preferences for #14 would go in this order: (1) Notre Dame, (2) Nebraska, (3) Rutgers, (4) Syracuse, (5) Missouri. My rationale? Go for the best national names first, then go for the schools most likely to draw the biggest regional audience.

    I don’t see a 16-team league. These are college presidents making decisions here. These are the guys who’ve been one team away from a potentially lucrative SEC-style conference championship game for 20 years, yet have decided not to expand for all that time. They’re not the types of people who get carried away with the hype of a “super-conference.” I’m confident they’d go no further than 14.


    1. duffman

      it is the ESPN deal for the sec and the Big 10 revenue via BTN..

      that part is not 20 years old (i suspect THIS is the reason for the sudden talk) and with the $$ is more likely to “advance” 16 team “mega conferences”


    2. Michael

      Still, adding 5 new schools would increase the size of the league by nearly 50%. Each current member’s voting power would drop from 1/11th to 1/16th for year-to-year league matters. I just don’t see a majority of Big Ten schools being prepared to give up that much influence all at once.

      Again, college presidents are slow to change. Adding one is a big deal, but favorable. Adding three would be a radical change. Adding five? That would allow a bunch of ‘outsiders’ to carry more influence than a majority of the league’s presidents would be comfortable voting for. Too much potential for divisiveness, much like the former Big 8 schools vs. the Texas schools.

      Besides, I can see how adding three (UT, ND, and a third team) would increase the size of the pie substantially enough to increase current members’ revenues. Adding five is where the law of diminishing returns would kick in, IMO.


  29. I forgot about Northwestern. And yes, it would be in everyone’s best interest to open the books…I have trouble thinking like an attorney at times. It’s the engineer in me.

    After perusing the usual ND sites (NDNation in particular), the masses are out in force and vehemently expressing their displeasure with $warbuck$ latest statement. Suffice to say, where I thought that newer, trendier fans of Notre Dame would start to see the light, they seem to be even more entrenched and stubborn than usual. Is it perhaps because one of their own is making sense and speaking like one of the perceived enemies? I just don’t get it. Logic fails, money fails, is the Big 10 going to be happy with the Domers on board and is it worth all the hassle to get them?

    I would much rather have a member that wants to be part of the party vs. dragging a child in kicking and screaming the whole way…


  30. Jeremy

    Where does the NBC contract come into play in all this? Over this merger, bussiness is becoming different and there is always a risk of they could have a feud like they did over the Tonight Show. They just over paid for the Olympics for 300 million dollars.


  31. SH

    Throwing this out there. For discussion sake, let’s say that the Big 10 and Pac 10 expand, and let’s say the Big 10 gets up to 14 teams. What do you see the ACC and SEC doing, if anything? I’m assuming neither of these conferences would be raided by the B10.

    Would the ACC look into expanding further into the northeast by taking whoever is left between Syracuse, Pitt or Rutgers. UConn maybe? ND?

    What would the SEC do. The did a slideshow of schools that would be a good fit for the SEC. Many were from the ACC. Would any school leave the ACC for the SEC? Would the SEC want FSU, GT, or Clemson, when none of those schools would expand the SEC’s footprint. It seems to me that the SEC would love to have UT, but it would never happen. If expansion was in their plans, then I think their top targets would be A&M (if they are not with UT) and OK (and would that mean including OSU). Would they be interested in Nebraska or Missouri? Without a network of their own, I would think they would simply want national programs.

    Anyway, just trying to generate more discussion on expansion fall out.


    1. I see no way for the other leagues NOT to follow suit. The “product” the Big 10 will be offering will be so much more attractive than the other leagues (assuming they hit a home run with their 3-5 teams) that they’ll need to add marquee programs to their leagues.

      It all depends on who the Big 10 grabs with those 3-5 teams…but the first/worst thing that would happen is the Big 12 collapse. With that the SEC would be in best position to grab OU/OkSt. If they wanted more, they might poach two ACC schools or reach up into Mid-Atlantic (doubtful) or add Missouri/Kansas too. The ACC is more likely to attack the Big East. Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, UConn all would be prime targets for them. I see the PAC 10 as the least likely to blow up to 14-16 teams, simply because they still sit below every other conference (except the Big East who was recently poached by the ACC). I could see them sitting at 12 (adding Utah and Colorado) for the near future.

      Whatever happens, I think the Big 10 could initiate a “seismic” change if they go to 14 or 16 teams. Them going to 12 (and the PAC10 going to 12) might mean that a few other leagues add a team or two (maybe BYU to replace Colorado? TCU to replace Texas? The Big East tries to beef up?)…but I don’t see majore change following.


    2. Dcphx

      If you divy up the BE to the ACC/B10/B12/SEC you could easily set all 4 up as 14 team leagues.

      B10 – ND Pitt Rut
      ACC – Syr Uconn
      B12 – Cincy Louisville
      SEC – WVU USF

      P10 could expand by 2 with Co and Utah (B12 would need a replacement for Colorado, from 1 of BYU/TCU/SMU/UNLV etc)


      1. Richard

        *sigh* Yes, you could, but there’s no earthly motivation for the SEC to take WVU and especially USF. Meanwhile, even if the Big12 loses Texas, TAMU, Missouri, Nebraska, and Colorado, I see them taking Memphis before taking Cincy or Louisville.


    3. Stopping By

      It was discussed on one of the other threads…but the SEC TV contract with CBS/ESPN is set for the next 15 years. Any additions to the conference splits the same pie more ways. There is no incentive for them to add until its time to renegotiate.

      And I would only imagine that if they added more schools and tried to get more TV money – CBS and ESPN would just laugh at them because no one is going to pay them more than what they are already getting. That is unless the SEC hires Scott Boras as their agent and starts to include “mystery stations” getting in on the bidding.


  32. George

    I think it is important for a conference to remain relatively small to maintain matchups between the conference members (ie you want to play most of the schools in the conference often). For example, as an ILL fan I was disappointed this year that we didn’t get to play border states Iowa and Wisconsin. Fortunately, they will be back on the schedule next year. The thought of only playing some other conference members every 3-4 years is disconcerting (as would happen with a 14-team, 2-division conference).


    If Texas is willing to join the Big Ten, but only with the inclusion of aTm:

    Does the league necessarily have to expand to 14? Does a conference championship specifically require two divisions?

    A 13 team B10 without divisions would look like:
    Each team has 8 conference games a year, in the same manner the B10 schedules now (2 protected rivals, 6 random teams). Then at the end of the year the two teams with best conference records play in the championship game.
    This way, each team has their rivalry games each year, but plays all other conference members at a greater rate. In a 14-team, two division conference, you would only have 2 games a year in the other division. A 14-team conference starts to get the feeling of two conferences who’s champions play at the end of the year.

    I expect that this 13-team method would also have its flaws. Thoughts/comments?


    1. I would love it if we could just have the top 2 schools play each for the conference championship without divisions, but as we’ve discussed on other posts, that would require a change to NCAA rules. The NCAA states that you need to have 2 divisions where the teams must play a round robin within each division in order to play an “exempt” championship game (a game that doesn’t count toward the 12 game season maximum). Maybe the Big Ten could push to get that rule changed (especially if other conferences start thinking about going up to 14 schools).


      1. SH

        I asked this same question a few days ago. I don’t think either the B10 or the NCAA would want to get into a power struggle over this, but wouldn’t the B10 have the upper hand? The NCAA exists for its member institutions and the B10 with a UT and A&M would have some of the most well known institutions in the country. Plus, wouldn’t they have public opinion on their side? I guess yes (seeing how the public likes championships), up until they see the B10 as being a bully (the public hates bullies). Anyway, maybe the NCAA thought the rule made sense for conferences with 11 teams, but I don’t see how it makes sense for a conference with 13 teams. And shouldn’t it simply be up to the individual conferences. Same goes for having to have divisions.

        Really, the rule simply makes no sense. In basketball, in which there is an NCAA tournament, conferences are able to determine how their champions are determined for the automatic qualifier – through regular season championship or conference tournament. But in the FBS in which the NCAA has no tournament or playoff, they can basically dictate to the conferences how to determine its champion.

        After typing this, I would love to see the B10 just tell the NCAA to screw off. Again, what leverage does the NCAA really have in this matter. I suspect that if the Big 10 gets 13 members and they want to have a conferenc title game, they will be able to get that rule changed rather easily.


        1. I don’t know if the Big Ten would have the upper hand by itself, but if it presented a proposal stating that divisions aren’t necessary to stage a conference championship game even at 12 schools, I think that it would get support from the majority of FBS schools. The conferences that are already at 12 schools would probably want that flexibility if they ever wanted to go up to 14 schools. The Pac-10 would certainly be on board because that removes one of the biggest sticking points to expansion for member schools, which is that no one wants to be stuck in a division without USC and UCLA. That’s how I’d handle it politically if I were the Big Ten.


          1. SH

            That would be the better political way to handle it, and as I said, I think it could easily be changed. But it wouldn’t be as much fun as watching the B10 and any other conference battle it out with the NCAA.


          2. Seth9

            Two things:

            1. Getting rid of divisions would bring the risk of having end of year rivalries devalued because the two teams involved would be playing the next week in the championship game. It would make fans of the competing schools angry and take away from the tension (and thus the ratings) of any such game. Furthermore, it would increase the chances of a messed up situation where a tiebreaker would decide who goes to the championship game, because ties between 12 competing teams are more common than ties between 6 competing teams.

            2. If the Pac 10 expands to 12 teams, they could do something like this:
            a) place USC and UCLA in one division and Cal and Stanford in the other
            b) ensure that every team in the Cal-Stanford division plays USC or UCLA every year when rotating teams
            c) in years where teams in the Cal-Stanford division do not play at USC or UCLA, give the teams road games at both Cal and Stanford.
            This plan would allow every team at least gets either a game in LA or two games in California every year.


          3. @Seth9 – you’re right that there’s a risk that you’ll have instant rematches in the championship game without divisions. However, I think the Big Ten schools don’t care as much about that as making sure that they never go more than 2 years without playing a conference member during the regular season (which is what not having divisions would allow for in a 14-school conference). The flip side is that you’re almost always guaranteed to have a better championship game matchup.


          4. Jake

            @Frank – and having those rematches in the conf. title game may not be a bad thing, particularly if they’re the two best teams in the conference. OSU-Mich. facing off in back-to-back weeks could lead to some pretty intense anticipation, both in Big Ten territory and around the country.


          5. Richard

            Yeah, except that the first game could be rendered almost meaningless. If 2 teams are already set for the championship, the rational thing to do would be to trot out scrubs and save your starters for the championship game, sicne that will determine everythign anyway. obody would like to see OSU & Michigan rest starters against each other.
            In any case, nobody likes to see a rematch unless there’s a third match, and there wouldn’t be.


          6. SH

            Like I said, there is no perfect solution. I guess, the B10 could also continue to not play a title game, but that doesn’t seem realistic. You would be leaving money on the table, and unlike now where I think the B10 benefits from not having a title game (it always gets a 2nd BCS invite), in a 14 team conf with UT, I think we can assume, that in 9/10 years, there will at least be 2 BCS teams, and often 3. It would also be very difficult to conclude that a team fairly won the conference even if there was 1 undefeated team (I would imagine that there would be one-loss teams who would argue that their schedulde was much more difficult).


          7. @Richard – That’s a good point on how the first game might not matter if the teams know that there’s going to be a rematch in the conference championship game, but if those schools are battling for a spot in the national championship game or want to ensure that they’re in position for the Big Ten’s 2nd BCS bowl berth (which would almost certainly be the case if they’re in the top 2 in the conference standings), then they aren’t going to rest their starters. The current bowl system, for all of its complaints, does provide a direct incentive for every team to win every single week and not take any games off.

            If college football ever goes to an NFL-style playoff system where regular season record doesn’t mean as much as simply winning your own conference championship, then that’s a very different story. That’s the situation where you’d see college teams acting like NFL teams that have locked up bye weeks in the playoffs and basically don’t play any starters for the last regular season game or 2.


          8. Richard

            Another reason why expanded college football playoffs are a bad idea. Whoever wants to see USC rest starters against UCLA, OSU against Michigan, or Florida against FSU?


          9. Seth9

            First of all, the point is moot if the Big Ten only adds one more team because the Big Ten schools would switch opponents in two year cycles. Second of all, seven teams would likely support divisions automatically:

            1. Michigan does not want any potential rematch with OSU in the championship game.
            2. Ohio State-See above
            3-7. Schools put in a division with the Texas schools (assuming that they are the only schools that could be added in a scenario that involves a 14 team conference).

            There are multiple ways to get a majority from here to support divisions. For instance, Penn State or MSU would likely agree to seven team division if they were paired with Ohio State. Team #14 (Notre Dame?) would might be happy as long as they got a great game every year. Indiana would love to play Michigan, OSU, and PSU every year, because those games always rank among the most profitable for them. And so on an so forth.


      2. greg

        Considering Delaney’s earlier comments about partnering with “possibly dozens” of schools, I don’t see an overthrow of the NCAA being out of the realm of possibilities.

        Either that, or the BTN becomes the college sports network to rival ESPN.


      3. Richard

        The NCAA is its member schools. The Big10 likely isn’t going to take on the other 100+ members of DivI-A over an issue that they feel ambivalent about (many Big10 people aren’t even in favor of a championship game _with_ expansion).


      4. Richard

        Yes, the MAC’s doing that right now. However, the Big10 has ruled out uneven divisions in the future. Evidently, scheduling 11 schools was too much pain for them to want to do that again.


      5. Adam

        Not only has the MAC split into uneven divisions, but as I noted on another thread, they have gotten some kind of a limited exception to the normal “round robin” rule: in 2009, the MAC East played (slightly) less than a round robin (a complete round robin in a group of 7 requires 21 games, and they played 19). I don’t know whether this is a situation where the NCAA is looking the other way because nobody much cares about the MAC, or if there was formally some sort of quiet rules interpretation or other administrative action to permit it.

        However, as I also noted on another thread, changing the rule to allow the league to just have the top 2 teams meet for a league title, would be inconsistent with the rule’s history and the theory behind allowing it as an exemption to the 12-game limit. If your league is happy just playing as one section of 12 teams, without weighting the schedule towards division play, I do not think there is a sufficient reason to offer an exemption from the 12-game limit for a championship game.


        1. That makes sense, Adam. Still, there are also obviously very different incentives today compared to when the rule was instituted in the 1980s. The main purpose of that game now is to be a big-time money-maker. I don’t think the Big Ten can just come in and say that it wants to tear up the rulebook. However, it can go to the SEC, Pac-10 and ACC and say, “You guys might want to go up to 14 schools, too, right? Changing this rule will give you a ton of more flexibility.” If changing the rule gives conferences that constitute a majority of FBS schools more options in terms of how they add members, then it’s probably going to get changed.


          1. Adam

            Frank: it would not be a decision just for FBS schools/conferences. The proposal would be made initially to the Football Issues Committee, which is split between FBS and FCS. From there, it would go to the Championships/Sports Management Cabinet, whose membership is about 1/3rd FBS, 1/3rd FCS, and 1/3rd non-Football. The proposal would then be forwarded to the Legislative Council, which is about 2/5ths FBS, 2/5ths FCS, and 1/5th non-Football. If it made it through all of those hurdles, it goes before the Board of Directors, which is weighted in favor of FBS (11 out of 18).

            Point is, at no point in the process does FBS get to make a decision for itself. The federated governance structure allows Division I to make decisions for itself without interference from Divisions II and III, but FBS and FCS are not further separated from a decision-making standpoint.


  33. SH

    On another unrelated topic, I’ve always wondered why the B10 and SEC don’t do a B10-SEC challenge at the beginning of the fall for a weekend or two, similar to the B10-ACC basketball challenge.

    I just think an opening weekend of Ohio St – LSU, Mich – Florida, PSU – Alabama would be pretty damn cool, even down to a NW-Vandy “smart-kid” game.

    I can think of some reasons why they wouldn’t:

    – teams do not want an early season loss (but good teams schedule tough games early often, like UT – OSU)
    – not equal number of schools (this isn’t a problem for the Basketball challenge, and not every school has to participate anyway)
    – may take away intrigue from the bowl games when these two conferences would traditionally play.

    Anyway, I would love to see the two conferences do this one year. Couldn’t they work out the TV rights? Wouldn’t ESPN love it?

    Would there be any better way to start the college football season?


    1. I’d love it! However, I think that you’re right that the potential early season loss is a big strike against it along with the multitude of bowl tie-ins. New Year’s Day is essentially going to be Big Ten-SEC challenge (prior to the Rose Bowl). The Capital One, Outback and Gator Bowls will all be played that day featuring Big Ten-SEC matchups.


      1. SH

        I’m sure it is a pipe dream on my part, but I think it would be great. Both conferences would own the college football conversation from August until the week after the games are played. Better yet, spread it out over a two week period, and own the conversation for 2 months.

        Anyway, I think of this as something that is done every 4 years, like an olympics to build suspense.


    2. Richard

      No one wants to give up their precious home games (especially the power programs that have 100,000+ seat stadiums). In basketball, there are enough games that schools are willing to do a bunch of home-and-aways. In football, you only have 4 non-conf games, and schools like OSU like to have 8 home games every other year (so all non-conf games at home).


  34. Rick

    Suppose the ACC is sitting there saying, hummm, I think we are in a pretty good position the make a preemptive strike here and set ourselves up for a pretty good financial and athletic future. Let’s take the Big Ten Network model, add Rutgers, Pitt, UConn, and Syracuse, go to 16 teams, form a network that is built on the market strength of Boston to Miami, Atlanta to the Ohio border, have excellent Football product to show, and possibly the best Basketball product in the country to air. Athletically we can be National Championship contenders in many sports, and financially a cash cow that sets us up for the future quite well. What if we are the ones that create this seismic change and get out in front of it. I don’t know, I think I would be floating these ideas in the boardrooms of the ACC members.


    1. Rick

      The New ACC:

      Virginia Tech

      North Carolina
      Wake Forest
      NC State

      Wow what a reenactment of the Civil War. Nice League too
      This league would have legs on TV big time. Big Markets.


    2. Richard

      This is why the Big10 is considering expansion now. By being the first to start a conference cable network and prove that it could be a money-maker, they’ve stolen a march over any other conference (especially since the SEC would likely sit this round out given that they’re set for 15 years with their TV contract).

      If you’re Rutgers, think of the 2 pitches:
      ACC: If you join us, and we convince other schools to join, we could have a footprint as big as the Big10 and, after fighting several years of battles with the cable companies (during which the cable network won’t turn a profit), we may have a cable network that’s as profitable as the BTN. Or we may not.
      Big10: Join us, and you’re guaranteed to get more TV money than any school in any other conference. If we convince some heavyweights (Texas; ND) to join us, we’d make more TV money per school than any other conference can hope to acheive through expansion.


