Tony Barnhart, a fairly well-connected college football writer at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, dropped some titillating tidbits about the Big Ten’s expansion plans today. He often writes from the SEC perspective (as to be expected being based in Hot-lanta), yet he has a solid reputation of not reporting much bunk. Here’s the money quote:
The other big topic here has a chance to completely change college football as we know it. I’ve spoken to a number of athletics directors and commissioners who are convinced that the Big Ten is positioning itself to seriously consider becoming college football first super conference by expanding to as many as 16 teams.
The Big Ten is looking at three plans: Stand pat with 11 teams, add one team (hopefully Notre Dame) or make a blockbuster move and go to 16.
“If they go to 16 and one of them is Notre Dame then we’ve got an entirely new ball game,” a conference commissioner told me confidentially.
Whoa! I was just wrapping my head around the thought of the Big Ten moving up to 14 schools, yet Barnhart is suggesting that isn’t even an option on the table. He seems to be saying that the Big Ten wants to either go big up to 16 or go home. Now, I don’t personally feel the love for a 16-school behemoth in the same manner that a lot of the readers of this blog do (and I attempted to throw a lot of water on the notion of superconferences early on). I’ve long felt that 12 schools is really the perfect number for a conference and it would take a massive financial windfall in order to make a multi-school expansion work for the Big Ten. Still, it’s worth examining which 5-school expansion combinations could work for the Big Ten if it’s really on the table. I’m going to use the following assumptions that will be required for any 16-school Big Ten:
(1) Notre Dame MUST be involved – The amount of chatter coming from the Domers (both in support of a move to the Big Ten and, more loudly, in support of completely removing the football program altogether) indicates that Notre Dame’s leadership (if not its alumni base) is reading the tea leaves of conference realignment and is positioned to move. I have long felt that Big Ten expansion would not occur without either Notre Dame or Texas and this is exponentially true with any multi-school expansion. Over the past few weeks, there have been quotes from Notre Dame’s Executive Vice President, Athletic Director, football coach and basketball coach all either being extremely squishy on the school’s future as an independent or, in the case of Mike Brey, straight-up believing that Notre Dame will be in the Big Ten sooner rather than later. Thus, let’s ignore all proposals of Big Ten expansion combinations that don’t include Notre Dame from this point forward. The Big Ten isn’t going to add 5 schools without one of them being Notre Dame.
(2) The Big Ten won’t kill any conferences… only mortally wound them – The Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith went on the record a couple of days ago saying that he preferred that the Big Ten expand by multiple schools. He also noted that he had faith that whichever conference or conferences were affected would be able to find replacement schools and live on. I buy that line of thinking – the Big Ten isn’t in the business of killing off conferences if only for the fact that it’s pointless to be a dominant force if there aren’t any other conferences to dominate. At the same time, I’m fairly certain that the Big Ten understands that if the Big East schools were really that valuable, that Big East’s current per school TV payouts wouldn’t be less than the annual interest that Northwestern receives on its Big Ten TV paychecks. So, I highly doubt that we’ll be seeing the Big Ten add 4 Big East schools on top of Notre Dame. More likely, we’ll see the Big East and Big XII affected along with a small possibility of the ACC being hit. Instead of completely murdering the Big East, the Big Ten would likely leave several conferences with flesh wounds like the Black Knight from ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’
(Speaking of murder, CBS just destroyed two decades worth of goodwill in a 3-minute span with its horrific NCAA Tournament montage last night. That wasn’t “One Shining Moment” – instead, that was Sonny Corleone visiting a toll booth. It was bad enough that the network decided to replace the version sung by the late Luther Vandross with a new shrill piece from Jennifer Hudson. Yet, CBS compounded its mistake further by splicing in several shots of Hudson throughout the montage which could have been used for actual game footage that was sorely lacking. It’s ridiculous that a “One Shining Moment” montage would have absolutely no recognition of national player of the year Evan Turner, the upset by #14 Ohio over #3 Georgetown, the existence of #1 seed Syracuse and, worst of all, ZERO footage of the double-overtime game between Kansas State and Xavier. Advice to CBS executives: don’t tailor “One Shining Moment” based on feedback from focus groups that watch “The View”. This way, you can avoid pissing people off that watch the NCAA Tournament because they actually like basketball instead of seeing Jennifer Hudson’s mug when “the ball is tipped.” At least CBS News has noticed that the public isn’t very happy. This has made me so angry that I encourage all of you to participate in faux activism via Facebook.)
(3) Rutgers and Syracuse are virtual locks – Whether you like them or not, it would be hard enough for a 14-school Big Ten to be financially viable without the New York City market sans Texas. If a 16-school conference comes to fruition, then it removes all doubt whatsoever that adding on the NYC DMA is an absolute requirement for the Big Ten. To me, this mandates adding both of Rutgers and Syracuse. (I’ll again duly note a number of knowledgeable commenters that don’t think Syracuse would fit in the Big Ten, but the fact remains that it’s an AAU member in the top 60 of the US News rankings with the only BCS football program in the entire state of New York with 20 million people along with a marquee basketball program with a lot of NYC fans. There’s a reason why the ACC really wanted Syracuse as opposed to Virginia Tech when it raided the Big East back in 2003.)
Under those guiding parameters, here are the main 16-school scenarios that I believe could work for the Big Ten:
- JoePa’s Wet Dream Conference (Notre Dame, Rutgers, Syracuse, Boston College and Maryland) – This is simple enough: let’s take the original “JoePa’s Dream Conference” that I had proposed with Notre Dame, Rutgers and Syracuse as additions and then tack on Boston College and Maryland on top of them. This effectively allows the Big Ten to capture the entire Northeast while, at least on paper, adding the New York, Boston and Washington markets. With Notre Dame and Penn State as anchors, the Big Ten Network could get into basic cable households that aren’t even necessarily in Big Ten states (i.e. the other New England states, Northern Virginia near DC, etc.). These are all academically impressive schools (even if some people might quibble with the graduate research capabilities of BC and Syracuse) that could deliver 3 massive and very affluent markets on the East Coast. The problem that I foresee is that I still believe that any ACC school is higher hanging fruit in terms of the Big Ten trying to lure one of them, whereas there are Big East and Big XII schools that could provide similar value as lower hanging fruit.
- Imperial Star Destroyer Conference (Notre Dame, Rutgers, Syracuse, Nebraska and Kansas) – The more I look at this hypothetical conference, the more I like it. Rutgers and Syracuse provide a concrete base of households to the East, but Nebraska and Kansas provide the national brand names to the West. This type of expansion is less about pure market grabs and more about making the Big Ten Network into a true national property. A football conference with Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Notre Dame and Nebraska going at each other in the fall? A basketball conference with Kansas, Michigan State, Syracuse, Indiana (assuming that the Hoosiers will be resurrected at some point) and Illinois going at each other in the winter? That’s extremely enticing from a national perspective. I’ve been hammering away regarding the importance of TV markets to the Big Ten Network, but let’s not suspend all common sense here by trying to argue that a mere presence in a large market is always going to be more valuable than a powerful national presence that’s located in a smaller market. Adding a football program like Nebraska and, to a lesser extent, a blue blood basketball program like Kansas could compensate for their smaller home population bases by drawing enough demand for games to raise rates within the current Big Ten footprint and inducing more basic cable operators to sign up outside of that footprint. Plus, schools such as Nebraska and Kansas would actually be fairly happy to join the Big Ten (at least at the administrative level) and wouldn’t have to deal with torch-wielding alums like Notre Dame or crazy politicians like Texas.
I’m sure a few of you out there are wondering: why not Missouri instead of Kansas? Part of it is that Missouri’s potential value to the Big Ten is very overrated by outsiders. The Big Ten Network is already on basic cable in the St. Louis market due to the presence of Illinois alums and fans, which means the main market that the conference would add with Mizzou is Kansas City. However, Kansas is arguably much more popular in that market AND has a marquee basketball name nationally. At the end of the day, the St. Louis and Kansas City markets really don’t provide much impact to the Big Ten, which already has Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis and the entire state of Ohio in the fold. So, the better play if the Big Ten wants to poach any schools from the Big XII is to go for the more nationally prominent programs. I’ve emphasized that basketball isn’t a top consideration in expansion matters compared to football, but Kansas is a special case that’s up there with Duke, UNC and Kentucky in terms of national drawing power.
- Death Star Conference (Notre Dame, Rutgers, Syracuse, Texas and Texas A&M) – No real explanation needed as to how adding the two main Texas schools on top of Notre Dame and the New York market would completely alter the college sports landscape. I think even the Domers would come around to being in this type of conference. The chatter has certainly died down about the Texas schools moving over to the Big Ten, yet it’s still an intriguing possibility.
I’m still extremely skeptical of the current Big Ten members ever voting to expand the conference by nearly 50% when it has only added two new members in the past 90 years. That being said, the Big Ten Network has changed everything in terms of how we look at expansion and Notre Dame effectively said that it has no choice but to join a superconference if it were ever to come to fruition. If the Big Ten can’t get the Texas schools, I’m warming up to the thought of the Imperial Star Destroyer Conference. I’ll emphasize again that I don’t personally support having such a massive change (when you get past 12 schools, you risk of no longer being a tight conference and becoming a loose confederation). However, it may not matter since the wild predictions of a “Big Tent” conference aren’t as crazy as I thought a few months ago.
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Frank – Wisconsin coach tweeting that they may be scheduling ND & Nebraska in upcoming years. The plot thickens!
FWIW – At 16 teams they add 5… ND, Syracuse, Rutgers, Nebraska, and Missouri
WEST – WISC MINN ILL NW IOWA NEBR MIS ND
EAST – MICH MICH ST OSU PSU SYR RUT PUR IND
That way Wisconsin gets Home & Home with ND & Nebraska….. in conference play.
WI / ND / NEB in the West MICH / OSU / PSU in the East Good competetive balance?
Sounds too good to be true.
ND separated from all 3 Big10 teams it has annual rivalry games with (Michigan, MSU, and Purdue)? Unlikely.
I definitely think that keeping ND vs. Michigan is an absolute requirement. What’s the point of bringing ND into the Big Ten if it ends up killing a marquee rivalry that the average sports fan wants to see? Finding a way to maintain the MSU and Purdue rivalries will be the tougher challenge in a 16-school conference unless the Big Ten is able to skirt the division requirement and simply give every school 3 permanent rivals. A modified Imperial Star Destroyer conference where UCONN replaces Kansas would work pretty well if you went to a pod system (although the ND-Purdue series would be a casualty):
POD A – Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan State
POD B – Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse, UCONN
POD C – Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, Indiana
POD D – Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota
Pod A is obviously ridiculously stacked, yet it may simply need to happen that way since every other pod is pretty logical in terms of geography and rivalries. It wouldn’t hurt the conference to turn ND-OSU into an annual game, either. I’d have Pod A and Pod B always locked in opposite divisions, with Pods B and C rotating every 2 years. If the Big Ten goes to a 9-game conference schedule, then everyone can continue to play each other at least 2 out of 4 years while maintaining 3 annual rivals. I share Adam’s concern that the pod system could be confusing, yet it’s the best way to ensure that schools actually still play each other while maintaining the division structure.
Michigan and Notre Dame cannot be in the same pod.
Yes, they have a rivalry, but the whole purpose of having a sixteen (16) team conference is to generate headlines with the title game.
That means some combination of UM, OSU, ND and PSU in the title gam. You have to separate these four teams among the four pods, however, you must keep UM/OSU together, so that means ND in one pod, PSU in another pod.
UM and ND haven’t played one hundred straight years. Their rivalry is borne out mutual dislike more then a long history of games on the gridron.
I think you group the pods like this
UM, MSU, NW, OSU
ND, Purdue, Indiana, BC
PSU, Uconn, Rutgers, Syracuse
Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minny
Actually, a bunch of heavyweight regular season games would be more important than 1 championship game.
The purpose of having a 16-team conference is actually so you could create high-ratings matchups every week, not just or championship week.
I think you are correct about the regular season outweighing the CCG. I think a big factor in this expansion is the ABC/ESPN contract renewal in 2015. A 16 team heavyweight league may lock up the ABC Saturday Night game nationwide (rather than regional) for 12 weeks a year.
I don’t think that losing Michigan off the schedule once every 3-4 years would upset ND fans too much and I know for a fact that they have no strong connection to Purdue or MSU.
Personally, I would prefer smaller pods. The only rivalries which should be required to be in-division each year are:
All other schools would be placed in one of the divisions each year on a rotating basis (unless one of the new schools has an obvious must-save game like Texas-A&M). This setup would create a much more connected conference and allow for every school to play every other school more than half of the seasons.
Frank the Tank wrote: “Finding a way to maintain the MSU and Purdue rivalries will be the tougher challenge in a 16-school conference unless the Big Ten is able to skirt the division requirement and simply give every school 3 permanent rivals.”
MSU and ND have played for a long time, but the series has not been continuous. They took a two year break in mid-90s, and are scheduled to take two year breaks in the future. You could probably get away with something similar if ND joined the conference.
They have destroyed rivalries in the past and it WILL happen again especially with the magnitude of conference realignment. I don’t see how the pod system would work in the Big 16. Mich / ND / OSU in one pod of one conference. You are putting 3 of the top 5 winningest programs together in a single 4 team pod.
I feel that you would need divisions. The more I look at it, the more I think ND needs to go to the west side. For balance, tough toenails on their rivalries. The Big 12 blew up Nebraska – Oklahoma after about 100 years.
That was a pretty foolish decision on the part of the Big 12, too; that rivalry is pretty emaciated, and it is not (entirely) due to Nebraska’s reduced competitiveness level. They could have kept that as an inter-divisional rivalry, but just chose not to go with that model. Big mistake.
I have said elsewhere that I think that the pursuit of “balance” in forming the divisions is a wild goose chase. Waste of time and energy. Preserve the rivalries: those are the goose that lays college football’s golden eggs.
I would think ND would want to face UM, MSU, OSU, etc., on an annual basis. Why would ND join the B10, only to spend their time playing Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc.? Talk about alumni backlash, I think they’d go nuts if ND was in the B10 West.
All the ND talk leads me to believe a B10 West version of the B12 North is practically inevitable. I don’t know if that is in the best interests of the conference, but I look forward to Iowa’s annual trip to the CCG. 🙂
I don’t want to go to 16….however, if they do, I like your 5, except that Big 10 should add Pitt rather than Syracuse. Syracuse is a private school with 19000 enrollment, and 1/4 of the federal research funds of the lowest ranked Big 10 school. It is hours away from NYC, has an aging 50000 indoor football stadium that is a piece of crap….You don’t need Syr if you have ND, PSU, and Rytgers.
I agree with you and disagree with Frank over the inclusion of Syracuse, but IMO Maryland would bring more than either Pitt or Syracuse. So much has been written over Penn States and Ohio States influence in the Pittsburgh MA, that it would be a waste of a valuable slot. Looking at a map, you would want Pitt, but looking at a bottom line, you wouldn’t. I know Frank is a Cuse grad, and would love to have them in the B10, but again, IMO, if you have Penn State, Notre Dame and Rutgers, I don’t believe Syracuse delivers that much of the NYC market to warrant, again, giving up a valuable position. Frank, if you read this, what evidence supports the need for Syracuse when you have Notre Dame?
Also, without ND, I think the B10 could go to 14 with a number of different combinations, (Nebraska, Rutgers, Maryland is my favorite) and I know a lot of you will hate this(I do), wait for ND to see the ‘light’.
Uh, he’s not a ‘Cuse grad.
Maryland would be a good “get”, but first they’d have to agree to join, and it’s not certain they’d be willing to leave their ACC basketball rivalries behind.
The danger with not taking ‘Cuse (and UConn) is that the ACC could take them at some point, and then NYC isn’t solidly Big10 any more.
To an extent, same with Pitt (they could make inroads in to PA by taking Pitt).
Take Rutgers, Syracuse, UConn, & Pitt, and you lock up the Mid-Atlantic, make NYC a Big10 town (even if ND doesn’t join) and give the ACC no opening in the northeast. They’d still have BC, but few people not associated with BC care about them.
This plan would not maximize TV revenues for the Big10, but would make for a more solid, stable league.
Add ND as the 16th team and you could make a play for New England or nationally. If ND still says “no”, you coud try for Maryland/Mizzou/Nebraska/BC.
@Richard – is locking other conferences out of a region a concern for the Big Ten? As long as they get their channel on cable systems, do they really care if there’s another team in the area to watch? I don’t think the Big Ten would add a member simply to keep another conference from getting them – whoever they invite would have to really bring something to the conference.
@Jake Says- EXACTLY! There is no need to LOCK UP anything. You want the widest dissemination of your product(BTN) without wasting B10 slots for over penetration of the market. That is why, probably the most important research being done for this expansion IS, WHO does it take to get into NYC?
To Richard- I guess I got Illini orange confused with Cuse orange!
@R – If you can show that the Rutgers/ND/PSU combo can deliver the Big Ten across the Hudson, then yes, adding Syracuse could be overkill. However, I don’t think the NYC market, especially for college sports where you need multiple schools to deliver that market as opposed to a single school, can really be overpenetrated. There’s also the rest of New York state (Buffalo and the rest of Upstate New York) to consider that Rutgers clearly couldn’t provide. Overpentration would apply to, say, the Pittsburgh market, where PSU clearly delivers that market well enough that Pitt would be duplicative in terms of households.
I do agree that the #1 research topic for the Big Ten is which combo of school best delivers NYC. That’s where the TV consultants out there are going to be getting the big bucks for analysis. All of the other TV markets are fairly clear in terms of which schools would deliver them.
A five (5) team Eastern expansion of BC, Uconn, ND, Syracuse and Rutgers is realistic and makes the most sense if you are looking at sixteen teams.
I don’t think there is much doubt Boston College — which has been in the ACC for 5 years and has sparse ties with its members — would love to join a conference with Notre Dame, Uconn, Syracuse and PSU, not to mention academic peers in Michigan and Northwestern.
Further, this scenario allows the ACC to add Pittsburgh which is a better fit for the conference geographically then the Eagles. Pitt also is of more value to the ACC since it gives the conference exposure to Pennsylvania, and has potential rivals with Maryland and Virginia Tech.
While the pod breakdown could be the harbinger of future conferences, I think the conference would initially feature two (2) eight team divisions
End of season rivals – Uconn/BC, Rutgers/Cuse, IU/Purdue, ND/PSU.
End of season rivals – UM/OSU, Ill/NW, Wisconsin/Iowa and Minnesota/MSU.
Yes, I would trade Maryland in for BC in a second, but its a longshot Maryland bolts the ACC given its longstanding ties to that conference.
I hear a lot about how Cuse and BC aren’t “cultural fits” for the Big 10. Please understand in a sixteen team conference, the Big 10 will cede its identity as a midwestern conference that consists of large state universities in favor of a Northern conference that captures every major media market north of the Ohio river (Boston, NYC, Philly, Chicago, etc.)
If we wanted to find “cultural fits” we would add Iowa State, Cincinnati, Pitt, Kansas and Kansas State.
I don’t think Cincinnati belongs on that list. To my sensibilities, that isn’t all that many steps removed from adding a community college or a Division III school in terms of being incongruous with the rest of the league.
Don’t know which reply this is too; wordpress doing its thing again.
Richard, good as anywhere else.
ND is the chicken or the egg. Which came first.
Everyone knows the Big Ten wants ND, it is just a matter of how to force their hand. I believe that ND wants to stay independent and will do what ever they can to keep it. Thus they need to disrupt expansion and play along and at the last moment disrupt the process. They have done this before when dealing with the Big Ten and will do it again. It serves their purpose.
Since we know that ND will do what ever it takes to stay independent. How do we force their hand. Thus the Big Ten needs to expand without ND (go to 14 with the potential to expand to 16). Give them the impression they are going to be left out.
At a later date when ND comes to the Big Ten, add ND with one other school. Force ND to make that move. As long as ND believes they are in a stronger position, they are not going to move. As long as they have alternatives, they are not going to move.
Absolutely nothing can “force” ND’s hand into joining a conference in football. Period. If they don’t like the deal they have with NBC, they move on to Fox. If they have trouble scheduling adequately under the ill-conceived 7-4-1 model, then they dump it and go back to 6-6 (which isn’t even true 6-6 since Navy is never a real away game).
Now that isn’t to say that ND won’t join a conference — the administration desperately wants to and has wanted to since at least ’99 — but the notion that it can be forced on ND is unsupportable.
The only real sports impediment to independence is where to plunk basketball, baseball, and soccer if the BE dissolves, but all of that ought to be subordinate to preserving football. Plus, I’m confident that basketball — and let’s face it, that’s the only really significant one — can land somewhere with Georgetown, ‘Nova, Marquette, etc.
NDx2, I think FOX is tied up with their MLB contract. That’s part of ND’s problem, as I see it: there aren’t a lot of other places for them to go if they become dissatisfied with the NBC deal.
True, ND doesn’t have to join a conference, but if staying independent in football means playing an Army-like schedule, receiving Army-like revenues in football, and having no shot at a national title in football 20 years from now, I doubt the administration would prefer that alternative, even if some die-hard Domers do.
NDx2: Could you explain to me, from a Notre Dame perspective, why “preserving football” (I assume you mean as an independent) is of utmost importantce, but it’s not important for any other sport?
If you assume that the premise of Barnhart’s story is correct 1 or 5 teams, then I think the following is being contemplated by Delaney.
1 team — Rutgers or Nebraska. If Notre Dame or Texas would join as the 12th member, expansion would have been over by now. One has to assume that these schools mean what they say — only major conference realignment (i.e. multiple team expansion) could lead these schools to the Big 10.
At 12, I think its a debate between Rutgers or Nebraska. No one else makes sense. Rutgers brings NJ into the BTN footprint, gives PSU an Eastern partner and opens up NJ for recruiting.
Nebraska is a national powerhouse that would allow the Big 10 to increase its rights fees with ABC/ESPN, and enable the conference to balance the divisions with PSU/Nebraska and UM/OSU. They do not bring a large home market for BTN purposes, and are probably on the academic fringe to Big 10 presidents.
I sense many fans prefer Nebraska, but my gut thinks it would be Rutgers.
16 teams — you need Texas or ND, so you blow up the Big 12 or the Big East. The drawback with taking teams from two conference is now you have several outliers in the conference that really do not fit. Would Syracuse want to be a conference where the only Eastern schools are PSU and Rutgers? Would Texas want to be in a conference where only A&M is the school it has any rivalry with?
Its easier if you fold several Big 12 or Big East teams into the market. First, its an easier sell to convince five teams to bolt a conference if they think the conference is imploding. Second, its an easier sell to their fans. If Syracuse is still playing Uconn and BC in bball, and getting PSU in football, plus games with UM, ND and OSU sprinkled in, they would be quite content.
My guess is the sixteen team model preference is ND and the Big East. This allows complete saturation and domination of major media markets — which really is the way to ensure the BTN survives.
@Justin – That’s a good synopsis. Interesting take on the 16-school strategy. The only thing is that I don’t think that any of the Big East schools need selling and most of the Big XII schools don’t need selling either. At least with respect to the BE, most of the fans there see the writing on the wall and would simply be happy to get not left behind. The Big XII fans might be a little bit different story (although a lot of Nebraska fans that I’ve seen seem to very open to the Big Ten). Now, I agree that the two schools that “matter” that would really need to be sold are ND and Texas. I also agree that the most likely 16-school conference (IF the Big Ten chooses to go that route, which I’m very skeptical of) is some type of variation of JoePa’s Wet Dream Conference – ND, Rutgers and Syracuse for sure and I’m warming up to the land grab in New England of BC and UCONN. I’d like to switch out one of those schools for Nebraska from a national perspective, but if the goal is an uninterrupted domination of both the NYC area and New England, then you may need all 4 of those schools and they’re all attainable. If you just care about the NYC area, then definitely exchange BC for Nebraska.
Repeat after me: No U Conn, BC, or Syracuse. Yes to Missouri and Pitt; No U Conn, BC, or Syracuse. Yes to Missouri and Pitt.
Why do you want to fundamentally change the culture of the most successful conference in college sports? Makes no sense, and would be much regretted 10 years down the road.
Mushroomgod may be a homer, but he’s totally right. Using the logic of 90% of the people on here, the Big10 should invite the Univ’s of Toronto and Vancouver bc then they can “own” Canada via the big 10 network. I agree that the tv aspect needs to be considered, but some of the suggestions here are seriously lacking critical thinking. The big 10 is a BRAND. You destroy that brand if you stray too far from what makes it special. Rutgers is hard for me to stomach but I’ll allow. Uconn, BC and Syracuse ahould not even be discussed. Period. Texas/AM, Nebraska, ND, Pitt and Mizzou should be getting consideration and not these other schools being suggested.
No one cares about college athletics in Canada. that’s not the case in the Northeast.
Compare the Big10 to the NHL: pre-expansion, the NHL had a good brand as maybe not the most popular sports league, but one of the top 4 with defineable, solid characteristics. Then they over-reached and started moving franchises from Canada and the North to the South/West sunbelt.
Now their brand is completely blahhhhhh (although coming back thanks to Olympics/Crosby/Ovechkin). Does anyone non-hockey even care about seeing a playoff game, let alone regular season, featuring the St. Petersburg Ragin Retirees vs. the Arizona Leatherskins ? Hockey, in June or July, in a Sunbelt city where the transplanted fans either root for their hometown teams or have no interest is an abomination to the sport’s integrity.
But hey – look at all those “new TV markets with big populations” (sound familiar Big 10?) they got for the NHL network !! Who cares if nobody watches it now and the sport had to sell its soul in becoming a bastardized eunich shell of its former self – we got those TVs !!!
If the Big10 expands to Uconn, Syracuse, BC or even Rutgers (just my opinion), they may certainly “grow” the league and enter lucrative markets. But eventually they may also dilute, if not outright ruin the brand. Certainly no offense to these schools – they are no doubt fine institutions within their own right(s), but they do not have the characteristics to grow the brand (which is why you dont hear about the SEC thinking about inviting UCLA bc of “the big market) !
Here’s an amazing thought: instead of adding these teams to grow the Big10 footprint in new areas, why not add good schools WITHIN the current footprint and raise the rates bc people will be willing to pay to see ND, etc on a network ? Sure, the SEC could “enter new markets” by asking Utah to join. But wouldnt it be better to add GA Tech ?!?
The reason so many people are on here debating this is because of the history and brand of the league. Let’s not minimize this factor when suggesting the league adds DeVry or ITT Tech bc they are in NYC and would “bring a lot of TVs” ….
I raise a toast to thee, RememberTheNHL‽
@RememberTheNHL – I must say, this is an excellent comparison. This hits a personal nerve, too, as I proposed a complete overhaul of the NHL several years ago with contracting a lot of the Sun Belt teams as part of it:
Now, the question is whether the Northeast simply will never care about college sports or if the lack of a conference that housed all of its most popular schools at the same time (namely Penn State and Notre Dame under the same roof) is why there hasn’t been more than a passing interests. That’s really the bet if the Big Ten goes that direction – if you get Penn State and Notre Dame along with some of the other major market schools under one roof, then that might be a game-changer.
Florida, Florida State and Miami used to be in different conferences, and that never stopped the Sunshine State from embracing college football with a vengeance. Maybe the NE just isn’t that into college football.
Man, the NHL – is that thing still around? I used to be seriously into the Stars, but then they got rid of anybody on the team with a scrap of personality. I do like your proposed division alignments, though. Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota – that’s a boatload of win.
Speaking of Minnesota, I never cared for their name. The Wild? Really? I suggested they go with the Minnesota Lakers, because unlike basketball, hockey can be played on a lake.
NHL: who within the BT footprint raises the brand, fulfills the supposed BT requirements, and passes the smell test better than Nebraska, Missouri, PITT, Syracuse, Rutgers, Maryland, BC, UConn? Notre Dame? The funny thing is they think the Big Ten diminishes their brand so that is a marriage made in heaven eh? Who else? Nobody I suspect.
I think, Rick, that there’s something to be said for the brand being raised simply from trying not to be anything more than itself. By adding what on first blush appears to be “nothing” (in the sense of no additional cumulative cable subscribers), you still make the product more valuable. This is why, although it wouldn’t surprise me if Pitt does not bring enough dollars to the table, I think there’s a fighting chance they could, or at least that adding them could be profitable (even if not as profitable as what I suspect is the white whale of getting BTN on basic cable in New York).
To put it another way, Rick, I think consumers perceive value in authenticity.
This is an interesting new criteria. So who are your “authentic” expansion candidates? And are you referring to the Universities meeting the new Big Ten “authentic” criteria? What are the “authentic” criteria? Does anyone meet these? Is anyone worthy of being bestowed an invitation? I see you consider PITT a possibility, I do too. I’m just not sure I know what being “authentic” in the eyes of the Big Ten is. How does the “authenticity” of Indiana differ from that of Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Syracuse, Rutgers? Is it geography? PITT is authentic because they are in PA but these others are not? Is Notre Dame? Is it PITT and ND or nobody? I’m not trying to be flippant and I apologize if I sound that way but I just don’t get this.
Well Rick, we’ve been arguing back and forth on this blog about what makes for authenticity in a Big Ten context. I have tried to argue that an essential characteristic is being located in the Midwest, which means that being located in Indiana differs substantially from at least Maryland and Rutgers. I have attempted to define the “Midwest” in fairly concrete terms (“that part of the country with the Midwest’s unique blend of agriculture, heavy industry, and 19th century anti-slavery sentiment and Catholic urban dominance”), which would tend to include Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Iowa State, and exclude Missouri, Syracuse, and Nebraska (in roughly that order). As noted, Penn State as a member is the marginal case, but it is justifiable (central and western Pennsylvania having a substantially more Midwestern character than the eastern portion), and even the charter members of the Big Ten include a different sort of marginal case/outlier in Northwestern (whose membership nobody begrudges). Syracuse and Missouri would both also probably be similar sorts of marginal cases that would be justifiable stretches.
Other people will have different definitions of course. Mine is definitely geographic. But I think the NHL is an excellent example of how an organization can lose what makes it great by chasing the mirage of profits-via-demographics.
Yes I read all your posts and understand your position. I just don’t agree with it. It’s well thought out and presented.
@Adam – Frankly, your definition of “authentic” seems to me to be somewhat tortured, designed to reflect your pre-conceived notions of which institutions you want in, and which ones you don’t.
It’s fine to have an opinion about who you want; I certainly do. But it seems a bit disingenious to come up with contrived “objective” criteria simply to justify your tastes.
Plus, any set of criteria that rates Iowa State near the top belongs in the dumpster.
Well obviously I disagree. The factors I have pointed to are, in my mind, a very real combination of factors that have produced a distinct social milieu in this part of the country (distinctly different both from the northeast and the great plains, not to mention the south, mountain west, or Pacific coast). And it is not designed to “reflect [my] pre-conceived notions of which institutions [I] want in,” because I frankly would find Iowa State as boring of an option as anybody else. But I offer that as proof of my bona fides. I buy into my methodology. Even though I find them boring, if they could somehow not be a financial catastrophe, I’d accept them into the league (but only after other acceptable options I actually find interesting/attractive).