      1. Rick

        I wouldn’t mind having those two options if I’m Rutgers, the one I don’t want to have to consider is what do I do if i’m left in the stub of a Big East after other defections. If I’m the ACC I am seriously thinking about this. If I am Syracuse, PITT, UConn, Rutgers, I may be getting together and approaching the ACC with it as well.


      2. Rick

        Of course the Big Ten is a better immediate choice and better long term financially, but I certainly wouldn’t mind having fall back options and end games where I have a secure home other than the Big East.


      3. Richard

        Right, but for the Big10 to defeat that plan, all they have to do is extend offers to the BE team(s) they want (or, more diabolically, give invitations to the Florida ACC pair). No school will go against it’s self-interest, and the BE schools certainly have no loyalty to the ACC (I’d think the Florida schools are available as well). In any case
        1. Considering how hard it was to get the ACC members to agree to expand to 12 teams (in a move that actually did not pay off financially for the existing members), I really doubt they’ll jump to 16 any time soon.
        2. Rutgers is amongst the more desirable BE schools. Rutgers, Pitt, Syracuse, and UConn would be the most desirable to the ACC. Of those 4, UConn isn’t AAU and is not up to Big10 standards in research, Syracuse is AAU but also doesn’t measure up in research, Pitt is fine academically but brings too few new subscribers to the BTN, and Rutgers meets the academics criteria to join the Big10 and also brings enough households to make expansion from the Big10 make sense. If the Big10 takes anyone from the BE, I reckon it would be Rutgers. Its schools like Cincy (brings too few eyeballs), Louisville & WVA (too few eyeballs and too poor academically, and SFlorida (too far, poor acdemically, and few eyeballs to interest Big10; already in ACC territory so wouldn’t interest ACC) that should be worrying. Of course, there’s really nothing they can do.


    3. Rick

      Add West Virginia to the North and Lousville to the South. So it’s 18 teams, so what. So. Florida and Cincy off to the Big 12 or whatever.


      1. Rick

        With the ACC move, the Big Ten goes Texas/aTm, Nebraska; the Pac 10 goes Missouri and Colorado, and the Big 12 picks up the pieces. Notre Dame stays independent and keeps the alums happy. The SEC can do whatever they want after that. That’s too much for me to think about.


      2. Rick

        Or you stay with a more manageable 16 from my original list and let Louisville/WVU/Cincy/So. Fla find homes in the New SEC, and New Big 12.


      3. Rick

        I agree with you Richard, I just think that the Big East schools and the ACC need to be visionary as well and think about, prepare, and consider all their options instead of just wait around to see if they are going to be effected by the Big Ten decisions. If the Big Ten offers Rutgers, PITT, or Syracuse I am sure they will accept but I would want them to have been prepared for all scenarios and end games in case the Big Ten goes in another direction or takes 1 or 2. It’s just good sense and good leadership.


    4. Seth9

      The problem I have with your proposal is that it doesn’t add enough to what the ACC already has. The best case scenario of your proposal is that the New York and a smattering of local markets become ACC football territory. This would be fine, except that serious questions arise when considering how much of an impact there would be when you consider that New York generally isn’t that invested in college football (ratings sag in the city). If they were, the Big East would be in a lot better shape financially. So while there could be a big reward for the ACC making this move, there is also a big chance that the move loses revenue on a school-by-school basis.

      I personally think that the ACC should just make a network with the Pac 10. When the conferences are combined the quality of aired football games rises greatly, and there is ample filler material outside of revenue sports. Furthermore, their collective footprint includes a huge collective audience (namely both coasts) and allows for live events from noon through 1:00 AM (EST) on major sports days.


      1. Rick

        The concept was not to add NY and a smattering of local markets to create a bigger football conference, but a much bigger concept of the whole package of Nationally competitive Basketball and Football (as well as all other sports) that encompass the major markets from Boston to Miami. Major population corridor. Major Media markets. Big time sports that compete for Championships. This vision goes way beyond what the ACC is now or even some of them want to be but should be considered. A far more realistic idea than merging with the Pac 10 but neither one the ACC will likely do.


      2. Seth9

        Two Things:

        1. The idea is to create a network with the Pac 10, not merge the conferences. Both leagues compliment each other, as they don’t really compete for time slots and together can produce a lot more quality football and basketball games. Furthermore, they would cover both coasts and be able to produce plenty of live sporting events, especially as they are two of the best conferences for non-revenue sports (excellent soccer, lacrosse, baseball, etc.), which are important during the offseason in order to provide network content. An example of such a partnership is the one between the MLB and NHL for out of city games (although I’m not sure if that’s still going on).

        2. Your plan does not really increase the level of competitive football. It adds a handful of decent, but not great schools football wise. Meanwhile, the ACC is great in basketball anyways and produces fine content on their own. While adding Syracuse, UConn, and Pitt would improve this, it wouldn’t necessarily be that big a boon because basketball is far less important than football for a network. So by adding these teams, the only thing a potential ACC network gets is the New York market and a stronger secondary product. This isn’t really worth four additional teams.


    5. c

      Re 16 team ACC

      Is there any article or reason to believe the ACC schools and fans truly want to expand beyond 12 teams?

      My sense is the ACC fans would only be interested in expansion if the teams included ND and or PSU.

      They have a regionally compact conference and my sense is that despite BC’s happiness with the ACC and their respectable athletic performance, many if not most ACC fans don’t see BC as a good fit, being isolated from the other schools geographically and would oppose adding 2-4 more northern schools given the dilution of existing games among conference members.

      Duke and N Carolina didn’t want to expand beyond 10 schools, adding Miami.


    6. duffman

      i made the argument earlier..

      we assume big 10 in static environment….

      acc would have to do something…. all conferences will not be static..


      1. Richard

        They would want to. Whether they can is another matter.

        When the ACC raided the Big East, I doubt the Big East _wanted_ to just sit there and let the ACC pick and choose.

        When the SEC had its eyes on Arkansas, did the SWC want to fall apart?

        Wanting to do something and being able to actually effectively do something are 2 different things.


  35. I have a question. Strictly speaking, why isn’t basketball more of a revenue sport from a TV perspective?

    All B-Ball games are played during winter months. The College Football season straddles the warm summer months before it cools down (outside) and heats up (on the field).

    Each basketball venue seats far fewer (except Syracuse) fans, meaning more people at home watching on TV.

    I am not saying basketball should be worth more money than football. But isn’t it odd that basketball is not MORE of a revenue source?


    1. Richard

      That’s because the basketball regular season isn’t compelling must-see-TV. All the good teams make it in to the NCAA tourney, and no title contender will lose a shot at the title in any regular season game. That’s the biggest argument against having a college football playoff.

      Also, when TV viewers number in the millions, a some tens of thousands of people are a rounding error.


    2. allthatyoucantleavebehind

      Case in point. I used to be a die-hard college bball fan. Watched 2 or 3 games a week. Now I’m a father, working man, all that. Haven’t watched one regular season game. I’ll watch March Madness though. Probably three or four games a weekend for three weekends straight.

      I’m a microcosm of an entire demographic. College football has me for 2 or 3 games every weekend for 13 weekend straight and then 6 or 7 games during bowl season.


      1. @allthatyoucantleavebehind – As a new father (7-month old twins), I know how that feels. I’ve been a hoops junkie all of my life, but this year is the least knowledgeable that I’ve ever been in terms of what’s going on in college basketball. Between work, spending time with the family and my renewed interest in this blog, virtually the only TV that I’ve watched over the past couple of months has been Illini basketball and LOST (and believe me, I’ve always loved TV).


      2. duffman


        but were you a football guy from the start? i work the other way, as i can watch football (at the college level) here and there, but come basketball.. it is must see tv.. college basketball is nice in between. pro basketball & pro hockey have too many games to get as excited about the regular season. college basketball has that balance.. you can lose a game or two, and stay in the hunt. in college football 1 regular season loss is the end of your NC hope.

        i would love to see the end of the conference championship games which are fluff (i know it will not happen because of the $$). but doing so would put more emphasis on the regular season and maybe increase demand for regular season games (which should lead to increased revenue). but in the sake of $$ they will probably take the NCAA to 96,

        not to sound like one of those “back in the day guys” but, if we went back to the “best 16 teams make the NCAA”. or maybe the 32 but reseed after the first weekend that somebody proposed.. the regular season in basketball would shift viewing patterns REAL fast. the 2 “cinderellas” (NC State and Villanova) were not really bad the years they won, we have made them so.. because they were seeded below what their true seed should have been.

        NC won the ACC in 83 and Nova finished 2nd to Gtown in the regular season they won the big dance (people forget they split with gtown in the regular season). and yet we are “programmed” to believe “cinderella” exists, so we can watch some top seed “ass paddle” a team nobody heard or watched the rest of the season.. in the early round to generate more money.

        and no i am not picking on uk, it is just the game that comes to mind. UK played somebody who had gone undefeated all season back when pitino was still coaching at UK. i think they beat them by 30 – 50 points, and it was over shortly after the ball tipped.

        a) it was a boring game..

        b) you had a good (possibly great) team in its “sphere” squashed like a bug….

        c) said team could have gone on a much longer undefeated streak.. in level playing field games.. and maybe set some record the players could keep for life..

        d) expanding the field was just to make $$, and have seen it many times since with unc, kansas, duke. etc…

        did not mean to get on the soapbox.. but your point is valid, people tune in to the NCAA, because the NCAA and post season conference tourney’s have watered down the importance of the regular season.. and vis a vi.. deflated the value of BTN regular season games..


  36. M

    How much institutional resistance would there be in the Big Ten to ND joining at this point? They have already backed out twice; I cannot envision the conference giving them an opportunity to do so a third time. At this point I do not think it is worth listening to anything other than “We’re willing to sign a contract now.” Everything else is likely just self-aggrandizing on ND’s part.


    1. @M – I don’t think the Big Ten is just going to completely ignore Notre Dame, but you’re right that the conference’s school presidents aren’t going out of their way to appease them whatsoever. It might be more of the variety of calling South Bend and saying, “We’re adding Texas and Texas A&M tomorrow. You have a few hours to decide whether you want come, too. Otherwise, we’ll add Rutgers and force the Big East to split apart, which we know you don’t want.”


      1. c

        Re Impact on Big East if RU joins Big 10(Frank)

        Long term losing RU would certainly hurt the Big East since SU, RU and UConn are in the early stages of developing an interesting regional rivalry.

        Remember UConn is new to BCS football and RU has been a punching bag until recently. Ironically with SU being at rock bottom, that has made the schools more coompetitive, though SU under it’s new coach beat RU last year 31-13.

        However RU has not been a contender for the Big East football title and is a nonfactor in BB.

        If RU leaves, the Big East might take another large Florida school like UCF and potentially create a stronger BCS bowl football program with similar potential to USF.

        USF with it’s facility improvements and new coach could easily be on it’s way to the next level. USF beat FSU last year and lost to Miami. They have a number of high profile games this year against Florida and Miami and a long term series with Miami.

        Cinn, UConn, USF all are very new to a BCS bowl conference and have made great strides.
        And UL with it’s new coach looks like it is back in business.

        So despite all the shouting if only RU leaves the Big East, it still is likely to keep going and maintain it’s BCS bowl status.

        The key question for the Big 10: can RU become a truly competitive program competing with PSU?

        Personally I believe the New York market needs 2 regional schools, although RU with PSU is certainly a better combination than an isolated BC in the ACC.


        1. @c – I agree regarding Rutgers and the Big East. Rutgers might be the most valuable BE school to the Big Ten since it can deliver the state of New Jersey households, while the BE school that’s least valuable to the Big Ten is Pitt since Penn State already covers the Panthers’ market. The irony is that Rutgers is probably the school that the BE can most afford to lose for the reasons that you stated, while losing Pitt would be the most damaging thing that could happen to the conference (since it takes away a large market with solid programs in both football and basketball). The BE is only in real danger if the Big Ten decides to take Syracuse, too.

          Rutgers ought to be competitive on paper – the state of New Jersey is an excellent recruiting area and there’s the access to the New York media market. Of course, Illinois ought to be competitive for similar reasons with its recruiting area and Chicago market ties. In fact, that’s probably the fate of Rutgers – a perpetual “sleeping giant” like Illinois that pops up every decade or so with a great team that gets everyone excited that they’ve finally turned the corner, followed up by extreme disappointment. The only difference is that the Illini have basketball to fall back on.

          I agree that you need 2 schools for grab New York market as much as it can be grabbed. That’s why I still think that if the Big Ten takes a 2nd BE school, it will be Syracuse for that purpose.


          1. I have been reading almost all of the comments on this post and I want to state the following:
            1. Play-offs – They aren’t going to happen – not in anyone who is posting here’s lifetime. Accept it. $warbuck$ and everyone else can see that writing on the wall.
            2. The “Mythical” National Champion will be decided by two teams that come from a BCS conference, and the chances improve if those teams also play in a conference Championship Game (and win, of course. See 2007 LSU). Daddy $warbuck$ sees that writing on the wall, also.
            3. The Domer Nation’s thirst to be back in the title hunt if Kelly is the answer (That remains to be seen) will not be quenched if they go undefeated and are sitting on the outside looking in because of Strength of Schedule and voter sentiment. (I think $warbuck$ is a realist here, too.)
            4. All of those reasons and the fact that multiple Big 12 schools will jump at the chance to complete the Big 10 (not to mention that any BEast school in it’s right mind would bolt) makes $warbuck$ very uneasy.
            5. NBC is trying to “push” the VS Network and may have already leaked the information to the Domers that they want to put the “low draw” or non-marquis match-ups on VS in the future, making that a more marketable network to more cable providers, hence more NBC revenue. $warbuck$ knows the backlash from the general Domer nation will be loud and vocal.
            6. $warbuck$ doesn’t need to look any further than PSU as to how a good program can benefit from joining a good or great conference.

            All that being said, Texas isn’t a dummy and is probably discovering (as Frank says, there are smarter people than us working on this) the overall benefits of joining the Big 10(NOT JUST ATHLETICS) far outweigh any reasons to stay in and keep the Big 12 intact.

            And that, that REALLY is what is making $warbuck$ and others inside the Golden Dome very nervous.


          2. Rick

            Frank: That may be true about Rutgers ending up being like Illinois in Football. I think there is one big difference, Schiano is a better coach and equal to better recruiter than Zook. I personally feel that they are more likely to be in the 2nd tier football wise with Wisconsin, Iowa, Purdue, Mich State, NW. Wisconsin and MSU are good examples. They both, like Rutgers, recruit a similar number of 3,4,and 5 star recruits (mostly 3’s some 4’s, and occasionally a 5), coach and develop them well, they get a similar amount drafted and have a similar amount in the NFL. Talent wise very much alike. Can Schiano do it year in and year out in the Big Ten, probably but we will see. He most likely will not have the highs and lows that Zook has and be more like Wisconsin, which is nice.


          3. @Rick – Schiano is definitely a much better coach than Zook. There’s no doubt about that. If Rutgers can become a Wisconsin-type program (and note that Wisky actually draws in amazing revenue with arguably the best fans in the Big Ten in terms of unwavering support for sports across the board – for their entire athletic department, they actually make more than Penn State), then that’s a very valuable asset.


          4. Rick

            @Frank: I’ve been meaning to complement you on a real professional and classy dialogue I saw you had on the Rutgers Rivals board. You were professional, composed, rationale, and fair in the back and forth discussion. That place is a wild west show which I don’t like and don’t frequent but had heard you had some posting/dialogue there so I checked it out. Well done. Keep up the good work. Rick


      2. Phil


        “RU has not been a contender for the Big East football title”? They lost in TRIPLE OVERTIME at WVU in the last game of the year in 2006 and would have been tied with Louisville and gone to the Orange Bowl (because they beat Lville) had they won.
        More of a stretch, in 2008 Rutgers finished tied for 3rd in the Big East, but reversing a 13-10 loss at Cincinnati would have left them tied for first.


      3. c

        Re RU as contender for Big East title (Phil)

        Sorry, RU was contender in 2006 with a great season and exciting final game.

        And as you say they were tied for 3d in 2008.

        But that was it I believe.
        Last year SU surprisingly beat RU 31-13.


      4. Rick

        The Rutgers problem with winning and competing for the BE title since 2006 has been their bugaboo with beating West Virginia and Cincy for the most part. PITT was not the problem these past few years, they were 4-0 vs them since 2005 until last year’s loss. Yes the SU lost was a surprise and should not have happened but it did. SU beat ND the year before and they are improving fast but RU should not lose those types of games at this point in time. Rutgers contends every year and has been close but no titles. This is not acceptable now to RU followers and the cry for a BE title is growing and expected among the faithful. There are high expectations now, a long cry from the abyss of 1995-2004.

        I am not comfortable with the Big East Football future for RU, SU, or PITT even with addition of UCF, East Carolina, Temple, Buffalo, or Memphis. I don’t think they will either.


      5. c

        Re RU and Big East competition and prospects (Rick)

        One of interesting stories of the last few years has been RU’s competitive play in football. In specific, the regional competition between SU, RU and UConn is historically unique which I believe is important for attracting regional media and fan interest.

        In the old days, PSU overshadowed SU, and RU and UConn were not competitive. Then PSU “disappeared” into the Big 10 and has scheduled few eastern teams since.

        PSU is now scheduling Temple but that is largely a non-competitive non-event. The PSU games against RU in 2014-15 should attract a lot of regional interest.

        When Miami was in the Big East, they were the dominant force. Now with more parity and the disasterous discent and possible reemergence of SU, interesting regional games have returned. Next year’s SU versus RU game should be a very interesting game.

        In general the Big East competition is interesting due to the parity of a number of programs and I expect even Louisville with it’s new coach to return to being competitive.

        However, the Big East has limited options if one team like RU leaves.

        I only see UCF as being attractive in that it offers USF a geographic partner which I believe is important, is a large state school in a very strong area for recruiting.

        If 2 schools need to be replaced then the Big East is in serious trouble.


      6. Rick

        @c: Interesting question you pose. Yes I think the parity is very strong right now and I totally agree that Louisville will return, Syracuse is on a solid path back, Cincy will continue doing well with their new coach, and Skip Holtz will also do well at So. Florida. I’ts a good league top to bottom for the most part. Without RU, SU, or PITT it is a different story or even 1 or 2 of them. From a competitive point of view, UCF and East Carolina will fill the gap OK, but not fully. Memphis no, Temple with what Al Golden is building yes to a certain extent, Buffalo no. If they don’t go further west with candidates that is it. So whoever is left if any one of RU, SU, or PITT leaves is probably not going to be real happy.

        The bigger problem with this whole thing is that you have BBall only schools who are not going to want to give up an equal voting % and do not want to get out voted on anything by the all sports schools. So who is brought in will also be a function of how the BBall schools vote. A sticky wicket. The coming clash between all sports schools and BBall only schools will determine not only the future of the Football parity but the future of the BE as it exists right now. If they split then the all sports schools will have more leverage to decide who is invited and the long term strength and viability of the league and of course the retention of the auto-BCS bid. I would not want to be stuck in that situation if I was RU, SU, PITT, WVU, UConn, Louisville, Cincy, or USF. Can they create a new, good, and relevant all sports league that retains the auto-BCS bid…probably. But they are going to have to think big and bold. Do they have the leaders to do that…I don’t know.


      7. c

        re Big East (Rick)

        1) Adding teams:

        This is subjective but in my opinion adding East Carolina, Temple, Buffalo, Memphis would not improve the perception or reality of the Big East in any way.

        In a worse case situation, perhaps U of Delaware is a possibility beyond UCF.

        If one or more schools leave and the conference status is at risk, perhaps the Big East winner plays the Mountain West winner for a BCS bowl spot.

        Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the Big East negotiated it’s current TV contract at it’s low point when there were questions whether the conference would retain it’s BCS bowl bid. At this point, I would assume when a new deal is negotiated, there will be more money barring loss of existing schools.

        The Big East recently gained the “Yankee” NYC bowl on December 30, which is an interesting effort to promote interest in the conference in the Northeast and NYC metro regional market.

        RU and SU have scheduled upcoming games in the Meadowlands stadium. I believe RU plays Army and SU will play USC.

        And ND has I believe agreed to play 3 Big East teams a year although it appears they want to play in the Meadowlands or similar site for their away games.

        Beyond that, not sure what else is possible. I assume all conferences are evaluating their options for TV coverage.

        2) Loss of more than one NY metro region team I believe would seriously change the perception and reality of the conference.

        3) The BB schools are only a problem if there is an attractive alternative. If ND joins the Big 10, then the relationship will come up.

        Right now the question is who does the Big 10 choose, what markets do they want, who meets their criteria, how many teams do they add, what does the Pac 12 do, can they attract Texas; does ND consider the ACC if they decide they need a conference?

        My guess is Texas is target one and ND if interested is target 2 of the Big 10.

        If ND is not interested, RU may be selected as a large stae school near PSU and NYC; perhaps affinity and geography play a role and Pitt is selected as a large research institution; or perhaps Nebraska is selected as a national football team that could be a bridge for the Texas schools.

        I doubt the Big 10 goes beyond 14 and I would be surprised if the ACC expanded to 14 unless ND was in play.

        I guess that’s what makes this interesting. But I agree the remaining Big 12 or Big East teams may not be happy after it’s over.


      8. Rick

        @c: Yeah the new “Yankee Bowl” just renamed “The Pinstripe Bowl” is this upcoming season in the new Yankee Stadium. Nice tie in for the Big East and Big 12.

        The New Meadowlands is going to be an interesting place this year and years to come for the NY Metro area. Especially if the BT expansion include SU/RU/ND. This year at the stadium ND plays Navy and Rutgers plays Army. In 2012 Syracuse plays USC. 2014 SU plays ND, and in 2016 SU plays ND. There could be more games scheduled for the stadium but for now that is the lineup.

        The ESPN contact goes thru the 2013/2014 year. By the time the re-negotiations begin the landscape should be quite different than before.

        I don’t think that U of Delaware will ever upgrade to D!. Nor will UMass. Both really good National Championship contending D!AA. They are happy being who they are. U of D could have done it many many times before now. I just don’t think that is what they want to be.

        Unless the Big East adds TCU (read Frank’s blog for upsides) or others out west the choices east of the Mississippi are not going to knock anyone’s socks off.

        The ACC probably doesn’t want to expand although I think they should if the BT takes 2 from the Big East they should too.

        It could be a really ugly situation


  37. George


    As a fellow U of I alum, and potential colleague as a Loyola 1L, what do you see potential expansion’s effect upon ILL?

    Would adding another team (UT and/not aTm, ND, various BE schools, any combination) hurt ILL from a competitive standpoint? Or would increased recruiting potential in Texas and/or the East make us more competitive against other teams (both nationally, and within conference)? The effect of ND joining the B10 upon U of I recruiting in Chicago?


    1. @George – I think that it would be great for Illinois basketball. We’ve been seeing too many top tier Chicago area recruits head off to the ACC or programs like Kansas and the perception of the Big Ten being a “boring” basketball conference (which I don’t think is true but it’s really the national perception) doesn’t help. Getting schools like Syracuse and Texas (and even Notre Dame), in the fold, though, is fantastic for Big Ten basketball and makes it into a “sexier” league. That can only help Illinois on that front.

      As for football, it’s hard to tell because I honestly believe that there isn’t a single program in the entire country that has done less with more than Illinois. It’s an abomination that we’ve had the benefit of a location between the recruiting hotbeds of Chicago and St. Louis AND Big Ten exposure and revenue, yet we basically have 1 or 2 good years per decade. Playing Notre Dame on a regular basis would be a great thing exposure-wise in the Chicago area – that would be a huge game locally. It would be great to get into the Texas recruiting pipeline in theory, but that’s not going to be easy. If Illinois can’t lock down the Chicago area from being poached by Notre Dame, Michigan and even Iowa, then it’s going to have a hard time out of the region, too. That being said, Missouri has done fairly well getting talent out of Texas (i.e. Chase Daniel), so it certainly wouldn’t hurt. Competitively, it’s going to be ridiculously tough to get to the Rose Bowl if Texas and/or Notre Dame join. I hope that you were able to go a couple of years ago!


      1. George


        I agree on most points.

        Weber has been locking down more Chicago recruits in recent years. (side – I agree with your analysis of Lunardi’s forecast, I think we need to win two games to be IN) I don’t know how much “sexier” B10 BB is gonna be with the addition of any 1/2/3 teams. I think Weber is making UofI very sexy for Chi recruits. However, I agree that B10 basketball is short-changed in the national perspective. We usually due well in the tournament with our slow, defensive play.

        I agree that football is unbelievable. 5th biggest state in the Union. We should be at least competitive.

        I have mixed feelings about a ND-ILL game. Being a South-Sider, I know the love Chi area residents have for ND. I don’t think that game would give us more exposure, I think (if ND actually gets good) it would solidify ND’s base in Chi.

        *it would be an awesome game locally*

        On the football front, what do you Zook has to do this year to keep his job?


        1. @George – If Zook takes the Illini to a bowl (even the Pizza Pizza Motor Burnt Out City Bowl), I think that he lives for another year. Ron Guenther’s standards are pretty minimal.

          Having grown up in the South Suburbs, I also know the big following that ND has in Chicago. I still think it would be good for Illinois to be playing the Irish, though, even if there’s a risk that ND gets more traction locally. That becomes a big date on the Chicago sports calendar that Illinois-Northwestern can’t touch. (For Richard’s benefit, who I know is a Northwestern guy, that’s only because the Wildcats have been beating the crap out of us annually.)


          1. mushroomgod

            IF ND came to the Big 10, would ND-NW and ND-Ill match-ups in Soldier Field be possible? Seems like a natural….


  38. Terry Wynn

    I love this site. Best, most literate sports forum.

    All this talk about playoffs…I want to point out that the 96 team March Madness scuttles a playoff in football. Most of you know how these two connect.

    As for ND, I think their boat has sailed. Texas is a great addition for B10. ND isn’t.


  39. Vince

    I really dont see the B10 taking a second NY market team. Remember that the teams are making approx $22M from the TV contracts and do not want a diminished slice. If you take two teams, they would have to add $44M to the overall contracts; the BTN is pulling in around $66M.

    In short, the NYC market would have to add 66% of the BTN’s value to break even. I really dont see that happening with the NYC market being so professional sports heavy.

    Only one team could pull its weight, but both cant carry the combined weight, even if they deliver the entire NYC market.


    1. Rick

      Vince: keep in mind that those two teams represent all of NJ at 9 mil pop, and all of upstate NY of 7 mil pop. We are not talking about only NYC here. Aside from NYC (NYC/LI/Westchester) of 12 mil pop RU and SU represent 16 mil pop. Crunch the numbers however you want, that is 2nd to only Texas. Without NYC even. The 12 of NYC is the kicker. 28 million total. That is what 2 from the east does. And no we don’t know how or if the 12 mil pop NYC TV cable number will be penetrated, but yes we do know that the16 mil pop has a good probability that it will.


    2. Richard

      The $66M from the BTN aren’t total BTN figures. $100M + $66M 11 * $22. Looks like the BTN also returned $76M in profit. It’s really simple, actually. The Big10 current has 67M people in its footprint and 11 schools, so each additional school would have to bring about 6M (maybe a little more) to keep the slize of the pie from shrinking. NY+NJ = 28M people. Texas = 25M people. If you can get 2 schools that can definitely deliver all of NY state + NJ, it’s absolutely worth it.


      1. Jake

        Again, if. Two schools might be able to deliver New York and New Jersey, but UT can definitely deliver the state of Texas all on its own. And despite what everyone else seems to think, A&M doesn’t have to come along. I doubt that the Texas legislature will force the issue, so if the Big Ten doesn’t want the Aggies, it won’t be a problem. That’s about as many people as the NY/NJ move with half the additional mouths to feed.

        UT should be the priority. After that, if the Big Ten feels that Syracuse/Rutgers are a good extension of the brand, that they can deliver on their potential, and they’re comfortable with a 14-team conference, then that’s definitely something worth looking at.

        Unless, of course, Notre Dame is genuinely interested. Swarbrick’s remarks didn’t convince me.


  40. Vince

    Another issue that my fellow B10 alums discuss is the distant chance that ND will see a BCS game within the B10. As of now…Wisky, UMich, PSU, OSU and Iowa are all better than ND. That’s five teams. During a good year, ND would play in the Cap One Bowl. During an average year, they would end up in the Outback or Gator Bowl.

    Remember, the B10 isnt the B12. We won’t allow bowl committees to just sift through our teams and take a 5th place ND team over a 3rd place team. Also, ND wont be able to decline a bowl bid because they dont feel like going. [See last year]. They have to get out there and get Big Daddy Delany his money along with everyone else.


      1. M

        Strangely enough, the Big Ten has 7 non-BCS bowl tie ins for the coming cycle. Since the Big Ten rarely has 9 bowl eligible teams as currently comprised, I would say they are already prepared for expansion.


      2. Richard

        The ACC & SEC have 9 and the Big12 has 8 bowl tie-ins. Hell, the Big East has 6 for 8 teams, so if anything, the Big10 needs to get mroe bowl tie-ins.


      3. Jake

        Even if they don’t add any bowls, they could seriously upgrade their tie-ins if they add teams like Texas or Notre Dame. Ditch the “Dallas Football Classic” (I’m going to that next year regardless of the match-up – it’s just too funny) or the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl (mmm … pizza bowl)and maybe get the Sun Bowl, the Alamo Bowl, or, what the heck, the Cotton. Yet another advantage to conference expansion.


  41. Penn State Danny

    So, Frank, which is the chicken and which is the egg?

    IF the Big Ten invites Rutgers and Syracuse first, will ND then panic and join?

    Or IF the Big Ten invites ND first, will they insist that Rutgers and Syracuse be added?

    As my name states, I am a proud Nittany Lion. But, I will feel bad for my Pitt and WVU friends if this situation happens.

    These schools would have been better off if they listened to JoePa 25 years ago. An Eastern All Sports Conference would have worked back then. It is unfortunately too late now.


    1. Rick

      Danny: I would really like to read a book on the whole inside story there. Rutgers was crying for that league. All water under the bridge.


      1. Mike R

        Such a book would be fascinating indeed. Joe took the AD’s job at Penn State in the mid-70s to engineer a conference that he called the “Big 10 of the East.” Its core would have been Penn State, Pitt, Syracuse and West Virginia. RU’s sports programs were emerging at the time, highlighted by a Final Four run in 76 and it certainly would have been a part of that conference. The melodrama has been told on other boards and I’ll try to find it and post here.


      2. Rick

        @miker. Yes I too have read snippets of the drama here and there on other boards from differing perspectives (ie: Pitt’s version and the Penn State version). I look forward to what you come up with.


      3. Rick

        @miker, @R: Here is an interesting recall of events I came across recently on a discussion blog about the BE, it’s history, and the future and it foots pretty well with my recollections and some of the background articles I have read and linked:

        “…. Pitt was deliberating over its decision to join the BE during the latter part of 1981, during which the football season played out. During that season, Pitt went on the road to play at BC (25,000 showed up), Temple (maybe 32,000), and RU at Giants Stadium (34,000). Afterward, the Pitt AD was quoted in the newspapers that he saw nothing in those three road games that would make him want to give up Pitt’s football independence, ….Pitt spent a good part of that season at #1 and Dan Marino was their QB. But the good times did not last long and by 1984, Pitt had a losing season”


    2. R

      Wasn’t it Pitt and Syracuse that said no to the all sports conference because they had their big east basketball? That was my remembrance. As a Penn Stater living out west and divorced from the info flow(until the internets), I would love to have more info on this issue.


      1. Rick

        Not exactly. The BE started in 1979 as BBall. Prov/STJ/GTown/Syr/SH/UConn/BC. RU and Holy Cross declined. Pitt joined in 1985. PSU applied in 1985 but was rejected in a 5-3 vote. In 1990 the Big East actually became a full fledged Football conference too and began play in 1991. By then PSU was Big Ten bound and the rest is history. The JoePa original vision pre-dated much of this but some overlapped.


      2. Mike R

        I’ve only found bits and pieces of the story on the Interwebs today, so I’ll trot out the story as I remember it.

        Penn State for a long time saw the need to end the eastern independent tradition in football, seeing that schools from other regions with conference play were gaining greater national respect than some of Paterno’s unbeaten teams. The unraveling of NCAA control over TV revenue in football made the issue of conference affiliation more urgent.

        Its true that Joe often talked about his “Big 10 of the East” vision in the 1970s. When he was AD at Penn State from 1980 to 1982, Paterno made it his main project to assemble an eastern all-sports conference (he also invested heavily in women’s sports, then in their infancy). To do that, he would have had to persuade the Big East’s football schools to abandon that conference, which was in its early days but was already a big TV success.

        I am a Penn Stater and was there during the key years, so what I know is basically the Penn State version of events. I’ll try to be as objective as I can.

        SU turned down Paterno flat, largely because it was drawing big crowds for Big East basketball games with Georgetown and St. John’s, and the TV contract for the basketball league — which drew together big markets from Boston to NYC to Philly to DC — would be better than what it could get for a football-oriented league centered on western PA (Pitt-PSU-WVU). Pitt then went into the Big East to get a piece of the basketball pie and because its football team was doing great as an independent. Those two decisions left Penn State on the outside looking in, as the Big East was not interested in forming a football conference and Joe was intent on an all-sports conference headlined by football.

        The other key factor was Dave Gavitt, who cobbled together the Big East as a big-market basketball league in reaction to Penn State’s founding of what was then the Eastern 8 (now the Atlantic 10), which was meant to serve as the forerunner of an all-sports league. Gavitt saw that a league bringing together the biggest eastern markets — BC, St. John’s, Georgetown and eventually a Philly school — would command big TV revenue (and incidentally give a boost to Providence College, the non-football school where he was AD). Gavitt basically out-recruited Paterno for the hearts and minds of SU and Pitt (and, earlier, also took Villanova out of the Eastern 8 and into the Big East).

        As noted by others, 1985 was the key year, when State applied for Big East membership with the caveat that the league sponsor football. PSU was turned down. The university President Bryce Jordan immediately went to work to bring State into the Big 10. Key was the fact that the University of Illinois president, Stanley Ikenberry, had deep PSU ties. The process took until 1990, and the affiliation has been a huge positive for State, in my view.


  42. Johnny

    Could you solve the NCAA-mandated division problem for a championship game with a 14-team conferece by having “rolling” divisions that change each year? Let’s say you have 2 divisions of 7 each year where each team within the division plays a round robin, plus two teams from the other division (8 conference games total). Allow teams to designate up to 2-3 rivals that they play each year. Set up the schedule so that each team is guaranteed to play each other team at least once every other year (or 2 out of 4 years, or something). Couldn’t a computer figure out a way to structure divisions on a rotating basis so that this works out? Divisions would change from year-to-year, but would it preserve the intimacy of a conference by having everyone play everyone else more often.


    1. SH

      Assuming a 14-team conference, I think the Big 10 would be wise to be open to alternative structures for determining championships (and divisions, if necessary). Including simply a top-2 team approach or pod approach. There are a few issues at play: (1) finding a way to truly crown a champion of deserving teams, taking into consideration not all teams will play, (2) making sure that each team visits the other schools (certainly, all schools will want OSU, PSU, UT, Mich to come visit often), and (3) maximizing the marquee games for TV purposes. Obviously, it is difficult to design a system that maximizes all these preferences on an annual basis.

      There are always risks in creating fixed divisions. The SEC geographic divisions have generally worked out fairly well (from my memory), as both sides have generally been competitive and national champs have come from both. It has not worked out so well in the Big XII, where the South has generally been superior. But these things are cyclical, which is one reason why your rotating division idea has merit.

      The problem you face with that is there is no continuity and you face a situation like the ACC, where who knows what division any team is in. Because they wanted to keep FSU and Miami out of the same division, they seemingly randomly assiged teams to divisions.

      If UT/A&M are added, maybe a geographical alignment makes sense – an east and west. This would allow OSU-MI to maintain some grandness, as it could typically decide the winner of the east. It would also assure that at least one of PSU, OSU, or MI made it to a west school. But it may mean that UT only plays one marquee game a year agains one of those schools.

      Anyway, I’m not sure what the right answer is. Without truly looking at it, I like the idea of simply having the top-2 teams play without a division, but I can certainly see there being a lot of issues with that. Nothing is perfect, so the trick is to design the best possible system. I think it has worked so far for the SEC, but they have the benefit of a 12-team league and both divisions have been competitive and produced champions.


    2. m (Ag)

      “Could you solve the NCAA-mandated division problem for a championship game with a 14-game conference by having “rolling” divisions that change each year?”

      “That’s the “pod” idea. It’s been discussed before.”