Authenticity relates to cultural fit criteria. Athletic pedigree, academic stature with emphasis on graduate research, flagship university in a highly populous state guaranteeing increased viewership of the Big Ten Network. Thus, Texas is ideal.
Chas., I do not think that “highly populous state guaranteeing increased viewership of the BTN” has anything to do with authenticity. It may or may not be consistent with it, but it is not intrinsic to the analysis (since, whatever criteria you’re using, the population level of the state has little to do with the school itself). And my argument has been that geography is an essential component of “cultural fit criteria,” along with “athletic pedigree” and “academic stature with emphasis on graduate research.” If we can’t find a school in the right part of the country that fits the criteria, the answer is not to expand.
Adam: So that would put the likely candidates as Iowa State, Notre Dame, and PITT? Iowa State? How about Nebraska, Kansas, or Missouri?
Rick, I don’t know what’s likely; I’m just expressing my preferences and what I think is in the league’s best interests. If I am on the COP/C, and the Big Ten staff said “you’ll never believe this, but we actually would increase our profits if we added Pittsburgh or Iowa State,” I’d vote for them in a heartbeat (something like ND 1st choice, Pitt 2nd choice, Iowa State 3rd choice). With Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri (or Syracuse), I’d be more skeptical, but I’d have a hard time casting a 4th “no” vote to block the move if it came to that.
Iowa State is a non-starter. Worst in the Big Ten academically, research, endowment, athletically, and close to zero TVs.
Greg, I recognize that Iowa State is a non-starter; that was based entirely on the unlikely hypothetical that the Big Ten staff discovered some kind of heretofore unknown Iowa State goldmine.
Gotcha. ND, Pitt, Neb, Kan, Missouri/Syracuse if 16. Without ND then, Pitt, Syracuse, Neb, Kan, Missouri. If 12 then ND only. Without ND then Pitt if 12 only. Interesting.
Given that Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania are the 5th, 6th and 7th most populous states in the union and have among the largest alumni bases across the nation, an authentic fit will have to capture those demographics rather than geographic proximity. The Big Ten generates the most revenue because we have the broadest audience. Therefore in order to increase the charter members’ respective slices of the pie, a prospective school must offer significantly more than being a neighbor. The University of Texas will absolutely deliver the Lone Star State, whereas it is a question mark whether the Big East schools can reliably spread the appeal of the Big Ten.
Chas., the Big Ten encompasses more than Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania; its essence is informed just as much by Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. I don’t see how high-population is part of what makes the Big Ten the Big Ten. Some of the states are high-population states. Some of them are somewhat lower. All 11 are members. It is undoubtedly true that “a prospective school must offer significantly more than being a neighbor,” which is why I say that being a neighbor is only a necessary and not a sufficient condition. If all it took was being a neighbor, we could admit Northern Illinois and call it 12. I’m not advocating that.
I mention Illinois and Ohio specifically because the Illini and Buckeyes consistently deliver the highest rating for the Big Ten Network and the good folks in Park Ridge know this. It is fortunate for Iowa and Indiana that we have equal revenue distribution otherwise they’d be in the same position as the lower tier Big XII schools that resent Texas and Nebraska. Expansion is a financial exercise and Barry Alvarez of Wisconsin has been a vocal proponent because he wants the extra revenue from a championship game.
If Texas doesn’t want to be part of the first super-conference, then I say forget ND and add our western neighbor Nebraska. Split us up East-West by time zone and sneak a 2 into the logo.
@Frank – If I was running the B10, I’d not want a block of 5 new schools all in the same area and division of the conference with a few charter schools added to them. That’s a shotgun marriage. Lets say you add 5 east teams and then PSU and 2 more to the eastern division. Not only are those 5 new schools going to wonder whether they joined the B10 or the BE added 3 B10 schools, but the other 8 B10 schools are going to develop a distance from their traditional/charter foes the relationship with all of the new schools.
I think you have to have 3 east and 2 west and meld them into both divisions. That’s how you make them feel a part of an expanded B10 instead of just outliers where they have no real relationship with the charter member schools.
I think Maryland would be a home run, but believe that similar to Texas, it would be a very hard sell to their fans to leave the ACC unless other schools were also leaving (which would require the SEC taking Clemson, FSU, etc. and that isn’t in the discussion at the moment).
The other component is the Eastern strategy all revolves around Notre Dame. If the Big 10 were to only take two Big East schools, I think the Big East would survive as a conference. Weakened? Yes, but they would probably add UCF and Memphis and remain in its current form. Whether they keep the auto BCS bid is irrelevant to ND, as long as there remains a viable conference for ND to park its other teams, they probably wouldn’t be interested in Big 10 membership (unless Texas was already in the fold).
So, I think when it comes down to it, you take Uconn and BC or Uconn and Pitt or Pitt and BC as the other two. Absent four Big East schools, the conference is finished. It ensures that ND leaves.
Also, while we talk about market share, Pitt could very well get an invite in a 16 team Big 10 because of their research capabilities, their ties to ND (played 3rd most behind SC and Navy) and I’ve heard that the Big 10 presidents love Pitt.
As a 12th team, Pitt makes no sense. As a 16th? It may because it would lock all other conferences out of Pennsylvania and allow the Big 10 to dictate cable rates in the state.
This blog continues to overrate the Nebraska franchise. Nobody cares about Nebraska football except for Nebraska alums and natives of that (small) state. They don’t draw that well on ABC/ESPN, and are unlikely to be BCS Championship caliber in the near future.
And all there other sports are weak, as are their academics. I just don’t get the fascination with Nebraska.
Actually, they draw pretty well on ABC. It’s true that you have to have a connection to Nebraska to care about the Huskers, but something in the water there seems to make everyone who ever lived in Nebraska a Husker fan.
To give an example, I know a guy who was born in Nebraska. His family moved away when young and he grew up in Colorado. His brother played football at CSU. He’s lived in Chicago for decades now. He’s a Husker fan.
If Rutgers had the same appeal to anyone who ever lived in NJ that the Huskers have on their own state, Rutgers would have a brand name on the level of USC.
That said, I believe NYC & the East Coast are the greater prize, and fit in better with the Big10, because we get so many students from there and send so many alums and other denizens of Big10 country there.
Speaking of which, one point I had thought of but never had written yet is that because of the many Big10 alums that are on the East Coast (and specifically, NYC), there could be many more alumni fund-raising events if Rutgers/’Cuse/UConn are added (and agree to play some games in/around NYC). To a lesser extent, that’s true for BC/Boston & Maryland/DC as well.
That’s not so true for Mizzou & Nebraska. There are some Big10 alums in Texas, but it’s a far smaller number than on the East Coast or even just the tri-state area.
There are a ton of Big Ten alums in the NE and NY/NJ/CT in particular. I have worked with BT alums everywhere I have worked for the last 30 years here in NY Metro. BT games live and on basic cable will be very popular.
@Richard – This is true. Every single person that I have ever known that has spent any time living in Nebraska (whether born there or transplanted) is a rabid Husker fan even if he or she never went to school there. There are a number of schools that have strong non-alum followings in their home regions, but I’d put the intensity level of Nebraska fans up against anyone. Those people travel everywhere and will watch every game like no other fan base. There are out-of-state groups of Nebraska fans that actually donate their own money to pay for airtime to get Husker games on the radio in places like Phoenix and Seattle.
I can’t think of any other fan base out there that actually has local radio funds. If Notre Dame can add value to the Big Ten (a school that doesn’t actually bring the conference any new market – it’s really there for a national presence), then Nebraska could also add value.
@Frank – I pity the cable customer service reps who have to deal with the disgruntled Husker fans calling to get the Big Ten Network. Those guys won’t stop until it’s a basic cable channel. But they’ll be very polite about it, naturally.
@Mike B. – I’ll have to disagree there. If anything, I think that Nebraska is underrated in this exercise. While we’ve focused a lot on new households for the Big Ten Network (which is a huge factor), it would be a mistake to simply ignore a national program like Nebraska because of its small home market. When Forbes ranked its 20 most valuable college football programs, Nebraska came in at #4 (with only Texas, Notre Dame and Penn State ahead of them):
When objective observers talk about the best fans in terms of loyalty and traveling in college football, I hear Nebraska’s name come up more than any other. Even Notre Dame’s fans like them! As far as a national draw, Nebraska consistently gets higher ratings than all of the candidates that we’ve talked about except for Texas and Notre Dame.
This is an incredibly ignorant comment. It hasn’t even been a decade since Nebraska’s last trip to the national championship game. They were a second away from a BCS bid this past season and have already received some preseason buzz as a potential national title contender next season.
Nebraska has a strong overall athletic program, second only to Texas in Big 12 conference championships. Academically, Nebraska is a long-time AAU member and attracted more research expenditures in 2007 than Rutgers, Missouri, UConn, Kansas or Syracuse. If Nebraska isn’t worthy of serious consideration as a Big Ten expansion candidate, then no school other than Texas is.
Last I checked they were in the mid-30s in the Director’s Cup standings, which measure overall sports strength. So obviously “all their other sports are weak” is incorrect. For sake of comparison, Mo was also in the 30s, Syr was in the 60s, and Rutgers and Pitt were in the 90s.
Nebraska also has more Academic All-Americans than any other school in the nation. Top 5 as of the end of last year are as follows:
1. 271 – Nebraska
2. 213 – Notre Dame
3. 161 – Penn State
4. 159 – MIT
5. 140 – Stanford
There are a lot of reasons to like Neb.
If ND won’t join, my pick would be to add Neb or Rutgers…
If you go to 14, Neb, Rutgers and Pitt or Missouri…
If the 14 includes ND, Pitt becomes more of an option, given their history with ND and their obvious compatability with the Big 10. Plus, if you have ND, the need for Rutgers diminishes… and ND meets the need for a 4th football power, so ND, Pitt, Missouri might work..
As to what is LIKELY to happen, we shouldn’t forget that Neb was not included amoung the 5 schools that were studied in depth…which means the Big 10 was more focused on the East…perhaps someone has already decided that Missouri is “the” western team to add, if any…..
I thought it was 15 schools that were studied, and that list didn’t include ND or Texas. That was all I heard about the study. I thought the actual schools studied were not released, and the canidates were just speculation from observers.
Maybe the Big 10 sees Nebraska as an easy yes vote, and they don’t need an expensive research project. Maybe the Big 10 has something to gain by leaving the Big 12 alone. Do you have a link about 5 schools that were researched…. I would love to see that.
Barry Alvarez stated that they hired a research firm to study 15 teams and Texas wasn’t on the list. I believe later reports from unnamed sources stated that Notre Dame wasn’t on the list either. Alvarez did say that he doesn’t see Notre Dame joining, though.
The list of five teams (Missouri, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Rutgers) was reported by the Chicago Tribune based on what an unnamed source stated.
Really the only thing we really know for sure is that a research firm was hired to study 15 teams and that Texas wasn’t on the list. I don’t really trust unnamed sources because more often than not, they are wrong.
It’s be interesting to specuate which those 15 are. BTW, if I remember the Alvarez interview correctly, while he denied that Texas was on the list of 15, he didn’t deny ND was, just that he didn’t think they’d be interested in joining.
That said, my guess is the 15 are
+The 5 Big12 North schools other than KSU
+ND & the Big East schools of Pitt, RU, SU, & UConn
+The ACC schools of BC, Maryland, Virginia, UNC, and Duke.
Maybe VTech is in there instead of Kansas or Iowa St.
Listed below are the current standings in the Director’s Cup. Notables:
4. Penn State
8. Ohio State
15. Michigan State
32. Texas A&M
Click to access d1dcupjan14relstand.pdf
If 5 teams are added, I think Neb and Mo will be 2 of the 5. Iowa would want Nebraska, and Minn and Wis would as well. Iowa and Ill would want Missori. Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota will not vote to add 4 eastern teams +ND, imo…
Iowa already has regional rivalries in the existing Big 10 with Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Who are PSU’s rivals?
The Big 10 schools will vote to expand based on $$$. I don’t see Iowa or Minnesota truly caring about too many Eastern teams being in the conference especially if it increases their visibility and school profile in places such as NYC, Philly and Boston.
In fact, one could argue that Iowa would have a vested interest in keeping additional western states out of the Big 10. If the Big 12 were to implode and a school such as Missouri or Nebraska or Kansas were left out of a superconference, it would benefit Iowa greatly.
I am not a fan of a Big Ten team but it seems that you and others on this blog are pushing a view that conference affiliation will be changing faster and faster in the future. Culture does not matter as much as as deliver subscriptions for the BTN. Does this mean that in five years, for example, if Cuse, Rutgers and BC does not “deliver” Boston and NYC due to other factors — rival channels, consolidation in the cable industry, The Apple Channel, who knows) that you would also advocate — re-shuffling the deck of affiliation? Cut Cuse, Rutgers and BC and add Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas – for example. Is this your vision for how a new super-conference driven by cable subscriptions would act? Or if the net effect of adding Cuse, Rutgers and BC is viewed as a net loss in profits, you believe that the Big 16 would simply hold onto its “failed” acquisitions — when the purpose of the acquisition is cable revenues not “who” the new members actually “are”?
I think Rich raises an excellent point here. I mean, I think that it is foolish for the Big Ten to be blind to the potential financial impact of expansion, in much the same way as Notre Dame obviously was not unaware of the impact of the NBC contract once upon a time. As I like to say to those who oppose a church passing a collection plate: even the church has to pay the heating bill. But I do agree that some of the comments on this blog have over-emphasized the financial aspects of expansion, and in a world where the finances are the only motivation, Rich’s point is a valid one: would you cut ties with schools that don’t end up pulling your weight? That is not the Big Ten way currently (is there any doubt that at least Northwestern, and possibly Purdue and Michigan State would have been kicked out before now otherwise?), and I don’t want that to become the Big Ten’s MO. That’s not a league I want to be a part of as a fan or an alumnus.
I should note that it’s my perception that Frank is (increasingly?) sensitive to this issue. I read Rich’s comment to be directed at Frank and I’m not sure that’s accurate.
My comments are directed towards anyone on this thread who believes that the “new world order” will be driven by marginal profit analysis. I don’t see it. Schools cannot acquire and divest schools in a conference as Cisco acquires, divests, folds and dissolves tech companies. If the Big 10 becomes the Big 16, do you really want to become the Big 14, Big 13, Big 18 and Big 20 over two decades? The assumption here is typical of most plans — only success, with an ever-improving trend line, no new entrants in the market, no changes in market preferences, and no change in relative market power in negotiations. The analysis here seems to take five years into account when I believe the Big Ten (and ND) would be making a 30 year decision.
Rich, actually, if the analysis is over 30 years, the Big10 has less use for ND and ND would need a conference affiliation more.
Let’s address the concerns you outlined with the analysis:
1. No new entrants in the market: Generally true; the composition of teams that play FBS football simply isn’t going to change much over the next 30 years. Any new schools from FCS will take a while before they actually matter. Schools lower in the rung in top recruiting areas like SFlorida & CFlorida may move up the rung, but at the expense of schools like FSU and Miami, so they wouldn’t affect the Big10 and it’s potential expansion areas that much. As for the sport itself, interest in football has only grown, and I doubt 30 years from now that would be different. By expanding, the Big10 could also position itself to form hockey and lacrosse leagues and benefit if those college sports take off more.
2. Changes in market preferences: there are few changes among dominant teams in college sports across decades. That’s certainly true in football. In 1979, the top 10 teams in the final AP poll were ‘Bama, USC, Oklahoma, tOSU, Houston, FSU, Pitt, Arkansas, Nebraska, & Purdue.
You have occassional overacheivers like Houston, and some programs manage to rise from the lower ranks like FSU in the ’70’s and PSU in the ’60’s, but other than the Ivy League & military academies over half a century ago, I can’t think of of programs that faded away.
3. Relative negotiating power: that will change, but the trend is against ND. Back when ND signed their TV contract, recruits were attracted to programs that could actually get on national TV (like ND & Nebraska). Now every program can get on national TV. Plus, back then, there’s wasn’t that much differentiation in TV payouts to conferences. Now, (as has happened in multiple other industries) there is greater differentiation between the top conferences and even the middle tier, as the Big10 and SEC has pulled away from the pack. Plus, we’re becoming a more secular society, which doesn’t bode well for a school like ND that relies on selling it’s religious identity. 30 years ago, even a school like BYU regularly got on national TV. Now, even if the MWC had a national TV contract, I doubt BYU would get on national TV more than once a year. Plus, these days, ND’s ratings on NBC are worse than Pitt’s ratings on ABC. Granted, ND has sucked in the recent past, but judging by TV contracts (in which ND has fallen behind all members of the Big10 & SEC despite having a sizable advantage when they first got their own TV contract, the people who judge popularity for a living don’t think ND is worth as much as an average Big10 or SEC school, and there’s no indication that they think ND would become more attractive in the future.
I’ve said it before: ND is valuable to the Big10 now but will be less valuable to the Big10 30 years from now. For ND, conference affiliation will be more valuable 30 years from now than it is now.
I think Richard is right that ND is more valuable to the Big Ten now than in 30 years, with the precise inverse being the case for ND (at least from a financial perspective). The fact that, were ND to join, it would be (at least from the Big Ten’s perspective) a relationship that lasts forever, is in my mind a sign of the Big Ten’s benign and non-exploitative interest in ND (the apparent Domer paranoia notwithstanding). Even though it’s foreseeable that in 30-odd years, ND won’t be as valuable as they are now, the Big Ten is willing to sign ND up for 100+ (effectively forever).
I think its wishful thinking that Notre Dame could get a lucrative deal with Fox.
Fox is a 49% partner in the Big 10 network. They have a vested interesting in integrating ND into the Big 10 to increase the value of its own stake.
Its NBC or bust for ND if they stay independence. Why would Fox hinder its own creation – the BTN – by providing a path for ND to stay independent?
Richard, you are too quick to answer — take more time to understand, then respond.
I am referring to the rosy scenarios many on this blog, and especially you, paint about the ever increasing profits accruing to Big Ten expansion via the BTN. In fact, you have written that the Big Ten does not need premiere institutions to join as long as it secures favorable positioning on a cable channel.
By new entrants — I mean competitive cable packages that will reduce the forecast of future per member revenues generated by the BTN — in five years a “College Network,” for example.
By changing preferences — I mean television viewing habits and more broadly leisure and entertainment preferences (college football has radically improved its standing among sports viewers, why do yo believe it is at the beginning of the long ramp up and not at the height of its tv-viewing popularity). Changes which devalue any college sports cable package, not just the BTN.
By market power — I mean market power — distributors vs. producers; the cable companies vs. the colleges that produce the games. These are not linear trends. You assume that cable channels will continue to pay the same rates — that the producers (Big Ten) will continue to dominate over the distributors. Markets are dynamic.
Finally, it is interesting to note that I have worked for the flagship campus of a Big Ten university for twenty-two years. I think you interpreted my comments too literally. I know something about the Big Ten conference.
Finally, you offer this gem:
“I’ve said it before: ND is valuable to the Big10 now but will be less valuable to the Big10 30 years from now. For ND, conference affiliation will be more valuable 30 years from now than it is now.” Along which dimension – you mean in college football viewer ratings? How could you possibly have any foundation to forecast viewership ratings in thirty years. Of course you don’t and I know you don’t actually mean this statement.
Academically? Endowment? Average earnings of graduates twenty years after graduation? Entering undergraduate SAT scores? In which categories do you predict that ND will be less valuable in 30 years to the Big Ten and how do you define “less valuable”?
Rich, I understood Richard’s comments to mean that in 30 years, the marginal value to the Big Ten of adding Notre Dame (in terms of an increased rights fee in whatever broadcast regime prevails at the time) will be less then than it is now. And I think this is pretty clearly true. Most major public universities have fan bases (and thus financial bases) larger than their alumni base because as a public school, non-alums are comfortable expressing an affectional connection to the school. Michigan Stadium has not been packing in 100,000+ for however long solely on the strength of their alumni base; lots of workers drawing union wages who never otherwise stepped onto a college campus (let alone Michigan’s) have for decades been buying season tickets as their “toy” instead of sinking the money into the other nice things they might get (cottage or a boat or jet ski or whatever). No private school, even extraordinarily popular ones like Notre Dame and Duke, draws like that. It is fairly obvious to me that Notre Dame’s attractiveness to NBC was driven in large part by the fact that, a few generations ago, Catholics were far more likely to be working-class families working in a factory or pounding a beat for the police, but who wanted to enjoy college sports. They were naturally drawn to a (successful) program at a Catholic school in an era when it was much more the case (in some parts of the country, near-universal) for them not to send their children to the local public schools, but instead to send the kids off to the local parish Catholic school. The confluence of those factors made the step of rooting for this particular private school an easy gap to cross.
Almost all of these generalizations are less true about Catholics today than they were even 10 years ago, let alone 20 or 40, and they get less true every day. More and more Catholic schools close and Catholics join the rest of the population in finding it more natural to develop an affinity towards public, not private schools. More and more Catholics go to college, and go to public schools, and thus are more drawn to the school they went to than the school run by their co-religionists which they followed by default.
As a result, it seems apparent to me that Notre Dame’s economic value will steadily (if slowly) decline for whoever holds its broadcast rights. Personally, my respect for Notre Dame is extremely high and that’s something that I’m willing to take on if I sit on the COP/C. I have much less confidence that the suits at any broadcaster (whether NBC or someone else) will be willing to invest in that in the future.
Less valuable as a football power. If there’s any one trend in college football that’s held true over 100 years of college football, it’s that small, private, academically-demanding schools became less and less relevent in college football. A hundred years ago, Ivy League teams dominated the sport. When the first AP poll came out in 1936, Santa Clara, Duquesne, and Marquette were in the season-ending top 20. 12 private schools in all (along with Navy) were in that first season-ending poll. Skip to 1970. 4 private schools (ND, Stanford, Dartmouth, Tulane) along with Air Force were in the season-ending AP top 20. Skip to current times, and less than 2 private schools other than USC (I exclude USC & Miami, because they represent regions and aren’t particularly rigorous in their admission of football players) on average have been in the season-ending top 20 the last 3 years. BTW, academically, endowment-wise, graduates-earnings-wise, and SAT-scores-wise, Northwestern has progressed by leaps and bounds since joining the Big10. However, if ND had NU’s appeal in football, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, because no power conference would want ND to join them.
Anyway, as to your points:
New entrants, changing preferences, and market power: Don’t really matter since what brings in the money for the Big10 and SEC isn’t the delivery mechanism but because people want to see schools in those leagues play. You’d have to convince me that the Big10 is going the way of the Ivy League in popularity to convince me that joining the Big10 would be detrimental.
As for the popularity of college football, that’s actually been one of the few main constants in American sports over the past century. For the 50 years before WWII, the most popular sports that newspapers devoted coverage to were baseball, boxing, horseracing, and….college football. Now it’s pro football in the lead, baseball’s still there, there’s interest in both pro and college basketball, but second in popularity is….college football.
I apologize if I misrepresented your position Richard. Didn’t mean to put words in your mouth.
No problem; I didn’t raise it, but you made a good point about how religiously-affiliated schools will suffer in popularity going forward.
Earlier, I had noted that BYU football was regularly shown on national TV 2 decades ago. Now, even if the MWC had a national TV contract, BYU would be rarely shown nationally.
I think Catholic schools are in a position to suffer more than others, because (a) they have further to fall, and (b) the perception of which will amplify the effect of the trend of decline.
Adding to this point, since Notre Dame began playing football through 1993, they’ve won 77.3% of their games. But in the past 17 years, Notre Dame has gone 114-79-1, a 59% winning percentage, despite a lucrative TV contract offering unprecedented visibility for their program over much of that time. To put a 59% winning percentage into perspective, in a 12-game season, it would equate 7 wins and 5 losses. Further, Notre Dame has gone 1 and 9 in bowl games in that span, winning only the 2008 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl against a 7-6 Hawaii team.
All schools go through lulls, of course. Michigan is, at present, a good case in point. However, at some point, perhaps when a lull nears 20 years, one has to wonder if the lull is actually a long-term trend.
If the trend continues, it would support Richard’s contention about a possible diminishing of the long-term value of Notre Dame football.
I disagree with this notion. In the PA region, we’ve seen plenty of BC on TV, for football and basketball. Conference affiliiation is the key. Mormon (BYU), Catholic (ND/BC), Baptist (Baylor)…if the team is included in a major conference with a major TV deal, they’ll be on TV.
And if you’re trying to argue from the standpoint that religious affiliation is slowly dwindling in America, that doesn’t necessarily effect schools. Harvard and Yale (and hundred of universities in America) started with religious roots, although many have abandoned the religious aspect to their programs. If you think that ND/BC/BYU will wane in popularity b/c of a religious affiliation, rest assured that they can fill up what lacks with softening their religious core.
“BTW, academically, endowment-wise, graduates-earnings-wise, and SAT-scores-wise, Northwestern has progressed by leaps and bounds since joining the Big10”
Northwestern joined the conference in 1896. If you can give me any of those values from before then for comparison I will give you a cookie.
Use 1960 then, if you like, or since WWII.
Northwestern didn’t even have a computer department before they joined the Big Ten in 1896. And compared to today, they were weak in fields like biomedical engineering and astrophysics. The average graduate had an income of less than $500 per year and no one on campus even drove a car, had a television or cell phone. And athletically, Northwestern had never even won a bowl game. Then, in 1896, they join the Big Ten and BANG–114 years later–everyone on campus has got an ipod, the medical facilities are stocked with antibiotics and the airplane is invented. The evidence for the benefits of Big Ten membership speaks for itself. Go Big Ten!
Somewhere up thread is a link to a blogger suggesting that Duke, NC, VA, and MD, the academic top of the ACC, might be the best fit for B10+ expansion. The idea is to create an unsurpassed academic super conference. Given how Duke and NC were against the last ACC expansion, his argument has some merit. Still, I just can’t see them leaving behind the original ACC members, especially NC St and Wake.
But if that does happen, I’d like to see Syracuse get the 16th invite, because that B10+ logo with all the states would look more impressive with that big ‘ol hunk of NY added…
That’s the best argument for Syracuse that I’ve seen on this form……
“But if that does happen, I’d like to see Syracuse get the 16th invite, because that B10+ logo with all the states would look more impressive with that big ‘ol hunk of NY added…”
That’s my argument for adding Montana to the Mountain West.
Richard, Rick, Scott, Adam, FTT and so on:
I really don’t understand your arguments in favor of expansion any more. Is the primary reason for the drive to expand the promise of revenue generated from the BTN? If so, the popularity of college football or the number of alums produced by the Big Ten are important factors but not the most important — not in contrast to: will fee revenues generated by sports channels continue to increase at the same or higher rate for the next decade, in the next decade, will the market share of revenues received by college sports remain the same or increase over time, and perhaps even more importantly: will the piece of the pie received by the BTN increase, will the net distribution of BTN received by each member increase as the membership of the BTN, for how many years do you forecast this increase and in order to generate these revenues what will happen to expenses?
Every argument in favor expansion in terms of BTN revenues implicitly assumes a steep, positive linear trend — upward and upward for as long as the eye can see. I do not know the cable industry. If one of you possesses truly expert knowledge of the industry to support the rosy scenarios for the BTN, now is time. Otherwise, this is just internet chatter. In 2015 what is your forecast of per member distribution for: the current Big Eleven, a Big Eleven + 1 (you insert your team, just not ND or Texas), a Big Eleven + 5. How much money do you assume to be “on the table”?
If expansion is not fueled primarily by the promise of BTN revenues, then what are the factors that motivate this need to expand? And finally, remember: joining the Big Ten might be beneficial to Missouri or Rutgers if they receive 18m per year in 2015 — but it would not be an attractive outcome for ND or the current members of the school.
Rick, I want to expand because I think a conference championship game would be cool and entertaining. I also think a 12-team conference split into divisions would produce beneficial changes in football and basketball scheduling. So yes, I think about it like a sports fan. But I like to think I’m a sports fan that has some sense of business reality.
I think “popularity of college football [and] the number of alums produced by the Big Ten” are central factors because they make pro-expansionists optimistic that, whatever happens in the next 5 or 10 or 20 or 50 years in the broadcast industry, there will be a market for the Big Ten’s product. As long as people want it, there will be a way to induce them to pay for it.
Whoops, that should be Rich, not Rick. Typo.
@Rich – These are very good points to bring up. Who knows how much cable revenues will rise in the future or if they can continue in an upward linear fashion forever. What’s clear, though, is that the increase in revenue for selling your sports rights to an over-the-air network has stopped dead in its tracks for all except for maybe the NFL as of today. It is exponentially more likely that the Big Ten will be able to increase its revenues much more over the next 5 years than Notre Dame will be able to if it decides to extend its NBC contract because the Big Ten has the media platform to be able to do it. The thing is that the BTN is in its infancy and it’s already providing a massive windfall to its members – you can’t expect that growth to continue at that fast of a rate forever, but adding key members today can ensure that its eventual plateau level will be far beyond what the other conferences and Notre Dame could ever achieve.
Also note that the BTN is building out a robust Internet site, as well, which is mostly for Olympic sports at this point. In the event that the media world shifts from cable distribution to more of an Internet/broadband distribution model, the BTN has a platform to account for that scenario, too.
As for what else the Big Ten can provide besides strictly revenue? Well, there’s the CIC for one thing (which is what ND’s faculty has long wanted to be a part of) and giving a platform for a school like ND to gain membership in the AAU (which the football fans might not care about but the school’s administration surely does have as an institutional goal). There’s also making sure that you’re a part of the strongest superconference possible (if we go down that road) to ensure long-term stability. A wide range of large fan bases that ensure great bowl tie-ins instead of having your best potential bowl outside of the BCS being the Champs Sports Bowl once every 4 years (which featured the 6th pick from the Big Ten last year). Being a part of a conference that’s strong enough to effectively dictate the terms of the future of the college football postseason system in general (and the Big Ten arguably is already in that position today). Stronger Olympics sports leagues as a whole. Basically, membership in the Big Ten has the potential to improve a school on both the athletic side and the academic research side overall. So, do you really still think that the Big Ten doesn’t offer anything other than a bunch of cable cash (which is nice, by the way)?
Frank, Richard, Scott, Adam and so on:
Ok, I push to understand your valuing of the BTN franchise since it is by far the dominant financial reason offered for expansion on this thread. In fact, if you have the software to permit it, an analysis of comments on this thread would probably yield a 10 x 1 mentioning of BTN vs research funding or CIC. In fact, when assessing the merits of expansion into the Northeast, most of you seem to advocate that as long as a new member “brings the BTN into NYC” than all of considerations pale in comparison.
Since no one really knows or is willing to jot down a forecast of future BTN per member revenues, then this argument really loses its steam — don’t get me wrong, it might turn out great but it seems that no one on this thread (including myself) can really value the financial impact of expansion on the BTN. This is ok, but then it can’t be used as a trump card in any discussion on the proposed merits of any new candidate, can it? If you can’t put a number today or five years or ten years from now on the prospects of Rutgers vs Missouri joining the Big Ten then you can’t reject one or the other on this basis. In one sense, it is a minor point – you can argue however you wish — and I thank you for offering me this opportunity to respond.