      I first saw the “pod” idea on this blog, for just such a 14 team proposal. Since I’ve given an example of a 16 team example, I’ll give a 14 team example (This was the example I first saw):

      Year 1&2:

      Division 1: OSU, Mich, MSU, Iowa, Wisc, Minn, PSU
      Division 2: Tex, A&M, Neb, Ind, PU, Ill, NW

      Year 3&4:

      Division 1: OSU, Mich, MSU, Ind, PU, Ill, NW
      Division 2: Tex, A&M, Neb, Iowa, Wisc, Minn, PSU

      Texas would get a permanent rivalry with OSU and play either Mich and MSU as a 2nd non-divisional game each year.
      A&M would get a permanent rivalry with MSU and also play either OSU or Mich each year.
      Nebraska would get a permanent rivalry with Michigan and also play OSU or MSU each year.

      Iowa, Wisc, Minn, PSU would each play 2 of Ind, Ill, PU, NW every year as non-divisional games.

      So every team gets 3 permanent opponents, and sees every other team in the conference 2 years out of 4. Only 8 conference games need to be scheduled every year.


    3. Mike R

      I suspect the Big 10 would insist on its right to name its champion in its own way. Also, whether the NCAA recognizes a conference champion is of no moment. The relevant question is whether the BCS would recognize your champion. I expect that the BCS would defer to the Bog 10 rather than lose access to Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and possibly ND or Texas.


      1. m (Ag)

        Normally a conference championship game is a 13th regular season game. That game needs to be sanctioned by the NCAA if you want to remain a part of the NCAA.

        One alternative could be to have one less pre-scheduled conference game for everyone, and then have an end of the year weekend where 1 plays 2, 3 plays 4, 5 plays 6, etc. I don’t think that would be as interesting for the teams who don’t play in the championship game, especially since several games will be rematches. Also, some teams will lose a home game that year, while some would gain one. For all the headaches, it would likely be less profitable than having everyone playing 12 pre-scheduled games with 2 teams getting a extra 13th game.

        The other alternative is to have no championship game.


  43. OrderRestored

    I agree with Mushroom, the Big Ten raiding the Pac 10 would be like breaking into your brother’s house and stealing his TV set; then inviting him over to watch it. The Big Ten and Pac 10 have too intimate of a relationship through the Rose Bowl and I don’t think that even the cutthroat business part of these expansions can infringe on that. Florida is more likely to join the Big Ten than USC; and like I’ve said before, Florida isn’t an option.


  44. If you add ND, Syracuse and Pitt, I think you still need 2 more teams so you can go with the 4 pods of 4.

    Rutgers and Missouri?

    I think Rutgers is a lock in a 16 team conference.

    Would you rather have Missouri or Uconn? Uconn has a big b-ball following in NYC. They also bring another state into the footprint.


    1. Rick

      I really like UConn, follow their sports programs here in CT closely, have a daughter that is an alum, but unfortunately I really don’t see them in the mix for 14 or 16 teams. It’s too bad because Lew Perkins did a really nice job there with the Athletic dept before going to Kansas. Built and oversaw the elite men’s and women’s basketball programs, upgraded football to D1, hired both Skip Holtz and Randy Edsall to really make them competitive, built their new football stadium, upgraded on campus athletic facilities, etc. Really good AD. Their academics has improved dramatically over the years although not an AAU member. The would fit really well in the ACC. They deserve to find a good home if the Big East implodes. Really good all round situation there at UConn.


  45. arby

    Lots of great comments as always …

    A few quick thoughts to add —

    1) I can’t imagine a scenario where Cali teams wind up in the Big 10. In addition to the long-standing relationship with the Pac-10, at some point the geographic realities become a factor. It doesnt seem feasible for any school (or 2, or maybe even 4) to play a majority of their non-rev sports schedules two time zones away — especially if they are traveling east, which is a tougher transition.

    2) I’m not in favor of the pod concept for an expanded Big 10, where division affiliations are constantly changing. There’s something to be said for consistency where schools and fans can count on seeing most of the same schools on a regular basis. In a 16 team league for football the flavor of the existing league can survive with 2 divisions. As one example — if 3 additions were “western” schools like Texas, A&M and Neb/Mizz, a school like Iowa would still play Wisky, Minnesota, Northwestern and Illinois every year and 2 of the remaining 8 members. That’s two-thirds of their schedule. And a rotation could be balanced so western schools see one of among OSU, PSU, Michigan and Notre Dame every year.

    3) It seems as though a lot of rhetoric from the Pac-10 indicates that this time it will be “all about the money.” While that implies more flexibility from the conference presidents, I suspect it may still not be enough to win membership for BYU. However, if they were to make a 6 team grab and cherry pick Texas, A&M, Nebraska, Colorado and two from among Kansas, Mizzou, OU and OK St it might give the league the kind of massive footprint that would get them closer to parity with the other big remaining conferences. You’d need to sell the Arizona schools on this to be successful since they’d wind up playing mostly new members, but in doing so, all the northwest schools would continue to play the California schools on a regular basis — one of their major priorities. I could also see this having a little more appeal to the Texas schools. They’d wind up in a more prestigious and better academic conference than at present and a majority of their games would be within one time zone of campus.


  46. Michael

    We shouldn’t underestimate how much BT college presidents & boosters desire for the schools to play each other as frequently as possible. Just look at how the Big Ten differs from other leagues…

    From the early 50’s to today, each Big Ten school has played either all but one conference opponent or all but two.

    That’s a lot different from the SEC. Prior to 1992, when the SEC went from 10 schools to 12, each SEC school played only 6 out of a possible 9 conference opponents. Some schools would go over a decade without play each other, yet they were in the same league. So, historically, it hasn’t been a priority in that conference for teams to play each other with much frequency.

    Likewise, the Big East as a football league has not even been intact for 20 years yet. In fact, the only remaining original members are Pitt, Syracuse, Rutgers, and WVU. Round-robin play, or the closest thing to it, isn’t any kind of long-standing tradition that college presidents or boosters would flip out over if it changed.

    In this regard, the Big Ten is a lot more like the Pac 10 or ACC. Going back more than 50 years, any give Pac 10 team has played all but one of its opponents, and lately, they’re all playing one another. For the ACC’s first 50 years (1953-2002), every ACC team played every other ACC team. Many fans in the heart of ACC country are still upset over the changes. (I know because I have dozens of in-laws who are huge NC State & Tar Heel fans.) They want UNC to play Wake every year & State to play Duke yearly.

    That’s just a little food for thought as to why the Big Ten would hesitate to expand to 16.


  47. Michael

    Perhaps Frank could answer this question, perhaps someone else:

    Why is the Big Ten the only conference with such an established, highly effective research consortium?

    Yes, I understand that the Big Ten is the only league with all AAU members, but I see no reason why that should prevent schools in other leagues from working cooperatively for academic & research purposes.

    Take the Pac 10, for example. 7 out of 10 members are AAU, and the other three are still classified by the Carnegie Foundation in the “Very High Research Activity” category. It seems to me that league could create a great CIC-style consortium.

    Then there’s the ACC. Granted, there are only 4 AAU members, but all 12 members are in US News’ Top Tier. (That doesn’t mean everything, but it does mean these are competitive institutions.) Florida State has a stated mission to become a member of the AAU. I find it shocking that Georgia Tech isn’t yet a member.
    ” target=”_blank”>complete list of HTML Tags.


    1. Michael

      Somehow I posted this before I was ready. Anyway, I’d love to learn an opinion about why other leagues don’t have a “CIC” of their own.


    2. Richard

      The ACC does have something set up (Shalala of Miami, who was originally chancellor at Wisconsin, wanted something like the CIC when Miami joined), but they just coordinate study-abroad programs right now, since they haven’t been around as long. As for the Pac10, the academic differences between a Wash St. & OregonSt. and the UC schools, Stanford, and Washignton are vast. Plus, the UC schools may not be interested in such an organization since they’re all branches of one university system and already collaborate with UCSD, US-Davis, UC-Irvine, etc.


  48. Michael

    If the Big East is indeed “killed off” by the Big Ten and ACC, assuming that Syracuse, Pitt, Rutgers, and UConn join one or the other, what happens to WVU, Louisville, Cincy, & USF?

    (1) The SEC wouldn’t take them. They’re locked into their TV contracts for the long haul, and they’re not going to invite those teams out of charity.

    (2) The ACC wouldn’t take them. The ACC may not demand AAU membership, but it does have very high standards. Duke, UVA, UNC, Georgia Tech, Boston College, Wake Forest, Maryland… those schools will insist on schools they view as peers, and I doubt whether the other five schools would accept them as they are today, either. USF in particular would add almost no additional markets that Miami & FSU are already bringing.

    I suspect their first strategy would be an attempt to form an alliance with remaining Big 12 schools. If that fails, I think they’d look to the Mountain West for an alliance. After that, I’m thinking they’ll look at a merger with C-USA.

    But, again, they won’t end up in the ACC. The old ACC members from NC, VA, & MD are just way too picky.

    In any case, those four schools will be most vulnerable in any realignment. Even Big 12 schools who are left behind in Big Ten/Pac 10 raid will still be able to invite any Mountain West team they want.


    1. Richard

      The Big East won’t actually die. They’ll just add Central Florida, East Carolina, Memphis, and maybe one other school (Houston or TCU maybe if UT and TAMU remain in the Big12). They may even keep their BCS bid for political reasons.


  49. SH

    Agreed the Pac-10 schools are non-starters. Better for the B10 would be the P10 to get to 12 schools, or if B10 has 14 – 14 for the P10. The B10 and P10 have mutual interest, and I could see both thinking that B10 owns east, P10 owns the west. With all those schools, if the B10 and P10 align themselves with respect to BCS, bowls and other NCAA matters, they will exert a lot of control. For instance, let’s assume that the BCS expands somehow. The B10/P10 will want to make sure that most of the games are played in their home states – Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl, etc. The only games in ACC/SEC territory may be the two in existence. That’s a small example, but it shows where the alliance can be helpful.


  50. Mike R

    The seismic shift, as I see it, comes when one conference (most likely the Big 10 or Pac 10) expands beyond 12. Once that barrier is broken, we are talking about superconferences. At that point, we are also very likely talking about the serious erosion of the Big 12, implosion of the Big East football league, or both, and the resulting need to reconfigure the BCS. At that point — and only that point — will Notre Dame have to take action to protect its position. The alternatives are (1) deals with the BCS and a TV network that allow football to profitable enough to preserve its independence and keep the other sports in a league with schools like Marquette and Villanova (I think the Big East would remain a viable basketball/Olympic sports league even if the football schools split off), or (2) joining a football conference, with their preference being the Big 10 but institutional similarity pointing toward the ACC.


      1. Theta

        sorry, you need to be a subscriber. An Alum came up to him after the speech and straight up asked him Big 10 or PAC 10.

        I asked the question I was dying to ask: “So, Big 10 or Pac 10?”

        He laughed and then the first thing he said was “Well, we are NOT going to the Big 10.” I was expecting a very lawyerly, equivocating answer, so I was pretty surprised at his very direct and succinct answer. He then went on to say he had no desire to be flying our softball team all over the upper reaches of the midwest. Then he dropped another bombshell “Whatever we do, we aren’t leaving Tech behind”. He then talked about how this issue is very much a hot button topic for him right now and it’s what he was referring to by referencing the “Big XII TV contract negotiations” in his speech. He then got rather vague and said that he could see some sort of large “Western” alliance of schools forming in the future, but this isn’t imminent and he’s not sure what will happen. That was it, we only spoke for a total of about 2 or 3 minutes.


        1. Thanks for sending that link, Theta. Very interesting stuff, although the travel concerns are a convenient excuse since it would be virtually the same with the Pac-10 and Big Ten. Texas Tech having to come along, though, is pretty instructive. If that’s the case (whether it’s for political reasons or Texas actually wants them), then that certainly puts a damper on Texas going to the Big Ten. Maybe a Western alliance indicative of some type of joint TV network between the Pac-10 and Big XII in the near future? We’ll see if Powers was being truthful or just posturing.


          1. ot

            Does the Pac-10 really want anything to do with the “small revenue” Big 12 schools i.e. Iowa State, Kansas State, and Baylor?

            A merger between the Pac-10 and the Big 12 really make no sense unless the “small revenue” schools (Washington State, Iowa State, Kansas State, and Baylor) are jettisoned.


            The Pac-10, just like the Big 10, has made it very clear that each additional school has to be revenue “accretive”.

            Colorado is the only major U.S. school in the Mountain and Pacific time zones with a Division I FBS football that would potentially be revenue “accretive”.

            Utah can only deliver expanded basic cable TV households in the Salt Lake City market (which basically covers the entire state of Utah plus Northeastern Nevada i.e. Elko and all points east). That number appears to be too small for the Pac-10.


          2. Richard

            That’s why it will most likely be a “Pac20” or no expansion/merger for the Pac10. There’s no really good partner for Colorado. Texas would want to bring it’s whole posse with it (and wouldn’t be too keen with the idea of flying out to the Northwest for almost half it’s conference games in all sports). Meanwhile, no Pac10 school outside SoCal wants to give up their double-dates with the SoCal pair. A “Pac20” allows everyone to play almost the same schedule they do now; only difference is that there would be a championship game between East and West (or Plains and Pacific).

            If the Big10 passes on all Big12 schools, Baylor and ISU will get left out (the Kansas legislature will force Kansas to take KSU along with them). If the Big10 takes Mizzou or Nebraska, only one of them will get left out.


          3. Richard

            Oh, I forgot to add: the big advantage of a Pac20 is that the cable network they launch would be much more robust than a Pac10 or Pac12 cable network. ISU, KSU, Baylor (well some of them) get to tag along for the ride since Big Daddy Longhorn will be pulling the wagon.


          4. Justin

            IMO, how it could go down.

            The Big 10 and Pac 10 move in tandem.

            The Big 10 adds five schools headlined by ND to take over the TV markets north of the Ohio river. Let’s say the Tribune story is accurate — Notre Dame, Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt and Missouri.

            The PAC 10 is expanding for money. They need to get in the same ballpark as the Big 10/SEC. The only way to close the gap is Texas. The PAC 10 expands by adding Colorado and Utah. After the Big 10 adds five schools, including Missouri, the PAC 10 announces a second phase of expansion that includes Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and UNLV (think TV markets — this is the PAC 10’s Rutgers play).

            Your first two “superconferences” have arrived, and the Rose Bowl gets the winner.

            Big 10
            East – Penn St, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse
            West – Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota
            North – Michigan, OSU, Northwestern, Illinois
            Midwest – Notre Dame, Purdue, MSU, Indiana

            PAC 10
            Northwest – Wash, Wash. State, Oregon, Oregon St
            Pacific – USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona St
            Rocky – Cal, Stanford, Colorado, Utah
            Southwest – Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UNLV


          5. Jake

            The Big Ten isn’t going to just let Texas go the Pac-10 – they probably want the Pac-10 to stick around, but they aren’t interested in being equals with anyone. But let’s say they do. I don’t care what Powers said, Tech isn’t going to the Pac-10. If a conference that already has UT and A&M feels that a third Texas school is necessary, there’s TCU. And UNLV? I don’t know, I think the Pac-10 already has a pretty strong presence in Vegas. New Mexico might be a better bet.

            I’d argue about Missouri or Nebraska to the Big Ten, but I think that one’s been covered.


          6. Seth9

            I don’t think that’s a fair assessment of the Big Ten’s attitude. The Big Ten does not care about being superior to the Pac 10 financially because moves by the Pac 10 do not really affect the Big Ten that much and vice-versa. The Big Ten will make whatever deal nets the greatest benefit to the conference and will not get into a bidding war with the Pac 10 over Texas if the Pac 10 wants them. I’d be willing to bet that the Pac 10 would agree to a form of unequal revenue sharing to get Texas in the fold if they decided to go that route, so long as it netted everyone in the conference more money. The Big Ten will not.


          7. Playoffs Now!

            The last Texas legislature made a big effort to start upgrading some of the state universities. They want an equivalent to the Cal system, and they’ve dangle potentially boatloads of matching money to any of the 7 (IIRC) designated schools that can meet certain improvement and fundraising thresholds. Tech and UH are two of those schools, the goal being Tier 1 status and big time research.

            There has been back channel talk over the last couple of years of bringing in Houston and/or TCU if some other B12 schools defected. An all Texas B12 south would be created, but with a change in conf scheduling to protect certain games (so that UT-OU would remain annual.) So it wouldn’t be earth shattering for UT to want to ultimately package Tech, UH, and Aggie in whatever conf/aligment the horns end up in. Even if UT later bolts without some or all of them, if they can place these schools in decent positions during the shakeouts thing will probably go easier for the horns on the political side. And there is potential synergy in a sizable Texas block in any conference.

            But of course, negotiating goals are not always the same as end results.


          8. Playoffs Now!

            One more thing, I’m thinking the western alliance talk is aimed at keeping the P10(+2) and B12 pretty much whole and separate, but say they are looking at a 20-team super conf that functions (at least in football) as de facto 2 10 school conferences that meet only in the conf champ game (on a 9 game conf schedule.) What’s the chances that the B10+ is looking at a similar setup, where they’d spin off Penn State into an eastern half with 9 raided BE and ACC teams? The ACC ain’t gonna get relative jack in their current TV negotiations, so conceivably the core could be wooed away. PSU would still keep all B10 membership benefits but for scheduling purposes would play on the BEACC side. Not a true merger or conf expansion, just an alliance allowing the B10+ the benefit of a 20-team super block without lowing the B10+ academic standards.

            That’s way out there, I know. More of a brainstorming session, but seismic shifts can be unpredictable.


          9. Playoffs Now!

            Insomnia gave me another crazy thought (or vice versa.) The B12 can offer ND something the B10+ can’t: fewer conference games.

            Say this western alliance talk is basically about a shared cable channel/package and maybe a few more non-conf games between the 2. As part of the negotiations UT and NE convince the P10 to add CO and NE. NE can now resume its rivalry game with OU as an annual meeting. Outside of that game, nobody in the B12 South really cares about the north games, so they can take BYU and offer ND more schedule freedom by moving to a 7-game conf sched (5 division games and play the teams in the other division once every 3 years.) North schools might not be as thrilled, but getting ND at home every other year should make up for that.

            Gives ND the flexibility to preserve more of its traditional rivalries and a game in Texas 2 out of every 3 years. Perhaps keep Mich and USC annual, alternate MSU and Stanford, alternate the military schools, plus another home game. Remember that UT has murmured occasionally about exploring independence, so they’d benefit, too. Would give them more control of their strength of schedule and another prime time non-conf matchup like a UCLA or Michigan without getting too brutal an overall schedule.

            Travel difference isn’t that great compared to the BEast, and the B12 certainly can provide the Irish with as much unequal distribution as any other conf. If NBC/Comcast is looking to go after major conferences the way Fox Sports appears to be heading, that may push leave ND with little choice but to drop independence.


          10. Justin

            The Big 10 isn’t going to add Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

            Texas may be able to get a more favorable deal from the PAC 10. What is a “better deal”? Maybe an unequal revenue sharing agreement, and also the ability to bring a couple Texas schools along for the ride. Further, if the PAC 10 adds Colorado too, this conference probably represents the most palatable alternative for UT.

            I think the Big 10 would love to have Texas, but I think if its forced to choose between accepting Texas Tech and A&M or taking a couple Big East schools with ND, it will choose the latter. After all, the Big 10 has been interested in Syracuse, Pitt and Rutgers.


          11. Texas A&M is not (or at least shouldn’t) be a problem for the Big Ten. I agree that Texas Tech, though, would be a complete deal-killer. Of course, the Pac-10 would avoid Texas Tech like the plague, too, so that “Western alliance” proposal must be more of a media rights-type of relationship than an actual conference shift or merger.


          12. Mike B.

            What it appears Texas is trying to do right now is “thread the needle”. They would like to keep the majority of the existing Big XII together, especially the South Division and back-fill any defections with more Texas schools.

            Then form a media-rights alliance with a conference with a better market profile that the old Big 8 schools (although why they want to add Pacific and Mountain time zone teams is a bit lost on me).

            And the final piece of the puzzle is the Longhorn Sports Network, which would allow them to expand their brand and keep all the revenue.

            If they can pull it off, more power to ’em. But I can’t see why the Pac 10 would want a media alliance with the Big XII if Texas has its own TV network, and I can’t see why the other Big XII teams would want to move from peasant to serf status by allowing Texas to further distance themselves from the pack.

            I think this is why Colorado and Mizzou want out so badly.


          13. Exactly.

            Texas will take the best deal it can get. The Big 10 is the “sure thing” in that the money an TV network are already in place. However, they will not dictate terms to the Big 10. The Big 10 will simply walk away if Texas tries to force too many Texas schools into the conference, or seeks some type of unequal revenue sharing.

            The PAC 10 may still play ball though. If you believe some of the reports that the PAC 10 presidents have instructed Larry Scott (the commish) to get them in the same ballpark as the Big 10 and SEC, then they may be a little more accomodating.

            Plus, the PAC 10 does not have a CIC type consortium which would automatically veto a school such as Texas Tech.

            The biggest obstacle to the PAC 10 is the unanimous vote requirement and whether the California schools would be willing to allow the PAC 10 to have almost as many Texas schools as California schools.

            Again, it would come down to revenue. If they made the revenue the #1 goal, they may go along with it.


          14. Richard

            One way to get around the unanimous vote is to merge (instead of expand). If the SoCal schools say they want to partner with the bulk of Big12 schools in the “Western20”, the rest of the Pac10 will follow along as well. Then everybody will write up a new charter, just like the Big8 and Texas schools did.


          15. Mike

            A merger would also allow the two conferences to cut loose teams that don’t bring in additional TV dollars. Washington St. and Oregon St. might suffer the same fate as Kansas St, Iowa St, Oklahoma St. and Baylor. The logic being if Washington gets you on TV sets throughout the state, what will Washington St bring to the table*? Baring a Big Ten raid on the Big 12 you end up with a nice 16 team league. Imagine the fights in the state legislatures. If they can be navigated you get:

            “Big 8”: Neb, Col, Kan, Mizz, Okla, Tx, TAM, TT

            “Pac 8”: Was, Ore, Stan, Cal, USC, UCLA, Ari, ASU

            *Same goes for Oregon, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas. Sorry Iowa St., Iowa is Big Ten country. Yes I know I didn’t kick out an Arizona school, but Arizona and Arizona St. are bigger brands than WSU or OSU.


          16. Playoffs Now!

            That’s the thing, what if one or more of the non-Cal schools refuses to approve any expansion because they don’t want to lose the frequency of profitable games hosting USC and the California trips important for recruiting? It is a real possibility. No expansion is a significant ceiling on their revenue enhancement.

            I’m thinking that alliance talk means the cooperation of two 12-team conferences with two conf champ games. But if the P10 won’t expand, might a following choice for Texas and the B12 be slimming down to 10, staying separate conferences, but petitioning to substitute an alliance champ game for a conf champ? Would be a 9-game round robin in each conf. Or would perhaps those P10 holdouts go along with a virtual ‘In name only’ P20 conf that basically kept the P10 and B(12-2) separate in marketing, standards, and administration? P20 wouldn’t need to petition for a conf champ game.

            Ha, maybe we’d get to enjoy UT writing a letter of recommendation to the B10+ suggesting they take malcontent NE and MO, so as to slim down to 10 without the political/structural hassles of dropping schools. “Take my wife, please!”


          17. Richard

            Yeah, I think a P20 where the former Pac10 and Big12 members are kept almost kept separate would appeal to enough schools for this to work. If the Big10 doesn’t take Mizzou and/or Nebraska, they may drop ISU and Baylor.


          18. Mike

            Getting rid of Missouri and Nebraska only makes the current situation worse for Texas. Texas is still subsudising smaller schools in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. There isn’t a lot of TV value add from KSU, ISU, OSU, and Baylor.


          19. Michael

            You could make an argument that there are schools in every conference subsidizing the others.

            Think about it. Where would Northwestern be without the money brought on by football programs at Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State, or basketball at Indiana & Michigan State? Same thing for Vanderbilt. Ditto for Wake Forest (the second-smallest school in the FBS).

            Seriously, how much ‘TV value’ is there in having four schools in the same conference all drawing the same TV markets, as is the case in the Big 12 with the Texas schools and the ACC with the North Carolina schools?

            For that matter, why have Michigan State in the Big Ten with Michigan? Why have both Purdue and Indiana in the Big Ten?

            The bottom line is that conferences aren’t going to kick members out, nor are schools who’ve been partners since before WWII going to intentionally ditch each other for their own pay increase.


          20. Michael

            My previous comment was in response to Mike’s comment. I can’t quite figure out how the thread on this forum works.


          21. spartakles78

            I think if you don’t hit reply to a specific comment, it places the comment after the latest one to the article.


          22. Jake

            Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. It seems like you can reply to the comments higher up in the thread, but not the ones further down. I’m replying to you, so let’s see if this works.


          23. Dcphx

            I think after a certain volume of replies, it just says, wtf I’m putting these at the end or anywhere I can fit them…


          24. aps

            Don’t feel bad Dcphx, I have the same problem.

            From today’s Columbus Dispatch.

            Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee will be in Indianapolis today for a meeting on Big Ten expansion. There haven’t been any reports of such a meeting, but Gee made his travel plans known yesterday during an interview with a reporter and photographer from The Dispatch.

            Reports say that the Big Ten, currently with 11 schools, is considering adding three or even five teams. Either plan would allow the conference to stage a football championship game, as the Big 12, Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences already do. And with teams as geographically diverse as Rutgers and Texas being mentioned for inclusion, expansion could radically alter the college sports landscape.



          25. Richard

            They’re not going to kick any members out, but they’re certainly willing to leave behind schools they’ve been partners with since WWI. Just ask Texas & TAMU.

            However, I do believe that it will be nigh impossible for Washington to leave behind WSU (Kansas to leave behind KSU, etc.), which is why I consider a Pac20 to be more likely since in that case, only a couple current members would be left behind (likely ISU & Baylor).


          26. Mike

            I’ve been following everyones tips on how to get the comments to show correctly, to no avail so we will see where this one ends up. It seems like comments get put where ever they feel like


            The difference between Texas, Michigan and Kansas is sheer population. It makes sense to “double down” on Texas or Michigan, Not Kansas. I agree kicking members out is rash, but if its in your own self interest to do it, why wouldn’t you?


          27. m (Ag)

            “You could make an argument that there are schools in every conference subsidizing the others”

            Sure, this is true, but a successful conference won’t have too many schools dragging down the average.

            With a big state like Michigan, having 2 big public schools can be OK if they each have large fanbases. For your cable TV purposes, it might be better to trade 1 for a new state, but that 2nd school will at least be bringing many more viewers for advertising purposes. This is particularly true for national tv contracts.

            With the exception of the 2 private schools, Iowa, and MSU, every Big 10 school is the big name educational institution for a state with over 5 million people. That’s why they can look at themselves as a conference of equals. Sure, they don’t all bring the same amount to the table, but most of them bring large amounts, so they can overlook the 2 private schools.

            For a different prespective, look at the Big 12. Texas is a huge state, but only 2 of the 4 schools (Texas and A&M) really have large, state-wide followings. Looking at wikipedias list of states populations, Missouri has more people than 3 Big 10 states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa). Colorado ranks only ahead of Iowa. Oklahoma has 1.4 million less people than Colorado, but is still 0.6 million above Iowa. Nebraska & Kansas are both below Iowa.

            You have 2 schools from Texas that aren’t really contributing much. You have 3 schools from Nebraska and Kansas that aren’t contributing as much as Iowa. Having 2 schools from Oklahoma brings their average below an Iowa. And of course, you can’t rank Iowa State ahead of Iowa.

            For tv households, you have 4 schools (Texas, Missouri, Colorado, Texas A&M) essentially carrying 8 others. If you give the national prestige of OU and Nebraska weight, you still have 6 schools carrying the other 6. This is why the top schools in the conference don’t really look at the others as equals. This is why they might be willing to walk into another conference and look at their new partners as equals.

            That doesn’t mean the conference won’t stick together, but its never going to be anywhere near as stable as the Big 10 is.


          28. Adam

            Purdue is a public, Land Grant University like Michigan State and Penn State. It’s the flagship school in the Purdue University System.


          29. Michael

            A lot of people think Clemson is private, too, since it doesn’t have “Tech,” “State,” or “A&M” in its name. Having grown up 45 minutes from Clemson, I can assure you all that it couldn’t be further from private.


          30. ot

            Any attempt by the Oregon and/or Washington schools to block Pac-10 expansion (because they don’t want to give up their road trips to USC and UCLA) may result in the Big Ten poaching away USC.

            When that happens, the likes of Oregon State and Washington State will really be screwed. What is left of the Pac-10 after USC is poached away by the Big Ten won’t be worth that much to TV executives.


          31. Mike B.

            A media alliance makes good sense for the Pac10. Their main drawback from a television contract perspective is that they can’t host any early games. If the Big XII/Pac 10 negotiated a contract together, and coordinated scheduling, the Central Time Zone teams of the Big XII can take the early slots, the conferences could split the middle slot, and the Pac 10 could take most of the late slots. They’d probably also agree to provide some guaranteed marquee cross-conference games every year (USC-Oklahoma, Texas-Oregon, etc.)

            Solves a lot of problems for both conferences. Revenue sharing will be the big sticking point. The Iowa St.s and Washington States get screwgied for sure, but keeping Oregon, Colorado, Washington, and Missouri happy could create a problem.


          32. Rich

            First, this is an excellent blog. A link on a ND board led me to it. Congrats.

            Second, while this superconference might make sense to a cfb fan in general, why would anyone think this scenario would be attractive to ND’s fanbase? I think I read last year that on average an attendee at a ND home game travels more than 500 miles to watch game.

            Imagine our first schedule in the new superconference:

            Purdue, MSU, Indiana, Illinois, Northwestern, Missouri, Iowa, Syracuse, Pitt and then three OOC: USC and two random schools that do not require a home-and-home.

            No thanks. Maybe in Big Ten circles this is considered an exciting schedule, but it is not for me and I can’t imagine the alums flying in for anything like this schedule year after year. The ND fanbase already is disgusted with trends in scheduling. The 7-4-1 schedule is bad enough; this is worse.


          33. Richard

            You guys play Purdue, MSU, and Pitt pretty much every year already. Syracuse will also be on your schedule in the future. Also, how is Michigan dropping off the schedule _after_ you join the Big10?

            So substitute Michigan for Missouri. Looking at your 2010 schedule, let’s say Utah and W Michigan stay as the single home games. So how are Indiana, Illinois, Northwestern, and Iowa worse than Stanford, Army, Navy, and Tulsa? They’re more geographically spread out, I guess. Other than geography, Northwestern is the same as Stanford, so you’re absolutely kidding me (and yourself) if you think Army, Navy, and Tulsa are more compelling matchups than Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. 2 of those teams have actually been to BCS games recently, and they’re not Army & Tulsa.


          34. Rich


            ND can play Michigan every year in a Superconference only if it is in the same division of four. Otherwise, ND plays them on a rotation.

            Your overall point is that ND’s schedule in a Big 10 + 6 superconference is not worse than its current schedule 2010 (except that Michigan visits SB once every six years or so). My response (and I bet would be shared by a majority of the ND fanbase)is that our 2010 schedule is terrible.

            You are creating a ceiling in which the 2010 schedule will become the norm. It is precisely the reason why there is tremendous opposition to joining a superconference. The scheduling proposed is really unattractive.


          35. Richard

            ND could very well end up in a pod of 4 with Michigan, MSU, and OSU. Also, in a pod system, each team plays another one at least half the time, so you’d end up getting OSU or PSU even if you’re not in the same pod. This also assumes that the other 4 teams are Rutgers, Syracuse, Pitt, and Mizzou.

            Still, even if that’s the case, 2010 isn’t an aberration. 2011 is equally weak (unless you consider UConn and SFlorida to be stronger than Utah & Tulsa; I don’t). Looking down the line, the only football power ND has scheduled in the 8 seasons 2009-2016 (other than it’s annual matchups with USC and Michigan) are a pair of games with Oklahoma.

            So it turns out that 2010 _is_the_norm_already_ for ND scheduling.

            In the Big10, ND would play Michigan, PSU, and OSU at least half the time, and I assume the annual game with USC would be kept. So even if the Big10 brings in ND + 4 stiffs (rather than ND + 2 Texas schools or 2 Florida schools + 2 NE schools), ND would be playing a traditional power 20 times over 8 years. With it’s current scheduling as an independent, ND would play a traditional power 18 times over 8 years. I see only one open away/neutral slot in ND’s schedules all the way out to 2016, so at most another pair of games with a power team can be finagled in.

            What is this means, actually, is that the reality is the exact opposite of what you stated. ND’s current schedules as an independent are the _floor_ in terms of how attractive ND’s schedules will be if it joins a 16-team Big10.

            Even if the Big10 put ND in the weakest pod, ND’s schedule as a Big10 member would be more attractive & challenging than it is now as an independent (or at worst the same).


          36. Playoffs Now!

            Or the more likely compromise, if they want ND, of a 6-2, 6-3, or 7-2 conf schedule that places ND in an eastern division with its primary Big Ten rivals, and that also doesn’t split up Mich-OSU.


          37. Rich

            Again, this analysis is reasonable only if you use 2010 (2011 is not even completed, much less the next eight years and even then we change our schedule frequently) as the baseline and extrapolate. Rather than assume that 2010 becomes the standard for the next decade, it is more likely that the ND AD is replaced. More importantly, this step, if taken by ND would represent the death of hope for a better schedule. No way would ND be in a pod with Mich and OSU and that is probably the only way it would be a palatable option.


          38. Richard

            I’d say there’s a better chance of ND being in a pod with OSU and Michigan than ND beefing up it’s schedule as an independent.

            Also, I’m not extrapolating. I got the schedules here:
            You can look elsewhere on the internets, but anywhere you go, you’ll find that ND’s schedule is mostly set until 2016 (I’m sure with contracts already agreed to, etc.). The only slots not set are one-off home games against the WSU’s of the college football universe (oh, and one open away slot where Wisconsin is pencilled in).

            It’s simple really, with a commitment to a 7-4-1 scheduling philosophy as well as a commitment to playing 3/4 Big East schools every year (who may be willing to play on a neutral site for their “home” games, but don’t seem willing to give 2-for-1’s), as a bargain for finding a home for it’s other sports, + ND’s traditional rivals, there simply aren’t enough home slots in which to put any home-and-away’s against a football power. Thus, what I say is still true: ND’s schedules as an independent will be the same or weaker than the worst conceivable schedule it will have as a Big10 member.

            Now, maybe the the ND AD will change, but the 7-4-1 plan was put in by the previous AD, if I remember correctly, and I think it’s more likely that ND joins the Big10 than it beefs up its scheduling any time this decade.


          39. Rich

            You are correct on several facts: playing 3 BE teams, the 7-4-1 and our prior AD, but your conclusion is wrong. You are still wrong about the likelihood of improving the schedule vs. the merits of being consigned to a pod.

            We can improve the schedule without incurring the psychological costs of joining a Big 10 + 6 super conference.

            I have no doubt that 75% of the ND fan base would rather try to improve the schedule on our own than joining the super conference.


          40. Rich

            Finally, this discussion about schedules and independence does not even address the very important topic that now is not a particularly attractive time to be joining the Big Ten — an issue that is rarely discussed or even acknowledged on Big Ten blogs. For the next 2-5 years, the projected financial health of the state-supported schools in this super-conference is really, really bleak. IU is my employer We anticipate three-to-four years of contraction as the State of Indiana loses a billion bucks a year. Is Illinois, Ohio or Michigan looking any better? Then comes the undergraduate bubble — a pretty serious issue for schools that must feed the beast with 6-10,000 undergraduates every year of which 40% must pay out-of-state tuition to keep the flagship afloat. Finally, did anyone on a Big Ten blog ever think that the revenues from the BTN might not increase in a straight line for the next decade — that competition can enter, that the cable industry is consolidating?

            The only way that joining a super conference is compelling is if four super conferences emerge at nearly precisely the same moment and form a cartel and refuse to schedule “non-super-conference” teams. Good luck.


          41. Richard

            Industry consolidation and a weak economy are exactly why it would behoove schools that are not in the Big10 (and SEC) to consider joining it. Right now the Big10 pulls in the most TV revenue because it has it’s own cable network, and it has it’s own cable network because it has the biggest footprint. It’s going to be difficult for any other conference to catch up (and impossible for others to surpass) via expansion so long as the Big10 doesn’t sit still (which is why adding a Rutgers still makes sense). Cable industry consolidation will mean that cable networks will focus on the conference with the biggest footprint (the Big Ten). A weak economy means that all athletic departments will be motivated to seek additional funding (yes, state schools will get hit hard, but privates pull a lot from their endowments, which have not done so well recently), and who would provide the biggest bump up in revenue?

            A final thought: I know most Domers want to stay independent, but the trend isn’t in your favor. Back when ND signed it’s own TV contract, network TV ruled, and ND’s following (big, but dispersed) fit network TV perfectly, thus ND could get several times what any other school got in TV money. Now the money is in cable, which means the rewards will go to the conferences with the biggest footprint (and that ND is 3rd in it’s own medium-sized state in TV revenue). If ND stays independent, the athletic department will fall farther and farther behind in the arms race. Now, maybe the fathers are OK with that, but in the future, independence will be more and more of a disadvantage while in the past, it was an advantage.