I don’t speak for the rest, but my thinking is basically this.
1. The BTN is the bird-in-hand. It’s making lots of money. For the foreseeable future (which may not be too far out, as quickly as things seem to change), it can safely be expected to be a basis of financial strength and security for the Big Ten and its membership. As compared with the alternatives (primarily a broadcast contract with an OTA network), it looks like the best bet for the next, say, 10 years (or whatever relatively short-term horizon we’re talking about).
2. Even if/when something were to happen such that BTN is no longer as profitable, the Big Ten has demonstrated to my satisfaction that the value of the network effect of having the schools under one roof amplifies their individual values. Moreover, I am quite confident that even in some kind of post-BTN world, schools will find a way to monetize the privilege of viewing their football and basketball contests. In newspapers and other “old media,” the public has shown that if they’re forced to pay for their newspaper or columnist of choice, they’re willing to substitute a replacement newspaper or columnist which is free to them (which is to say, advertiser-supported). The sports context has been precisely the opposite: Michigan fans have shown no propensity to (say) settle for a Wisconsin game if the Michigan game is unavailable. As a result, even in a post-BTN world, people are going to want to keep watching Big Ten football somehow, and whatever delivery mechanism prevails at that time, there is every reason to think that the Big Ten Conference will continue to realize high revenues from the sale of those broadcasts. I think any school would stand to profit off of those network effects, and an Independent school even more so (a school affiliated with a league would only be seeing the network effect it gets from its current conference affiliation amplified, while an Independent is starting at basically 0 in terms of network effects).
Good point about the network effects. It’s why the strongest, richest, most populous conferences in college football have kept getting stronger & richer, separating themselves from the pack.
Actually, future BTN revenue isn’t hard to value. We know (roughly) how much the Big10 gets for each new cable subscriber. You could argue that rate will change as well as cable operator negotiation positions, but the change will be slow, not seismic. Comcast just isn’t going to go out of business or drop the BTN across the board, for instance.
Also, plenty of people have mentioned research; it’s definitely been at a greater magnitude than 10:1 (to cable TV). I know there’ve been a ton of responses to Frank’s posts, but just because you can’t find the research-related posts doesn’t mean it isn’t a key consideration when the Big10 presidents discuss expansion.
In any case, they’re related; a big population state/region with a lot of poetential new BTN subscribers will also have a big number of companies that are potential new research funding sources.
1. The BTN makes expansion a potential non-money-losing proposition, which makes expansion a possibility now.
2. Cable fees don’t have to increase for the Big10 to remain top dog; they just have to be more than what traditional TV deals pay out. In any case, the 25-year contract the Big10 signed with the BTN calls for increasing rights fees as well as a 51% share of the profit.
3. Where are you getting that 18M number from? In any case, you say that amount “would not be an attractive outsome for ND”, but what are you comparing it to? What _would_ be an attractive outcome for ND, and how realistic is that attractive outcome?
4. The second big reason there’s a push to expand within the Big10 now (besides the BTN making expansion potentially making financial sense) is expanding the Big10 footprint for research purposes. Since the auto industry has imploded, the Big10 presidents have realized the benefits of diversifying their sources of research money. If they can get the Big10 established in a region, decades from now, companies there would see themselves as being denizens of “Big10 country” and consider funding Big10 universities to conduct their research and hire grads from Big10 schools. This actually is why I’m not so sure ND is definitely a main target this time. ND would help on the TV front in getting the BTN in to the Northeast, but would add nothing in terms of research funding.
None of us (besides the Big10 presidents) actually know which one matters more (TV money or research money), but considering that it’s hard to come up with an expansion scenario there the TV money is significantly more than what current Big10 schools get, if I had to guess, I would say their main goal is to expand & diversify their sources of research money (which are orders of magnitude bigger than athletic revenue for Big10 schools) and the BTN just gives them a way to fund this expansion venture.
Well said, Richard.
While we have no idea what’s going through the minds of Big Ten university presidents, I can’t help but feel research performance has to be a reasonably strong point of consideration for a candidate school.
The other thing is that politicians lobbying for research money are going to lobby more for publicly-financed schools (like state schools) than private and sectarian schools.
So from the Big Ten’s perspective, the more new states involved in the Big Ten (particularly populous states with more representatives), the more all existing Big Ten schools benefit.
Another reason to love schools like Texas, A&M, and Rutgers.
Adam, I’m not sure which comment that was you were referring to.
Richard, my comment was directed to Rich. He had said that there is an over-concern here with marginal profit. I agree, and the concerns about finding a member that you admit for 100 years (and not just because there’s some money in it today) relate back to my concerns about true Midwestern identity. It’s why I think USC or any school in Florida is nonsense. And my point was that, while Frank’s posts have started a free-flowing discussion in which such hypotheticals are not entirely out of place, I don’t think that Frank actually subscribes to such theories, and is somewhat more sensitive to those concerns than other posters. Which is why I didn’t think it was fair of Rich to tag Frank with that perspective. But Rich has said just now that his complaint applies to anybody. And I think it’s valid. If you’re adding someone for 100 years, I think it’s a lot more more complex than whether the school “locks up” a big media market.
@Adam – Thanks. You’re right that I’m both skeptical and queasy about these superconferences. I do think that the tight-knit nature of the Big Ten is a defining characteristic of the conference. Is maintaining some type of tight-knit group really possible at 16 schools? Is it even possible at 14 schools? Is geography really what makes conference tight-knit (as you have often suggested) or is it more institutional (Texas, UNC and UCLA arguably have more in common with the Big Ten schools as top public universities than a lot of Midwestern-based schools)?
I’ve always preferred a 12-school conference from the very beginning, with the caveat that school #12 really does need to be perfect. In my mind, that would either be ND (geographic fit) or Texas (elite public research flagship fit). Now, the issue is that neither of those schools would likely join on their own. So, does the Big Ten add 1 school that it kinda/sorta wants for a 12-school conference and forego the opportunity for one of the big names, or should it add 3 or 5 schools where at least one of the big names is involved? How much risk should the Big Ten be taking here?
I guess that any addition to the conference risks changing its character. It’s why a lot of high profile mergers that look great on paper end up failing – the culture clashes between organizations become insurmountable. The Big Ten has to balance the risks of those qualitative changes with the upside of the quantitative financial factors. If I were to bet, I still think that we end up at 14 schools with ND, Rutgers and Syracuse. ND is obviously a geographic fit, while Rutgers and Syracuse have enough in common with the rest of the Big Ten (the haterade for Syracuse continues to astound me – I certainly understand why BC isn’t an institutional fit, but I still don’t see why ‘Cuse is so out of bounds) and provide the major market that makes expansion financially viable. Rutgers and Syracuse are outside of the Big Ten’s current geography, but that overall conference footprint would still be contiguous for the traditionalists.
Frank, I am extraordinarily skeptical that a 14-team league can remain tight-knit. I am simply dismissive of the prospect for a 16-team league. But you’re right: school 12 needs to be perfect. The irony, as other people are commenting on and as I’ve tried to mention, is that Notre Dame prefers independence and only would join in the event of a “seismic” change. But the only way I can see to avoid seismic change is for Notre Dame to join. I’m sure that game theorists have some cool thought experiment that models this sort of situation.
Moreover, I’d like to emphasize that I think geography is extraordinarily important, but I don’t deny that institutional character matters. Otherwise I’d be one of the morons saying that they should add Cincinnati. Nothing against Richard, but if I could wave a magic wand and reconfigure the Big Ten according to my own vision, we’d be adding Iowa State and Pittsburgh, and subtracting Northwestern, and Notre Dame wouldn’t even be a part of the conversation even given their geography. It isn’t that I dislike Northwestern; they are just the obvious outlier among the pre-PSU members. But I would not in 1000 years suggest that the COP/C contemplate kicking them out, because their membership isn’t inappropriate (in the way that, say, Chicago’s would have been had they clung to membership) and they are family, and you don’t do that to family. Not sure if that says anything meaningful, but it’s just my way of trying to say that I get the concern about institutional compatibility. In my mind, geography is a necessary but not sufficient condition.
Finally, I agree that I don’t totally understand the Syracuse “haterade.” Yes, I am not real keen on their membership due to being outside the Midwest. But their membership concerns me less than Texas’ (or, heaven forbid, USC!). I would not have voted for PSU’s membership 20 years ago, but it’s worked out and is something I can both live with, make my peace with, and rationalize now. The odds are good that I could do the same with Syracuse. I would consider them a bit of an oddball, but one I could deal with (SUNY-Buffalo is an oddball in the MAC, a league I also follow pretty closely, and I can live with it). I just don’t get the “they’re a private school so they per se don’t fit” sentiment. Syracuse in my mind has a presence comparable to a flagship public school, in much the same way that Notre Dame does.
It’s not that ND is private. Notre Dame doesn’t fit because the university is (a) sectarian and (b) not research-oriented.
I think that a ND-Big 10 marriage would be unhappy. NDs alumni could potentially be a source of public discord regarding the CIC (remember that the protests of President Obama’s commencement speech, although involving a small number of conservative alums and students, garnered frontpage national newspaper coverage — imagine what could happen regarding medical research at any number of Big 10 schools).
If conference cohesion is the polestar then adding ND is really a far greater departure than adding, say, Pitt. Institutionally, even Florida or Texas are better fits (although I think the Big 10 works best as a “northern” conference).
If conference cohesion is the polestar then adding ND is really a far greater departure than adding, say, Pitt.
I agree. However, finances also matter. Adding another school that will not increase the pie enough is also a non-starter. ND to me presents the best basket of increased revenue and “good enough” compromises on essential Big Ten-ness.
@Adam & Frank
As I current Syracuse student and fan, I too am dumbfounded by the Syracuse hate on this board.
As I outlined in my post a little higher up in this topic Syracuse; for a variety of reasons fits academically, culturally, and athletically.
@Frank – I guess Notre Dame might object to joining a 12-team Big Ten due to their desire for a national schedule, but I don’t think there’s much keeping Texas from coming on their own. So long as the Big 12 isn’t in danger of completely collapsing, the other state schools really don’t have much to object to. The political interference back in ’94 was on behalf of Tech and Baylor, not A&M. The Aggies (rightly) don’t feel that they need UT, and the politicians who interceded for Tech and BU back then (Bob Bullock – Tech, Baylor Law; Pete Laney – Tech; Ann Richards’ role is far overstated) aren’t around. Texas alone to the Big Ten is still very much a possibility.
Adam, the Big10 won’t kick any members out, which is why the presidents will be considering very hard if they should expand and who to bring in, because whoever we bring in will be with us for the next 100 years.
I entirely agree that we won’t be kicking anybody out, but it’s also why I believe that this notion that anybody is eligible so long as they increase marginal profit is bogus. And, it’s why I think that a 5-school expansion to 16 is extraordinarily unlikely. A 5-school expansion only makes sense if you’re basically reserving the right to recognize that things didn’t work out in a few years. I don’t see how you can somehow know that you add 5 schools and it’ll be a relationship that lasts for 100 years like the current relationships have (except for PSU, obviously, but they also fit like a glove; nobody anticipates them NOT being a member for 100 years).
When you never kick anybody out, it means that you can’t be thinking about how to be the Death Star of college sports before you figure out whether this is a school you can really have a long-term institutional relationship with. Business is fluid; membership in the Big Ten is forever.
Strong conferences don’t cut members. They may leave a conference, but leaving & staying are the only 2 choices.
Again, as a Domer, you just have no idea how schools in a conference think. A tangent, but this is why I enjoy conversations with fans of schools in the BE, B12, ACC, etc. more than conversations with Domers, in general, because they actually understand how conferences work.
In any case, the concern you highlighted is why the Big10 will be very careful if/when it does expand, because whatever members it takes in, it expects to keep for the next 100 years.
Rich: Given the fact that no Big Ten team has ever been asked to leave in over a century–including current non-producers like Indiana and Northwestern–your hypothetical would appear to be a non-issue.
However, as your point illustrates, any new member should be chosen carefully based on multiple factors. This board is simply a discussion among interested fans. I’m rather sure that the Big Ten leadership won’t select schools solely on TV demographics.
Right, but no one school “delivers” NYC. Heck, I’m not sure any 2 schools do the trick. As for “locking up” regions, a weakened ACC is better for the Big10 (when negotiating within the BCS, recruiting, vying for TV money/cable slots, etc.) With Rutgers, Syracuse, UConn, & ND, the Big10 can state to cable providers and ESPN with certainty that their footprint covers every inch of the 3 states in the tri-state. If Syracuse & UConn join the ACC, that would not be true and their bargaining power would be weakened.
With ND, IMO don’t be worried about UConn and Syracuse to the ACC. Without ND, however, yes, I think both UConn and Syracuse need to be in the B10 with Rutgers.
@R – I didn’t go to Syracuse – I’m Illinois undergrad/DePaul law. Does the Big Ten “need” Syracuse if it gets ND? No, but if a long-term goal is to turn NYC into a Big Ten town (as much it could be), then I believe that Syracuse is an important piece. ND and PSU provide the “spiritual” presence in the NYC market, but I think you need the physical presence of Rutgers and Syracuse in order to really own it. As Richard also noted, I wouldn’t want Syracuse hanging out there for the ACC to pick off and possibly pair up with BC and, say, UConn in the future. That would really diminish the Big Ten’s power play in the Northeast in general and the NYC market in particular. Now, would I be willing to trade out Syracuse for Maryland in various scenarios? Sure – Maryland would be a great fit for the Big Ten in a very good location, but the problem with them is more procedural where I just don’t think the ACC is that breakable. I’d also be more than willing to trade out Syracuse for Nebraska in the Death Star Conference scenario (especially if getting Nebraska, who’s a pretty good get in and of itself, is what causes the dominoes to fall to lure Texas and Texas A&M). Regardless, I feel that Syracuse is really underrated by a lot of the commenters here (whereas Missouri is typically overrated) – adding the only BCS school in the state of New York (20 million people) with a large fan base in NYC is nothing to sniff at.
Sorry about the mixup for your undergrad school. As a mid 60er who was at PSU when JoePa took over, I must admit to a general malaise over the thought of Syrause or Pitt in the B10. They chose their path in the 80’s and I love where PSU is now. That being said, I would want Syracuse/Pitt in the B10, if indeed, it brings added value to each member. I just have a hard time seeing that, when you look at other potential members like UConn and Maryland.
Re Northeast NYC regional market (Frank)
First another interesting main post and many interesting comments. The diversity of opinion is not surprising given the varying options, values and considerations that are being considered.
It is obvious many Big 10 fans have a midwestern focus and the Big 10 represents large state schools with strong focus on research.
Now comes a situation where the conference has its own TV channel and suddenly large affluent markets become a consideration.
The competition for these markets will exist no matter what happens as long as other conferences and teams (SEC, ACC, PAC 10 with USC, Texas and so on)play competitive and interesting football.
The key point some may find hard to understand seems the most obvious: the Big 10 is a strong conference because of it’s regional rivalries.
Taking Texas alone without a partner school would make even a giant like Texas look like an outsider.
If the goal is to capture the northeast, NY metro region market including NY, NJ and beyond, one eastern team is just not going to work, even if PSU and an Indiana based school like ND is included.
That doesn’t mean that 3-4-5 eastern schools need to be included, but at a minimum it seems to mean at least RU and SU need be part of the package.
Taking a hodgepodge of schools, such as Maryland, BC, and so on without a sense of focus is unlikely to achieve the goal of truly capturing the primary markets desired nor is it likely to achieve stability.
Maryland is a fine school but alone is not going to capture the DC metro area. If that is the target, then UVA or VT needs be part of the package for that market.
BC is too isolated geographically to be anything more than an isolated island without connecting northeast schools.
Pitt is a great school that would be an excellent member school except PSU is already dominant in PA and Pitt is no closer to Philly or NJ or NY than PSU.
If the goal is to expand then stability and focus is needed.
In summary, if Texas and Texas A&M are interested they are target one-two. If ND is interested they are target 3.
Other targets might include the major affluent northeast market with the focus being NYC-NJ-Philly region.
An unusually strong athletic team like Nebraska in football or SU in BB might be another consideration for it’s positive impact on a conference wide basis.
And of course the Presidents may decide what they really want is a great CIC research member like Pitt.
Or they may decide to remain a cohesive conference and limit their expansion to a single school.
Such a strategy is not likely to move the needle on ND; the Texas option at this point is largely speculation, my guess is Maryland feels “at home” in the ACC with partners like UNC, Duke, UVA and so on.
At some point the decision makers will have to make a decision, but my guess is absent Texas the expansion is moving east and if that is so RU and SU are the likely candidates until the next rumor.
Honestly when it comes to the “Death Star” scenario, if you drop Rutgers instead of Syracuse to take Nebraska. Then you’d be setting the BTN up in a better position if the time ever comes where you can pick and choose your channels. As,I believe, it has been rather established in previous posts that even the majority of New Jersey just really doesn’t care about Rutgers. While the Orange still have that history of athletic success in the major money sports and the following that comes with it.
@Pariahwulfen – Well, that’s definitely consistent with my Big Ten Expansion Index, which ranked Syracuse and Nebraska as the top 2 choices after Texas and ND.
Plus, if the Big Ten is strategically trying to “break the seal” of both the Big XII and Big East (which could get both Texas and ND to move), Nebraska and Syracuse also make the most sense as targets. Jake has pointed out that Nebraska is part of the 4 school tandem that has blocked equitable revenue sharing in the Big XII (the others are, not surprisingly, Texas, A&M and Oklahoma), but if Nebraska goes, then Texas may not be able to preserve that model, which in turn would give it a clear financial incentive to move (along with the “moral authority” in selling it politically with a power school like Nebraska leaving the Big XII). On the other side, if the Big Ten had to pick one school that would cause the Big East to split, it would likely be Syracuse, who has the strongest ties to the Catholic basketball schools. Syracuse is the glue that’s keeping the BE together – remove them and I think you’ll see the football schools finally bolt. Whether the ND alums understand it or not, ND’s administration isn’t going to take less money AND allow all of its other sports to go to a mid-major league (or no league at all in some sports) if the BE splits up. ND’s administration might be hard-headed to a point, but they’re not throwing all of their sports under the bus and actually choose to make less TV money.
@Frank – It wasn’t me that brought up the Big 12 voting block, but I agree that Texas just needs someone else to bolt (CU, NU, Mizzou) to give themselves a free pass out of the conference. As much as UT and NU have fought over the last 14 years, I think they both value what the other brings to the table. And CU and Mizzou have the markets going for them.
The differences, if any, between ND administration and alumni (not just fans, actual paying alumni) will be key. The fans have the ability to take a higher “moral ground” on conference affiliation than the administration, because it’s not their money or jobs on the line and they can approach the situation by just enjoying a special status. The administration, however, has to be slightly more pragmatic. The question is how much, and can they keep the fan backlash to a minimum.
Not sure that’s true these days.
Re current status of SU football (pariahwulfen)
Last year was the first year for SU’s new head coach, Doug Marrone, previously OC under Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints.
Marrone has shaken up the prior culture of Greg Robinson, hired new coaches, made himself OC and has generally added a lot of new energy and urgency to getting back to the former days of glory which he was a part as a starting lineman at SU recruited from the Bronx by former coach MacPherson.
Last year, a large number of former recruits under Robinson decided they didn’t want to be part of the more intense physical workouts and open competition and dropped out of the program.
It’s too early to say SU will be back this year after many years of decline. However with the new AD, Daryl Gross, formerly of USC, many new facility improvements have been made and coaching salaries have been improved after years of neglect.
The truth is RU has greatly improved their program and UConn, which is new to a BCS bowl conference, has also devoted a lot of resources and been very successful in fielding a competitive team.
None the less, my guess, for whatever it is worth, is SU is most definitely on it’s way back. At the end of last year, SU beat RU 31-13.
Regardless I still stand by my view adding SU and RU as a package is a better way to go after the NY regional market than adding one team alone.
Same old, same old…Mushroomgod doesn’t think SU is worthy.
Without ND, Rutgers is more vital to NY that Syracuse, but with ND then Syracuse is the better choice. Why…basketball. Syracuse will get much more TV time for basketball, has a huge following. They probably seat more for basketball that Pitt does for some football games. Another reason that Syracuse is better than Rutgers… lacrosse. While Syracuse might be in a slump with FB, they definitely have the tradition there and with premier basketball and lacrosse programs, they will be a very nice programming addition to the BTN.
If I’m giving away five slots, the order I’d dole them out in are:
1) Nebraska – a somewhat unexpected first move to put everyone on their heels. Serves to weaken the Big 12 and brings a national FB program.
2) Maryland – an even more unexpected move that clearly signals the coming tsunami. Expands the BTN into Baltimore and DC markets with just one school.
3) Syracuse – weakens Big East and has Pitt & Rutgers clamoring to get an invite. Starts the BTN off in the Northeast corridor
4) Notre Dame – By this point, it is obvious that the Big East isn’t holding them. They might consider the ACC, but losing Michigan, MSU, and probably USC rivalries is a bitter pill to swallow.
5) Kansas – Adds another market (KC) and bolster commitment to improving basketball in the league. Now the Big Ten would have MSU, Illinois, Syracuse, Maryland, Kansas, and Indiana as traditional BB powers with OSU as the up and comer.
6) Boston College – extends the Northeast corridor into Boston and brings some hockey to the Big ten.
7) Missouri – Nice addition with Big Ten rivalries and good athletics
8) Rutgers – Solely for the NY market
9) UConn – Solely for basketball
10) Pittsburgh – Solely for basketball.
I don’t think that Texas is feasible and doesn’t seem that nice of a fit to the puzzle other than money. As a wildcard, I’d actually like to see Kentucky, but the SEC is probably just too different to even think of luring a team from.
I’d put Rutgers (more TV sets), UConn (same in basketball, helps in NYC), BC (helps get NE), and Mizzou (more TV sets) over Kansas.
Bielima’s Exact Tweet
“Also trying to lock up a home and home contest with Notre Dame or Nebraska for the future. (Home 2012 away 2015). Would be fun for WI fans.”
Not a whole lot there, sounds like non-con exploration.
Ugh. I don’t like it. I think the confederation model is a profit-driven step in the wrong direction. And I don’t just say that because my Panthers will be on the outside looking in. The fallout within other conferences will be change the landscape in weird ways; what will happened to the remnants of the Big East? Fold into the ACC? Invite schools like ECU and Temple? Go independent? What about the potential other wounded conferences, the Big 12 or ACC?
As you said before, if the Big Ten takes any non-
Texas school from the Big 12, they are driving UT and A&M into the waiting arms of the Pac-10. Why would they take Kansas or Nebraska when Texas is on the table? Also, with Kansas you have the KSU factor – that’s like Texas trying to bring Tech along, only KU is no UT.
I figure the Big Ten gets tired of waiting on the Pac-10 and CU to do something and they go ahead and invite Nebraska, who would be very likely to accept (and would be a fine addition to the conference regardless), and maybe a Big East team. Then UT can scream that the sky is falling and make their move (perhaps along with A&M, perhaps not) to the Big Ten. At that point, all rational reasons for Notre Dame to stay away would be gone. But if they say no anyway, you still have a kick-ass super conference.
Good point about Kansas State possibly mucking up adding Kansas. Inviting Nebraska first might be a way to “break the seal,” as Barking Carnival has said before, to give the Texas schools a reason to leave the Big XII.
Most Kansas fans regard Kansas State as their second rivalry, waaaaay behind Mizzou. As a Kansas alum, I’d shed no tears if KSU wasn’t in our conference.
At a Kansas state government level, I’m positive that the powers that be would see the dollars associated with the invite and give the go-ahead. The State of Kansas has been supporting the Universities less and less over the last five years, and there is a big emphasis on the Universities bringing in more research dollars. Entry into the CIC would be a windfall for the State of Kansas.
It can’t be stressed enough, however, that no scenario “forces” ND to join. The Big Ten has to have a commitment from ND first (or Texas and A&M), or none of this will happen. And, interestingly, Swarbrick’s comments reported in USA Today suggest some noticeable backtracking.
I continue to believe the ND admin desperately wants to do this, but the Big Ten can’t compel it on its own.
I do agree with this to an extent. The Big Ten won’t invite any schools in a multi-phase expansion in the hopes of being able to add ND. I think that ND needs to be involved from the get go, which precludes them from being “forced.”
Adding myself to the list.
But, yes. Even without Jennifer Hudson, the One Shining Moment seemed to be severely lacking. And I definitely don’t remember seeing Syracuse even once.
Dennis Dodd from CBS Sportsline has some views on a Big Ten superconference and Notre Dame:
One thing that has been on my mind is that the Big Ten and Pac 10 have a sort of relationship because of the Rose Bowl.
Is it possible the Big Ten wants Texas and A&M to go to the Pac 10 and is working with the Pac 10 to make it happen? This whole super conference thing doesn’t work for the Big Ten unless the other conferences go super, too.
The Big Ten and Pac-10 are friendly, but there is zero reason why the Big Ten would just let Texas and Texas A&M head off to the Pac-10. They are worth more than any other schools in these expansion talks, including Notre Dame. Now, does Texas specifically prefer the Pac-10? That’s possible. However, the Big Ten doesn’t have an interest in making it easy.
Interesting point about St. Louis and the BTN, not so good for MO’s chances.
I could see scenarios where the B10+ would prefer TX and aTm go to the P10 rather than the SEC if they turn down the B10+. Depends on what Delany’s visions are, beyond just expansion of his conference. Didn’t someone in the B10+ suggest recently that this might be about more than just expansion? While some in the B10+ may not be looking to torpedo other conferences, I could see Delany scheming that fewer BCS conferences would raise the power, influence, and finances of a B16, as suggested in my various brainstorming posts today in the prior thread.
I wonder if the B10+ might indeed go to 16 without ND. Capturing the east coast plus a lesser nat’l marquee name like NE is still a big financial gain and splash. NE, KS, Syr, Rut and MD would still be an impressive addition, 1-3 fb and 3 Bb names that can draw plenty of prime slot games. If KS can’t come without KSU, BC or Pitt make good synergistic replacements at 16, BC with its market and Pitt as the natural fit/girl next door who the guy finally picks at the end of John Hughes movies. (Or even CO in the mix?) And a NE + 4 eastern team add makes for easy clean geographic divisions if the IN teams go west.
Perhaps there’s a 4th option, ‘How bad do we want UT?’ long shot of Syr, Rut, TX, aTm, TTech. Two huge hurdles of:
Is Texas even interested?
Would the conference even consider TTech, perhaps on a conditional probationary admittance requiring reaching Tier One and research goals, perhaps even AAU membership, in X years? Didn’t PSU come in with some upgrade requirements?
I think solidifying as THE northern conference from Lincoln to NYC or Boston is the most likely outcome, with or without ND.
Finally, say 16 proves too aggressive for at least 4 voters. Could NE, Rut, or Syr alone be taken if ND declines? I’d bet yes for at least NE. Get the big name and the champ game, and wait out at 12 for the next round. NE may not have the in-state demographics, but if MO alone was a net financial addition (as suggested in the study that named 5 teams of passing that threshold) then I would think NE would be.
But I’m a view from outside B10+ country.
Not sure I could stand the thought of Texas Tech in the Big Ten.
Texas Tech is getting better. They’re up to Tier 3 in USNews. They are targeting Tier 1 and I think they get there in the next 10-15 years. They’ve got an endowment of about $400M, in spite of not getting any of the big pie that UT and A&M split. I used to look askance at them. But they’ve come a long way. They could be a good school in the near future.
I also like offering Nebraska first since it will reveal some of the Big 12 members true allegiances. In the absence of Nebraska, will Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri begin looking around actively. If so, then Texas might have to consider alternatives if they can’t balance out the divisions and get a 12th team. If they do go to a 12th team, Louisville would be target having a trickle down effect into the Big East.
Great post as usual.
I don’t see any case for Kansas over Connecticut though.
If your argument for bringing Kansas to the conference is a “name basketball brand”, together with exposure to another decent sized market (KC), those same arguments apply for Connecticut.
Connecticut is a men’s power in college basketball, and its women’s program brings added value to the conference, and may bring a new demographic to the network. Uconn also has a hockey team, which would aid in the formation of the Big 10 hockey conference.
Further, they are a better fit for the Big North / Big 16 then Kansas. Connecticut – Syracuse has been the premier Big East rivalry over the past ten years. You immediately give Syracuse their biggest basketball rival, and it makes the transition smoother for the Cuse as well.
Plus, you need Uconn if you are going to capture the NYC market for bball. The three most popular b-ball schools in NYC are Duke, Syracuse, St. John’s and Uconn. If you only take Syracuse, the other schools are in separate conferences.
Further, Uconn adds another state to the footprint — when people talk about NY, they talk about the tri-state area of NY, CT and NJ. The state of Connecticut contains a decent market in Hartford (#38 DMA), but the added exposure to NYC trumps Kansas’ access to KC.
Uconn also is the most popular team in New England. Compare their fan support to BC — its no contest (I grew up in New England and have first hand knowledge in this).
Of your three models, #3 is ideal but unlikely. I don’t see Maryland bolting the ACC.
I think the most likely scenario is to take five from the Big East. This minimizes the carnage to one conference, and allows for a smoother transition. If you take Uconn, BC or Pitt, Cuse, Rutgers and ND, you have captured every market north of the Ohio River from Maine to Wisconsin.
@Justin – That’s probably the most compelling argument that I’ve seen for UCONN. I’d personally buy the Imperial Star Destroyer conference and just replace Kansas with UCONN while keeping Nebraska. Someone that covers Penn State once wrote me stating that if Joe Paterno had a personal choice of a 12th Big Ten school, it would be UCONN (although it was almost entirely for self-serving recruiting reasons as opposed to the good of the conference overall). The two main issues that UCONN would need to overcome with the Big Ten:
(1) Does its lack of AAU membership matter?
(2) Will the youth of its football program at the FBS level scare the Big Ten?
I think that issue #1 can probably be overcome with UCONN’s fairly good academic rankings and if it’s showing that it’s improving its research capabilities. It’s issue #2 that would likely give the Big Ten conference members more pause.
Lloyd Carr also touted Uconn for Big 10 membership in his last years as UM’s coach.
On your concerns
(1) I have to think Connecticut could eventually acquire AAU membership. After all, they are the state university of a pretty wealthy state. Its not as if the AAU hasn’t added members in recent years. Plus, it is a very well-respected state school with good grad programs in law, among others.
(2) The youth of its football program is a drawback in one sense, but also a sign of untapped potential. It took Rutgers 50 years to win 7 games. Connecticut is already very competitive, making several bowls and amassing some nice wins (beat S. Carolina and ND last year).
I think if a 16 team conference were to work, you need to have rivalries with other conference members to make it “feel” like a conference.
The tough call is Pitt. There is definite value to having Pitt-Penn State. It would be a top 10 rivalry and could basically be the Big 10’s version of Auburn-Alabama. How much is that game worth?
Plus, Syracuse, Pitt and Uconn are arguably the three best programs in the Big East in basketball.