          42. Richard

            Hey Adam,

            Thanks, I saw that. Seems that ND alums want their cake (and cookies and sweets) and eat it too.

            They want to play a tough schedule AND keep their academic standards AND be independent AND be a NC contender/rake in dough.


          43. ot

            At least one of the snootier Pac-10 schools (read: Stanford) appears to want to make more money from sports AND to keep tough academic standards for the entire conference AND to be choosy about expansion candidates.

            At lesat 3 out of 4 Pacific Northwest schools in the Pac-10 (i.e. Oregon, Oregon State, Washington State) all want to play USC in football every year in order for their athletic departments to pay their bills, expansion or no expansion.

            If the Big Ten were to offer USC to be the 16th school, the USC President and the AD would have a hard time saying “no” after having to carry Stanford and the Pacific Northwest schools all these years.

            The Pac-10 football TV contract would be worth only about 60% of its value if USC were to jump.

            (One can make the same argument about the Big 12 football TV contract if the Big 12 were to lose Texas and Texas A&M.)


            The Big East actually has the least to lose if the Big Ten were to grab Rutgers because the Big East has a awful football TV deal from ESPN, Inc. and Rutgers has not been a factor in Big East basketball.

            What the Big East does have to worry about is the ACC making a “defensive” move (after the Big Ten starts the chain reaction of conference realignment) by raiding 4 “brand name” Big East basketball schools with Division I FBS football programs i.e. Syracuse, Pitt, UConn, and Louisville. That would be the end of the Big East as a Division I FBS football league.


          44. @ot – I still have an extremely hard time envisioning any Pac-10 schools moving. The one thing about the Big XII is that everyone in that conference admits that it was a shotgun marriage, which is why a school like Texas may entertain leaving. The Pac-10, on the other hand, is a very tight-knit group. I completely understand that the Big Ten could offer a school like USC more revenue than it could ever hope to receive in the Pac-10, but even I (as someone that thinks geography is a very overrated factor in these expansion talks) would be shocked that USC would ever agree to be the lone wolf on the West Coast. It certainly doesn’t hurt for the Big Ten to ask, yet that’s a tough one.


          45. Adam

            Unless you get absolutely wholescale realignment, wouldn’t many of these piecemeal changes actually be counter-productive competitively? It’s going to be pretty difficult for Texas, USC, and Ohio State all to go 11-1 if they’re in the same conference. Even if the BCS loosens up the 2-per-conference rule, they may be knocked down more pegs than they care to be. Moreover, I think it is unwise to entirely write off the potential of smaller programs waiting in the weeds. One thing that’s been said is that the Big Ten Network is the best thing that ever happened for the Mid-American Conference. Their teams are now on television fairly often. It seems like, if you pack too many of the top programs into the same league, they may actually hurt each other (notwithstanding the dollar signs rolling through their eyes at the prospect of unifying various media markets), opening up competitive avenues for schools from the smaller leagues to be upstarts. I mean, consider that most studies indicate substantially more money would be generated by a playoff than the bowl system, but the most plausible reason (in my mind) the Presidents resist it is that the big school Presidents would rather dominate a somewhat smaller pie in order to keep the (influential, complain in your ear, threaten to withhold donations) alumni happy.


          46. @Adam – that’s a good point. A conference could be akin to a well-run basketball team. It sounds awesome in theory to have a team full of MJs and LeBrons, but it disintegrates if no one is getting the ball enough for their liking. You need to have some role players on a basketball team as opposed to too many alpha dogs. 1 or 2 more alpha dogs added to the Big Ten would still be manageable – the power schools could still maintain their dominance without cutting each other down. Once you start adding more alpha dogs on top of that, those schools start beating each other up too much and you’ll end up with a lot of 8-4 records.


          47. ot

            On the other hand, the SEC managed to parlay a whole bunch of football “alpha dogs” (Florida, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, etc.) into the “sickest” college sports TV contracts from CBS and ESPN, Inc.

            What’s even more amazing: the SEC “footprint” does NOT have that many major TV markets. Only one out of the top 10 (Atlanta) and 3 out of the top 20 (Tampa and Miami).


            The Big Ten has a chance to lock up the top 5 TV markets (NY, LA, Chicago, Philly, DFW) plus 3 of the biggest “alpha dogs” out there (Texas, Notre Dame, USC) if it were to expand to 16 teams.


          48. greg

            SEC’s “sickest” contract is only slightly more than the Big Ten’s. Even if the Big Ten doesn’t expand, when they renew with ABC/ESPN in 2015, their network contract haul will be higher. They already have higher total TV revenue. The SEC is locked into that rate for 15 years, it may appear to be a cheap deal for ESPN by 2020.


          49. Richard

            Actually, the Big10 pulls in more TV money per school than the SEC. It also has the biggest footprint and the greatest presence in the main “unaffiliated region” (NY+NJ+NE; I don’t consider the Big East to be a major conference, and neither does ESPN), though. Compared to conferences with similiar footprints (the ACC and Pac10), the SEC punches far above it’s weight, and that’s because of the great brands they have. Consider (IMHO), the SEC has 4 top-tier brands (LSU, Florida, ‘Bama, Georgia) and 2 second-tier brands (Auburn, Tennessee). The Big10 has 3 top-tier brands (Michigan, OSU, PSU) and 2 more second-tier brands (MSU, Wisconsin) as well as a team in a populous state that could become huge if they ever stopped underacheiving (Illinois). The Pac10 only has 1 top-tier brand (USC) as well as an underacheiver that could reach the first or second tier (UCLA). The ACC currently has 2-3 second-tiers (Miami, FSU, and maybe VTech), though Miami & FSU could become top-tier again if they ever start contending for national titles again. The Big12 has 1 true top-tier (Texas) and 2 schools that fluctuate between top-tier and second-tier depending on how they’re doing (Oklahome currently top-tier, Nebraska currently second-tier) with an underacheiver with potential in TAMU.

            So if the Big10 pulls in Texas+TAMU or FSU+Miami or ND (or 2 or more of these), it would be impossible for any other conference to catch up to the Big10 and SEC.


          50. Richard

            Maybe. You can find arguments to support both points of view. On the one hand, FSU and Miami consistently contended for national titles when they were each the head dog in their conferences (FSU wasn’t even challenged for several years in the 9-school ACC). On the other hand, any SEC schools that have the same number of losses as other national title contenders automatically go to the head of the line, because everyone perceives that league to be so tough. Money-wise, it definitely pays to go the SEC route; they definitely punch above their weight in terms of TV money considering the size of their footprint.

            Oh, and OSU, Texas, and USC can easily all finish 11-1 even in the same conference, because it’s likely that there’d only be 1-2 meetings between the 3 of them (at least before the championship game).


          51. Rich

            First, the goal is ambitious — high-performing team and a national schedule — but not impossible. It is, to use the vernacular — a “stretch” goal.

            There are different sides to this “things are bad, going to get worse, join now before the train leaves the table” argument. One argument is that a weak economy and cable consolidation means that ND should jump now. Ok, it is a reasonable argument.

            The counter, which is equally reasonable. ND is not affected at all by state or regional economic declines. The only metric ND tracks is median SAT scores which will be 1440 for next year’s class. ND Sports is already profitable. If we joined the Big Ten + 1 today, I envision a steady stream of 10-2 or 11-1 votes against most things we value. Michigan would not be allowed to graduate 38% of its AA football players if we were in charge. Your flagships are scrambling to stay even financially. You will make more and more decisions based on your great financial need. Will there be a guarantee that there will be no Thursday night games in five years? And so on.


          52. Rich

            Finally, if we join the Big Ten, it hurts our brand reputation in two significant ways: for the pool of applicants we compete for (e.g., 1440 SAT), other than Northwestern, the Big Ten schools are not destination schools. In the region, they have a solid reputation. But this is not the same as being a destination school. Every applicant who is top 10 in his class of 600, with twin 720 SATs, captain of a sports team (65% of this year’s incoming class at ND), already receive the local state university’s full scholarship — their Hope Award, their Lilly Scholarship or a Ford Fellow or whatever — and only a tiny percentage accept them to go to Big Ten U.

            Second, joining the Big Ten creates a regional image for ND. Stanford joined the PAC 8 a long time ago, Duke joined the ACC a long time ago. Applicants do not equate Duke as a ACC school. At least in the short run, joining the Big Ten

            It is funny that when someone posts that they are skeptical about admitting ND into the Big Ten + 1, that you mention the lack of commitment to graduate research — as if our goal is to become a 100,000 student mega-state university system. Think Dartmouth, think Brown. this is a more reasonable comparison –one in which we have made great strides towards closing the gap in the past thirty years.

            The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that ND and the Big Ten are not a good fit at all. Take care.


          53. Richard

            Dartmouth isn’t a research school either, and Brown is small & the weakest financially of the Ivies (not much research funding, obviously).

            “Applicants do not equate Duke as an ACC schools”? Huh? What are you _talking_ about? Look, at that level, applicants don’t really care what athletic conference a school belongs to. Trust me, even if Duke had the national following of ND, Duke wouldn’t suddenly become even better academically if they withdrew from the ACC (same with NU from the Big10, Stanford from the Pac10).


          54. Rich

            Duke has a better national reputation than ND and it is not because it is a member of the ACC, Stanford has a better reputation and it is not because it belongs to the PAC 10. What is this fascination with external research funding? Are you saying that you think that an 18 year old who is accepted at Brown, Dartmouth, Purdue and MSU will rank order these four schools in terms of external research funding? What is you point.

            I think you have reached the end of your line of reasoning. If you say to ND, jump on board or you miss out on an extra 10 million and ND says, 10 million is not that important in the big picture, then what is your counter argument? Your plan B. I know that the counter point from ND is simple: if we joined the Big Ten next year, would the average SAT of the incoming freshman class go up even one point and why? An the answer is a resounding no, not one point. No 18 year says that Purdue is doing great research in its doctoral program in Biological Membranes so I will decline Yale and become a Boiler. If really intrigued, they might say, I will graduate from Yale and if I am still interested, I will go to graduate school at Purdue. Northwestern and Michigan are two of the top destination schools for our seniors when they apply for professional, graduate education. So what? What is your point?


          55. Richard

            Undergrad education in the Big10 is widely disparate, but the common thread is that every member is a strong research institution (in other words, the focus is on grad school, not what an 18 year old thinks). I never said ND would be a good fit in the Big10, but I do believe that ND will be less competitive as an independent than within a strong conference in the coming years. Personally, I’d be more excited if FSU & Miami joined than if ND joined, but I believe the latter is more likely, because, even if the Domer fanbase can’t see it, the administration can see the relative advantages/disadvantages of joining a conference vs. staying independent. As for the SAT criteria, no, there won’t be a change in the short term, but let’s get real: ND’s rise up the academic rankings has been helped a good deal by it’s exploits on the football field. If the football suffers more as an independent, so will the undergraduate apps.


          56. Rich

            “Excellent football performance yields increasing student quality” was a formulation that was true in the 1950s, 1960s and maybe even in the 1970s. It is no longer true. Parents and kids look at published rankings and go down the list until the find a school that accepts them.
            Performance on the field does not hurt Stanford or Rice. I don’t believe that there has been a decline in applicant quality at Duke due to recent performance by the b-ball team.

            ND might need to join a conference but not one in which it is outvoted 10-2. I notice you ignored our legitimate concerns about joining the Big Ten: low overall graduation rates and in football; especially low AA graduation in football; far too lenient discipline (our Res Life work have probably dismissed from the university the entire MSU squad in some years)and so on. Then there is the finances — no night games at ND (we discontinued night games in the early 90s), no games on Thursdays, no Jumbotrons, no naming rights “welcome to today’s game versus Tulsa brought to you by State Farm,” no naming of the halftime program “here is the band of the Fighting Irish — brought to by John Deere”) and so on. I agree you guys should go after FSU and Miami. You will love Saturday night games at Miami — a word of caution, don’t sit in the lower deck.


          57. Adam

            Since when does the Big Ten play on Thursdays? And since when is anybody strongarmed into playing night games? Michigan never plays night games. I’ll go out on a limb and speculate that Notre Dame would be afforded the same privilege if requested. I mean, some of Rich’s complaints seem like straw men.


          58. Adam

            Also, Notre Dame’s graduation statistics are comparable (slightly higher, but comparable) to Northwestern’s and Penn State’s. Those 3 are no doubt significantly higher than the rest of the Big Ten, but every league has variance, and Notre Dame would not be an outlier. Besides, if it’s so objectionable, why does Notre Dame continue to play Michigan, MSU, Purdue, and USC (which has much lower graduation statistics even than Rich’s objections with Michigan).


          59. Rich

            ND’s graduation rates are significantly higher than 9 of the 11 members of the Big Ten and higher than the remaining 2 you have identified. ND’s graduation rates for AA are significantly higher, period. Notice the response on the board is never condemnation for the depths to which the members of the Big Ten are collectively sinking as a conference in an attempt to stem the slide of athletics into complete cynicism — it is that other conferences are worse. As if, members of the Big Ten routinely compare themselves to Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Boise State, Lousville, and so on for any other dimension of collegiate experience. But, you are right, Michigan is competing against Auburn and so it needs to act like Auburn. As a conference you would not sanction Michigan’s abysmal performance. No instead, as a conference you condone it. And if we joined we would be out-voted on nearly every policy question that reflects our values. Again, this is why we would rather chart our own course — even if it is ultimately unsuccessful — than feel compelled to race with to the bottom with our conference comrades. It is amazing how low the bottom is actually located.


          60. Adam

            But Rich, if you’re worried about the race to the bottom, why does Notre Dame play Michigan, USC and Purdue every year (and Michigan State, for that matter)? You seem to find them objectionable, and the suggestion seems to be that Notre Dame would lose your loyalty if they joined the Big Ten, but the school’s actual scheduling decisions do not seem to reflect any of these concerns.

            Moreover, it looks to me like Northwestern and Penn State get along quite happily with Big Ten membership, and as noted, their graduation data are comparable (within a few percentage points; e.g., 96% vs. 91% in 2009).


          61. Richard

            Then ND is not joining any conference. Pretty much all other major conferences

            1. Are the same or more lenient on discipline
            2. Give out naming rights more
            3. Have more night games

            …than the Big10.

            Furthermore, the Big10 is the _only_ conference that doesn’t play weeknight football games.

            I’m also not sure where you get the idea that ND would win more votes in some other conference (or lose more votes in the Bug10).


          62. @Richard – Agreed. In terms of old-school tradition with respect to football, the Big Ten and ND match up. My guess is that a lot of ND alums just have a knee-jerk reaction to the Big Ten simply because that’s the scenario that people always say is going to happen, so they just reflexively think that ANY other conference would be better than the Big Ten. If they actually examined what other conferences do or don’t do closely, I don’t think they could rationally argue that they’d be better fits elsewhere except for maybe the ACC on a purely institutional basis (and even that’s a stretch). Of course, ND rarely plays anyone in the ACC anymore other than BC (and even they are lower priorities on the schedule for the Irish than the Big Ten opponents, Navy, USC and Stanford despite the Catholic connection). If ND just doesn’t want to join a conference, then I get it at least on principle. What I don’t understand is how other conferences would somehow make more sense unless they actually created one from scratch.


          63. Michael

            ND doesn’t play ACC teams with the same frequency as the Big Ten or Pac-10, but ACC teams still have had a number of memorable series against the Irish:

            vs. FSU twice in the 90’s, twice in the 00’s (who can forget the controversial outcome of the FSU and ND’s ’93 seasons?)

            vs. UNC in ’07-’08

            vs. GT 34 times

            vs. Miami in the Catholics v. Convicts days

            vs. Maryland in DC in a few years

            vs. BC very regularly, as you pointed out

            vs. Duke in ’07

            I don’t recall ND playing UVA, NC State (except the ’03 Gator Bowl), Wake, or Clemson.

            This isn’t to say ND would be a better fit for the ACC. The Big Ten would be the best league for ND, easily. It’s just to point out that the ACC isn’t foreign to ND, and as an institution, it would fit as well or better than the Big Ten.

            So, ND seems to play B10, BE, and P10 schools a lot, ACC schools some, Big 12 schools rarely, and SEC schools almost never. Why does ND have less interest in games vs. the B12 & SEC?


          64. duffman

            for ND maybe it is faith..

            they play LSU, which has many catholics..

            most of the sec and big 12 are SB’s..

            just a thought


          65. Rich

            Great. I hope you are correct. The only conference I want ND to join is the one for which it is a founding member and can mold its development to reflect its values not the values of an established conference — although we do have more in common with the ACC.


          66. Adam

            Rich, you’re going to have a hard time finding a Conference whose values are any closer to Notre Dame’s than if they were there from the beginning to “mold” them. Tradition, academics, etc. I guess the points you’ve articulated ring hollow to me given that Notre Dame does not leverage its Independent status to cultivate any rivalry to speak of with the institutions that are most similar to ND in terms of graduation data — Northwestern and Penn State.


          67. Richard

            1. ND isn’t going to be forming a new league.
            2. Even if a new league is formed, the other members aren’t going to give ND more than an equal voice in matters, so ND will have as much success when it tries to “mold its development to reflect its values” as it will in an existing league. Get over yourself.

            What does ND have more in common with the ACC than the Big10? Other than that league having 3 private schools, I can’t think of anything.


          68. duffman


            maybe they will form the faith league!

            1) they would be the center of that universe..

            2) they could still pick games across the other conferences

            3) they could have a real “national” footprint without offending current conferences

            4) they could build on alumni footprint.. if you are an alumni at a state school.. chances are you grew in that state.. my guess is most of ND’s alumni base are not from Indiana

            5) they comprise about 20 – 25 % of the US population and fastest growing segment of US population (hispanic)

            6) they could maintain a certain independence, while still being in a conference..

            say ND, gtown, BC, depaul, gonzaga, UD, xavier, villanova, st john’s, loyola, marquette, st louis u.. that is 12 right there – and some really solid basketball schools and they could stay independent and add some schools like army, navy, (solid moral codes) or maybe some soild faith based non public schools, or some urban public schools with strong catholic populations like UC or U of L that are close to south bend.. i could easily see a 12 – 16 team conference that gives ND the best of both worlds..


          69. Richard

            Essentially, split the basketball-only schools from the Big East and maybe add some other Catholic schools. Only problem is that ND may still fall behind in the football arms race. Still, forming a new basketball league is possible.


          70. duffman


            sort of.. but you could squeeze out a football conference with ND at the center, remember that UL and UC also have archdiocese status in their cities and are more urban than suburban (i think two of pitino’s kids attend gtown). add maybe similar schools on east coast (do not know market as well.. but i know baltimore, boston, and chicago have big catholic urban footprints.. as i said add army, navy, and maybe air force.. or some such combination..

            so you wind up with a 16 member basketball conference and an eight team football conference… could keep ND as the “main” hub for both, but creates marketable entity.. think of ND media footprint + armed forces radio type footprint.. it would be a recruiting tool for the armed forces with compatible moral code issues – think ollie north.. unlike old metro conference .. you have sort of a “god and country” base that bonds beyond academics and athletics..


          71. Richard

            You have 6 football-playing schools listed.

            The football would garner just a bit more than what BE football currently does. In fact, the football outside ND is weaker than the BE. So combine the BE’s current football TV contract with ND’s current football TV contract. Say the basketball gets as much money as BE basketball does right now (it probably wouldn’t since Pitt, Syracuse, and UConn are replaced by the likes of UD, Army, and Navy). Put it all together and you get . . .not a lot of revenue generated. Go with anything close to equal revenue payouts, and ND would take a step down in money. Go with widely disproportionate revenue payouts, and there’s no incentive for the other schools to join a conference dominated by ND.

            Maybe CBS College Sports would be interested in broadcasting this conference (they seem to go for the rural, “God & Country” crowd). They wouldn’t pay a lot, though, because none of the schools really carry whole states.


          72. duffman


            was just putting some out there.. you get to 8 at some point..

            and from many of these discussions folks seem to point at pitt or syracuse going to big 10 .. in a 16 team expansion..

            the points being..

            a) ND could stay independent, and still be in a conference..

            b) they have a built in national audience based on faith (if chicago is BTN, a slice would be carved out for the the “god and country” crowd.. which might reduce BTN value.. and a league with mostly urban institutions would maximize population cores..

            c) you are correct about not carrying states, but my guess is that would be offset by picking up viewers across the country to offset such a value.. and with a global reach it could open up new audiences outside the US..

            d) if ND puts together a good team again.. it took awhile for BAMA to replace the BEAR.. but it looks like it has happened, they would almost assure being in the NC title hunt every year.. if they are in the big 10, they would have tOSU, michigan, PSU, +1 every year..

            e) most importantly, they get the “faith” in addition to academics and athletics.. yes they do not get the maximum revenue.. but they get tv’s globally with an outlet for keeping the faithful connected..

            again.. i am not saying this will happen.. i am just offering a possible viewpoint that might fit ND’s long term thinking (again.. maybe they will take less money to “keep the faith”). we do not know what will happen, but i can assure you somebody is already thinking of things we have not seen on any of these post.. we are outside looking in..

            things are dynamic, not static.. as i mentioned in my comments on sec expansion.. i was not saying the sec would go to 16, i was saying it was wishful thinking to assume they would let the big 10 go to 16 and sit by and pick up scraps after the dust settles. the world does not work that way.. each side has a built in desire to protect its competitive advantage.. if “faith” is a competitive advantage.. i am saying that ND might respond in a way that protects that specific value..


          73. Richard

            It would have to be a competitive advantage in some way other than money, though, because they would be leaving money on the table.

            I get that the world is dynamic, not static, but with all these plans to balance against the Big10, the fact remains that any move by another entity against the Big10 can be counteracted by a move by the Big10, so long as they are willing to make the counter.


          74. duffman


            agreed, but it was pointed out that ND has done this in the past by another poster..

            again that is why i made the joking post about ending with 2 super powers..

            and you have to think about emotional response.. if everybody has the perception that you are the big bad wolf.. they could form a response..

            ie.. 2 -4 top in pac 10, big 12, sec, acc, big east.. form to create a national conference.. that could be bigger than the big 10.. you just never know…. which is the point…. when the sec went to 12 they did it with 2 schools that would not ruffle feathers across the nation..

            because with the big 10.. their revenue comes from the top 3 – 4 teams, which means the ones on the bottom create drag.. as much as people may deride the sec, they made their middle teams more valuable..


          75. Richard

            The revenue comes from having strength across the board. MSU, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota; all of these schools would be a welcome addition to any other conference, even the SEC. Even the Indiana schools of IU and PU are in a 6M population state, and if available, would be seriously considered by all the other power conferences. That leaves 2 schools that wouldn’t enhance another conference’s pie if the Big10 suddenly disbanded and all its schools became available.

            How does the SEC stack up? Well, Florida & Georgia would be desirable to nearly everyone.
            Tennessee would be as valuable as Wisconsin. Then every other SEC school is in a state with a smaller population than Indiana. Sure, ‘Bama & LSU (and to a lesser extend Auburn) have the brand name, and that helps. Kentucky has basketball (but basketball isn’t valued nearly as much as football in expansion), and while their fans may be rabid, in the new calculus, how many new cable subscribers you can add may mean more than intense fan interest (Nebraska & WVA sort of have the same predicament). Then you have Arkansas, SC, Ole Miss, Miss St., and Vanderbilt. 4 schools in small population states without national brand names (all who share their state except for Arkansas) and a private who’ll bring few viewers (and other than Vandy, none of them are academically good enough for the Big10 & Pac10). That’s 5 schools that wouldn’t add revenue to another power conference if the SEC somehow went away. What were you saying about the bottom creating drag again?


          76. Rich

            To all who suggest that the Big Ten will not follow suit and continue to dive to the bottom of the pool for every loose quarter — Michigan announces its first night game on 2011 versus ND. If ND joins the Big Ten, tell me that there is any reason to believe that in five years we will be playing vs. Iowa on a Thursday night. I have no confidence. The Midwest region of the Big Ten — the five state cluster that will be in the worst financial shape in the US for the next five years. Worse than any cluster of five states even in the SEC. Why do you join a conference that is hemorrhaging dollars? What is attractive about it?


          77. Richard

            You must not follow economics a lot. Most of the sun belt from California to Arizona to Georgia to Florida is hurting now that the housing bubble has bursted (and that Ponzi economy model isn’t coming back any time soon). Only Texas is holding up well because of the oil industry.

            Also, what 5-state region? The auto industry implosion hurts Michigan, Ohio, (and to an extent, Indiana) a lot, but affects the rest of the Midwest not much at all.

            Finally, every other conference besides the Big10 plays football on Thursdays. If ND’s not joining the Big10 for tat reason, there’s no good reason for ND to join another conference.


          78. M

            First, you will never convince me that playing on a Saturday nights harms anyone or anything. Saturday night games are awesome and I do not think anyone who has ever attended one can say otherwise. The Big Ten has been playing night games for some time and there have been no inclination to move them to weekdays. It is the lesser conferences (e.g. the ones with schools like Nevada and Directional Michigan) that have to try gimmicks like that.

            Second, there is no question that Michigan is hurting. However, your evaluation of the other states in the current Big Ten footprint is misguided. Take a look at the current unemployment numbers-

            Michigan has the highest. The next two highest large states are California and Florida. 7 of the 8 states in the SEC have unemployment over 10% (compared to 3 of 8 in the Big Ten). Exactly half of the Big Ten states are in the top half of unemployment, while no Pac-10 state is. North Carolina, the heart of the ACC, has 11.1% unemployed. In short, the Big Ten will be fine.


          79. Richard

            I hope he’s not representative of all Domers, because if so, that means they can’t be bothered with facts or logical consistency interfering with their deep hatred of the Big10.


          80. Adam

            Rich, In what way is Michigan playing a night game some kind of debasement? Michigan has played Notre Dame in 3 other night games . . . all at Notre Dame (according to the article).

            I’ll go ahead and say this: the Big Ten won’t be playing on Thursdays. If they did, schools like Michigan and Notre Dame would be allowed to opt out (just like nobody forced Michigan to play a night game). If the league was inclined to dive for “every loose quarter,” they’d have 12 teams by now (with or without ND), they’d already be playing on Thursdays, and one of the best brands (UM) would not have been able to declare itself exempt from prime-time broadcasts.

            And I agree with Richard re: the economy. Once again, Rich’s complaints ring hollow to me. They look a lot like straw men.


          81. Adam

            I’ll say this, too: if the Big Ten starts playing night games on Thursdays, I’ll be the first in line to denounce that. There’s no place for that. If the Big East or other minor conferences want to do that, more power to them, but I demand better out of my school’s conference. As it is, I’m not really all that excited about the decision to extend the regular (i.e., non-championship game) season past Thanksgiving. Of course, that’s a concern for student welfare that the wondrous Notre Dame beacon of athletic ethics is willing to set aside every other year (at least; could happen more often but I know it happens at least every other year) when they set aside the graduation rate concerns that are otherwise adequate for vetoing Big Ten membership and travel out to USC to play at the end of November.


          82. Rick

            @Rich: Until I read your posts I could not understand the reasoning behind the ND position of non joining the Big Ten. It is all clear to me now. Linked below are two interesting articles from that further flesh out yours and much of the ND fanbase and alumni’s position on the matter. While I don’t agree or fully understand it I do now know exactly what Swarbuck is dealing with when making this decision. BTW: What does the term “The Integer” mean when referring to the Big Ten? These are well written although fanatical.




          83. Mike R

            I guess “10” and “11” are integers, and the Big Ten logo incorporates the “11” in negative space, so that’s the author’s mild tweak at the Big 10.


          84. Richard

            One point he’s dead wrong about:
            “Let’s also not forget these people hate us. There’s no love lost between Notre Dame and any Integer school at any level, from the alumni and fans on up.”

            No Big10 fan I know actually _hates_ ND. Despise them, maybe, for being able to be both amazingly full of themselves and out of touch with the reality that the administration at ND has to deal with, but their way of thinking is so imcomprehensible to any rational outsider that it’s impossible to hate them.

            They do hate us, though, and I think the Big10 is getting weary of ND’s shenanigans (getting _this_ close to joining the Big10 when the BE looked like it may collapse in 2003 before pulling out at the last second). That’s why I believe the Big10 will execute it’s Northeastern strategy with or without ND.


          85. Adam

            Nobody in the Big Ten hates ND any more than Big Ten rivals “hate” each other (e.g., UM/OSU). It’s another straw man: we’d be a persecuted minority! They have it out for us!

            Richard, I don’t think Notre Dame really hates the Big Ten. I think it’s that they’ve spent so much time fixating on the Big Ten’s perceived shortcomings in order to cloak their exceptionalism in the guise of moral/ethical superiority that they’ve boxed themselves into an intellectual corner.

            The ND complaints about the Big Ten reminds me of the techie community’s reaction to the Apple iPad. A whole bunch of people were just apoplectic about alleged shortcomings in it consistent with the ideological opposition they’ve built up in their minds to Apple (usually relating to the company not making hacker-friendly products) that they lost sight of the fact that it’s the first tablet computer that has a *chance* of actually succeeding. Similarly, Notre Dame has spent so long convincing itself of the Big Ten’s moral inferiority that it has blinded itself to the Big Ten presenting the best combination of financial security to ensure Notre Dame’s “way of life” for the long-term future, and progressiveness on the ethical issues that are important to Notre Dame. Voltaire coined the phrase that describes this (“Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien”); in the 70s, Harold Demsetz coined the term “Nirvana Fallacy” for the same phenomenon.


          86. Rick

            @adam: well said and excellent analogy to the IPad. They are truly boxed in. I hope for the University’s sake and future rational minds prevail.


          87. M

            I agree with you except for the iPad analogy. An iPad is effectively an iPhone (or other smart phone) with a larger screen that can’t call people. It cannot replace a phone for that reason. It also cannot replace a laptop because of its technical limitations (no multiprocessing? what is this, 1994?). Furthermore, someone with a laptop and an iPhone has no reason to get something that does less than either one.

            If you want a better analogy, you could mention Apple’s decade long refusal to switch to Intel chips before they finally acquiesced a few years back. Up until the moment they switched, they were constantly expounding on how using the old PowerPC chips made their computers better than everyone else’s.

            Also, Apple is run by fascists.


          88. Adam

            M, I agree with you that those are shortcomings of the iPad. But they are shortcomings that are intrinsic to the tablet form factor (which is why I think the device is ultimately doomed to failure). But it is doubtless that the iPad has the *best chance of succeeding* of any tablet computer to date; indeed, I daresay that if it fails, that should be the end of ANY company wasting its time, talent and treasure trying to interest people in something that is simply uninteresting. When people complain about it because it’s missing some stupid but purportedly critical feature (it doesn’t have flash! it doesn’t have a camera! it can’t run multiple applications concurrently!), they’re comparing it with some idealized tablet product which has *never existed*, instead of recognizing it as the *best-ever tablet computer* and the first one with a business model that *has a shot at succeeding*. The fact that I don’t think it will succeed is irrelevant; the point is, it’s the *best chance* of succeeding. Demanding that it live up to an imaginary higher and idealized standard is a classic example of the Nirvana Fallacy.


          89. Adam

            Actually, this silly meme among techies that Apple is run by fascists is also related to this discussion. E.g., the constant griping about how you risk bricking your iPhone if you “jailbreak” it. The “walled garden” of the iPhone is a necessary part of the device’s security apparatus (as is the prohibition on running concurrent apps). But even while they’re getting beat up for that, the ABA Journal this month has an article about how the iPhone “isn’t ready for prime time” (or some such cliché) because of . . . inadequate security. So even while people complain about how security is achieved, it isn’t secure enough. Reminds me a little of Notre Dame complaining about being “outvoted” and unable to have its way in the Big Ten . . . and then willingly scheduling schools who don’t live up to the vaunted standards they’re afraid would be under attack in the Big Ten.


          90. M

            At the risk of getting even further off topic :P…

            A device can’t be secure and run multiple apps? Even Apple computers can run multiple apps. Why can’t the phone? Effectively, it already runs multiple apps at once in phone operations and another app.

            I could list all the reasons why people think Apple is run by fascists (not allowing companies to compete with them on apps, not having an easily available dev kit, restricting which apps are allowed on the phone, forcing garbage software on users, various DRM issues) but that would take too long.

            If ND is anyone in this discussion, it is certainly Apple. Both believe they have a monopoly on all that is good and that anyone who doesn’t like them is a “hater” who just doesn’t understand. Both also believe their position is due to divine guidance (God=Jobs). Fans of both hardly converse with anyone but their own kind, leading to a very insular and misguided view.


          91. Adam

            Preventing the phone from being able to run multiple apps seems like a reasonable way of enforcing security to me. I am not a technology officer, but you can’t have a self-replicating viral app/script that a user is inadvertently running if you have tight limits on app concurrency.

            I think the big difference here is that Apple just sells products. You can buy them, or not. People get their underwear in a knot when they want Apple’s products, but want them only on their terms. These terms are often inconsistent (perfect security AND flexibility), and oftentimes are indicative of the Nirvana Fallacy. If you don’t like Apple’s terms, you’re free to shop elsewhere; the company is an almost entirely consumer-facing firm, and if they weren’t making money, they’d change (I can remember a time when they laughably did not include CD burners in their computers). I am not aware of any situation where their business model depends on them being insulated from consumer spending decisions. It’s been a long time since I looked at buying a new computer, but my recollection from the last time I did was that Apple products used standard networking protocols (802.11, USB, etc.).

            The Notre Dame situation is dissimilar. The fan base seems to take the position that the school should not be tested by profitability (the metric I’m assuming Apple’s shareholders hold it to), but adherence to some a priori set of moral norms. Except, those moral norms are not coherently applied. And, as I say, they seem to suffer from the Nirvana Fallacy (or, if you’re tired of hearing that, we can call it the Perfect Solution Fallacy): Big Ten membership has all kinds of benefits, but instead they’re more concerned with complaining about straw man obstacles.


          92. Adam

            Incidentally (and totally unrelated), the peers I have who are Mac users do not reflect what you describe at all. Frankly, all they do is bitch about Apple products. When Mac OS X Bornean Clouded Leopard comes out, they inevitably CANNOT BELIEVE that the company was so STUPID as to change some piddly interface element that their ENTIRE LIFE revolved around remaining untouched.


          93. M

            No multitasking is a lazy way of enforcing security. As I said before, if Apple can make a computer that is secure then they can make a phone. No one would buy a computer that could only run one program at a time. The more fascistic (is that a word?) actions are the preventing open installation of whatever I want onto the phone. It would be like selling a car and then only allowing Apple-brand groceries into it or pants that won’t allow anything other than an iPhone in its pockets (it actually wouldn’t surprise me if Apple has this in development). There is simply no reason for it other than spite.

            I would also argue that Apple has failed at the making money plan. Basically, Apple should have been the dominant OS maker in the world when personal computers first hit the world. They had by far the best interface and setup. (sound familiar?) They did not for the same reasons they will get wiped out in the next generation of phones- they refused to support existing programs, refused to allow their OS on non-Apple built computers, and carefully restricted the programs they allowed to run on their computers.

            Overall Apple has substantially improved its compatibility issues both in hardware and software these days for computers. They seem content to repeat their mistakes on the new devices.

            If you still don’t think Apple and ND fans are alike, suggest to an Apple user to get a real computer.


          94. Adam

            Well, obviously that’s predictive. We’ll see. I don’t have a horse in the race. But I see you as much more like the Notre Dame fan base: you have a priori ideological/moral positions (“preventing open installation of whatever I want onto the phone”) which you’re insisting upon irrespective of the actual success of the product (which to me, looks phenomenal). Who is to say you ought to be able to have “open installation of whatever [you] want onto the phone”? Let the market decide. Presumably, if that’s sufficiently important to people, those platforms will win out in the end. And if it doesn’t win out in the end, oh well. I’m willing to go along with what works. You (and the Domers) have decided how you want things to function, based on a priori moral/ethical/ideological stances (hence you continuing to use the morally loaded term “fascist” towards the company), and work backward from there.


          95. Adam

            It’s funny you mention the AT&T coverage, Frank. It’s the thing more people than any other seem to complain about. Yet I live in an area that is unshaded for AT&T in the Verizon ads, and the locals here who have the device claim it works great (I own only a bare bones cell phone and haven’t tried it). An aunt and uncle who live in a different unshaded area claim the same. So I don’t know what to make of the AT&T complaints.


          96. It’s generally fine in my home, but there’s a good 5-minute stretch on my train ride out of Chicago where I get virtually no coverage. The thing is that this isn’t in the middle of nowhere – it goes by the South Loop and West Loop/UIC, which are all very heavily populated areas. Who knows how the heck all of the AT&T customers that live over there can deal with the service.