However, they do not add a market. BC brings Boston and renewed rivalries with Uconn (very heated), Syracuse and ND. Their fans are awful though — totally apathetic.
Fairfield County Connecticut (SW CT) is the most wealthy area of CT (a wealthy state), and one of the most wealthy areas on the eastern seaboard. It is part of the NY/NJ/CT Tri-State market area. It has bedroom communities throughout the county to NYC. It is a 40 minute express train commute to Manhatten from the “Gold Coast” of lower Fairfield County (Greenwich, New Caanan, Stamford, Darian). UConn is extremely popular is the region. UConn would be an interesting part of the Eastern Strategy of the expanded “Big Ten Country”. UConn athletics in Football, Men’s and Women’s Basketball, and Men’s and Women’s Soccer are National caliber programs. If there is a way the Big Ten could fit them into the equation I think the Big Ten would benefit.
You vastly overrate the importance of Notre Dame. First off, they bring absolutely nothing to the CIC. Their identity as a national brand has taken an unrecoverable hit. They have devalued their own Catholic cred by accepting non-religious athletes. Resulting in a dwindling recruiting catchment area that has weakened their luster-less football team. Comcast may torpedo the NBC deal because they no longer reliably bring in an audience; therefore they are of little value the Big Ten Network. The conference as whole would have been better off if MSU, Purdue and Michigan had stop scheduling them and enabling their ability to remain Independent.
Mizzou and KU are inexorably linked and should be paired together in your Star Destroyer alignment. Nebraska can develop a nice one-sided rivalry with the Squawkeyes.
Although you may be right that 12 is the most stream-lined path to revenue sharing, without the single home-run addition of Texas it really doesn’t work. The scheduling implications of 16 teams in 4 pods of 4 is much better than 2 divisions of 7 in a 14 team conference. So as Texas won’t move without A&M, ultra-expansion it must be. So jettison Touchdown Jesus in an escape pod from the Death Star and welcome aboard Herbie Husker.
ND would be valuable for capturing New England and NYC (with other Big10 teams). ND’s probably the team with the most support in New England (14M people). UConn is popular in Connecticut, but that state has only 3.5M people. Nobody cares about BC except BC alums.
I have read Notre Dame people say time after time that they do not want conference affiliation. Not with any conference but expecially not with the Big Ten. I think you have nailed the solution. Get the two east coast universities, Rutgers and Syracuse, add the Cornhuskers to kill the Big Twelve and you will then be gifted with Texas and A&M to complete a great Death Star Conference with fan interest and TV ratings galore. Great idea!
As you said before, if the Big Ten takes any non-
Texas school from the Big 12, they are driving UT and A&M into the waiting arms of the Pac-10.
I wouldn’t call that a foregone conclusion. A B12 losing NE and KS or MO could easily reload with BYU and UHou or TCU or Louisville or even Rice. CO to the P10? Plug in Colo St. Could even get to 16 if Texas thinks it can make sufficient money as the fiscal giant in a conference of castoffs with no other options that trade uneven revenues for continued BCS affiliation. And I agree that 12 is perhaps the most preferable conference size, so it isn’t certain that a B16 would result in any other conference going to 16. Depends on what other intrigue Delany has in mind and if any of the other fish will take the bait.
Now if the P10 and SEC both indicate they’re going to 16 then Texas may be forced to act, but the P10 can’t realistically get to 16 without either TX and aTm or greatly watering down their current standards.
Why would they take Kansas or Nebraska when Texas is on the table?
What makes you sure TX is on the table for the B10+? The Longhorns don’t seem too interested in that direction, as opposed to their discussions with the P10 or a Western Alliance. And then there’s this from a few years ago, a distaste that may or may not linger:
“..Delany to declare last year that the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Rose Bowl would abandon its BCS partners if they took even the slightest step toward a playoff.
That sentiment has frustrated the likes of DeLoss Dodds, athletic director at the University of Texas who fought for a playoff for 10 years. He finally abandoned his efforts in part because of Delany. Dodds said it became increasingly clear that the alliance of the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Rose Bowl would block his efforts or any others to implement the playoff.”
@Playoffs Now! – Nebraska leaving the Big 12 wouldn’t change UT’s mind, it would just provide them with a convenient excuse to jump ship. If they aren’t perceived as the bad guys, it could be easier for them to get out of the Big 12 without any baggage.
Speaking of forgone conclusions, let’s all stop assuming that A&M absolutely has to come along with UT. No Aggie I’ve ever met really believes that their school needs the Longhorns to be successful – they could get themselves an invite in the Pac-10 or, eventually, the SEC if they don’t make the cut in the Big Ten. It’s Tech and Baylor that should be worried, and those are the ones that needed political help just to get into the Big 12 in the first place. But there is no Ann Richards (or, more to the point, no Bob Bullock or Pete Laney) to help them this time.
I have argued before that taking Nebraska out of the Big 12 will force the Longhorns to leave. They maintain their favored position in the Big 12 because NU, OU, TAMU, and UT block changes to the revenue model. Any addition is likely to vote for equal revenue sharing and make the Big 12 even less comfortable for Texas. Take out Nebraska (or at least tell Texas you will) and Texas is in play.
I think A&M would come along because the B10 would want them to. A&M has a gigantic endowment, is a research powerhouse, solid enough athletics that could take off, and would cement Texas as B10 country. I don’t like Texas being the lone outpost, and the B10 would happily take them as a pair.
TAMU will go with Texas not because the Aggies want to (they’d be perfectly happy in the SEC), but because UT woud use their influence to force TAMU to come along (they have zero interest in seeing A&M in the SEC, and would never consider joining that conference themselves).
While the Aggies have recovered from their near-obsessive UT fixation, the Longhorns never really cared much for the Aggies to begin with. UT didn’t seem to mind when A&M flirted with the SEC back in the ’90s; I seriously doubt they would show much concern now.
Adding UT alone would get the BTN on the basic tier of every cable system in the state – A&M certainly has a lot to recommend it, but it isn’t a must-have. I’m not saying they won’t end up in the Big Ten along with Texas, just that it shouldn’t be assumed.
“B12 losing NE and KS or MO could easily reload with BYU and UHou or TCU or Louisville or even Rice. ”
Three of those are very unlikely. No Texas (state) team will be invited to join the B12 until another Texas (state) team leaves. I can’t think of a conference with more than four teams from a single state currently. And that, as much as anything, is what killed the SWC. If Texas (university) and A&M left you might see TCU and Houston join. But not as a replacement for other states.
(Rice is off the table in any talk of a BCS conference. SMU and UTEP would even rank ahead of them in football potential)
UH, TCU, Rice and Louisville have as much chance of an invitation to the Big Twelve as these same schools have of an invitation to the Big Ten. Zip! Zero! Nada. But the Death Star assembly is very interesting. I do agree witht the poster who said that an accepted inviation to Nebraska could well be the catalyst to confirm a conference move by UT and A&M. However; the move could be west.
I agree. If the Big10 took a Big12 team (or 2), a 20 team Western Alliance merger is actually more likely.
Wes, if UT and A&M leave the Big 12 AND the remaining members want to salvage it in some form, they don’t have a lot of choices for new members. BYU, Utah, TCU and Houston will be on the discussion list. I’m not sold on Louisville being in the conversation yet. As you can see above, I have no illusions about Rice.
Easily reload? You lose the best football team (NE) in the North division and the best basketball team (KS). U. of Houston and Rice don’t even come close to replacing those. BYU and TCU are good at football, but I don’t think they’d be an upgrade over Missouri when facing a Big 12 schedule. Louisville brings the best combo of basketball and football potential but neither of those teams would be the anchors of the Big 12 North. I don’t see Oklahoma moving to that division, so you have basically diminished the value of your championship game when it will be won 75% of the time by the South division winner. The Big 12 may be able to replace one of the North members if they leave because they still have one anchor there (say NE leaves, then they could invite Utah…if Kansas leaves they could invite Arkansas).
Arkansas won’t leave the SEC to join a conference where it would get less money. If any non-Texas team leaves, the first choice replacement is BYU, the second would be Utah (if available) or maybe Memphis.
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I still think two non-football schools make sense if the conference is expanding all the way to 16 teams, and there are two schools out there – Villanova and Georgetown – that fit the conference’s academic profile very well. Throw them into the Big 10, along with Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Boston College for all sports. Now you have a football AND basketball powerhouse.
The one issue would be the “non-football school” divide. But that’s not as big of an issue when there are just two of those schools and they have outstanding reputations in basketball. Just give them a partial share of the TV revenue from the Big10 network as opposed to a full one. It would still be worth their while to jump to the Big10.
The conference would benefit from this because it wouldn’t have to divide the “football pot” 16 ways, and at the same time it would gain entry into the DC, NYC, and Boston markets. I’m guessing there’s a “sweet spot” where you gain more revenue from those basketball programs than you have to give up to get them to join the conference.
Considering the Big10 wasn’t willing to allow ND to enter in to that type of arrangement, I doubt they’d take in Villanova & Georgetown that way either.
Frank, I have a “self-consistency” issue with your post. Many of the schools you’re proposing the conference would add aren’t up to the academic standards of the CIC. Nebraska? Kansas? Seriously? Kansas is about the last school I’d see the conference go after. The football and the academics are both sub-standard compared to the conference.
If you think the Big 10 is going to consider “powerhouse” basketball programs with poor football programs why wouldn’t they again think BIG (as you’re been preaching) and go after UNC and Duke? A basketball conference with those two schools plus ND, Syracuse, and the current Big10 contingent? Now THAT’S a powerhouse in both major revenue-generating sports… and the Big10 wouldn’t have to water down the academics with schools like Nebraska and Kansas that have no place in the CIC.
@shawndgoldman – I think that Kansas and Nebraska are on the borderline of academic acceptability to the Big Ten, but if Missouri is deemed to be OK, then it’s extremely hard to argue that NU or KU wouldn’t be. They’re all AAU members with essentially the same academic rankings (in fact, Nebraska is ranked higher than Mizzou by US News) and similar research levels. UNC and Duke would certainly be coups for anyone, but those schools really are the heart of the ACC. The original ACC schools are a particularly tight-knit group just like the Big Ten. That’s why I’ve qualified any potential ACC candidates as high hanging fruit compared to the low hanging fruit of the Big XII and Big East. Ultimately, the university presidents are the ones making the decisions and the academic benefits of moving from the ACC (which has its own academic consortium, albeit not nearly as established as the CIC) to the Big Ten are much lower than a school moving in from the Big XII or Big East.
When you talk about how much the ACC wanted Syracuse for their expansion, you must remember the climate at that time.
-Unlike your ideas for the Big Ten, the ACC was consciously setting out to destroy the Big East (make them lose their BCS bid and leave the ACC as the “eastern conference”).
-Syracuse was their only option to join BC. Rutgers hadn’t shown they could win in football yet (let alone go to 5 straight bowl games), and UConn had not completed their move up to 1A football.
-Syracuse hadn’t yet decided that Paul Pasqualoni deserved to be fired because he “only” went 8-3 and went to bowl games regularly.
I completely agree with you Frank; going beyond 14 teams in my opinion is risking spreading the conference too thin. However, I would love to see Nebraska in the Big 10. There has been a mild outcry from Nebraska fans for years wanting to establish a border rivalry with Iowa; being able to do this along with keeping the rivalry with Kansas and adding possible rivalries with Minnesota and Wisconsin would help to ease losing the rivalries with Missouri and Colorado. I would include the Oklahoma rivalry but the Big 12 killed that traditional rivalry at its inception. Nebraska could schedule Oklahoma every 3 years as a non-conference foe and would be playing them just as much as they currently do. So while I’m skeptical of a 16 team conference; if it involves Nebraska it atleast helps me see it through rose tented glasses.
I agree about “losing that conference feel” with 16. However, in several of the proposals, there are western and eastern additions. That way, teams maintain certain “old rivals” with the new foes sprinkled in.
The pod format does seem to work best.
I personally think Texas and Texas A/M are still in the mix for this whole thing. I don’t think that the PAC10 has the capability for a massive power play like the Big 10 does. They blustered with their “we’re ready for anything” talk two months ago…they were just trying to warm up Texas after rebuffing them back in the 80’s.
I’ve warmed to the Nebraska talk too. I’m not buying Mizzou or Kansas though. Football is still in the driver seat (advantage Nebraska). Markets are still very important (none of them deliver any significant NEW basic cable market, so why not defer to factor 1–football drives). And Nebraska helps UT/aTm seem less like outposts.
For the final 2…well, Notre Dame of course. And I’m sold on Rutgers adding enough New York interest (when compounded with Notre Dame, PSU, and the rest of the new Death Star conference) to warrant an invite.
Frank, where would the Big Ten be if Notre Dame joined (along with Syracuse and Rutgers), and then after several years of discontent, left to become independent again?
I think this is a real possibility. First, Notre Dame would always resent losing their independence. (Shotgun marriages seldom work out well.) The Big Ten, as you noted in an earlier post, has a legitimate “all for one and one for all” mentality, that I just can’t see Notre Dame taking to heart. It could become a source of rancor and discontent, very much hurting the Big Ten.
Secondly, as great an academic institution as Notre Dame is, I just don’t see them fitting in with the CIC. Especially as Big Ten schools pursue research (ie, certain medical research and biological engineering) that might conflict with Notre Dame’s Catholic ethic. This could become paramount in any future decision Notre Dame makes regarding their membership. To cite precedence, isn’t that why The Catholic University of America left AAU?
The more I think about it, the more I think Notre Dame is a poisoned pawn. They would be an unreliable partner, and while their temporary and uncomfortable admission to the Big Ten might bring financial benefit, the discontent their membership would bring, and their ultimate departure would hurt the Big Ten deeply.
There are good choices the Big Ten could make, academically, athletically and financially, that don’t include Notre Dame and the NYC cash cow.
Once the BTN is comfortably ensconced in NYC and New England, it wouldn’t hurt so much if ND went away (so long as at least some of the other Eastern Big10 teams are good).
Remember the calculations here: for the Big10, getting ND is profitable in the short-term (to penetrate in to NYC and NE). For ND, the benefits are in the long-term (to have a steady revenue stream, a home for their non-revenue sports, & a chance to play for the title game in football, which will soon be almost impossible as an independent).
Which brings be to my final point, if ND decided to join, why would they ever leave? The uproar from the alums will be greatest when they join. It won’t get louder the longer they stay a member, and in a decade or 2, younger Domers would have a hard time understanding why they stayed independent for so long. Plus, if they left, where would get their steady revenue stream, home for their non-revenue sports, and championship game access in football? They would only leave to join another conference. The SEC is out of the question, and the Pac10 is likely too far for no appreciable benefit. That leaves the ACC. The ACC likely wouldn’t bring them as much money as the Big10 either, but if the Big10 is bold enough, it could (with help from the SEC) make the ACC a mid-major conference in football.
Death Star Baby!
FWIW, although I’ve said it before, I’ll just repeat my opposition to a larger-than-12 alignment here. First, if you get too big, and the connections between the member schools get weaker. I don’t like that. More importantly, the logistics of football scheduling become extremely difficult.
The baseline format in a 16-team league would be 2 divisions of 8. You’d play 7 Division games and 1 rotating game against the other Division. You almost certainly would not (at that point) lock in that rotating game as a fixed inter-divisional rivalry, or there would be 7 league teams you couldn’t face other than the title game. But even with a single rotating inter-divisional game, it’ll be 16 years before you play them all home and away. All variations are efforts at solving these problems.
The first proposed solution will be a 9-game schedule. This presents competitive equity issues: a different number of home and away (conference) games. (It was my understanding that even the MWC targeted TCU in ’05 in part because they wanted a 9th member to play an 8-game league schedule, instead of 7, so that it was equal home and away.) If you play 2 inter-divisional games, there’s some risk that there will be pressure to have one of them be a fixed rivalry, which still means it takes 14 years for the other game to cycle through everybody home and away. If you leave them both loose, it’ll take 8 years. An 8-year cycle is something that I think most people can live with, but when you’re not playing 40% of the league every year? I don’t know.
The other solution is the system of rotating pods: placing the schools in 4-team groups and then switching off how the 4-team groups are paired up to form Divisions. I am personally opposed to such a format. I think it’s far too complicated, first of all. Consider that the BCS formula, which at no point in its history has ever been particularly complicated (it has never required more than basic arithmetic to calculate), is controversial (in part; there are also many other reasons) for being too complicated. But more importantly, I think divisions become somewhat meaningless if you don’t have to “go through” the same teams every year to get to the championship. That’s how rivalries form. The Michigan/OSU rivalry became what it is in large part because it was a de facto conference title game for a long time, given the lack of parity in the era of the “Big 2, Little 8” (i.e., a one-section Big Ten would arguably not have been as storied and interesting without the lack of parity forcing those two teams to go through each other every year). Rivalries like Yankees/Red Sox and Cubs/Cardinals are driven by MLB’s historic one-playoff-berth-per-division rule (now abrogated by the Wild Card). The Avalanche/Red Wings rivalry was driven by those teams knowing that, for the better part of a decade, they’d likely have to go through each other to get to the Stanley Cup Finals, and we’re (hopefully) seeing something like that develop now with the Penguins and Capitals.
Yeah, a nine-school conference is pretty sweet. Four home and away, and you play everyone every year, which really keeps everyone tight-knit. The MWC, despite being a very young conference, has some very, very old rivalries, and protecting those rivalries was one of the primary reasons for the league’s creation (they’d been getting lost in the 16-team WAC). Also, keeping that balanced, round-robin schedule is one of the biggest arguments against adding Boise State to the conference, which everyone seems to assume is a done deal – personally, I’d give it a 50/50 shot, but we’ll know by the end of June.
You forgot another solution, which is simply to not have a championship game. Then you don’t need to divide by divisions; each school would just have 3 protected rivals and play everyone else half the time. One advantage to this scheme is that since the conference title will pretty much never be decided before the final weekend, a lot more regular season games matter.
It’s my sense that even Big Ten poobahs (people like Alvarez and Paterno) have said they want a title game to maintain relevance etc. into December. You are absolutely right that that is a viable option, but enough comments have been made committing people to a title game that I have a hard time seeing them back out on that now.
On the other hand, other Big10 people have casted doubt on a title game and questioned whether people would travel to one. For a conference that’s considering expansion to 16 teams, they’re very divided on whether to have a title game or not.
The benefit of 3 protected rivals and rotating the other 12 teams on and off five at a time is this: you allow everyone to maintain a presence of OSU/UM every year. From what I’ve read, the old charter schools CRAVE OSU/UM on the schedule. With pods, even if OSU/UM weren’t in your pod, you could almost guarantee one of them to be on your schedule each year. And in the odd year where you didn’t have one, you’d still have Notre Dame and/or Penn State and/or Texas? and/or Nebraska. Still a potent schedule by any stretch of the imagination.
I continue to say that the rotating divisions is complicated in theory but easy in practice.
Your division for the year will be in every listing of the standings. After a few years everyone will know the 2 settings for the divisions, even if they may not be sure which one they’ll be doing next year without looking it up.
Frank…why do you consider 16 teams to be that much more unwieldy that 14 teams?
If in two divisions, you play 6 divisional & 2 inter-divisional with a 14 team conf. vs. 7 divisional & 1 inter-divisional game. To me playing 2 inter-divisional games (out of 7 teams) vs. 1 game (out of 8 teams) is not a big difference. This means you’d play every team every 8 years versus 4 years. Seems like a lot, but either way the players on the team are essentially only every see the inter-divisional team once during their career. Even at 14, I don’t think you can maintain enough of a consistency to have any rivalry.
However, 16 teams gives the option to try 4 divisions. In this case, you play 3 in division games, 4 games from teams in one other division, and 1 game either designated as either a rivalry game (or supposed rivalry) or as the semifinal game for the division champions (championship game still gets counted as the 13th per current rules). By this route, you could play every team at least every three years which is better than what you’d get from a 14 team division.
In the end, you lose some consistency from playing most of the teams all the time, but this would be just as bad for 14 versus 16. Additionally, have a semi-final game would be a first and would pump up revenue while essentially beginning the seeds of a playoff process.
I’m with you in preferring 12 since you could essentially play each team every other year, but I don’t see the reason to hold at 14 if you go beyond 12.
At anything above 9 teams, you aren’t going to play every team in the conference. So either going to 14 or to 16 means that you would play, at most, 2 conference games against a team from the other division.
@Nittany Wit – I don’t necessarily think that the logistics of 16 schools would be more unwieldy than 14 teams, but I’m definitely concerned about what Adam has brought up: losing the connections between member schools (which is more qualitative than quantitative). A major part of the Big Ten’s strength is that it’s an extremely tight-knit group, which is why it’s very attractive to a lot of schools from the shotgun marriages of the Big XII and Big East in the first place. Despite the perceptions of a lot of Notre Dame fans, the Big Ten isn’t run by Michigan and Ohio State at all. (Well, other than the little-known clause in the conference charter stating that all Big Ten football referees are employees of the Michigan Athletic Department.) If anything, the Big Ten’s voting power is probably more decentralized than any other BCS conference. As someone aptly noted on the previous post, Notre Dame’s ultimate problem with the Big Ten if it joins may not be that Michigan and Ohio State are elevated but rather that the Purdues and Iowas of the world are on the same even playing field as the alpha dogs. In contrast, it’s a matter of course for Big XII schools to complain about the influence of the Texas schools while there are clear fissures between the football and non-football members of the Big East. Each school that the Big Ten adds beyond 12 schools is going to risk damaging the tight group that’s currently in place. Now, is it worth the risk if it means adding both of Notre Dame and Texas? I tend to say yes, although I still have a lot more psychological queasiness at 16 schools than 14 schools.
Adding 5 (or even 3) new institutions does present a challenge to integrating those teams and institutions to the Big 10 culture. However, I don’t see that it will change the Big 10 direction since decisions will still be by a minimum of 70% yes votes. While the voting power of the current members will decrease by about 30% (9% of vote to 6.25%), the current members can still easily nix anything counter to the culture. Any change the current Big 10 teams would like to make could be more affected if the new teams would swing the vote, but if it is a change then it was not really part of the tradition or culture of the Big 10.
At the end of the day, they would give up a little power by diluting their votes down, but they can gain tremendous power over all other conferences.
For me, I’m as against 16 as I am for 14, but more for 16 than I am for 14, so in the end I suppose if they have to expand beyond 12 (ND) than I’m of the mind to go to 16 and lock down either the Northeast and one of the Midwest (by expanding into Nebraska, Missouri, or Kansas) or Texas.
@Frank – This is the same issue I’ve mentioned in the past. The larger you expand the bigger issue cohesion becomes. I honestly think that if you expand to 16 you have to take geography into account then. I don’t think you have have 16 teams stretching from New York to Austin and still maintain a close knit conference, which ultimately makes your conference much weaker and more likely to have unhappy members poached. You couldn’t imagine another conference poaching an SEC, Pac10, or BigTen member (or ACC a little less so) exactly because of how tight knit these conferences are at the moment.
I’m not a fan of 16, but if 16 is going to be the way they go, then I think geography is going to play a huge part. 16 teams tells me Texas is probably off the table completely at this point. Establishing a tight group is going to be paramount to making this work.
Also, what are the chances we see a 10 conference game structure once you have that many? Increasing the conference games by 20% to compensate increasing the conference by almost 50%? Right now we have 4 non-cons, but it’s usually 3 bad teams and 1 decent or good team (at least for OSU). Would the math work out where the loss of a guaranteed home game is worthwhile if you’re facing a conference member that’s worth more in television viewership (perhaps on BTN)?
“I’m not a fan of 16, but if 16 is going to be the way they go, then I think geography is going to play a huge part. 16 teams tells me Texas is probably off the table completely at this point. Establishing a tight group is going to be paramount to making this work.”
Well, if you want to Texas and structure it so it’s tightly integrated, just cherry pick the Big 12 (I already threw this idea out on another post):
OSU, Mich, MSU, PSU
Ind, Ill, NW, Pur
Iowa, Wisc, Minn, Missouri
Tex, A&M, Neb, Colorado
I completely agree with this scenario of cherry picking. You have a method to keep relationships tight with the best academic schools and the best research school of the Big Twelve to fit in long term co-operation with each other. All school have a great history to combine with the great histories of the Big Ten, would not feel like outsiders and would capture America’s heart (and TV sets). AND it could easily be structured into your ideals of POD that would keep every schools old rivalries somewhat or perfectly intact. Also, and to me just as important, it would not over load the EAST division of Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan with all the marque names. I think A&M, Texas, Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin could certainly hold their own. Then, WOW, what a championship game. Frank, could this be Death Star COnference plan B?
Using Wikpedia listing for population of US states:
NY+NJ+MA+Conn= about 38.3 million people
TX+NE+CO+MO= about 37.5 million people
So the 5 team combo of SYR, ND, Rut, BC, & UConn isn’t that big of a population boost over the 5 teams from the Big 12. Does anyone think the national prestige wouldn’t be higher with the Big 12 schools (even with Notre Dame)?
To speak against the Big 12 schools, you could argue the Big 10 is already fairly popular in Missouri, and the possiblity might exist of other Texas schools getting popular in a state that large in the future.
The big concern is that Texas seems more interested in being in a western/southwestern/Texas-centered conference.
If Texas is interested then taking a bunch of teams from the Big12 makes sense, though I think the Big10 presidents would still feel more cultural affinity for the northeast than with Texas (more Big10 alums go there and more Big10 student come from there).
If Texas isn’t interested, though, it’s a moot point.
Yeah, but taking the 5 schools together would probably improve the chances of Texas saying ‘yes’.
One advantage to the NE schools that didn’t occur to me at the time is that there is more money in NY and Boston, so there is the possibility of more advertising revenue. Then again, the greater popularity of the sport in the West might offset that.
If the B10 goes to 16 schools you will see either 10 or 11 conference games. The B10 wants to go to 9 games now but mathematically can’t do it because one team would be left with only 8 conference games. Eight games frequently leads to ties for the conference championship.
Fans at places like Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State are angry about paying big bucks for tickets and seat licenses only to see a string of home games with second tier schools like Delaware State, Akron, Wofford, Kent State, Eastern Michigan, etc. Who wants to give up four Saturday’s in September, some of the nicest weekends of the year weather wise, watching those dogs? Expansion should bring in enough money that most of these “buy games” can be eliminated. Start the season with one “cupcake”, then jump right into conference play. (There will be a few cupcakes in conference play too such as Indiana, Syracuse and Rutgers). Eleven games works well with the pod format that Frank suggested. Play three teams in you own pod every year plus two other pods. This insures that each school will play those in the other pods at least twice every four years. Why have a conference if your not going to play each other regularly?
It was interesting to read the earlier post about Wisconsin possibly playing Nebraska and Notre Dame. IT’S ABOUT F….. TIME!
Be careful what you wish for with the so-called “cupcakes” of expansion candidates. Ask ND what a cupcake Syracuse was. Just saying..
I don’t think 10 or 11 conference games are realistic if you play 12 regular season games. Home games just bring in too much money, and while fans may bitch about playing FCS teams, there’s little incentive to bump the number of conference games all the way to 10-11 if they still buy season tickets. 9 conference games seems likely, though.
First off, Pat, the fans may not LIKE watching cupcakes at $100 a seat…but they are still paying. Season tix haven’t dropped dramatically yet, which is shocking considering the economy. Thus, there is not an actual PUSH from any school to “beef up” the home schedule. Yes, there is griping. But there is no grassroots movement to make it so.
Secondly, a 10 game conference slate would make it impossible to…
A) schedule 8 home games (which Big 10 schools do from time to time)
B) schedule 7 home games and have any 1-1 out of conference series.
PSU, for example, must have 7 home games to fund the other sports. So…do you want two cream puffs every year (no good OOC games)?
What’s interesting in all of this is it seems the administration types, coaches, and AD’s are reading this and other blogs and they are all beginning to realize the huge plate of options that are out there on the table, not just for the Big 10, but the Pac 10 and ACC (BEast left out intentionally). I want to re-focus everyone on Frank’s original Big 10 Expansion Post that had the most obvious candidates ranked as: Texas, Domers, Nebraska (followed by some BEast candidates) and how that impacts those conferences. Now, let’s review the scenarios:
Wet Dream conference: Losing the New York Market effectively demolishes the Big East, forcing the Domer’s hand. Yes, they will come kicking and screaming and continue kicking and screaming for a go 5-10 years, but eventually they will see the light. (I especially liked the article that talked about no one from the Big 12, SEC, Pac10 or Big 10 not wanting or being able to schedule the Domers after October 10th) The BEast will need to do some fast maneuvering with the ACC if that happens, or they’re gone…So, I see this as “Mini-Death Star”, at least for the BEast.
Imperial Destroyer: Okay you got Nebraska and have grabbed key BEast components. If you ranked the Big 12, after Texas, A&M, Nebraska, wouldn’t Colorado be the obvious choice? They would definitely try to sell themselves to any suitor and the Big 10 would probably be better in that market than the Pac 10…The Big 12 survives this scenario, but the BEast is still doomed…
Death Star: Thee ultimate for the Big 10, with everyone else trying to pick up the pieces. Loki, however, has made too many great points with respect to UT’s baseball program and Big 12 – SEC baseball in general…But Big 12 Baseball has improved dramatically as a result of Texas, which I honestly think would be great for the Big 10. (But that’s my opinion). What do the BEast and the Big 12 do? The Big 12 is literally demolished w/o Texas. Same for the BEast w/o Rutgers-Cuse. But, the Universities in the Big 10 are secure forever, so what is the smart move for anyone considering alliance with the Big 10? It seems like the answer is obvious….But it definitely puts pressure on two conferences to react quickly…..
And who wants to be part of a reaction plan?
This claim that anything “forces” ND is silly. The Big Ten coming to ND with BC, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Maryland signed up isn’t going to have ND exactly quaking in its boots, because if ND says “no,” then what will the Big Ten do? Say they didn’t really mean it and send them all back? All BC/Syracuse/Rutgers/Maryland would effectively do without ND (or Texas/TA&M) is dilute the Big Ten’s revenue and weaken — not strengthen — the conference.
Frank is right — anything is pretty much contingent on ND climbing aboard first. If they don’t, and the Big Ten can’t entice Texas, then expansion won’t really help the Big Ten at all.
Well, if the Big10 calls ND’s bluff, the Big10 wouldn’t lose (it just wouldn’t gain as much), but ND loses big time.
Even without ND, with Rutgers, Syracuse, and maybe UConn, the Big10 has a decent shot at getting the BTN on basic cable in NYC, and maybe a shot at New England. Plus, Rutgers & Syracuse (as well as Maryland & Mizzou) would pay for themselves in BTN subcribers added in their home regions (for ‘Cuse, that’s upstate NY).
Unlike Frank, I don’t think the Big10 needs to bring in a premier program to make expansion work; Syracuse, Rutgers, and UConn may be enough to get the BTN on basic cable in NYC and the rest of the tri-state. If that’s the case (and determining that is what investment bankers are for) then the Big10 wouldn’t actually need ND.
ND loses nothing. If they subsequently decided that remaining independent is no longer viable for some reason, then they team up with Texas and spearhead the formation of a new conference. They can pick and choose the best candidates from among the Big XII, ACC, and whatever might be left of the Big East — think Miami, Florida State, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Ga. Tech, Va. Tech, UVA, Pittsburgh, and A&M.
That would be instantly competitive with any existing conference TV-wise. ND carries the NE and upper Midwest on its own. Texas and A&M give you all of Texas. The Florida teams give you Florida. Ga. Tech gives you Atlanta. VPI and UVA give you D.C. Then you also have Pittsburgh to the extent ND didn’t already give you Pittsburgh and Philly. Plus you have KC and St. Louis with Missouri and Kansas (and Nebraska).
Uh, yeah, good luck with that.
Many people (including myself) have often noted that many Domers seem delusional (not being able to match the negotiating power ND actually has in reality with the negotiating power they think ND has), and you’re doing nothing to change my opinion.
Can’t help but feel you’re saying, “We’re not retreating; we’re advancing in a different direction.”
It also sounds like you’re assuming every other conference wouldn’t look to gobble some of these schools up. Or that these schools would forgo conference membership in one of the established conferences just for the opportunity to start a nationwide conference with ND. I’m sorry, but I think you’re overestimating ND’s reach if that’s the case.
NDx2 – (DomerHead Squared?):
I have seen other comments on NDNation and I have heard some arguments on the radio (nothing from believable sources, only rabid fans) that Notre Dame will be able to “make it’s own conference”. This confuses the hell out of me.
With a berth in the Big 10 in the palm of it’s hand, but standing on the independence or die podium, the immediate reaction of died in the wool fans is to go out and create your own conference? I actually looked at that on my own blog
and decided that if NBC really wanted to shake things up with the Versus (VS) network and try to get some sort of Domer – Texas – BEast ACC alliance in all the critical markets, and all the universities in question would go along with it, it might work. But my question remains: Why gamble and try to create a conference with unknowns when you have 4 of your greatest rivals- Michigan, MSU, Purdue and Indiana – in a conference already set up waiting for you? It really doesn’t make much sense.
In addition, I have a feeling that the Domers might be like the kid on the playground that yells “GO!” when they are going to go after the bully only to be standing all by themsef as the bully starts to pummel them into the ground. Meaning, I am not sure anyone would respect, or rather trust anything associated with Notre Dame as it would undoubtedly come with strings; Namely, uneven distributions of revenue.
So, in summary, like all other Domers you’re extremely two-faced and hypocritical in your view of maintaining independence or creating a conference that will bow and kiss the ring of Notre Dame….
NDx2 has actually been very insightful and fair. I think his prior points that the main reason why ND would consider joining the Big Ten would be for academics dovetails right into what a lot of the less sports-focused comments have indicated – university presidents care a lot about academic reputation and who they associate themselves with. That being said, others are correct that ND alums (not just NDx2, but a lot of others) are way overstating the desire for other schools to drop everything to join a brand new start-up conference. If Texas doesn’t want to join the Big Ten with Michigan, OSU and PSU in the fold with the entire infrastructure of the BTN already in place (basically completely risk-free from a financial perspective), what’s the point of starting up a far-flung conference from scratch? At least I somewhat understand the “independence or die” mentality from the alums (the people that actually run the university are a different matter), yet it’s strange to see a lot of Domers then turn around and suggest these brand new conferences. What exactly is so reprehensible about the Big Ten that wouldn’t be the same in any other conference (who would still be dominated by large public flagship schools even if it has some privates involved), whether existing or non-existing? Adam was right in another thread – these are really post-rationalizations to fit a pre-existing emotional viewpoint (which is fine as long as people admit it as such) as opposed to substantive reasons.
@Frank: Thanks for summarizing my thoughts more eloquently than I’ve been able to so far. I understand ND’s (well, the average ND fan’s) desire to stay independent. I just don’t understand what’s essentially sounded like outright vehemence against joining the Big Ten — not just a conference mind you, specifically the Big Ten.
I’ve seen quite a few posts (not just here) that have said, in essence, “we’re independent, but if we can’t be independent I’d rather join the [Pac10,ACC,BigEast,even SEC] or make a new conference and the Big Ten can go to hell.” Aside from the usual absurdity of message board vitriol, what in the world do ND fans have against the Big Ten? So many (all?) of the arguments against Big Ten membership go immediately out the window if you consider anything aside from total independence.
This replies to you, FTT, and others, but here are the two main reasons for Big Ten antipathy among many Domers:
1) Historical. Yost, Crisler, et al. shat on ND for decades, dodged them, ducked them, played to anti-Catholicism, etc., all because ND beat them at their own game. ND wanted in the Western Conference, and Michigan said “no.” So, fine. We went our own way and built the most lucrative and national “franchise” (until the last couple years when we fell to second behind Texas) in college football through blood, sweat, toil, and tears, no thanks to the old Michigan bigots who ran the Western Conference/Big Ten. There are many among us who’d rather give up football than turn to the Big Ten to keep the program going if that’s what it ever came to, given that history.
2) The Big Ten as currently constituted is a relatively small, regional football conference that isn’t very good. Since 1973 ND has three National Championships. In that same time period the entire Big Ten has one and a split. Nailing our mast to that would diminish and marginalize ND further than it has already done to itself in the post-Holtz era.
In a nutshell, that’s it.
1. Keeping grudges from over half a century ago is your perogative.
2. You can’t count. In that time span, ND has 2.5 MNC’s. Michigan and OSU have combined for 1.5, but PSU has another 2 (before they joined the Big10, not that that matters when judging conference strength). In any case, no one other than Domers living off past glories actually cares what happened more than 20 years ago. TV execs don’t. Recruits don’t (about events that occurred before they were born). More relevent is what will happen in the future, and in the future, a Big10 champ with the same record as an independent ND will always have a better shot at the national title.
Oh yeah, and that “relatively small regional conference” takes in more TV money per school, has more alums, and has a bigger population footprint than anybody else in college football and is the only conference who’s conference and home games are all conveniently accessible to anyone anywhere in the country (you have to get the BTN, which, since it’s carried on basic DirectTV, is a helluva lot easier than, say, catching all TAMU games on TV if you live in Oregon). Just for kicks, I’ll challenge you: Who is the Big10 “relatively small” compared to?
This really isn’t about football, this is about Identity.
The sad truth is that Domers subconsciously understand that the reason Notre Dame is Notre Dame, and not St. Louis, U of San Francisco, Fordham, St. Joe’s, St. Peter’s, et al, is because of the continued success of the football team since Jesse Harper and Rockne. That success allowed us to become the de facto National Catholic University.
History teaches Domers that back in the day ™, Notre Dame wanted into what’s now the Big Ten but rednecks at UM put the kibosh on that. History also teaches us that brave men in Lafayette and Lansing, and elsewhere were willing to defy them to play us, but let’s not get sidetracked. By not being allowed into the Western Conference we had to travel nationally. Lincoln? Sure! L.A.? You bet! NYC? See you Kaydets! Even trips to the incredibly anti-Catholic south took place out of necessity. And victories nationwide made ND famous.
Don’t believe your maps. ND may theoretically be located in Indiana, but it is definitely not Hoosier. More kids come from the coasts than the Midwestern urban areas. Culturally it’s as much Northeastern as anything else. American Catholicism used to be urban, white ethnic, and Midwestern/Northeastern. With current demographic shirts, American Catholicism will be more southern than ever in the future. And, FYI Big Ten fans, no one outside of the Midwest except your alums give a flying crap about the Big Ten. Heck, I would never pay for BTN unless Comcast made me.
While the Catholics of America head south, the Big Ten remains a Midwestern conference. Even a major move by them won’t take them south of the Mason/Dixon unless I’m really misreading the Texas tea leaves. Not to mention that even as disliked a leader as Monk Malloy was able to make “secular” sound like a swear word when turning down the overtures in 1999. Notre Dame knows it’s not culturally anything like the other B10 schools, and God’s will it never shall be.
Notre Dame alums in the South and the coast want to see their Irish as bad as any other Alumni group. If we join the Big Ten, we are automatically limited to few conference games, and two of those would have to be against USC and Navy. Southern ND would be SOL and only get to see ND on TV. The very idea that the Irish would never be within a day’s drive of them is one of the big reasons the Alums were almost to the man against Big Ten membership in ’99.
Even back then, we didn’t want to become merely a regional university. If TPTB at ND are smart, they still don’t. If for no other reason than to avoid cheesing off large sections of the donating public. Lose the national identity, and there’s not as much as you’d hope to differentiate us from the Georgetowns and Fordhams of the world.
The Big Ten *is* relatively small compared to our aspirations. Dreaming insanely big is something we’ve had even longer than the football team.
This nonsense is exhibit A as to why the Big 10 should proceed without ND. I don’t know why anyone would want to associate himself with a jackass like this guy. And it seems that most Domers are exactly like this clown. I understand the attitude would eventually change, but I don’t want to put up with 10 years of crap.
Rox, I’m just glad that you, as a Southern/Western Domer, have had the chance to witness so many bowl asskickings. Nine in a row, by an average of 18 points a game. I guess that’s another example of your dreams exceeding your reality.
Yeah, I’m not sure that the Big10 presidents think ND is all that attractive either.
It’s interesting to note that in that 5-school study of ND, Pitt, Rutgers, ‘Cuse, and Mizzou, Rutgers, Mizzou, and Pitt were purportedy ranked 1-2-3 in attractiveness. That ranking makes sense only if the research aspect is ranked about as highly as the BTN aspect. Rutgers, Mizzou, & Pitt all would contribute more in research than ND or ‘Cuse. Pitt’s better in research than Mizzou, but their utter lack of contribution on the TV front may put them behind Mizzou.
Tried this once before but article ended up elsewhere:
Gene DeFilippo Shrinking the Footprint of Boston College Athletics
by Dave DeBlasio Contributor Written on April 08, 2010 Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images Seven years after Boston College AD Gene DeFilippo brashly announced the Eagles would abandon the Big East and move to the ACC, BC has failed to establish an identity in the Southern league, failed to achieve excellence in football or basketball, and failed to win over the Boston marketplace.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford had grand visions of TV sets across New England popping on to ACC football and basketball. It hasn’t happened.
DeFilippo has three styles of addressing the public: He cheerleads to bring his audience to his way of thinking; he blusters and blows his opinion as law; he doesn’t respond at all. In handling the diminishing footprint of BC athletics under his watch, he has demonstrated all three.
Derision of the Eagles by bloggers on Boston.com’s web site is shocking even to those who are indifferent to BC and the ACC.
For example, when DeFilippo announced the BC band was not allowed to accompany the team to the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco this past season, 90-plus bloggers wrote scathing comments about DeFilippo. If DeFilippo was sincere about winning over hometown fans, he made a horrible decision.
Then he dispensed Jack Dunn to spin the truth that the school just couldn’t afford the trip by saying the BC administration did not want to impose upon band members’ holiday. How embarrassing for an AD and school planning to reap big financial awards from the 12-team ACC to lack the resources to bring the whole package to the Emerald!
Fans saw right through his subterfuge and lambasted the AD.
The word is out in coaching circles too: treat DeFilippo with deference bordering on servility. Football coaches by nature just aren’t deferential people.
In an unparalleled display of pomposity and egoism, DeFilippo fired popular coach Jeff Jagodzinski for interviewing with the Jets. Of course DeFilippo had to make BC pay for his arrogance to the tune of $3 million. Is this how a Jesuit college plays?
The incident played so poorly in the press that DeFilippo bashing became a new sport in Boston far more popular than the Eagles’ athletic teams.
Derision is not limited to Boston.com.
Statesnation, North Carolina State’s athletic blogsite, devoted an entire article to the “BC rule,” engendered to compensate for the Eagles’ lack of traveling fan sport. The site blasted the Eagles for causing the ACC to lose the Gator Bowl and questioned why they ever were admitted to the ACC.
BC left the Big East for financial security, better TV payouts, and increased fan support. The Eagles have benefited from the TV contract, and the payout of $11 million per team is much better than the Big East’s $5.5 million.
However, the ACC is negotiating a new television contract hampered by several prominent negatives, including poor bowl performances, a dearth of intersectional victories, and lack of dominating teams. BC’s dwindling home attendance in football and basketball is not helping the conference.
In Boston, BC football and basketball are putting fewer fans in seats. This past season BC averaged 35,716 per home game, ranking 62nd out of 119 FBS schools. In 2003, BC’s final year in the Big East before announcing ACC membership, the Eagles averaged 42,604 per home game and ranked 51st out of 115 Division I-A schools.
Conte Forum used to rock with 6,000 to 7,000 fans for Big East games. This year 3,000 to 5,000 fans were the norm.
So where is the big bump in attendance membership in the ACC was supposed to provide?
BC fans travel in a small pod to away games, championship games, and bowls. DeFilippo has not inspired crowds to fly away with the Eagles. Instead, they are flying away from them. Not only are the fans not traveling, they are not turning on TV sets in Boston to watch them either.
Even with yesterday’s cheerleading to introduce Steve Donahue as the Eagles’ new hoops coach, DeFilippo did not quell the unhappiness this hire has generated in fans. Will he ever address why Boston has not become an ACC basketball town as promised?
DeFilippo has steered BC to what most likely will be its final home. There is no turning back—he is too stubborn to ever admit the ACC move was a blunder, and the Big East really doesn’t want the Eagles back—if there is to be a Big East football conference in the future.
BC is not mentioned in any Big Ten expansion plans, and it is too far from the Big 12 and Pac-10 to become part of their expansion plans.
If DeFilippo were a good AD, he would put his ear on ground level and listen to fans who want a less restrictive tailgating experience and better home football schedules. He should be smart enough to reason that building a larger fanbase will only occur when he takes fan-friendly actions and begins to listen.
Observing DeFilippo is tantamount to watching a runaway train.
No more compelling evidence demonstrates the cultural disharmony between Boston and ACC destinations like Virginia and Virginia Tech in Virginia, Clemson in South Carolina, and Georgia Tech in Georgia than these states proudly announcing Confederate History Month celebrations.
BC engages four universities housed in states celebrating the war for slavery. Boston’s cadre of abolitionists and underground railroaders must roil in their graves.
Did DeFilippo naively believe there are no differences between the North and the South? Did he believe the two regions’ cultures easily intermix?
If he has ever driven through Virginia, Georgia, and South Carolina, he would see Confederate flags for sale along the highways. That would be his first sign.
If Father Leahy is too detached or too weak to make it happen, BC fans need to demand it. Those who write about his mistakes and have cancelled season tickets or limited donations must speak. Boston College deserves an AD commensurate with its academic excellence, athletic legacies, and beacon of enlightenment in the Northeast USA.
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The above article illustrates the problems with ignoring geography and culture in the quest for tv ratings.
Certainly doesn’t take much to convince me, mushroomgod.
@Richard: I am convinced this will be a one team addition, for now, and Nebraska should be that addition. However, if one wanted to make a case for Pittsburgh, this would be the time. Assuming a CCG, the 12th, and only the 12th team, could get a pass on BTN revenue generation because of the CCG revenue. Scott S recently provided research figures and Pitt was at 595M to Nebraskas 349M. As others have said, we have no idea what weight the COP/C attach to research vs. BTN revenue.
I really like Pitt, but one advantage of Neb is that it gives you an anchor for the western division–with Neb, Wis.,and Iowa, you could keep OSU, UM, and PSU in the eastern division….with Neb the east-west division sets up very well…….
Decision regarding March Madness expansion likely for April 29:
Someone asked about the timing of any possible B10+ expansion decision. Based on certain NCAA deadlines regarding affiliation and funding issues, there’s a good any conference moves will be known by June.
BTW, any one know what the requirements are for a conference to maintain BCS Auto Qualifier status? For example, if schools leave the BEast, how long do they have to recruit replacement schools before they lose the AQ? Do they lose it immediately if X percentage of schools leave?
Seems to me one of the reasons to go to a 16 school super conference would be the chance to effectively kill off one or two BCS conferences with AQ status. Fewer AQ’s means more potential slots for the surviving conference teams, especially if the limit per conference is raised from 2. The MWC’s attempt to meet AQ status could be set back years if Utah is taken by another conference, but depending on the BCS rules the BEast might not be so easy to kill. Say the B10+ takes 2 to 4 of their teams, I could picture the conference working out an agreement where the Bball schools pull out to form their own conference while allowing the remaining football schools to keep the name if that is needed for the chance retain the AQ if they add replacement football schools. If that is the case, the BEast and perhaps the B12 could survive by taking on wannabe schools, perhaps morphing into 16-school super conferences themselves. The revenue would be relatively poor, but these leftover conferences could still get the payouts and prestige of staying at the top BCS level. It isn’t crazy to think that a WV or UCF ends up in an East Leftover BCS conference. All depends on how the BCS rules work.
Whether those dreams are acheivable in reality is another question.
In any case, you’ve just made the case that this _is_ about football. ND’s identity doesn’t seem to be tied to any other sport; alums outside of the Big East footprint don’t seem to care that they can’t see their basketball team much any more, etc.
Finally, while American Catholicism is becoming more Latino, I’m not sure ND’s fanbase will expand beyond it’s white ethnic, urban, mostly Northern core. We’ll see.
@FLP_NDRox – Once again, if ND was actually scheduling nationally like it did in the past, then you might have an arugment. Instead, what passes for a “national” game today is playing Washington State in San Antonio. That’s really more “national” than playing Ohio State or Penn State or even the next tier of Big Ten teams like Wisconsin? ND is paying 2 or 3 teams per season to come to South Bend just like any power Big Ten or SEC team. In fact, it’s effectively scheduling 8 home games under the 7-4-1 scheduling format. (Domers that complain about this also need to realize that format will NEVER go away as long as you’re independent. NBC requires it if you want to maximize your TV contract and you need that extra game of revenue to make up for the difference of TV dollars currently enjoyed by the Big Ten and SEC.) You’ve also neglected the “regional” nature of the Big East for all other sports, where your basketball team doesn’t even get games on TV in the Chicago market while all Big Ten games are shown nationally on one outlet or another. Stanford isn’t a national school because it’s in a conference and, as a result, is hurting for applications? Duke? C’mon, now. If ND alums would simply say that independence is just an emotional state of mind that won’t ever be changed, then that’s one thing. I can accept that. However, these post-rationalizations of how ND would supposedly no longer be “national” or not have good schedules or a gazillion different reasons that really don’t hold water just weakens it all and makes the Domers look like they’re completely delusional and living in 1990 where ND was the only team on TV every week.
There’s one solid reason that I’ve seen from the ND perspective and it was brought up by my friend Sully (who is from a multi-generational ND alum family) in the very first response to my Big Ten Expansion Index post: there could be religious conflicts-of-interest if ND participates in the CIC where fellow institutions are engaging in areas like stem-cell research that the Catholic Church is opposed to. If participating in the CIC somehow violates ND’s adherence to the Catholic faith itself, then that’s a REAL reason to not join the Big Ten. So, if ND alums actually talked about Big Ten membership from that perspective, then I don’t think the Big Ten partisans would have an issue at all and wouldn’t pass it off as arrogance. However, every single other argument that I’ve seen from Domers relate strictly to football matters, so it’s clear that this is what the alums care about as opposed to religious conflicts-of-interest. The stuff about ND somehow no longer being a “national” school by joining the Big Ten in a world where every single Big Ten football and basketball game is on national TV is bunk.
Point of fact: I’m a Hoosier born and raised by Boilermaker parents and currently still live in Indiana. I grew up cheering Gene Keady’s teams and hearing my Dad’s stories of Keyes, Griese, and “Fire Fat Jack”. I didn’t even think of going to ND until a HS CYO trip made me fall hard for the place. The four years at Notre Dame do a fantastic job from turning a person into a Domer. One of the few constants in my fanlife is a distinct dislike of Michigan and Ohio State.
If I’m gonna be called a Jackass either way, I kinda regret dialing down the pro-ND rhetoric. We aren’t kidding we say there’s differences between Big Ten schools and ND. I’m not one say one is better than the other; just a different focus (Grad vs. Undergrad, Big vs. Small). Like I said I hope that doesn’t change. World needs both kinds, y’know. I’d argue more, but I agree with you, there’s no reason for a shotgun wedding between the Irish and the Integer.
But, Mushy, I can say you are right. Growing up a Big Ten fan in the 80s, I did see more than my fair share bowl whippings…particularly in the Rose.
I don’t know if their aspirations are obtainable. Heck, who knows what TPTB final goal even is.
Notre Dame’s identity for good or for ill is tied to the Football team as a national entity…along with Catholicism and to a lesser extent the undergraduate emphasis. All three could potentially be compromised under the Big Ten/CIC umbrella. I confess we alums are irrationally paranoid about any potential threat to any of the three.
No, Basketball is not at the same level. Not even close, actually. No sport other than football is. I can’t think of any other school that has any other sport that is truly tied to their identity. 92% of Big Ten schools’ identity can be defined as the (or at least one of in the case of IU and Purdue and Michigan and MSU) flagship public university of the system. ND…not so much.
I also wonder if ND’s popularity will expand to new immigrants from Latin America. I know ND hopes so, but I’m not so sure.
First: Huge fan of your work on this issue. Thank you so much for your time and effort.
You’re right. The national schedule used to be a given, and thanks to 7-4-1 it’s turning into a goal. The really paranoid among ND fans think this is a subterfuge to get us acclimated to the idea of eventual conference membership (probably in the Big Ten). Personally, I agree with your take as to it really being NBC’s fault. That said, a game against and West Coast team in Texas *is* more the idea of national that ND has as opposed to the idea that it will “be big on TV”.
Yes, I realize that many of you will think that absurd and out of date. You may well be right.
The nature of the Big East is a non-issue, IMHO. First, it’s not directly tied to the Notre Dame family’s sense of what makes us “unique” so it can be treated as the business decision it actually is. Big Ten fans have no inkling how disproportionally important football is to Notre Dame. Nebraska and non-Kentucky SEC fans might, but not Big Ten fans. Second, the ‘region’ of the Big East is acutally mostly cities in the Northeast and Midwest and most of them have huge Catholic populations so it doesn’t grate like not playing on the East Coast more than like every other year like ND would in the 12team Big Ten if they joined. Third, there’s like a dozen or so OOC games even in a 16 team league like the Big East that allows ND to play teams from all over. Of course they then play them at home, but that’s another whole thread. Fourth, as a ND alum, I can probably count the number of men’s basketball games I attended at ND on one hand (and I had season tix one year that basically went to waste) because basketball *really* isn’t important there. Heck, aside from one women’s soccer game I got roped into watching a half of and a golf tourney I was meeting someone at, I think those were the only non-basketball Big East ‘games’ I ever saw at ND. I don’t think in my years I was atypical.
Come to think of it, the fact that basketball is nowhere near as important as football at ND should be exhibit one that ND is not an Indiana school.
Last I checked Stanford was still ‘the Harvard of the West’, and frankly I still don’t know what they have at Duke that’s so great except that it looks cool on a sweatshirt. Like I said, the dirty little secret of Notre Dame is their belief that despite the major academic gains of last 50 odd years is that a successful Div I football team is one of the major things that seperate us from the other Catholic Big East schools. I’ll assume you’ll still think that’s delusional. In this case I hope you’re right.
The main difference between me and Sully is that he’s a cradle Domer, whereas I was converted during my undergrad days. Seriously, until I was like 16, I was one of you, which is why I post. I like to think I can express the ND mindset better than a Notre Dame lifer. Apparently, I’m wrong…no biggie. Sully does good work at ndnation, and I won’t say a bad thing about him.
I don’t remember if CUA was still in the AAU back in 1999, but I know they are no longer in the group, and they were the last Catholic school in there. The letter they wrote in response to the question of why CUA left was a classic uncontroversial non-statement, but I bet TPTB at ND know the real reasons why they felt uncomfortable and left. I’d go double or nothing that those reason’s still exist. Since we mere mortals don’t know the whys about the CUA-AAU situation, I’d guess as a group we figure it’s best not to comment. Plus, Notre Dame fans are disproportionately non-alums, and even the alums have a strained relationship with the faculty. In ’99, the majority of profs wanted in, especially the non-Domers and I want to say hard sciences. Almost all of the mainly non-Domer grad students wanted in. This was especially resented by we undergrads who wanted independence.
Mostly, we Domers believe that we are very culturally and philosophically different from the Land Grant schools, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it (especially now, since there’s a distinct possibility that radical demographic, social, and finanical factors will make our beloved alma mater in a small rust belt city no better than many other Catholic schools in much nicer places.
P.S. The funny thing is that this could all have been avoided if Notre Dame would have encouraged other Small Catholic schools (ones nationwide like the hoop only Big East Catholic schools) to become major college football programs instead of the discouragement we gave from Rockne on. We could have had our conference and be national. Of course *no one* discusses that.
@FLP_NDRox: I had asked this in a previous blog post without reply (I think). Let’s put down the tinfoil hats for a second and speak hypothetically. What happens if Notre Dame *does* join? I mean, that the ND administration goes against the apparent will of a lot of alumni and joins the Big Ten? What’s the fallout, if any? Is it just grumbling until a decade wears people down, or are there serious repercussions (ie. someone’s fired and lawyers are hired to get ND out of it)?
As a side dig… I happen to believe OSU fans are as crazy and delusional as any team in country, thank you. I don’t expect a Boilermaker or Hoosier to understand though. 😉
I have to give you props for admitting that football is more important than anything else at ND (at least to you).
Too often, we hear disingenuous claptrap from other Domers about how the only thing that matters is ND’s undergraduate SAT score, or that football is important, but ND has a “higher mission”, etc. If that was the case, their vehemence about independence in football makes little sense, since ND’s SAT scores won’t drop if they joined the Big10, and BC seems to pursue their higher mission just fine first in the Big East and then in the ACC (BC’s academic standing also went up after they stopped being an independent in football).
BTW, an expanded Big10 will likely take in a big chunk of the northeast (I believe an expansion to 16 is more likely that ane expansion to 12). In any case, reasonable minds can disagree about ND’s continuing relevance and national title hopes if it remains independent; I can respect folks who would want ND to remain independent even if they become as relevent as Army in football or because of religious reasons; it’s harder to respect folks who try to justify their emotion-based stance with data or arguments that are easily debunked.
@FLP_NDRox – I sincerely appreciate your comments here. It’s good to have a Domer presenting a position that is pro-ND and can be against joining the Big Ten but isn’t completely reliant on images of the past. Please continue to post because it’s great to have this type of perspective (even if the large percentage of Big Ten partisans here may not agree with it).
I didn’t know that CUA had dropped out of the AAU until you mentioned it. Here’s what I found from CUA’s president at the time:
For those of you who are interested into getting some more background into the Notre Dame football mindset, I would recommend John Kryk’s book “Natural Born Enemies: Major College Football’s Oldest, Fiercest Rivalry–Michigan v. Notre Dame”. Many of the items that FLP_ND Rox talks about are described in greater detail and with more nuance than what he’s presenting here. While there are many rivalries in college football, I think the UM-ND relationship is one of the few that became so bitter that the two schools refused to play one another on the gridiron.
For example, while his contention that Fielding H. Yost (Michigan head football coach from 1901 to 1926, Athletic Director from 1921 to 1941) was anti-Catholic is correct, he does miss make a common misstatement about his successor, Fritz Crisler (head football coach from 1938 to 1947, Athletic Director from 1941 to 1968). As Kryk’s book indicates, Crisler was not a religous man–in modern terms, he’d probably be called a secularist (see pages 156-157 of the second edition). What Crisler disliked about Notre Dame (and especially about ND head coach Frank Leahy who was extremely devout and made constant references to “Our Lady” during practice, before games, etc.) was that that they “made a religious war” out of football contests. On that front, this is why Crisler had such a problem with Notre Dame over the decades.
As I said, there were multiple reasons for the on-again, off-again relationship between Michigan and Notre Dame. Few people realize that a Michigan team came to South Bend to teach ND how to play football in 1887. Others may not realize that Notre Dame Stadium’s design was based on Michigan Stadium (and that Knute Rockne visited Ann Arbor to see the blueprints, parking arrangements, funding plan in preparation for designing ND’s stadium). Casual football fans may think that Notre Dame invented barnstorming, but Michigan was playing the prominent eastern powers in the late 1800s (not to mention a little trip to Pasadena, CA for the first Rose Bowl in 1903–eleven months before the Wright Brothers invented manned flight). While the 1913 Army-Notre Dame is thought noteworthy because of the introduction of the forward pass to college football, historians will look at the 1906 Michigan-Minnesota game as the first where passing was a key to victory. The list goes on.
The relationship between the two schools has always been defined by which one thought the other had an advanage–unfair or otherwise–and the personalities involved. A modern example occured in 1999 when Notre Dame broke the scheduling agreement made in 1993 that called for both teams to open the season with one another. In that year, ND opted to play Virginia in one of the preseason games available at the time the weekend before the game against Michigan. In the end, it didn’t matter that season because UM beat ND even though the Irish had a tune up game under their belt. What Michigan did do was make sure (again–because this also happened in the early 90s as well) that the Wolverines did not open with the Irish.
But I digress. Notre Dame may hate Michigan and vice versa, but the administrations of the two schools are somewhat more sane than the fans (and clearly don’t care much about what transpired in the past). As someone pointed out earlier, the modern series between the two schools was agreed upon in 1969 and has been played almost continually since 1978. The series will continue through 2031 per the current agreement with a break in 2018/19. From my sources, I understand new Michigan AD David Brandon wants to put forward a new plan (if ND isn’t in the Big Ten by then) of playing Notre Dame two years on/two years off in the 2020s. But clearly, the people who are in charge see benefit in the relationship and the UM-ND series.
I think that same sanity is going to come into play when Notre Dame is presented with the option of joining an expanded Big Ten this summer. While some Notre Dame fans will cling to the past or will cite injustices perpetrated years ago by long dead individuals, I don’t think those voices will have much effect (even if they’re loud). I would say the same goes for some of the other arguments I’ve read many tims before from the more militant of the ND faithful–the Big Ten is a regional conference, joining a conference would reduced ND’s scheduling flexibility, Notre Dame wouldn’t be able to recruit, etc.
When I hear those sorts of things, I have to wonder if they’re divorced from the current environment of college football. All the major programs are national in the sense that they’re widely televised, get lots of media coverage through the internet, etc.
The national scheduling thing is also relatively inaccurate. Notre Dame plays at least three Big Ten teams (usually Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue) in September. The USC and Navy games are locked in as well. Because of their relationship with the Big East, there are generally three games against BE opponents. That leaves four games to schedule–and no room to play major BCS programs from the Big XII, SEC or ACC because the Floridas and Nebraskas and Miamis of the world won’t play a major non-conference opponent in October or November (unless its a traditional game against an in-state rival).
If the Big East does implode, who is Notre Dame going to play the latter two months of the season? Maybe a third Pac Ten team or perhaps another WAC program. Recent history has told us that Notre Dame looked at Tulsa and has had to schedule Western Michigan. A glimpse into the future, perhaps?
“Big Ten fans have no inkling how disproportionally important football is to Notre Dame. Nebraska and non-Kentucky SEC fans might, but not Big Ten fans.”