          97. Richard

            In that link, here’s a comment which sums up my views:

            “Mr. Coffey,

            You are, sir, without a doubt, the epitome of what makes, as you stated, everyone hate Notre Dame. Twisted logic, inferiority superiority, and living in the past while the ever changing world of college football, and university money in general, changes around you. Let me address your 3 main reasons as to why you shouldn’t join the “Integer”:
            1. Geography. The Big 10 has enjoyed Pac 10, Big 12 and ACC alliances for preseason non-conference games for decades. Michigan and UCLA played in the early 80’s in what eventually became a Rose Bowl Rematch. So, to suggest that you lose your ability to play teams from all over the country is false. You should have stated, “We will be able to maintain losing to teams all over the country.” That would have been more accurate.
            2. Diversity. Really? A bunch of lily white catholics want to talk about diversity? I don’t think you want to go there.
            3. Differentiation. Yeah, there’s that. But seriously, if that’s how you want to be viewed in your football world, well, then I guess you have kissed all hope of national titles good bye…

            Mr. Coffey, I think you need to wake up and smell your namesake. This is about $$$$. And $warbuck$ has probably had some early discussions with NBC and discovered that your brand isn’t doing so hot with the advertisers. And that’s led him to look at the $22M per school that each Big 10 team received last year from ESPN and the Big 10 network. That’s an awfully big security blanket to thumb your nose at.

            In addition, if anyone thinks that an undefeated Domer team going up against 2 or more undefeated Championship teams will get the nod, public attitudes not withstanding, I think you are truly disillusioned and haven’t been paying attention to recent history. Notre Dame isn’t what it used to be. In fact, I honestly believe that if Weis would have pulled off an undefeated season, Texas and Alabama would have still been the two teams playing for a National Title in 2009. That’s why you need the Big 10. Without it, you’re on the outside looking in at the BCS landscape….”


          98. Richard

            Here’s another one:

            Mike, your article is neither well reasoned nor impartial. It is arrogant, shortsighted, and foolhardy. Your article is also poorly researched. All those who agree with you fall into those same categories.

            I’m an ND fan for life, a graduate of the school, and legacy. So don’t try to pretend I’m some dumb big 10 honk.

            Articles and attitudes like this make me absolutely despise the people I went to school with and cheer with on weekends.

            Marley ’05


          99. Rick

            These viewpoints from Rich and the authors of the main articles on are mind boggling. I truly wonder if the Big Ten really needs this nonsense and concur with your feelings.


          100. Richard

            Well, I don’t think other Big10 schools would feel the negative impact so much (words from opposing fans are frankly meaningless). It’s the ND administration which has to weigh how to sell the positive impacts of conference membership to a fanbase that has many unreasoning members.

            That is, if they decide to join. You find in those comments ND alums who caution those such as Rich that they are living in the past, clutching to idealized views that don’t fit the current world so well.

            What if the Big10 expands to 16 and stops expanding (taking over the NE), the Pac10 merges with members of the Big12 to form a 16 or 20 team conference, the SEC also expands by taking VTech, WVa, OU, and OSU or Mizzou, and ND still remains an independent? The TV money would flow disproportionately to 3 giant conferences (who would have enough members between them to set the rules of the BCS). ND could then stay independent, see its TV money dry up, and eventually become as relevent as Army football. They could join an ACC which has no exclusive territory of its own left except NC and maybe Maryland; maybe Connecticut, but if the final result is conference membership anyway, how is joining a conference that makes less money, plays second fiddle in most of the states it’s in, and is farther away a better option than joining a stronger conference years earlier?

            I believe that is the debate the ND administration and those clear-headed members of the ND community are having now, but it seems that the majority of their fanbase would rather plug up their ears and stick their heads in the sand rather than deal head-on with the changes that are coming to college football.


          101. Adam

            Richard, it’d be one thing if there was an actual line in the sand that Notre Dame was unwilling to cross; a situation where they’d rather just give up their sports program than compromise further. I get that. What I don’t get is the hypocritical selective compromising. They’re afraid of getting “outvoted” on these mystery policy issues (apparently related to graduation rates?) but their scheduling (the one thing they currently control) does nothing to enforce or stand up for these principles. Conference membership is apparently going to ruin their “differentiation” and so forth . . . except in every other sport for which they belong to a conference. And so on. If they were an Independent that was only playing other schools with high graduation rates, and they were simply unwilling to give that up and would rather fade into irrelevance than compromise, I could understand that, but they’ve selectively compromised with the insanity of college football and then act like joining the Big Ten is somehow unacceptable, when it is entirely consistent with the compromises they’ve *already made* and which *nobody seems to mind*.


          102. Richard

            A lot of the fanbase is trying to justify an irrational hatred that is rationally unjustifiable. That’s the only explanation I have.

            In a way, I don’t really envy the ND administration. I don’t feel sorry for them either, because they (or their predecessors) created this Beast, and it was and has been a very profitable Beast for a long time, but now this rabid fanbase is coming back to bite them and may prevent them from taking the route that is in the best long-term interests of their athletics programs.


          103. Adam

            You know, Richard, I’d settle merely for coherent. Forget rational; nobody is perfectly rational. But coherent would be nice.

            Example: I am strongly opposed to playing FCS schools. I have written to my athletic department on multiple occasions and said: I don’t want to play FCS opponents. If you can’t find an FBS opponent to play, just don’t play a 12th game. If you can’t afford to field a team without that revenue, we need to re-think what we’re doing with the Football team or whether we should continue to field one. Why? I find it ethically questionable to seek out opponents who are, by rule, less capable of fielding a competitive team. I derive no joy out of beating these opponents; I am troubled by the fact that some elements of the fan base DO enjoy this, and that the school’s decision to keep scheduling such opponents legitimates their bloodlust for blowouts; and I think it is a corrupting message to send to our student-athletes. Some might say that’s “irrational,” and whether it is or not, it’s my position. But I *am* coherent: it’s not like I take that position, but I’m cool with scheduling D-II opponents in basketball.


          104. duffman


            i have seen ark.. upgrades since joining the sec.. they are impressive (76,000 + seats).. i can not say as much about usc (80,000 + seats).. but i have been told they have grown as well (in football they got holtz and spurrier). with holtz at ESPN, and spurrier being spurrier it seems like i see them in the news more than 20 years ago.. and it seems like i see them on tv more.. IU has fallen off the football and basketball radar.. so with your argument msu with 75,000 and illinois with 63,000 should be the bottom of the big 10.. and they are not..

            vandy and northwestern seem sorta similar.. and this is unscientific but in the 20+ years i have been going to chicago.. the folks i visit always seem to have illinois on, it seems real rare for me to catch northwestern on. granted these folks all live in the heart of chicago, and it may be a limited sample size.. but it is what i saw all these years..

            the sec has 6 + 2 the big 10 2 + 2.. you undervalue tenn.. look how big their football and basketball draw.. name one big 10 womens basketball team that draws 20,000 people?? bama draws viewers outside their state footprint, as does auburn.. and for that matter uk in basketball.. the point is they have big venues, and can fill them.. which means they can draw viewers.. and their populations are growing.. with USC and Ark.. i would suggest they would be desirable to most conferences.. especially when Wal Mart HQ is right down the road.

            i give you that the shoe and the big house are big venue.. and yes happy valley (but there was a link how empty it is when PSU is not playing a michigan or tOSU). but after that it drops.. it is why i pointed out that UK (when the expansion is finished) would have the #4 stadium in the big 10.. and they suck in football..

            vandy could find a home anywhere, like ga tech did when they went to the acc.. i find it funny that the fall back is academics, but in most arguments is the value of BTN (which is $$). which tells me in the end.. that it is about money.. sometimes i think of the british 100 years ago.. they were not the super power they thought they were, and it took two world wars before it was hammered home.. the big 10 of your children will not be the big 10 of your parents..

            i am not implying i wish the destruction of the big 10 (i really would like to see IU have a stronger athletic program) .. i am trying to say that you draw more flies with honey than vinegar.. if i am a ND alum, and folks on here keep calling me domer’s why do i want to join.. if i am in ANY other conference, and people on here keep saying how great the big 10 is.. i like the big 10, but i can see how it sounds..

            again, maybe it is because i am on the border of 3 conferences.. which means i am more likely to keep the peace. think of the guy who keeps talking about himself that the pretty girl walks off with the guy who actually listens to what she has to say….

            i can probably show anybody some point that slants my position, and i feel sure that the opposing side can do the same.. but if it gets us nowhere, and creates enough tension, that we do not do business .. who wins.. really??


          105. Adam

            Duffman, I’d buy that if there weren’t a fundamental level of respect involved. I, for one, am basically in the “Notre Dame or nobody” camp. News flash: that isn’t because I think Notre Dame is trash. I think it’s a great institution. Has a lot of plusses. Lots of admirable tradition, but traditions that to this eye are of a piece with the rest of the Big Ten. (I am also the sort of person who roots for all of the Big Ten teams in bowl games or non-conference games; who cares if my school’s rival wins? should I want to drag them down to make myself feel better?) To me, it looks like a mutually beneficial relationship. The Big Ten’s making a lot of money right now; maybe we’d make more, but I’d want Notre Dame to join even if we were going to make less. I respect them like that.

            What I don’t respect is the bogus moralizing, and perhaps more frustratingly, the seemingly random demonization of the Big Ten (e.g., this trope that we’re a couple of years away from Thursday games).


          106. Mike R

            I don’t think the Big 10 ought to court Notre Dame. First, Notre Dame needs to sort out its internal tensions over the school’s identity. The faculty and maybe the administration would like to reposition ND as a research university, and thus joining the CIC is a very attractive prospect. The alums and students are invested in what makes Notre Dame unique — its status as a national school, its independence and exceptional status among college football programs — that they fear would be submerged in the Big 10 identity.

            Now, I admire Notre Dame. It is a great school and they generally take an ethical approach to college athletics. They strive to do things the right way. I just do not believe that ND — as a sectarian, non-research-oriented institution — is a good fit with the Big 10/CIC. And the Big 10 would be getting a member institution that would want to marry its identity with the conference. I’m pretty sure, for instance, that the students and alumni at ND would be very unhappy within the Big 10. If you read their blogs, they fear Notre Dame would be outvoted 10-2 (even 11-1) on issues that are important to them, and I think that after so many decades of independence they would be disinclined to be 1 or 12 (or 14) and defer to the majority time and again.


          107. Adam

            What are these issues that everybody is voting on where Notre Dame expects to lose? Lowered academic standards? They aren’t in position to enforce higher academic standards on their opponents *anyway*! If Notre Dame only played other schools with comparable graduation rates, I’d get it; it’d make sense. They don’t do that. If they’re members of the Big Ten, they have an opportunity to actually make a difference (with an actual vote and access to whatever these mysterious policy debates are about) among the group of universities that would be *most receptive* to actually taking Notre Dame’s advice!


          108. Richard

            PSU regularly sells out, not just against the big teams.

            In any case, the college athletics landscape is changing as well speak. In the old days, your revenue was largely dependent on how many people you can draw to your stadium. In the future, TV money, specifically cable TV money, will matter more, just like TV matters more than attendance in the NFL.


          109. You don’t realize it, Rich, but you are arguing from an inferiority complex. And you’re not the first Notre Dame fan to do so. You claim that you will lose all appeal and identity if you join the Big 10. Why? Duke and Stanford are excellent schools…whether joining conferences is WHY or not is beyond our analysis…but they stand out QUITE far despite being affiliated with a conference.

            Most of us fans who want you in this conference or that conference do so because we see you as desirable NOW and FOREVERMORE. We don’t see you shriveling up and dying in the Big 10. We see you as one of the marquee teams in our conference, even challenging the pecking order of athletics somewhat. You’ll always be “Notre Dame” whether you’re in the PAC10, ACC, or Big 10. History doesn’t disappear.

            Feel good about yourselves, Domers. You’re strong enough to stand on your own two feet in a conference, and you could even become stronger (it’s been a rough decade or two for y’all) by joining us.


          110. duffman


            you keep thinking it is an inferiority complex.. i think it is faith.. is there anybody on this blog that is..

            a) over 40 (age of more powerful alumni, and school officials)

            b) catholic

            that did not follow notre dame when you were young (even if you wound up at another college)..

            if you do not fit a) or b) can you at least see that there are alot of folks in the USA that fit a) or b) .. it has NOTHING to do with inferiority.. one side of my family is NYC.. and in those neighborhoods like went with like.. had nothing to do with inferiority.. it has to do with your peer group growing up….

            if you are the only private catholic school in a sea of public state schools.. you have nothing in common.. which is why ND affiliates with the big east.. schools in the big east “fit” the faith end of ND.. not ONE big 10 school “fits” the faith end of ND.. it is really easy for me to see this.. but i live at the border of the big 10, big east, and sec.. near several large metropolitan cities with strong catholic high schools and large catholic populations..

            i would guess the folks around chicago would see this.. but maybe not other areas of the big 10..


          111. Adam

            I don’t buy it, duffman. The Midwest has a large Catholic population. There have been and will be enormous numbers of Catholic students at all Big Ten universities for decades.

            I don’t think it’s an inferiority complex. I do think that portions of the ND community have tried to cast independence in moral terms in order to justify not just its wisdom but its “righteousness” to themselves.


          112. duffman


            a) are you catholic?

            b) are you over 40? 50?

            if you are.. my guess is you feel more at home with gtown, than tOSU..

            an observation from some who live on the border of the two conferences..

            and old enough to hang out with folks old enough to be in the decision making capacity.. i am not saying a 20 voice is not important, i am saying i do not see presidents, directors, big donors, of that age.. and lets be honest.. these are the folks that call the shots.. as people get older.. they seem to hang out.. with co workers in their profession, the parents of their kids friends, and the folks they worship with. i am not saying this is good.. or bad.. i am just suggest that it seems to happen that way..


          113. ot

            The public schools that are part of the Big Ten aren’t the only ones having financial difficulty.

            The two Pac-10 public schools in California (UCLA and Cal) are hurting as well. (The ones in the WAC and Big West are hurting even worse.)

            The athletic departments need to have cable TV revenue in order to pay their bills.

            The SEC has a fat TV contract from ESPN.

            The Big Ten have its own cable TV network.

            The Big 12, Big East, ACC, and Pac-10 are way behind.


          114. @Rich – Thank you so much for posting – we definitely need to get more of the ND viewpoint. The one thing that I’ll have to quibble with is whether ND would back off of the 7-4-1 schedule. I think that it has effectively become a necessity as long as ND is independent. My understanding is that NBC wanted more “value” from its ND contract, which was partially the impetus for adding on the “neutral” site game (which is really an 8th home game) that could be played in prime time. NBC now gets 8 ND games per year instead of 6, which is something that the network wants in exchange for that TV contract. ND also needs the revenue from an 8th game if it wants to at least remain in striking distance of the Big Ten and SEC schools in terms of revenue. Thus, those weaker schedules are going to be there to stay as long as ND is independent – the only way that you get 8 home games every year is to have 4 guarantee games (which are almost always going to be weaker schools).


          115. Richard

            Just because you want it won’t magically make it so. Maybe you think the ND fanbase is so influential that ND’s AD will suddenly start scheduling Holtz-era schedules again as an independent, in which case you’ll have to explain why successive AD’s have kept adhereing to the 7-4-1 philosophy. After all, it’s not like the ND fanbase just suddenly realized that Tulsa, UConn, and Wake Forest aren’t marquee opponents.
            Anyway, you may think I’m wrong, but I believe history will bear out that ND is more likely to join the Big10 than play a tougher schedule as an independent than as a Big10 member.


          116. Playoffs Now!

            “Meanwhile, Utah is the fastest growing state in the country…”

            Ugh. I also saw that Census blurb and it is extremely misleading. They are basing it on percentage growth, not the total number of actual persons. For example, if State A had 2 people and added 2 more last year, while State B had 50 people and added 5 people last year, the Census would say that State A’s 100% growth rate compared to B’s 10% made A the fastest growing state last year. Yet B added more people.

            Utah is a great place, with plenty of growth and a bright future. It is adding about 70K people per year. But to put growth into perspective, the Texas metro areas of Austin, Houston, and DFW each respectively add 60K, 120K, and 150K each year.

            “…although I suppose you could argue that the long term demographics of the region aren’t very good, as the populations of California and Arizona will likely decline due to lack of water)”

            We’ll all be dead before AZ would ever run out of water. Google “Central Arizona Project” and their aquifer replenishment program. They’ve been very proactive and are in great shape, even if the Colorado River’s output continues to decline. I would never predict that CA would act wisely, but being on the ocean and the increasing affordability of desalination plants means they don’t have to run out of water unless they choose to.


          117. Jake

            Baylor actually pulls in a little more athletic revenue than Texas Tech, hard as that is to believe. Not sure either of them is really much of a TV draw. Tech’s academics would be a problem for the Pac-10 schools, and Baylor is almost as conservative as BYU, so the Pac-10 might hesitate to make that invite. They just hired Kenneth Starr as their president, if that tells you anything. Texas would have to be really, really insistent on either of them coming along if Baylor or Tech are going to get anywhere near the Pac-10. Bob Bullock isn’t around to help them this time.

            And TCU is on par with both of those two in athletic revenues, despite having the relatively poor MWC TV contract and not getting the money from a BCS auto-bid every season, plus a second BCS payout most years, even if you never, EVER sniff a BCS bowl, or any bowl for that matter, yourself (I’m looking at YOU, Baylor). Also, TCU’s in DFW instead of Waco or Lubbock, and those who think that isn’t a factor need to spend more time in Waco and Lubbock. That’s right, TCU: the third best candidate for conference expansion in Texas. That’s our school motto, if you translate it from Latin.


          118. ot

            Can the Big Ten generate enough cable TV revenue fro the state of Texas to justify taking Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech?

            I have my doubts.

            Texas Tech is by far the “weakest” of the 3 in almost all the revelant metrics one can come up with.


            As for Notre Dame: I do NOT believe that the Big Ten Network can force itself onto the expanded basic or digital basic tiers on “national” basis if it were to admit Notre Dame.

            Notre Dame will NOT deliver the 3 big markets in the Pacific Time Zone (i.e Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle). No chance.

            If the Big Ten wants to be on expanded basic cable in Los Angeles, it will need to raid the Pac-10 to grab USC (which can be paired with Notre Dame because of their long-standing rivalry).

            The Pac-10 probably knows this by now and the Pac-10 knows that it has to make a move (i.e. start its own cable TV network, grab Colorado, grab the 3 Texas schools from the Big 12, etc.) before the Big Ten does what used to be considered to be the “unthinkable” by inviting USC.


            This is actually much more interesting than any football game. A whole bunch of schools are now playing a combination of “High Stakes Poker” and “Kabuki Theatre” with the major conferences.

            About the only major conference and the only schools that are NOT in play are the SEC and its 12 members.

            Everyone else is fair game…


          119. Richard