Wow, there must be something about attending Notre Dame that makes someone incredibly arrogant and myopic. Have you ever heard of Ohio State, Michigan, or Penn State? You don’t think football is as important at those schools as it is at Notre Dame or SEC schools?
I guess growing up a Purdue and Indiana fan you wouldn’t understand how important football is to the Big Ten.
When I see the entire undergraduate student body at a Big Ten school at any game, much less all of them like the students do at ND, I will concede that maybe then they might get it.
P.S. I really don’t think Nebraska or the Southern schools get it either. Lord knows I wouldn’t unless I lived it.
Must be something in the water in Indiana. Domers think that nobody understands football but them and Hoosiers think they are the only ones who understand basketball. I call it the St. Louis Cardinal (“best fans in baseball”) complex.
I guess when you’re from a state as dead as Indiana, you need to get your identity from something. 😉
If Notre Dame doesn’t wish to belong to the Big Ten because of conflicts in areas of research, that argument doesn’t really wash.
First, belonging to the Big Ten athletic conference doesn’t mean you support the research of a given school.
Second, what’s the difference between playing a school that does research in stem cells within a conference–or playing them outside a conference? Notre Dame’s doing the latter already.
Third, if the issue is with belonging to the CIC, well, being in the CIC does not mean your school has to participate in research in which your school has no interest or a philosophical objection. So, participate in the areas of your interest and strength.
Or, more simply, join the Big Ten, but don’t join the CIC. Being a member is a big advantage–but no one is going to twist your arm to join.
Finally, if Notre Dame has issues, specifically, in a field such as stem cells, why are they affiliating with Pitt in the Big East? In fact, Pitt is doing big time research in pretty well every area that the Big Ten schools do. Yet where is Notre Dame’s objection?
Perhaps you should study the history of the Catholic church more studiously before you comment so negatively on the history of the Big 10.
If we can forgive the Inquisition and molesting priests, can you forgive Fielding Yost?
Absolutely perfect! One can only hope that, the ‘many among us’ domers are applying this same degree of indignation to improving their church.
Thankyou Scott C for the Academic AA list. Wow. If Texas says no, I am now solidly for, and Adam, you will love this, adding Nebraska only.(I know they are not Iowa State, but they are very, very close.)
My absolutely perfect was for mushroomgod.
1. This feels like a strawman argument that might’ve once been valid. If there was seriously this much enmity towards Michigan, Notre Dame wouldn’t have agreed to play them through 2031. According to this argument, your already playing your biggest Big Ten rival as if you were in the Big Ten.
2. Particular reason you’re using 1973 as the starting point? If it’s an arbitrary number, why not 1970, or 1960? ND and the BigTen both have plenty from those eras. But, ultimately, this too is strawman argument that reeks of elitism, given that the only era that matters at the moment, ie. the BCS era, ND has exactly 0 NCs to the BigTen’s 1. Additionally, regarding the “not very good” comment, ND has 0 attempts for the NC to the BigTen’s 3, and overall in 12 years Notre Dame has achieved a BCS birth only 3 times (losing all three). The BigTen has more BCS appearances than any other conference, going 10-11 (.473) so far. Who would you hitch your wagon to that’s so much better?
The SEC (19, .737)? They’re better… good luck with that.
ACC (12, .167)? They’ve won 2 in 12 years.
BigEast (12, .500)? They’ve gone almost half the amount as the Big Ten over 12 years.
Pac10 (14, .643)? Same problem as the Big East, and if you take out USC the rest have gone 7 times and won 3.
Big12 (17, .438)? Get less at-large bids and still a worse winning percentage compared to the Big Ten.
In the end, all of argument #2 feels like rationalizing for one simple fact: Notre Dame fans enjoy the “special” status that comes with being independent, even if they haven’t actually done anything with said status yet.
“All BC/Syracuse/Rutgers/Maryland would effectively do without ND (or Texas/TA&M) is dilute the Big Ten’s revenue and weaken — not strengthen — the conference.”
According to who? Financial consultants and Analysts think just the opposite. So do Rankings of World Universities. So do Media Analysts . So do Federal and Private Research Funding organizations. I suspect so do the University Presidents of the Big Ten. So who is it other than Notre Dame thinks that nobody can fulfill the BT’s goals and aspirations for the next 100 years but Notre Dame?
I personally don’t think the world of College Athletics and Higher Education revolves around Notre Dame much to the dismay of Domers. On the third day God rested, he didn’t create Notre Dame.
The whole premise of starting their own conference with schools created in their (ND’s) own likeness to serve and pay homage to their creator is delusional, “God-like”, dysfunctional, and paranoid. the whole “us against the world unless we create it” mindset is very troubling. I just hope that the ND administration gets their University back from the lunatics before it is too late.
The Big Question I would ask if I were a BT President is not whether the expansion candidates will be make the cut and be a good addition to the BT over the next 100 years but whether they really want to put up with Notre Dame for the next 10.
BTW: Expansion candidates that have been around longer than Notre Dame (1842, not in the Book of Genesis) and are not likely to fold, disband, or fail to continue being World Class Universities:
Other highly respected and regarded candidate founding dates:
Boston College: 1863
This whole notion that these expansion schools may flop as a member is ludicrous. The BT will do their due diligence. They will rationally analyze every angle. They’ll make the right decision.
It’s funny how the usual Michigan apologist suspects are the ones trying to simultaneously dismiss the importance of ND while trying to concoct various scenarios to “force” ND into the Big Ten.
In any event, the only thing that’s clear in all of this is that if ND (or Texas) doesn’t climb aboard, the Big Ten will add Pitt or Rutgers, remain a regional (if lucrative) athletic conference, call it a day, and there will be no “seismic” shifts.
Actually, it’s more likely, in that case, that there’d simply be no expansion, unless the Big10 presidents decide that Syracuse, Rutgers, and UConn are still worth admitting as a group.
Lets go galactic and go to 20. TX, A&M, Missou, Neb, ND, Pitt, Syr, Rut, UConn. You could add Penn St. to the other 9 schools and you have 2 divisions of 10.
Will the last school to leave the Big East please turn off the lights?
Going to 16 is too large to receive internal approval. It is just too big of a step. While certain individuals in power might want this direction, convincing enough will be difficult.
Personally, the only one of these that is appealing is the Death Star.
Of course, these leaks could be floating the 16 idea so that when the vote comes for 14, it looks reasonable by comparison.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch article today on Big Ten expansion:
If the Death Star Conference comes to pass, are Syracuse and Rutgers necessary to bring ND in? Any chance the threat alone of taking them would bring in ND?
I bring this up because if Big Ten landed UT, A&M, and ND, those would be a huge steal. However, at that point, wouldn’t adding Syracuse and Rutgers be dilutions? The Big Ten will have just increased its value per school and then brought it back down a hair by adding smaller schools. Still an overall increase, but not as large as it would be without the two hangers-on.
Is the following an accurate way to put it?
The NY market is the gorgeous model across the room, and Syracuse and Rutgers are her reasonably attractive friends. Are you buying drinks for, talking to, maybe even dating the decent chicks, in order to get a chance at the model?
I’m sold on Rutgers. I think that they don’t add enough value by themselves (weak national draw, partial NY/NJ draw) but when added with the other “models” you speak of (ND, Texas), they hook NY/NJ once and for all.
My question is about that 16th school. Syracuse or Nebraska? Both just “decent chicks” if you ask me.
Texas, aTm, ND, and Rutgers…slam dunks all together.
I don’t think Syracuse or Nebraska add any TV region that you don’t already have with the “model” four. Both don’t fit the Big 10 culture that great. Nebraska adds a football powerhouse…but less in other sports. Syracuse is a bball powerhouse…a former football star.
And if you can’t decide on them, then that opens up things for BC? Maryland? UConn?
Like I said, i dont really like any schools more than UT, aTm, ND, and Rutgers…but school 16 is a toss-up.
@allthatyoucantleavebehind – That’s exactly my thought on Rutgers: they don’t make sense as single school addition, but they add value in a multi-school expansion. The questions for school #16:
(1) Does Nebraska make it more likely that Texas would want to join the Big Ten (overall weakening of the Big XII) or less likely (push them toward the Pac-10)? One minor benefit of Nebraska is that it actually has a very good baseball program (especially considering that it has a fairly cold climate in February and March) and the de facto home school for the College World Series. To the extent that Texas really would take baseball into account (and I think it’s a very marginal concern), maybe that a checkpoint in favor of Nebraska. The Husker football fan base is undisputed – they’re as loyal and rabid as anyone.
(2) Is Syracuse necessary to get into NYC area households beyond NJ? My guess is yes, but that’s an answer best left to the TV consultants. I do think if the Texas schools aren’t involved, then Syracuse would be involved in any 14 or 16-school scenario.
Agreed. Without Texas schools, you could snag a Nebraska and adding Syracuse would add great value to the conference. But a final piece would still be needed…Kansas and Missouri don’t thrill me (nor offer much). How about Colorado and Nebraska from the West? Rutgers, Cuse and ND for the NY market?
I like your Death Star conference but leave the Domers out and put the Huskers in. Here is a little blurb on research from 2007 to please the faculty people who are the decision makers.
How is Texas currently doing in the research field?
In 2006, Texas institutions of higher education ranked sixth in federal obligations for science and engineering research and development. Texas ranked fourth in federal research expenditures for 2007. The National Institutes of Health provided Texas higher education institutions with 64 percent of the federal research support for science and engineering received in 2006. Other sources include the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Federal Obligations for Research (FY06)* Federal Research Expenditures (FY07)*
California $3.46 billion California $4.04 billion
New York $2.07 billion New York $2.45 billion
Maryland $1.68 billion Maryland $1.90 billion
Pennsylvania $1.54 billion Texas $1.84 billion
Massachusetts $1.48 billion Pennsylvania $1.69 billion
Texas $1.40 billion Massachusetts $1.67 billion
I think a lot of posters, most notably Frank himself, vastly underrate the value of fit/cohesion to a conference like the Big 10….Colleges like BC and Syracuse are not good fits, culturally, geographicly,or academicly….ND is a special exception due to its location and history with the Big 10. NO to BC and Syracuse….ND, MO, Neb, Pitt, Rutgers are all ok…no need to screw around with BC or Syracuse….
I think Syracuse is a better fit than ND, myself, and frankly, I’d prefer taking a school with higher undergraduate academic standards but less research like ‘Cuse than a school with lower academic standards like Mizzou.
@mushroomgod – I get that argument about BC, but still don’t see why Syracuse would be too much of a stretch. It’s an AAU member and, despite its private school status, feels more like a flagship school for the state of New York than any of the public SUNY institutions. If anything, it’s more of a hybrid of the Midwest and East Coast culturally compared to, say, Rutgers or Maryland.
I have been an avid reader of Frank’s blog ever since all the Big 10 expansion talk started.
As a Syracuse fan (one of few on this board) I feel it necessary to give my opinion as a fan, and more importantly clear up some facts and figures regarding Syracuse’s viability as an expansion candidate.
We all agree that the Big Ten isn’t just going to invite anyone; any expansion member will have to be a fit academically, athletically, and culturally.
As Frank noted the perception of Syracuse resembles that of a state flagship university, both in academic and athletic appeal. Syracuse has the greatest following and reputation of any school in New York state; drawing viewers from all over the Northeast. That said I will address the “big 3” factors leading to conference membership; academics, cultural fit, and athletics.
I was never truly aware of how “small” Syracuse University’s research dollars were until I began reading this blog, however as a Central New York native I can say this is somewhat skewed. SU collaborates at the administrative and research level with Upstate Medical University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry whose campuses are physically adjacent to SU’s.
Now I understand that the research dollars from these “partner” institutions will likely never be counted in Syracuse’s “official” research dollar allocation, but it is important to note that these 3 institutions work very closely together at the graduate level. There is even the potential for SUNY-ESF to merge into Syracuse akin to the SUNY funded Agricultural School at Cornell University should SU ever join the Big 10 and have access to the CIC and other resources.
Also I think Northwestern and Syracuse would make great peer universities given time. With access to the CIC’s resources I could see Syracuse’s research capabilities rivaling Northwestern’s. (SU even has a larger student body)
Additionally, Syracuse has scheduled Northwestern in football multiple times in recent years and both schools have excellent Lacrosse programs. Syracuse Lacrosse is our “Texas Baseball” and is very deeply rooted into our culture, but ultimately has little financial impact or weight regarding conference affiliations.
Culturally speaking I think Syracuse is a much closer fit to the Big 10 than many of you think. The city of Syracuse is your typical rust-belt city that has declined economically over time, but is currently in the process of reestablishing its economic niche (much like Michigan and Ohio). As I said before I believe that Syracuse’s research growth potential is huge, not to mention the city and region could desperately use the extra economic boost coming from academic research.
General culture aside, I still think Syracuse fits in the Big 10’s athletic culture. Syracuse-Penn State was a huge rivalry up until the 1990’s when Penn State joined the Big 10 and annual games between the two ceased. As a member of the Big 10 I could see Syracuse quickly re-establishing football rivalries with Penn State and potentially Northwestern for the reasons I said before. In basketball Syracuse-Michigan St. is a huge rivalry in waiting, and payback against the Hoosiers for their stunning defeat of SU in the 1987 championship game would be sweet.
In terms of athletic fit Syracuse basketball would obviously transform Big 10 basketball as we know it, and I see great hoops rivalries establishing themselves.
In terms of football I honestly think Syracuse could be fairly competitive down the road; rather than being a cellar dweller. Sure Syracuse is in a slump right now (as many are quick to point out) but Syracuse is the 16th winningest college football program of all time, and has much more tradition than most think. Honestly our slump can be mainly attributed to a certain coach single-handily destroying Syracuse’s program, and as of now he seems to be on track with destroying Michigan’s program too.
Many are quick to gripe about Syracuse’s facilities and the Carrier Dome, but the dome and practice facilities have received many renovations and upgrades in recent years.
About a month ago in a newspaper article I recall Delany stating that any school interested would “have to agree to an institutional investment of their own” and recently there have been rumors of a Carrier Dome overhaul.
In February our A.D. dropped a nice little quote (http://www.nunesmagician.com/2010/2/10/1304296/club-44-has-a-retractable-what-now) hinting that Syracuse may consider renovating the Carrier Dome into a “retractable-roof stadium” which would certainly make Football games more appealing so long as there isn’t a blizzard outside.
Ultimately the decision will be made in the dark rooms of the Big Ten presidents but I think Syracuse has a more realistic shot at membership than most think.
Well done Tim, I agree with you on the viability and fit that Syracuse brings to the expansion table.
The Cuse also complete the Great Lakes circle for the Big Ten.
Agreed. Well done, Tim.
I included these links in a previous blog article noting SU’s research reputation and connections going up since Cantor became Chancellor.
Here they are again:
First, SU is the lead institution for the Syracuse Center for Excellence in Environmental and Energy Innovations.
SU also has a collaboration with the Brookhaven National Laboratory in terms of researching quantum dots in the nation’s quest to become energy independent. The agreement also mentions the possibility of Brookhaven establishing a satellite laboratory near the Syracuse Center of Excellence focusing on alternate biofuels.
SU, in partnership with IBM, also has one of the first operational Green Data Centers which not only serves as a data center but also as a living laboratory.
SU, in partnership with JP Morgan Chase have launched the HUB, a partnership between universities and industries involving internships, curriculum shaping, and research opportunities in the Global Technology areas.
SU is home to the Burton Blatt Institute the leading research center advancing the rights of the disabled. National partners include the University of Chicago, University of Illinois and the University of Iowa (connected to the Veterans’ Bootcamp program that is done in concert with the Whitman School) as well as international partners.
And other than the CoE, that’s just the stuff since Cantor came on board. SU has the Maxwell School as one of the top leading research centers in the areas of public policy, citizenship, and global affairs and the Newhouse School with the nation’s leading research center regarding the media and popular culture.
Since SU’s main focus on research has been in the social science areas in the past, we weren’t receiving a lot of grant $$$ since that money tends to go to engineering and medicine.
But things are changing on campus and rather rapidly. As can be seen by the SU facts link below, the university is up to $67.5 million in grants for research and teaching in 2009 which is more than doubled the amount being cited from 2006.
Well said. As a Penn State alum, Syracuse is the only Big East team that interests me as an expansion candidate.
@ Chas Davis
Thats a good point, considering most of the people here highly weight the geography and “closeness” of expansion candidates.
Syracuse’s geography is directly adjacent to current Big 10 member Penn State, so concerns about Syracuse “being too far away” are not quite valid. We aren’t exactly located in South Florida.
That said if you added Syracuse the conference could possibly use the name “Great Lakes Conference” or rather than a straight East/West division split the Big 10 could do something similar to the ACC with “Great Lakes Division” and “Great Plains Division” or something like that.
Nothing agaist Syracuse….really!….but:
NW 18000+ private
Neb 23000+ all public, except PSU and Pitt are public/private mix
Syracuse 19000, private
Fed research funds, “stand alone” (ie..w/o medical research):
Director’s Cup rankings:
As you can see, Syracuse is not a good match, athletically or academically. As far as cultural identity, did I hear you say “lacrosse”…..
50000 indoor stadium, voted 1 of the 10 worst venues in college football, located a hell of a long way from every other Big 10 school..in a very cold and nasty city….Pitt, Mo, Neb, and Rutgers beforre Syracuse. If a small eastern school must be invited, U Conn would be a better choice…..
To underscore the numbers that mushroomgod posted, a number of the schools being mentioned (Syracuse, UConn, others) are below EVERY Big Ten school in academic ranking, research dollars, Director Cup ranking, and endowment. I just don’t see the Big Ten adding a school like that, let alone 3 or more, just because of televisions. This is a 100 year decision, not one for next year’s cable revenues.
I think endowment has been totally overlooked by the discussions on this site. UConn’s endowment of ~$200M is a quarter of the lowest in the Big Ten (UIowa), and 2.5%(!) the size of the highest (Michigan).
Endowment will play a role. Most of the most prominent names (Syracuse, Rutgers, Nebraska, Mizzou, Maryland, UConn) all have endowment’s below the worst in the Big Ten.
“Nothing agaist Syracuse….really!….but”
Really? Seems your only responsibility here is to continuously point out how much you hate Syracuse.
Please point us in the direction of which available school (Besides Texas and ND) that has more tradition than Syracuse.
Football: Ernie Davis (Heisman winner), Donovan McNabb, Dwight Freeney, Larry Csonka, Floyd Little, John Mackey, Art Monk, and not let’s not forget a little guy who happens to arguably be the best athlete to ever play the sport of football, Jim Brown.
Sportscasters: Bob Costas, Len Berman, Sean McDonough, Marv Albert, Marty Glickman, Dick Stockton, and Mike Tirico.
I don’t think a list of Syracuse broadcasters will convince university presidents that Syracuse is a good institutional fit.
Good thing I’m talking to mushroomgod and not university presidents then eh?
I don’t understand how you can have such a huge boner for Rutgers over Syracuse, when the entirety of RU’s football history includes one, and only one fact. Playing in the first college football game.
@Jeepers: I don’t think anyone is questioning Syracuse’s sports history. I think they’re questioning their present and future. From a football standpoint they just haven’t been good, arguably not since McNabb went to the NFL. Would anyone in, say, Illinois be excited to see Syracuse roll into town? I don’t know. Is Syracuse going to turn it around is another question. Michigan sucks right now (mwuhaha), but I *know* that’s going to change eventually. I know ND will be better eventually. Nebraska is getting better already. Can Syracuse make the same guarantee?
Mushroomgod seems to be against them because of their academic and research profile, which doesn’t seem to be consistent with the current makeup of Big Ten schools. Neither does ND, but we all know they get a pass based on brand. Does Syracuse get the same pass based on its location, brand, and history is the debate, and Mushroomgod very clearly falls on the side of ‘no’.
As a fan I don’t think I’d be against Syracuse joining as part of a package, provided they have intentions of making certain improvements not unlike what PSU supposedly promised. The Carrier Dome would need to be seriously renovated at some point for starters. A commitment to expand research I assume would be part of it as well, though as a fan that doesn’t really affect me.
The issue of “do they bring television sets” is highly debatable in my mind, and I don’t know the northeast well enough to say for certain. I’d love to read some opinions from people who live in that area and don’t have a vested interest in a particular school.
Actually, the Carrier Dome doesn’t have to be renovated so long as they play OSU/PSU/Michigan/ND (and NU, for selfish reasons) in or around NYC (or maybe Buffalo).
They definitely pack it in for basketball, though.
Syracuse will be back. Mark my words. Maybe not national title level, but certainly enough to not be cellar dwellers in the B10. Their recent slump is 100% attributed to the previous coach, who, as stated earlier, Michigan fans are suffering with now.
I don’t know if the B10 will ever be thrilled to see them in town, but you could say the same for nearly all other expansion candidates. There is no Penn State this time around.
I like the current “new” AD at SU. He may be hated by some for being a mememe type (and bringing the previously mentioned coach in), but I do think he has made giant strides in trying display the tradition of SU football to the SU community. When I was in school, I always wondered why there were no tributes to all the past greats. Now there’s a statue of Ernie Davis (sans Nike symbol fiasco), and a dorm named after him.
As I’ve said before, I’m an SU grad, grew up in NJ, currently live in NYC, and I think college football can succeed in the area. But if the B10 wants the Northeast, they need to take over the whole thing. SU/RU/BC/ND/UconnORPitt would be my personal preference. But saying RU is a better fit for a conference with so much football history simply because the university, itself, looks more B10-ish just seems very silly to me.
That’s a fair point. Another thing to consider, which was probably brought up previously, is that if we’re talking about getting viewers to tune into BTN, Syracuse basketball might be more important than Syracuse football. More opportunities to put basketball games on BTN, and then Syracuse football becomes a bonus if/when they get good again.
Additionally, adding $10-15mil extra into the athletic department might help them go after bigger coaches, help recruiting efforts, etc. The history is there, they just need to get back on the train after a dreadful decade.
Sorry, my previous post was to Richard and Jeepers replied just before. But Jeepers had good points as well.
Also meant to say….
Due to my location and background, most of my experience is with SU and RU football. I think a big part of why college football isn’t hot in the NYC area is because … well, nobody good comes here to play. When a school like Miami (when they were hot) would come to the dome, I definitely saw much more enthusiasm. If the OSU and UMich’s were coming to the NYC area on a regular basis, I think you will see an increase in interest for college football round these parts.
Regarding research, Syracuse University did $38.5 million in 2008. Research dollars from SUNY Upstate ($36.4m)and SUNY ESF ($26.4m)are counted separately because they’re separate, public institutions.
Even if you pool all the research dollars from all these schools and credit it all to Syracuse, (which I think is misleading–you could just as easily credit it all to SUNY Upstate by that logic), it would add up to just over $100 million. That’s about the same research numbers of Alaska-Fairbanks and Nevada-Reno. It’s roughly a third of Iowa’s research budget, (which is on the low end of the Big Ten) and about 11% of the research budget of Wisconsin and Michigan.
Could CIC membership help boost Syracuse’s research? Sure. But the CIC could do that for any school that joins. That’s not so much the point. From the Big Ten’s perspective, they’re not looking around for schools they can assist with research–they’d be more interested in what a new member could bring TO the group, not take FROM it.
I’m certainly NOT being critical of Syracuse as a university. It’s clearly a very good school. It’s just that, irrespective of its AAU status, it’s just not a big research school. It’s the same knock as Notre Dame and Boston College.
Many here would argue that simply being a good school is enough for the Big Ten. Maybe it is. But given how much money is generated in research compared to TV revenue in the Big Ten, I can’t help but feel the research side of the equation is under-emphasized in choosing a Big Ten candidate.
As for athletics, Syracuse basketball is a big plus. Having a great Lacrosse team, while certainly true, is to most of us, a non-issue. Personally, I don’t know anyone who even knows the rules.
What matters athletically is football. And hoping the football team is “fairly competitive down the road” and rumors of improvements in their stadium are not overly compelling selling points.
The question is whether all this, combined with TV demographics, is enough of an appeal compared to other schools.
Syracuse would be a great choice for the Big 10.
As you mentioned, the geographic ties are overblown. When I was at Michigan, we played Syracuse in football, and we drove to the Carrierdome. Heck, Syracuse already has certain road games in Milwaukee and Chicago (MU and DePaul) for hoops.
I think Syracuse as the 12th school in the Big 10 is questionable, but in any multi-team expansion, I think they’re a pretty safe bet to bolt.
I compare Syracuse football to Michigan basketball. Both programs are historically top 25 programs but have stumbled badly for the past decade. But, we’re not talking about a football program that has never won. Syracuse has a great football history
One problem I haven’t seen discussed is whether huge profits from the BTN can be relied upon long-term. I sense a brewing backlash against cable companies, especially after yesterday’s net neutrality ruling. More and more people are finding that canceling cable does not prevent them from watching their shows; at the least cable companies are going to have to lower their rates someday. And there will go the BTN’s advantage.
Although that’s a reason why I think the Big Ten is being so aggressive right now.
Well, the BTN would still be profitable so long as people want to watch Big10 teams. They’d just charge ISP’s (like ESPN 360 does now) if people turn to getting their sports from the net. It is true that the Big10 has a window of opportunity now that no other conference can exploit.
This may have been addressed before – What implications does proposed “pod” systems have for the NCAA championship game requirement of two division? Would two pods be considered a division during each rotation phase? Or would a rule change be required?
Either way, a 16-team conference would have serious issues organizing divisions/pods. It would be hard to create groups that made geographic sense, maintained some rivalries, and ensured competitive parity between different groups.
@George – I believe that the pod system would comply with the current NCAA rules. The NCAA states that it needs a round robin within each division – it doesn’t specify whether such divisions need to have the same composition for multiple seasons. That’s really the main workaround in a 16-school conference if you want to keep all of the schools playing each other at least 2 out of every 4 years unless the Big Ten can get the NCAA rules changed.
The WAC used the pod system to host a championship game during its brief 16-team arrangement, so unless something’s changed the Big Ten should be able to do the same.
Ok, looking at the “Death Star” conference pod alignment –
-Texas and aTm have to be in the same pod
-To ensure annual UM-OSU, ND-UM, and ND-MSU these four teams have to form one pod
-One pod would be a “East” pod w/ Syracuse, Rutgers, and Penn State
Pod A- Texas, aTm, ???, ???
Pod B- ???, ???, ???, ???
Pod C- Michigan, Ohio State, ND, MSU
Pod D- Syracuse, Rutgers, Penn State, ???
Leaving: Illinois, Indiana, Purdue , Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Northwestern
1. Who is the 4th “East Pod” team? Indiana/Purdue and closest geographically. I could see NW in there just because it doesn’t have important established rivalries due to not being normally competitive.
2. Iowa would be a good fit for the “Texas” pod (closest geographically). Minnesota could also fit to form a “most western pod”. But Iowa-Minnesota-Wisconsin all have established rivalries/annual contests with each other.
3. Illinois – Purdue – Indiana would form a good “shitty football/good basketball” pod. Throw in either Wisconsin or Northwestern to complete the pod. Wisconsin probably wouldn’t be happy, but I don’t see any alignment that is both workable for the conference and desirable for Wisconsin.
So, I guess it would be:
It’s hard to get into specifics dynamics when no one can agree on which five teams you’d be adding.
The basics of pod work though…
Play each team in your pod every year (obviously). 3 games there.
Have one fixed rival in another pod. 1 game there.
Play another pod’s teams every two years. 3-4 games there (if your fixed rival is inside it would be 3).
If your pod set-up were final, you’d be trashing Wisconsin’s rivalry with Minny or Iowa. Swapping aTm with Wiscy would fix that…then make aTm and Texas fixed non-pod rivals. MSU and PSU would have to part ways as fixed rivals (rather that than OSU/PSU)Other than that, your system would work. But I would NEVER let Texas and OSU pods be matched up. That would put OSU, UM, Texas, Wiscy, Iowa, ND, and MSU in the same division for that year. Yikes.
I still believe the best conference would be a conference of 14, not 16; but for the sake of argument let’s talk 16. Frank is spot on in his belief that Notre Dame or Texas has to be involved. Texas is not going to the Big 10, I may not have much of a feel for Big 10 or Big East politics; but I’m pretty well versed on most teams in the Big 12……Texas politics will not allow it to leave behind A&M (or to a lesser extent Tech). It absolutely will not happen. Texas would most likely be MORE happy if the Big 12 imploded because it could then add Houston (one of the schools pushing to be a Tier 1) and create another conference. The 5 teams added to the Big 10 in my opinion (which like all of us matters little in the big scheme of things haha) should be: Notre Dame, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Rutgers. Split the conference in two divisions of 8 (I’m not sure the NCAA will allow pods; I think this was something explored back when the WAC was a 16 team conference although the Big 10 is a different animal) being:
You play all 7 teams in your division; 1 permanent cross-division partner, and 3 other rotating cross-divisional games. Now this would depend on the NCAA bumping the schedule up to 13 games (which Hawaii already is an NCAA exception I believe and already enjoys) allowing 2 Non-conference games. The cross divisional partners would be:
Michigan St-Notre Dame
Like I said, my Big 10 knowledge isn’t to the level of most of you on here….but this would at least lead to some pretty intriguing matchups. How’d I do?
@Herbie – I think you’d have a hard time getting OSU and Michigan to sign off on being in different divisions if it’s at all possible they could meet up in a championship game. Swap Purdue for Michigan maybe? Might make the East division too heavy though. Moving ND over might not make the most sense though, assuming they’d prefer to have games in the northeast with the NY market (and a ton of Catholics).
While Missouri isn’t very exciting, it is a very solid choice…solid football and basketball traditions…KC and St. Louis media markets…big football and basketball venues…good attendance….in mid-30s in Director’s Cup standings.
Missouri all over Syracuse…35000 enrollment v. 19000…state school v. private…bigger football stadium…better overall athletic program better geographicly…existing Big 10 rival…I don’t see this as even a close decision…
If hard economic issues are pushing conferences to a 96 team Bball tourney and perhaps radical expansion, isn’t going to a 13-game football season also a likely change? That would allow for 9 or 10-game conference schedules and a sufficient number of home games in super conferences.
The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced Delany’s vision is for 3 super conferences and a Rose+Sugar based Plus One playoff. (‘Vision’ isn’t necessarily the same as what will actually play out.) That makes for a nice 4-team (really 8, considering conference championship games) playoff system while allowing the theoretical chance for a non-BCS conference champ to get in, likely a politically required fig leaf. Gets a bit messy if the ACC becomes the 4th super conference, but if the B10+ raids the BEast and the SEC goes to 16, who could the ACC take without either substantially watering down their academic minimum or bring in smaller distant schools with minimal TV draw?
For example, say NE, ND, Syr, Rut, and UConn make the B16, UT, TT, aTm, UH, CO, and Utah join with the P10 in a Western Alliance, and the SEC nabs OU, OK St, KS, and MO. Pitt would be a good fit for the ACC at 13, but then what? Perhaps IA St (starting to get far flung) but then to maintain the academic level their choices are Rice, Tulane, BYU, and perhaps Baylor (half-brother of Wake?) Would WV, Cin, Lou, KSU, or S.FL even be considered?
You can swap MD for UConn, KS for UH out west, etc. but the ACC still likely has few good choices for getting to 16 if the B10+ raids the BEast.
Actually, the SEC may very well raid the ACC to get to 16. Adding 2 in the east and 2 in the west would allow them to keep the divisions they have now. WVa would love to join once the Big East collapses, but the SEC wouldn’t take them by themselves. UF would object to adding FSU & Miami (plus it would be overkill). That leaves VTech as a target. They don’t have strong ties to the rest of the ACC (outside of Virgnia), are a football school in a basketball conference, would be a natural rival for WVa, and could deliver Virginia to the SEC.
In the West, the SEC could either add the 2 Oklahoma schools or Mizzou + some one else (depending on who’s available, who’s willing to jump, etc).
It would be in the best interests of both the Big10 and SEC to weaken the ACC as a football conference. Whether they’re willing to step on toes to get their way is the question.
I do wonder about the SEC’s plans. They don’t have any incentive to expand at the moment, but if someone like A&M is available, they’d have to at least think about it. I like Missouri and VT for them as well – both schools expand the SEC into new, populous markets without departing from the southern character of the league. I’m not really sold on WVU. They don’t have much of a population base (and it isn’t getting any bigger), and they aren’t really a national draw. There’s a real chance they end up in C-USA when all is said and done. Clemson always comes up in SEC expansion discussions, but again you have the overkill issue. OU could be a good get as well, but then you have the OSU baggage to consider. Might be a problem, or it might not.
If weakening the ACC is the goal, there’s always Frank’s suggestion about the Big Ten taking Miami. He never did an official BTEI analysis for them, but I think he said he had them on par with Nebraska or Syracuse as far as total score. I wouldn’t disagree with that.
As a fan, I’d like Miami (and FSU), but I doubt the Big10 presidents would be willing to reach down there. You’re right, the SEC could very well just expand to 14 with VaTech & Mizzou and stop there. They’d still be 1 of the 3 most powerful conferences, and the ACC would still be weakened enough to be far behind in football. Then the “Continental Conference” could include WVa, East Carolina, SFlorida, CFlorida, Memphis, Louisville, TCU, Houston, Utah, & BYU and get a BCS bid. Maybe replace ECU with Boise or Baylor.
I have always suspected that the college game would evolve into something very evil and further dilute the product akin to what the NFL, NBA, and all other professional sports leagues have: A pre-season warm up game. Play this game at the home stadium of the “big boy” and it doesn’t count against your regular season schedule. It gives everyone one more game of revenue and television coverage. It stinks, but I certainly wouldn’t put it past any of the powerst that be. Think of it this way: It’s the week before Labor Day, classes haven’t started yet, schools get students on campus a week earlier (spending money) on food, etc. And they get game revenue out of it – whether anyone attends or not. Administrations would love it because you’re not interfering with finals. It makes me ill, but it makes sense….
Pray it doesn’t come to this….
Isn’t that essentially the Football Classic system they had before and did away with? That’s how OSU managed to go 14-0 in 2002 without playing in a conference championship game.
Heh, they have that already; it’s called the spring game. Since an NFL-style preseason game in the fall that doesn’t count may garner too much attention and seem too crass (besides which, the FCS game most teams schedule is almost the same thing), the most likely alternative is a second spring game against a local patsy that schools can sell tickets to.
@MIRuss – I’m surprised that this hasn’t happened already. Schools already have exhibitions for basketball almost solely as an easy extra source of revenue.
Many more injuries occur in football. That’s why I think a second spring game is more likely (more time to heal up from small nicks).
I’m not sure ND is as good a long term addition to the Big 10 as you think, Frank, but I’ll add my thoughts on the conference structure in your ‘Death Star’ conference. (note, this is partly a reply to George, but I’ll put it here)
If you add Texas, A&M, ND, Rutgers and a 5th school, I think these would be the pods:
Alpha Pod: OSU, MI, MSU, ND
Omega Pod: Tex, A&M, PSU, Rutgers
4 Pod: Iowa, Minn, Wis, Team5
2 Pod: Ill, NW, Pur, IN
-Team 5 could be Nebraska, Syracuse, or Missouri
-Yes, if its Syracuse it will be distant from its permanent opponents, but (1) it will accept to get into the Big 10 (2) it will get used to its new rivals over time and (3) it will always have big names for division games.
-As an Aggie, I’d be disappointed to be in a different pod from another Big 12 team if Nebraska or Missouri makes it, but I tried to maintain as many rivalries as I could making this schedule. If the Big 10 was willing to break some rivalries, a pod with Nebraska or Missouri and Iowa would be good for the Texas schools. Still, It wouldn’t take any time at all to get excited about annual games vs. Penn State
-If Maryland makes it as team5, have them take Rutgers spot, and then Rutgers can be the team 5 spot.
So your schedule would look like this:
Year 1&2: Alpha 2 division & Omega 4 division
Non divisional games:
MSU vs PSU, A&M
OSU vs PSU, Tex
ND vs Rut, Tex
MI vs Rut, A&M
Ill vs T5, Minn
Ind vs T5, Wisc
NW vs Iowa, Wisc
Pur vs Iowa, Minn
Year 3&4: Alpha 4 division & Omega 2 division
Non divisional games:
MSU vs Rut, Tex
OSU vs Rut, A&M
ND vs PSU, A&M
MI vs PSU, Tex
Ill vs Iowa, Wisc
Ind vs Iowa, Minn
NW vs T5, Minn
Pur vs T5, Wisc
@m (Ag) – That’s actually the pod setup that I was thinking of that would work really well if you trade out Syracuse for Nebraska.
I’m just a little worried that the pod with Ill/NW/IU/PU would be as soft as baby poop
These conference setups can be fun to think about when you’re bored.
I prefer the 4 pods of 4 idea I showed before, but you could do pods with 3 & 5 to accommodate different schools:
Notre Dame Rivalry setup:
A) Notre Dame, OSU, Mich, Purdue, MSU
B) Texas, A&M, PSU, Rutgers, Syracuse
1) Iowa, Minn, Wisc
2) Ill, NW, Indiana
Your divisions are A1 & B2 for 2 years, then A2 & B1 for 2 years.
2 cross divisional games per year; every year 1 school is replaced on your cross divisional game.
For your 3 team pods, it takes you 3 years to see everyone home and away in the other pod
Year 1: Ill, @NW
Year 2: NW, @Ind
Year 3: Ind, @Ill
For your 5 team pods, it takes you 5 years to see everyone home and away in the other pod
Year 1: ND, @ OSU
Year 2 OSU, @Mich
Year 3 Mich, @Pur
Year 4 Pur, @MSU
Year 5 MSU, @ND
Again, I’d prefer the 4 team pods before, even if a Syracuse gets geographically in an odd pod.
Regarding 16-team conferences…
Thinking about this, I just had a moment akin to that moment when someone looks at a map of a world and realizes for the first time that it really looks like Africa and South America could fit together really well.
And I know this is 99.44% getting carried away with thoughts of realignment.
But it does seem that there is at least some thought towards expanding at least the Big 10 to 14 or even 16 teams.
One would image that other conferences, particularly the Pac 10 but maybe even the SEC, would respond with their own expansions.
As we’ve all discussed ad nauseum, such expansion would lead to great difficulty maintaining the Big XII and Big East as viable football conferences without expanding the BCS pie even more by promoting several schools to BCS conferences. From my Texas perspective, I don’t see how the Big XII lasts too much longer once a couple of members are poached.
So my “Africa-South America fitting together very well” thought is this: if the Big 10, Pac 10, SEC and ACC ALL expanded to 16 schools, 19 schools would need to switch conferences.
Right now, the Big XII + Big East + Notre Dame equals 21 schools. Take out the two weakest links (some combo of Baylor, Iowa State and USF), or take out just one weak link if ND continues to refuse to play ball, and you have your 19 schools.
This fits together almost too well. Maybe that’s the ultimate, only possible, point of stability, once a “massive” realignment begins (as opposed to simply adding ND to the Big 10, for example)?
(And since I brought it up, what could a possible “ultimate realignment” scenario look like?
Big 10 adds ND, Syracuse, Rutgers, Nebraska, Mizzou.
Pac 10 adds Texas, Texas Tech, Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor.
SEC adds Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Louisville.
ACC adds UConn, Pitt, WV and Cincy.
Iowa State and USF are not happy.
Yes, there some oddball fits — Cincy has to go somewhere — but it’s not THAT convoluted a scenario to get to four 16-school conferences.)
A conference isn’t going to expand just to have as many members as the Big 10. If the Big 10 expands, it will make more conferences comfortable with the idea of adding schools, but they still won’t add anyone who doesn’t make money for the school. I don’t really see a conference making room for a Kansas State or Oklahoma State.
Even if there is major movement, I think we’ll still have at least 5 BCS conferences, and probably 6. I think the Big 12 definitely survives, though it might be reduced to Big East relevance in football and have something other than 12 schools. It will add schools like BYU, New Mexico, TCU and/or merge with the remaining football schools from the Big East, but it will still be around because many of its schools aren’t really desirable to other conferences and it has a valuable BCS automatic bid.
“they still won’t add anyone who doesn’t make money for the school.”
I meant ‘anyone who doesn’t make money for the conference’
“Even if there is major movement, I think we’ll still have at least 5 BCS conferences, and probably 6.”
I meant ‘we’ll still have at least 5 BCS conferences, and maybe 6’.
Understood. Thanks for clarifying.
A Big XII which survives but that has been reduced to “Big East relevance” in football will not be a Big XII which includes Texas, which is one reason I could see many dominoes falling.
Also, another reason for a possible move to the 4/16 model is that doing so doesn’t require promoting additional schools, like the three you mention, to the BCS level, thereby diluting the pie further.
Not too likely, though.
There’s zero incentive for the SEC to add Louisville and almost zero for the ACC (in it’s present configuration) to add Cincy.
Here’s what I see happening:
By taking Rutgers, Syracuse, & UConn, the Big10 forces ND to join. They also induce Maryland to jump. ACC adds Pitt to replace Maryland.
WVa is looking for a home, but the SEC would want VTech as well. Eventually, they get WVa & VTech to add to the east, and then 2 schools from the Big12 (the Oklahoma schools or Mizzou + 1 other) to add to the west. The rest of the Big12 joins up with the Pac10 to form the Pac/Western20.
The ACC is left with few good choices at this point so settles for Cincy to replace VTech.
The leftovers from the Big East (Louisville & SFlorida) wouldn’t be in a position to demand a BCs berth, but if they get together with Memphis, East Carolina, Houston, TCU, Utah, BYU, and maybe Boise St. they may be thrown a bone (a BCS berth) just to keep them happy.
You’re left with 3 power conferences of equal strength in football (1 with 20 members, 2 with 16) that cover all the big states in the US between them with the notable exception of North Carolina, a 4th conference whose main strength is in basketball, a best-of-what’s-left conference, and then a bunch of teams that won’t be good enough to make the BCS any way.
Of course not too likely, but it is intriguing how well the numbers fit.
To clarify, I think that the incentive for the SEC to take Louisville, for example, is from the unspoken assumption that conferences like round numbers and 16 is better than 15. My scenario of massive realignment all at once helps solve the Texas/Texas A&M issue by allowing the two schools to go their separate ways to conferences which make the best fit for each school. And as I divided up the school and kicked A&M and OU to the SEC — two schools I think the SEC would leap at if they were motivated to expand, which of course is probably just mere literary license on my part — I assumed that Oklahoma state politics would tie OSU to OU, and the SEC would bite. At that point, with 15 schools, of the remaining schools, Louisville makes the most sense, to me at least.
Of course, with a massive realignment, there could be shifting of schools from the ACC to the SEC and/or Big 10 as well. I assumed ACC stability, but as you mention, if the SEC wanted a VT or a FSU instead of a Louisville, the SEC probably gets them.
If anyone thought there was any chance of the P10 taking Texas Tech, they should at least realize that hell would freeze over before Stanford and Cal let Baylor in. Just an absolute non-starter.
Oh right. Baylor & Iowa St. may be screwed (or KSU instead of ISU, if Kansas can get away with ditching them, which is not likely).
Still, if the SEC or Big10 takes Mizzou (or the Big10 takes Nebraska), the rest of the Big12 could ditch Baylor and merge with the Pac10.
IMHO, the B12 ranked as cultural*academic fit with the P10 would be:
6. Texas A&M
8. Texas Tech
9. Ok State
A stack-ranking for the B10 would be similar, but with the Aggies much higher. The values in College Station are much closer to the midwest than to the Peoples Republic of Berkeley. Baylor would go up too, their standards are getting stronger.
(note: this ranking ignores athletics and finance)
I find it curious that you’d rank ISU so low.
Perhaps an artifact of living so far from them. I’ve never heard anybody say anything positive about ISU. Hardly ever heard anything negative either. They really don’t register. ISU, KSU, OSU, TTU, these schools just don’t leave much of an impression on me.
It just seems to me that a flagship (or semi-flagship; any time you have a prominent University of [State] and [State] State University, the relationship is more ambiguous) public university within the current Big Ten footprint that is an AAU member would be a pretty strong cultural/academic fit, particularly since you said you were ignoring athletics and finance. I would almost be inclined to put it at or near the top of the list given those criteria.
ISU is a good school that is in a state that is dominated by its bigger brother school without a market to call its own. Located almost anywhere else ISU would be in these discussions (I would argue that ISU is a better athletic school than Rutgers). Unfortunately, they stand to lose the most if the Big 12 dissolves. If I had to pick two schools most likely to get left behind (like Rice, TCU, and SMU did after the SWC dissolved) after Big 10 expansion it would be ISU and West Virginia.
I would think many people would pick up WVU and ISU before Baylor. They were equivalent to SMU/TCU/Rice when the SWC died. They just had an alum as governor.
@Hopkins Horn: You aren’t the first one to have this thought:
Yeah, I remember that piece as well — I’m not claiming to be original as to seeing the 4/16 model in the future, but rather noticing how massive realignment might get us there sooner rather than later and how the numbers seem to work out so easily.
Ya know, watching Butler advance within one shot of a basketball national championship has forced me to rethink this whole conference realignment.
Consider: Butler’s basketball budget is about 12% the size of Duke’s (as well as blue bloods like UNC and Kentucky), yet they were evenly matched. What that tells me is that it’s more important to be efficient with your existing budget than to just have a large budget.
Yes, I know that over the long haul, those bigger budget programs prove more stable, but then again, programs like Gonzaga and Butler in b-ball and TCU and Boise in football have proven themselves wildly more efficient for a solid decade now. They’re clearly not just a flash in the pan.
So my question is this: Why does the Big Ten want to enhance its bottom line so badly? Is it to ensure all the other sports continue to be well-funded and competitive? Do the Big Ten schools actually believe exposure in New York will make their teams better?
Let’s not forget this either: Sports do NOT make a university richer. Most of the revenues are reinvested into the sports themselves via higher coaching salaries, facilities, etc. They almost never contribute money towards academics, at least not directly.
@Michael – It’s not really about competition so much as the money. The Big Ten doesn’t care if they have the best team in the country every year, they just want to make sure they’re being watched by the most people and making the most money doing it.
And while the number of athletic programs operating in the black may be small (and the number that can afford to give back to academics even smaller), I guarantee that a disproportionate number of those programs are in the Big Ten.
Also, thanks for the shout-out to the Horned Frogs, but don’t lump us in with the little-engines-that-could. TCU is #1 among non-BCS schools in athletic revenue, topping any number of allegedly superior BCS schools. And that was before we went to the Fiesta Bowl and set school records for attendance. Just wait until this bad boy is fully armed and operational:
I appreciate that you acknowledge BT expansion would not be about competition; rather it’s about money.
My question is this: what’s the money about? It can’t be about getting more money for coaches’ salaries or football salaries, because that would mean the money is to serve football competition. If the money IS for facilities & football budgets, then, yes, expansion IS for competition. Which leads back to my point about Butler basketball and Boise State football: money itself doesn’t improve competitiveness. Efficient use of money & resources does.
Money helps, however. The Oakland A’s use to manage to make the playoffs every year because they figured out how to maximize their limited budget. Then the Yankees and Red Sox (and the Angels, etc.) applied those methods as well using their larger budget and they started making the playoffs every year and win World Series every now and then while the A’s haven’t been to the playoffs recently.
In any case, of the 20-30 athletic programs that turn a profit every year, I imagine a good chunk of them are in the Big10.
Money does help, but only to a limited extent. Oklahoma State has the finest facilities in the country and could afford to pay the highest coaching salary, too, but it’s still just a 3- to 4-loss team at best.
The increased revenue from the BTN, thus far, hasn’t exactly led to any kind of amazing improvements on the field, either. Illinois, with far more TV revenue than Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, USC, BYU, etc., still has performed much worse than those schools over the past several years. Ohio State, the signature program of the league, has notched just two significant victories over teams from peer conferences in the past four years: Texas in ’06 and Oregon in the 2010 Rose Bowl.
Increased revenue from expansion can only improve on-the-field performance nominally, if at all. If the team that’s added isn’t a slam-dunk like Texas, would the league improve at all?
Here’s what would make sense to me: expansion could allow all Big Ten teams to operate in the black, if the right program(s) is/are added. If expansion allows, say, Michigan State to have enough revenue to fund all its programs without operating at a deficit, and actually contribute money toward the ACADEMIC side of the university, or perhaps towards the CIC itself, then expansion makes perfect sense. Otherwise, increasing revenue would only guarantee increased spending, not increased winning.
Remember that conference expansion, for the Big10, anyway, isn’t solely about athletics. There are 2 main reasons expansion is being considered now.
1. Because of the BTN, the Big10 can bring in more TV revenue per school if they add the right schools. Plus, more money is always better than less money. You say OkSt. hasn’t done so much with the money they have, but without money, they’d be KSU. Granted, KSU has done well in (the less-money-intensive sport of) basketball, but I think that’s more because of the coach they had and have. If you ask any OkSt. fan, I don’t think they’d trade places with KSU.
2. Because of the auto industry implosion around Detroit, the CIC schools are realizing the benefits of diversifying their research funding sources. The other goal of expansion is to make a new region or regions Big10 territory, so that a decade or 2 from now, the denizens and corporations of that region will consider themselves to be a part of Big10 country, look to Big10 schools when they have research projects they are willing to fund and when they’re hiring kids out of college & grad school. That’s the main reason, I believe, why the Big10 lists geography as a factor when considering expansion, because the good folks of Texas and Florida would never consider their state “Big 10 country” even if schools there join the Big10.
@Michael – there are some schools that contribute money towards academics, Nebraska is one, and off the top of my head I have read that Texas is another (I’m sure there are others). However, they are the exception not the rule. I would argue that not only do sports do NOT make a university richer, they take make most schools poorer (Colorado’s Athletic Department owes the University 5M, PAC 10 budget woes, Student fees routed to ADs).
Analysis from a Florida paper. Not a lot new, but some justification attempted in the comments to pimp UCF for the Big East.
This may have been discussed (I haven’t read all of the comments), but a Big Ten with 16 teams will almost force Delany to change his stance on a playoff. It will be more beneficial for the Big Ten to consistently get 3-5 teams into a 16-team playoff than it is now when they consistently get 2 teams into the BCS. Delany likes the BCS now because the Big Ten is almost guaranteed 2 BCS bids. Since no conference can get more than 2 BCS bids, a 16-team SuperPower Football Conference only makes sense if that conference can put a handful of teams into a postseason tournament. Otherwise, you’ll have 3-4 power football programs missing the BCS every year.
The real value with expansion comes with regular season games. Any playoff reduces the importance of the regular season; this hurts the Big 10.
The Big 10 will get a lot of money for their bowl agreements if desirable schools like ND, Nebraska, and the Texas schools are added. The Big 10 will have several bowls with near BCS level payouts. This will be less true if many schools without a traveling fanbase and national name are added, though that might change if their fanbases increase over time.
Actually, no, it would be more beneficial to the Big10 to get the BCS to allow a maximum of 3 teams per conference than to have a expanded playoff that dilutes the regular season (which is where the Big10 makes it’s money). Once the Pac10 and SEC become superconferences as well, 3 will be the max. You may have 5 BCS bowls & a plus-1 after by them, so 10 slots, where the ACC would be guaranteed 1 slot and the Big10, Pac/Western16/18/20, and SEC would usually get 3 teams in to the BCS.
I see m(Ag) got there first.
nice touch with the death star..
but i must wonder (as voiced in an earlier post) what happens..
a) the B 10 goes to 16, nobody else does anything (death star)
b) sec + acc / big 12 + pac 10 strike first (rebel alliance)
c) the NCAA brokers a deal (Jabba the Hutt Strikes Back.. in development).
i would bet on b) or c) if a) looks like it will happen..
my point is frank can the next post be about total shift?
say what 4 super conferences would look like..
1) Big 10
2) SEC + ACC
3) PAC 10 + Big 12
4) God & Country (16 catholic basketball + 8 football => ND + Army + Navy + BC + 4 others)
I foresee 3.5 superconferences: SEC, Big10, and Pac-whatever, followed by the ACC, followed by everyone else. The Pac10 and Big12 could very well combine since there’s no overlap. The SEC has little incentive to merge with the ACC since the SEC is already in half the states the ACC is in, they’re usually the dominant brand in the states they’re in, and it would be easier to just pick off VTech, which would give them coverage in every southern state other than NC.
God&Country has virtually no chance of happening, because such a conference, even with ND, would be weaker than the ACC, and we’ve seen how much trouble the current ACC has in getting a TV contract close to what the Big10 & SEC get.
BTW, in my scenario, your school Cincy would ctually end up in a (semi-)power conference, the ACC, because the Big10 would have vacuumed up all the desirable schools in the Northeast, the ACC wouldn’t bring in any Florida school or ECU, and of Louisville, Cincy, and Memphis, Cincy would be the most desirable replacement for VTech. Of course, this is assuming the SEC expands to 16 and takes VTech. If they stop at 14, then the ACC could choose WVa instead to get back to 12 even if VTech is taken away.
@Richard: Would the ACC even consider Cincinnati or even WVA? I’m not entirely familiar with ACC academics, but I do know there are some decent schools in there. I also know Cincinnati and WVA aren’t particularly good schools. I have to think the ACC wouldn’t consider them if academics are a priority at all — and it’s at least part of the reason why they’re such nonstarters with the BigTen.
In the ARWU rankings, Cincy’s the same level as FSU and a lot better than Clemson. WVa doesn’t even show up (meaning it’s not one of the 152 best universities in research in the US).
In any case, because the Big10 has the CIC, academics are a bigger consideration here than with any other conference. Some conferences (like the Pac10 and ACC) probably would factor academics when considering expansion as well, but while WVa, as a tier 3 university, wouldn’t make the cut, I believe Cincy would.
OK, I see USN has Cincy as a Tier 3 university as well (probably because of open admissions). Their faculty/research is on par with VTech and FSU, though.
Hm, that’s a good point about VT and FSU. Didn’t realize Cincy was so similar (actually I also forgot completely about FSU).
Also a good point that, if they lose 1-2 members and the Big Ten has pretty much taken the northeast, their options will be somewhat limited.
Also, if the Big10 takes the entire Northeast, there wouldn’t be too many options left for the ACC to get to 12 if the SEC takes VTech.
Don’t be mistaken, everyone: Academics are a huge priority for the ACC. To understand the ACC’s emphasis on strong academics, just look at FSU and NC State. One could argue these school are at or near the bottom of the ACC’s academic totem pole, yet they’re still solid themselves. Both have become more difficult places to be admitted over the last ten years. Both are ranked higher than Cincinnati and West Virginia in the US News rankings, which I acknowledge doesn’t trump the AWRU rankings, but ask any college president, and he or she will tell you those rankings are very important. NC State plays a major role in Research Triangle Park, the largest research park in the world, and FSU could actually become a member of the AAU within five years. http://www.uff-fsu.org/art/Hasselmo.pdf.
I mean no disrespect to these schools, but I cannot imagine a majority of ACC schools ever approving the likes of West Virginia, Louisville, or Cincinnati into the league. Remember: this is a league with somewhat snooty leaders at UVA, UNC, Duke, Wake Forest, and Boston College (whose president, by the way, cited the ACC’s superior academic standards as a reason to LEAVE the Big East). I’d be surprised if Georgia Tech or Maryland would be very keen on admitting those schools, either.
If the ACC does expand, their only options which are within a reasonable distance, and up to par academically, would be Pitt, UConn, Rutgers, and Syracuse. I suppose if Notre Dame ended up in need of a conference and is ultimately rejected by the Big Ten for one reason or another, then the ACC would take them in a heartbeat.
The ACC would never be able to get a Big Ten or SEC school. It would never take ECU; even if their academics were outstanding, they’d still further oversaturate North Carolina’s ACC representation. Unless UCF sheds its rep as Florida’s fallback school or USF sheds its rep as a ho-hum commuter school, they wouldn’t ever be admitted, either.
Well, that depends on whether Pitt, UConn, Syracuse, and Rutgers are still available then.
Plus, the ACC did take VTech. Granted, VTech undergrad is harder to get in to than Cincy undergrad, but that’s because Cincy has (and is forced to have, as I understand it) open admissions. Cincy does have some good schools & departments and their faculty & research is on par with VTech’s (and FSU’s).
Finally, Clemson’s the lowest on the ACC totem pole, and Cincy’s faculty & research is better than Clemson’s.
I am following your logic…I just don’t buy the fact that everyone else is going to sit around and “wait” and see what everyone else is going to do. With all of the discussion at the NCAA’s, it’s apparent, to me anyway, that everyone is suddenly getting pro-active vs. reactive. (See my earlier comment)
Given that train of thought, and with the idea that conferences and good universities in those conferences “want to survive and prosper”, what is the most logical outcome for the BEast and The Big 12? Those two conferences seem the most vulnerable, hence, I foresee some sort of unholy union with the remaining forces in those conferences (assuming Texas is still part of the Big 12) and Louisville, Cincinnatti, USF (?), and whatever other remnants from the BEast are leftover. This is what the BEast and The Big 12 have to be thinking. However, if Texas goes Big 10 or Pac 10…Well, what happens then?
Forget the Domers making some huge independent regional conference. What’s in it for them? It’s either the Big 10 for the Domers or Independence Death.
@MIRuss: I think the same thing.
The SEC likely has no plans for expansion. Their monster 15-year contracts with ESPN and CBS are just beginning, and those deals were done pre-recession. No way they ask out of those contracts in hopes of inviting, say, Oklahoma or whoever then hoping to get a better contract per-school. SEC expansion is just not happening, not this early in their TV deals.
So, with that in mind, I definitely could imagine the left-behind Big East teams ultimately joining up with the left-behind Big 12 teams… but that would likely happen only if multiple conferences expand to a maximum size. Let’s say the Pac-10 expands to 14 with Utah, Colorado, Texas, and A&M; the Big Ten expands to 16 with ND, Rutgers, Maryland, Nebraska, and Kansas; and the ACC expands/replaces with Pitt, Syracuse, and UConn, totaling 14.
The Big 12 and Big East’s remaining programs (ISU, KSU, OU, OSU, Baylor, TT, Missouri, WVU, Cincy, Louie, and USF) plus BYU, TCU, and either UCF, Memphis or Houston, would result in a nationwide league. Yes, it’s hard to imagine some of those programs getting stuck that way, but I do not see any more powerful league (Pac-10, Big Ten, ACC, or SEC) ever accepting any of them.
Either way, the Big 12 could take some hits more readily than the B. East. BYU, TCU, New Mexico, Houston, and Colorado State would all be soften the blow better than any program near B. East territory.
I too would like to see a thread about four super-conferences.
Andy Staples of SI.com sort of addressed the topic but I hated how he went about it. He went in a PURELY theoretical way…dividing up conferences the way fantasy football teams are created.
I’d rather see some realistic proposals which consider conference preferences and school strengths and weaknesses regarding markets, etc.
For example, if Death Star happens, the Big 12 will die. Who would the PAC 10 want if the changing climate said “16 or die”? Mizzou, Kansas, Colorado? How about the SEC? Oklahoma and OkSt…Mizzou and Kansas?
This thing will happen step by step. What MIGHT that look like if the Big 10 indeed initiates a SEISMIC shift?
I’m just astounded that after tens of thousands of words that there is still things to talk about here…
@Loki: Product of boredom and an interesting topic. Official sources need to leak something soon though, before we run out of issues to have circular arguments about.
Still, it’s nice to see different opinions from different perspectives. It’s fun. Lots of great information in these threads too.
Question: Doesn’t adding ND fly in the face of one of your basic premises. That is to think like a university president and not like an athletic director? I mean ND isn’t an AAU member, has is nowhere near the B10 schools in research money…
@Jim – All of that is true, but the Big Ten university presidents obviously had no qualms about inviting ND in 1999 and 2003. ND has already been deemed academically acceptable.
BC fan here – BC delivers great TV ratings (ESPN”s Emerald Bowl with BC USC this year was their second best bowl ever, and heavily east coast skewed) – the fan support does look weak, but there are a few factors -one BC is expanding its campus dramatically, so to appease the neighbors the school president has cracked down on parking and tailgating. Also, there is a bit of trouble of northerners getting psyched to see Wake Forest come to town. BC also delivers the best hockey program in the country (national champs two years ago, in the frozen four this yr) to form a B10 hockey league.
Also gotta say, the UConn folks VASTLY overstate UConn’s appeal outside of Storrs – Connecticut is nice, because it’s a wealthy state a decent school and a good basketball program, but UConn doesn’t get the B10 network onto TV in Boston, NYC or even Providence or Albany. They also reportedly overstate attendance at their football games, which isn’t great for a young program.
First I wanted to say that you’ve done a fantastic job analyzing Big 10 expansion.
I think there are a few possible scenarios:
1) No expansion without one of Notre Dame or Texas.
2) Notre Dame joins without its hand being forced. If this happens I think the Big 10 only goes to 12.
However, even if they (and the Texas legislature) are willing, I can’t see the Big 10 adding Texas alone. Take Texas away and the Big 12 folds. Without Texas in the Big 12, the other 11 teams will be scrambling for a conference. Oklahoma and A&M will be ripe for the SEC to pick off and the SEC might even think about adding Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas Tech, or even going after Big East/ACC teams. An arms race would begin, necessitating the Big 10 to add some teams to compete. So I think taking Texas (with or without A&M) requires the Big 10 to go to 16 to ensure being proactive rather than reactive in a potential super-conference arms race.
3) 16 Team Midwest/Northeast Super-Conference. Notre Dame would be obvious. As for the other 4 teams to add, I think Rutgers is a must because of the size of the New Jersey TV market. I would go after UConn and BC because I think that would help with the New England TV markets. Those are the top 3 choices. Fourth choice would be Syracuse over Pitt. I don’t think either school adds much but Syracuse adds New York state to the footprint. If Maryland was willing I’d prefer them because of the DC/Baltimore TV markets, but I highly doubt they’d leave the ACC.
4) 16 Team Superconference with Texas – I think this scenario is highly unlikely but would involve Texas, A&M, and likely 3 eastern teams or 2 eastern teams and Notre Dame.
5) 16 Team Midwest/Northeastern Superconference without Notre Dame – Only would happen if the Big Ten tries to force Notre Dame’s hand and Notre Dame doesn’t flinch. Would likely consist of some combo of Rutgers, UConn, BC, Syracuse, Pitt, and Maryland.
Other Random Thoughts:
1) I think the ideal scenario is for Notre Dame to be added and to stop there. Simply adding Notre Dame would not have much impact on the other conferences as it would keep the Big East and Big XII intact and would not cause the Big Ten to dwarf the SEC.
2) I think the only Big XII school that the Big Ten is interested in is Texas. Even in a 16 team scenario, I think the only possibilities for Big XII schools are a Texas/A&M forced combination or Nebraska or Kansas as a last resort only if Notre Dame declines.
3) Besides the possibility of adding Notre Dame or Texas, eastern expansion is the other driving factor. I think the Big Ten presidents would look a lot more favorably at increasing their visibility on the East Coast than at adding random plains teams like Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, etc that do not much academically or financially. Thus, I think a 16 team superconference only happens with at least a few eastern schools hopping on board. To me the desire to head east is motivated not only by TV money but also by increasing the visibility of the Big Ten universities in the most highly educated region of the country.
Can someone explain to me WHY research is important to the Big 10? I am looking for simple nuts and bolts of how it works and why School A would be superior to School B because of research?
I am not a UNLV fan and it is geographically irrelevant (preventing knee-jerk fan reactions thinking that I am poking at their school), so let’s use them as an example. Suppose the Big 10 accepted UNLV. How would this negatively impact ANY aspect of the Big 10 from a research or academic standpoint? Is Purdue a worse school because UNLV is in the Big 10? Does MSU lose research opportunities? What does it matter?
Also, where is a university’s goal in all of this. Virginia Tech was an awful football program. Then they became decent in the Big East. Then the became very very good. Then they moved to the ACC. Now we are talking about the SEC snatching them above. In 1985 Virginia Tech was a bad fit for any conference. Now they are desirable. If UNLV decided that they wanted to become a research school… why would the past have any negative impact?
I don’t want the numbers, I want an explanation as to why any of this matters.
Research resources are shared amongst the CIC schools (which are the Big10 schools + UofC). So any new member would be expected to pull its weight in terms of their library, IT, faculty quality & graduate school quality (because of the traveling scholar program, which lets grad students and researchers do research at another CIC school for a year, and course sharing). If a school can’t contribute in any academic department, they’d have to contribute an awful lot athletically/money-wise since they’d be using the academic resources of other Big10 schools, yet offer nothing in return academically.
So what happens if a crap academic school was added? Couldn’t the CIC revenue resources be divided by # of total students somehow… so 2 small, private schools share one share.
And a smaller school would also TAKE less too.
I haven’t heard anybody analyze libraries, IT, faculty quality and graduate school quality.
Well, there’s no incentive to bend over backwards unless the crap academic school adds a lot in revenue & athletically. Also, the Big10/CIC would suffer from brand dilution.
Kudos to EDSBS on this funny take on Big Ten expansion:
The references to some heavy sponsors were a nice touch.
I think there is one more thing to consider in favor of a 16 team Big Ten – BCS invites …
Right now, the BigTen is pretty well maxed out in the BCS, they get the max Two teams many years. IF the BigTen expanded to 16 teams, I also see them pushing for more BigTen teams to get into the BCS.
They could team up with an Expanded SEC 16 to say 16 team SuperPower Conferences get TWO automatic bids AND an the possibility of a third At-Large Team. OR they could push for TWO possible At-Large Bids for 16 team SuperPower Conferences.
What do you think the “dominoes” of a 16 Team BigTen might be …
I think the SEC would immediately follow suit, adding 4 teams from the ACC, Big East and/or BigXII South.
The next wave of dominoes is a little harder to see in my mind, because I think it depends a lot on exactly who the BigTen (B16Ten perhaps the new logo?) and the SEC add….
If the BigXII loses more than 2 teams in the process, then I could see the Core of the BigXII (Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Nebraska) talking seriously to the PAC10 about a PAC16. If, on the other hand the BigXII only loses 1 or 2 teams, I think the BigXII goes on the offensive and goes after the Arizona Schools, the Utah Schools, and some Florida Schools (FSU, UCF, USF, Miami).
If the ACC only loses a few teams, I think they complete the “merger” with the remaining BigEast Football schools and go to 16 as well. On the other hand, if the ACC is decimated and loses 4 or more to the SEC and BigTen, then I think they return to their basketball roots and rebuild to a 10 team Basketball Centric league. (Which is what the remnants of the Big East will likely do as well).
I think in the end, we end up 3 SuperPower Conferences of 16 teams that play Elite level Football and Basketball. And we have 3 Power Conferences of 10 to 12 teams that focus heavily on Basketball but play football as well. And then there will be 3 or so smaller school conferences for the rest of the NCAA.
Perhaps as early as this summer, Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick is going to receive an invitation from Jim Delaney to join the Big Ten Conference.
At that point, Swarbrick has to evaluate that invitation, make some decisions and look into his crystal ball regarding the different scenarios that could transpire.
Obviously, Swarbrick is going to have to review the impact upon Notre Dame in terms of joining a conference. That includes academics, national perception, alumni reactions, donations, recruiting etc. ND has gone through this drill before back in 1999 (and to some extent, 2003), so he has a blueprint of what can and will happen, who the stakeholders are, etc.
If the only invitation from the Big Ten Conference goes to Notre Dame, then he can say no like his predecessors did and receive a large heap of praise from those parties who want to see ND independent in football. But he does so with the knowledge he’s leaving money on the table, that he may have a problematic relationship with NBC/Comcast, and he will continue to have scheduling problems for his football program in the latter two months of the season. It will also means he’s willing to maintain the relationship with the Big East under the assumption that (1) the BE will remain stable and (2) if the BE doesn’t remain stable, he can place the non-sports teams into another confernce (perhaps the Atlantic 10). That’s a tough decision to make. And as a final note, there’s this–if a number of 16-team super conferences do crop up, where does Notre Dame fit into any future conversation?
It becomes tougher still if the Notre Dame is one of several teams invited to the Big Ten Conference. If that package were to include Texas and Nebraska, for example, I think he’d be hard pressed to say no.
If that package included three Big East programs, it also becomes hard to say no because that means the BE may not exist in the future. That means his non-football teams have to find another home. It also means he likely will lose those three football games scheduled late in the year with the BE teams–and that means more scheduling problems for football.
It also means one more thing–he has to keep an eye out for the ACC and SEC. As we all know, the ACC originally invited Syracuse to join the conference along with BC, et. al. Would the ACC then cast its eyes to the northeast again to add some of the remaining programs from the Big East–and yes–become the second 16-team conference? Tobacco Road might not be entirely happy with that scenario, but it would sure strengthen the ACC’s now tenuous hold on the northeast via Boston College and probably give the confernce more leverage in terms of media (perhaps the ACC Network). And the SEC? Well, they’ve never been shy in terms of how they run their conference–do they look at a West Virginia or a Louisville or a Cincinnati with any seriousness?
With all that in mind, if I’m Jim Delaney and I’m making that invitation, I’m going to come to the table with a few options. But I also have a few decisions to make.
The first is this–how many (and which) teams do I have to invite from the Big East in order to (1) capture the telvision markets I’m targeting and (2) what does it take to get Notre Dame to accept the invitation that they refuesed 11 years ago?
On (1), I have to agree with Frank that you’re looking at least three Big East teams (or Boston College from the ACC) in order to ensure that. I think this is an important point because it doesn’t cede that area to potential ACC expansion. Perhaps you go for the bigger basketball schools (UConn, Syracuse, Pittsburgh) when making this decision over selecting Rutgers (who wouldn’t likely be an ACC target. It also undermines Notre Dame in terms of (1) its relationship with the Big East–which may not exist without three top members and (2) helps ensure the ACC doesn’t become a white knight where Notre Dame could go in some future scenario (or it reduces the possibility).
If Notre Dame doesn’t like that arrangement and doesn’t want to become one of five new Big Ten members that includes three Big East teams, then Delaney has a decision to make. He can cap off the expansion to 14 total teams and work to make that a success with the Big Ten Network firmly in the northeast with an eye to eventually adding two more teams. The Big East might surivive without three teams, but given that conference’s history, it might be problematic. And if the BE does replace its three missing members with say, UCF, Memphis and East Carolina, you have to wonder if (1) they’re still a BCS conference and (2) if the BE is still attractive to Notre Dame in terms of its current relationship.
Delany’s other option is to inform Notre Dame that if the don’t accept, he’ll be giving invitations to two more schools–perhaps Texas and Texas A&M or Missouri and Nebraska–and that he will put together a 16-team conference without ND. I realize that there would be questions on this board about that scenario in terms of revenue produced, etc., so perhaps that doesn’t happen, but until we see solid projections, I’ll leave that scenario on the table.
In sum, I think its fair to say that Notre Dame has some leverage in shaping how the expansion will take place, but essentially none in terms of whether or not it actually will take place. Notre Dame will get an invitation to join the Big Ten Confernce–where it goes from there is up to Delany and Swarbrick.
The Big10 won’t be extending a formal invitation to ND again unless they have already informally agreed to join. Not after 1999 & 2003.
The ND board (it won’t be Swarbrick making the decision, he’ll just be the mouthpiece) will have to decide whether they want to join the Big10 before an invitation is made.
I also don’t think ND will get the first invitation (formal or informal). The Big10 will first decide whether adding Syracuse, Rutgers, and UConn is worth it solely on those schools’ own merits. If they don’t, expansion likely stops for now. If they do, they’ll extend those schools invites. Then they can wait to see what ND does. If ND is willing to join, they’ll get an invite with another school (BC or Pitt or Mizzou or Nebraska or Maryland, if they can be pried away). If not, the Big10 either stops at 14 or (more likely) consider what other 2 schools would be worth it on their own merits.
I considered the scenario you mentioned about the Big Ten opting to add three northeastern teams in what we’d call the first phase of expansion for the conference. That would allow the B10 to go from 14 to 16 at a later date. Obviously, Notre Dame would be one of the two additional members the Big Ten would approach in that case.
Reading the quotes and articles on B10 expansion to date, the 14-team scenario hasn’t really been mentioned (Barnhart’s article, the OSU AD’s comments). That doesn’t preclude it from happening, and it would make sense if the conference was willing to work through an incremental expansion versus all at one time scenario that involves adding five teams.
The problem I have with that scenario is is sort of dictates which members of the Big East the conference would invite. For example, if Notre Dame was invited, would it make sense to include Rutgers to the invitation list as well in order to capture the NY/NJ market? Or would it make more sense (especially because the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is going to 96 teams–something that Delany has apparently endorsed) to not include Rutgers and to add the programs with stronger football/basketball combinations in Pittsburgh (which I know is within the BTN footprint), Syracuse and Connecticut?
I actually imagine there will be information sharing, etc. with Notre Dame prior to any formal invitations going out. I realize there may be sour feelings from what happened the last two times, but ND really is a factor in terms of how the Big Ten will finally be composed. I suspect the various conference expansion scenarios will be presented them with the following question–Are you in or are you out? From there one, Swarbrick (and the other ND stakeholders–see next paragraph) will have to ask the questions and make decisions on what path Notre Dame wants to take in the future.
I realize Swarbrick is only one stakeholder in those from the ND side–the alumni, board of trustees, university president, students and the academic staff will also be involved in some manner. I used his name as shorthand for what I know will be a “process” for any school, including Notre Dame, when it comes to making the final decision.
Let me also add that as a Michigan alum, I have a hard problem stomaching Notre Dame being in the conference. I appreciate their overall value to the B10, but I wouldn’t be sad to see Michigan and Notre Dame in different divisions for football.
The bottom line is this–Notre Dame’s stance on all this is a factor on how the expansion will play out, but I don’t think it will be decisive in whether or not it takes place.
@Cutter: The one issue I have with moving to 14 now with intent to go to 16 later is that you don’t know the situation later. It’s a guarantee that if the Big Ten adds three new members it’s going to significantly alter the landscape. Will your final 2 still be available at a later date? Doing it all in one period removes the possibility of something crazy happening down the road. I’d rather believe that if they want to go to 14 it’s the final destination and not a temporary stop, but then again I’m not excited about 16 teams to begin with.
ND is not a natural “fit” for the Big 10, but special circumstanes require them to be invited….however, they will be a pain in the ass if they accept, and getting them in the Big 10 is in no way worth inviting other non-fits like Syracuse, BC, U Conn…as someone else said, the Bog 10 is looking at 100 year relationships….if ND doesn’t want in, either add 1 school (Neb or Rut), stay at 11, or add some combination of Pitt, Neb, MO, Rutgers, all of which are good fits…
Re process,sequence of expansion process (Cutter)
Excellent, interesting post.
Do you believe Delaney and the Big 10 Presidents, perhaps via an advisory committee, have an informal sense of the likely endgame at this point (receptivity of key schools ND, Texas), alternative options if ND, Texas say no.
Or is all of this pending the Big 10 President’s meeting in June at which point discussions begin then?
Though-provoking article arguing for a Big10 expansion in to ACC country (+ND): http://bleacherreport.com/articles/375235-jim-delaney-size-12-or-16-footprint
Maryland-Virginia-Duke-UNC are certainly the best academic foursome that are geographically close to the Big10, but they bring barely enough new BTN subscribers to be worth it. By comparison, the next best academic foursome of geographically close schools (Pitt, Syracuse, Rutgers, UConn) bring 8M more people, and that’s including Pitt, which brings virtually no new subscribers. Plus, if those 4 ACC schools go, VTech and NCSU will likely go to the SEC at some point, so the Big10 won’t even be the exclusive major conference in those states.
Both these fouresomes would make the Big10 a helluva basketball conference, though.
Richard: The bleacherreport article you cite is well thought out. Thanks for including it. Unlike most writers discussing the subject, the author of this article seems to understand the importance of academic fit–and how there is more financial gain through the research side of things than the TV. Duke in particular is running up the chart on research money per year (now #7) and UNC is just above Illinois in this regard. I think this point is under-represented by those who think it’s all about sports revenue.
I agree with him fully that while the TV viewership markets aren’t the best, Maryland, Virginia, Duke, and UNC are all great academic fits. And Duke and UNC are tremendous basketball schools.
If this group were to join the Big Ten, that would leave one more opening to get to 16. He likes Notre Dame. I’d prefer Texas. Or Nebraska. Both offer a stronger football presence.
However, although I’m not a big basketball fan, I can’t help but imagine adding Kentucky as that 16th team to go along with Duke and UNC. Talk about a strong basketball conference. Particularly if Indiana could ever bounce back to its former glory.
@Jake – The OU and A&M rivalries are very important to Texas. If Texas were to leave for another conference, they would have to both schedule them out of conference. I doubt Texas thinks its a good idea to play BOTH Texas A&M and Oklahoma along with a Big Ten schedule.
Comparing trying to plant hockey in the foreign soil of Phoenix or Tampa to adding schools that have been playing football for a hundred years seems like a big stretch. Nebraska, Texas, Notre Dame, Pitt, Syracuse, Rutgers, these are not the Florida Panthers. They are established programs in their own right. It’s not like someone is proposing that Michigan State move to Mexico City.
Good point loki, it’s not like these schools are some 50 year old commuter colleges. Sometimes some of these posts sound outright elitist when dismissing World Class Universities as not meeting BT standards. Mind boggling sometimes. And that is not even counting the Domers viewpoints.
I know it is about dollars, and not about “getting back” at Notre Dame. But I did have a strange thought about all of this. What if the BIG 10 presidents are still ticked at ND for turning them down previously. What if they get Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Syracuse, and Rutgers while leaving ND out to dry… on purpose. Then the BIG 10 with their new 16 team league must reschedule the non-conference games. Since they would have probably 10 conference games (only 5 at home) they would NEED 2 weak little sister non-confrence home games to keep the money rolling in.
This would eliminate Purdue / Michigan / Michigan State from the ND schedule.
If the PAC 10 then sees the tide changing and adds the other Big 12 teams (TEX / A&M / COLO / OKLA / OK ST) to move to 16 teams. That would probably wipe USC & Stanford off the ND schedule for the same reason.
I am not saying that ND needs to go with the Big 10 on expansion…. I’d actually rather that they didn’t. But if they try to stay independent, the seats at the table will be full and they could be stuck at the kiddie table for the next 50 years.
Well, the ND administration is aware of that. In any case, the Big10 won’t play 10 conference games soon, and Michigan, MSU, and Purdue won’t look to drop ND (neither would USC or Stanford). However, they know that already the Big10, SEC, and Big12 aren’t willing to play them after early October. If a bulked-up Pac/Western16/20 adopts the same policy, and the SEC raids the ACC, ND would be left with playing either only ACC teams, the leftovers of the Big East, and the Utahs and Tulsas of the world after early October, in which case they might as well join a conference.
I think ND admin sees the writing on the wall, but I don’t know if their fans can comprehend yet.
In my mind Maryland would make much more sense than Rutgers. If we are looking at schools that meet the criteria as far as matches to B10 standards Maryland tops any other east coast school. If B10 wants a mega conference Maryland would be a way better fit than Mizzu, Nebraska, Kansas, Rutgers, Syracuse ect. Yes another east coast school would be needed for sure but Maryland brings with it a very sizable TV market and fanbase, along with a good basketball program and academics.
Make ND and Texas priority #1, then I would strongly urge Maryland in the next tier of schools.
Interestingly, when Notre Dame signed the NBC deal, there were critics saying that the deal took away from what made Notre Dame special:
Death Star Pod Scenario
In the death star scenario, I too would substitute Nebraska for Syracuse. I would then split the conference into four pods. Every year, you would play the three other teams in your pod, plus one protected rivalry game with a team from a different pod. There would be nine conference games, so the remaining five games would be split between the other 11 teams. That would mean that you’d play each of the other 11 teams at least 3 times in 8 years but you’d play most teams 4 times in 8 years. I’m not sure how the conference championship would be determined yet (maybe NORTH/EAST Champ vs. SOUTH/WEST Champ – since the North & East pods and the South & West pods are linked by their protected rivalries). I would break down the pods like this (with the protected rivalry in parentheses).
Notre Dame (Rutgers)
Michigan State (Penn State)
Ohio State (Michigan)
Penn State (Michigan State)
Rutgers (Notre Dame)
Minnesota (Texas A&M)
Texas A&M (Minnesota)
Any thoughts or suggestions?
I like it.
I would switch Ohio St and Purdue.
Also, Illinois and Iowa did not play each other from 1953-1966 because of bad blood, so I would change the permanent rivals to Illinois-Wisconsin & NW-Iowa.
“Illinois and Iowa did not play each other from 1953-1966 because of bad blood”
So much the better.
This is my first time responding to one of your posts although I have read a few of them and have been impressed by how well-developed and reasonable the scenarios you paint are (even if my opinion is different).
The question I have for the “Big Sweet Sixteen” is this: Could you see a scenario in which the Big Ten went after Texas, Florida State, UConn, Rutgers, and Maryland? I think it would make sense and here is why.
First off, I think that Texas is a slam dunk but I am not sure any value is added by tacking on Texas A&M. It’s a great school and program but they offer the same markets. In lieu of Texas A&M I suggest Florida State. If the Big Ten is shooting for the moon then why not add the nearly 19M residents of Florida along with the 24M of Texas.
The next task is control of the Northeast without destroying the Big East. In all cases I like UConn over Boston College (to deliver New England), and Rutgers (to deliver NJ & Delaware, and strengthen Philly). I believe NYC can be had with the combination of UConn, Rutgers, & Penn State.
The last addition is where the picture gets murky. I have it as a toss up between Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Maryland. Honestly I like Notre Dame to get the spot, and even though their position has been weakened, I still think that they will do anything to maintain independence and if the Big East is not destroyed I think they’ll tether their boat to the Big East (without football of course).
I like Maryland over Syracuse because aside from gaining the very wealthy Northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland area, the loss of Syracuse could be catastrophic for the Big East. However if Maryland doesn’t want to play ball then you’ve go a catch 22. Notre Dame will stay if you don’t take Syracuse (because the Big East can be preserved) but if Syracuse goes then Notre Dame will come calling…and 17 is an ugly number.
Maryland is the wild-card in this deal to me. They are a charter member of the ACC, have great rivalries with the Virginia and Carolina schools and will probably be most reluctant to leave. The only weapons the Big Ten has is the Penn State draw and the additional money with the CIC membership and the Big Ten Network (which can’t be understated).
I think this plan makes sense because if they can pull it off it gives the Big Ten the power to get into television sets in Texas, Florida, and the East Coast from New England to Northern Virginia without destroying any conference in its wake.
Let me know what you think.
Earlier, I had noted that BYU football was regularly shown on national TV 2 decades ago. Now, even if the MWC had a national TV contract, BYU would be rarely shown nationally.
Baloney. Because of cable proliferation they are actually on national TV more now than in 1984. For goodness sakes, ESPN’s College Gameday broadcast from Provo for the TCU game, which is especially noteworthy because it wasn’t an ABC/ESPN game. Some of that was because TCU was undefeated, but TCU had other opponents that didn’t get that treatment (BYU was 6-1 going into the game.) ESPN went there because BYU made for a very attractive opponent for TCU. There were at least 3 other BYU games available to most of the nation last year, against OU, FL St, and Utah. Usually one or more of their conference games such as with Air Force gets picked up. This is because BYU is good, has a longstanding brand name, and to a lesser extent draws an extended audience thanks to being Mormon.
In BYU’s case the religion angle works in their favor. Same for ND. Perhaps that will diminish over time, but that isn’t a foregone conclusion. Plenty of Catholics still immigrating to this country, plenty of families are still having plenty of kids, and some denominational walls are shrinking, so I wouldn’t be suprised if ND is getting a healthy and increasing number of students from across the Christian spectrum, with ND’s Catholicism a significant part of the enticement.
Their game against OU was against a power program (shown on ESPN). Their games against FSU & TCU were shown on Versus. Their game against Utah was on CBS College Sports.
I guess you could call that national TV, in which case all Army and Navy home games are shown on national TV (CBS College Sports); heck every single Big10 conference game and non-conf home game is also on national TV, since they’ll go to either ABC (with ESPN reverse mirror), an ESPN channel, or the BTN.
I was referring to national network TV, which BYU use to appear on regularly 20 years ago, and where I haven’t seen BYU in ages. Even if you count ESPN & ESPN2 as equivalent, BYU rarely show up there these days.
In any case, maybe you’re right, though religious affiliation doesn’t seem to have helped Baylor, TCU, & SMU all that much.
I think “national broadcast” gets thrown around a little too casually. Personally, I consider a network OTA broadcast “national.” Anything on ESPN is “national.” Anything on ESPN2 is probably “national.” TBS, TNT, and USA would all be national broadcasts in my mind. BTN and CBS College Sports shouldn’t count as “national”; sure, they’re available nationally, but so is NBA League Pass, and I wouldn’t say that every NBA game is nationally televised. It’s got to be commonly available on cable systems before you can really say it’s “national,” and that’ll be a subjective consideration of whether it’s commonly available, and commonly available in the right markets. (I avoided Versus; that’s in a murky gray area. Not sure how I’d label them.)
Just got back from the Frozen Four semifinals at Ford Field. BC and Wisconsin walloped their opponents to make the finals on Saturday. Checked my email alerts and found this less than flattering article about BC. I don’t know about the rest of their sports teams, but the hockey team plays an exciting up-tempo style that’s fun to watch.
“DeFilippo has steered BC to what most likely will be its final home. There is no turning back—he is too stubborn to ever admit the ACC move was a blunder, and the Big East really doesn’t want the Eagles back—if there is to be a Big East football conference in the future.”
Sounds like the writer has an axe to grind, though I do agree that firing Jagodzinski was questionable. Not sure they’ll matter much anyway.
While looking to see what other minor sports may become revenue sports:
“On a night when there was a laser show and many thousands of red-flashing sunglasses were handed out to help honor Utah’s four seniors in their final regular-season home meet in a lights-out, pre-meet ceremony, Utah drew a crowd of 15,030 to help the Utes set an NCAA women’s gymnastics single-season attendance record and up Utah’s 2010 season average to 14,213. That made Utah the 2010 NCAA attendance champion for all women’s sports. Alabama women’s gymnastics drew an average of 13,786, and Tennessee women’s basketball drew 12,393 per game this year. Utah’s 2010 attendance average, however, is not close to the NCAA women’s attendance records set by Tennessee, which averaged 16,565 in 1998-99 and has averaged more than 15,000 four other times.”
Evidently, women’s gymnastics is a revenue sport at Utah, Georgia, and Alabama. Women’s basketball is one at Tennessee, UConn, and a few other places:
Purdue, MSU, Wisconsin, MSU, and PSU women’s hoops draw over 4K (as do the programs at UConn, ND, Nebraska, Maryland, TAMU, & Texas).
OSU and Iowa are a little below 4K.
All of this talk of the decline of Catholic schools is a bit overblown. The percentage of Catholics in US is fairly steady (about 25%) and has been for about 50 years. The real problem is the loss of the “subway alumni”, people who never attended the college or any college who adopted ND as their team. Now, their children are far more likely to attend college and only so many of them can go to ND. The rest are more likely to follow their own school than ND.
In short, ND the school will be fine in 25 years. ND the national football power is much less certain.
M, I don’t see why the percentage of Catholics in the United States matters if Catholics as a group are attending public schools more often. When Catholics were a relatively insular minority in the country (operating their own schools and hospitals and tending to congregate in distinctively Catholic towns and neighborhoods), it made it much more likely for them to become “subway alumni.” With Catholic schools closing, it seems to me fairly obvious that Catholics are going to be much more likely to get swept up in the otherwise mainstream sentiment of looking to their nearby public schools for their affectional loyalties, rather than a more distant school which shares a confessional association. I went to a Catholic school with a tremendously successful athletic program, and there is nobody who follows the schools teams other than parents and (some) alumni. By contrast, my father, who grew up in the next town to the west of the one he had moved to by the time I was born (and the chief rival of the town I lived in as a kid) always followed our local public schools (i.e., his high school’s rivals!), and his brother was the AD at his alma mater! Why? I suspect because it just felt “right” to do so. You just don’t get that effect with private schools with most people; I think it was easier to pull off when Catholics were accustomed to attending some institution other than public schools, but as that has broken down, the likelihood of becoming a “subway alum” (to use your phrase) has gone down.
any position that leaves out temple as a qualifier for induction into the new BIG-NORTH-XVI is biased and myopic ! the case that penn state controls the philly market is short sighted and narrow minded, with TEMPLE what you get is a instate rivalry with penn state that can play in the 4th largest tv market on the ground with all the other BIG-X teams actually playing in philly. then with VILLANOVA comming on line to help out the BIG EAST recovery process well there you go ! if you dont really play there in philly i really dont think you can claim philly outright ! try again !
bottom line what we are lookin for is the absolute media print, forget about the musty past and ancient history,
the best possible line up from top to bottom has new england new york new jersey eastern pa. maryland & the district of columbia combined with notre dame, thats a slam dunk !
so that BOSTON COLLEGE and RUTGERS and TEMPLE and maryland ! temple gettin you south jersey and a reat rivalry with PENN STATE and RUTGERS, MARYLAND gets you into the seat of AMERICAN POWER and PRESTIGE !
UCONN SYRACUSE PITTSBURGH CINCINNATI LOUISVILLE MISSOURI IOWA STATE NEBRASKA KANSAS and KANSAS STATE are all second raters second tier compared to this lineup and in terms of media might they just dont cut it, yes they all look good they all sound good, but they are not good, they are not where either the growth or the big money is located, i mean big media money ! they are all imposters in the big picture, the big scheme of things they just dont cut the mustard, and none of them will make the cut !
with BC and RUTGERS TEMPLE and MARYLAND that spells 50 MILLION FOLKS in just the metro areas, thats not area or state wide ! these 4 plus NOTRE DAME would be GRAND SLAM not just a home run BUT MUCH BETTER and MUCH BIGGER ! ATOMIC in terms of POWER ! WOW ! WOOO ! IM SO EXCITED I CAN HARDLY WAIT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT !
AND GOD BLESS AMERICA ! AND GOD BLESS TEXAS ! AND GOD BLESS SAN ANTONIO ! AND GOD BLESS MY 4 BEAUTIFULL GRAND SONS !
BIG NORTH XVI
THAT GETS THE BIG-NORTH-XVI MAXIMUM EXPOSURE AND MEDIA POWER ! AND GREAT RIVALRY, YOU GET THE WHOLE ENCHALADA HERE, YOU GET THE FIERCEST MOST FEROCIOUS SAVAGE VIOLENT RIVALRYS IN THE HISTORY OF SPORTS FANS WITH THIS EAST COAST LINEUP, ONCE YOU TAP INTO THIS THING IT TAKES ON A LIFE OF ITS OWN ! THR WHOLE YANKEE-RED SOX THING PATRIOT-JET, EAGLE-GIANT-REDSKIN, RAVEN-JET-PATRIOT, RANGER-BRUIN-FLYER , CELTIC-KNICK-76ER THING, if you can tap into this rabid fan base well then the SKY IS THE LIMIT ! think outside the box-expand your horizons !
RIVALRY: a condition of opposed and competing interests, conflict and strife, feud, vendetta,to tear apart, rend
BOSTON NEW YORK JERSEY PHILLY BALTIMORE and WASHINGTON DC no better COLLECTIVE RIVALRY IN ALL OF AMERICA ! THIS IS THE BIG ONE ! THE BIG WINNER FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF THE BIG-NORTH-XVI SUPERCONFERENCE !
I think it was Richard who addressed the future of the Big 10 Network as broadcasting shifts to the internet. It made me start thinking that perhaps this is the real motivation for the Big 10 to consider a move to 16 teams (and of course adding Notre Dame would make it that much more lucrative). The biggest benefits include allowing the viewers to watch a ridiculous number of games at the same time, to be able to watch these games on any computer or even a phone, and the grouping of major media markets together for advertisers. The more I think about this, the more I’m convinced that Delaney and the powers that be in the Big 10 are concerned about this potential shift in TV markets. At any rate, I wrote a piece on this if anyone is further interested in this topic. It can be read at: http://thepolesposition.com/2010/04/09/notre-dame-and-nbc-a-marriage-made-in-heaven-if-the-year-was-1953/. Excellent discussion, as always Frank.
OT but interesting: Rutgers Basketball has been a nightmare. A problem as a BT candidate. Two things just happened: 1) Major upgrades to BBall facility process beginning. 2) They fired the coach yesterday. AD begins National search. According to the athletic department, the short list includes:
Jim O’Brien Record: 286-274
Bio bytes: Head coach at St. Bonaventure (4 years), Boston College (11 seasons) and Ohio State (7 seasons)
Why he fits: He can coach. Flat-out, he can coach. And he can build a program. He took Ohio State to the Final Four in 1999, before it was stripped because an ineligible player was used. He is a big-name who reportedly is ready to get back in the coaching box after six years away from the game. He is from New York, has northeast roots and understands the recruiting game in the area.
The concerns: He was fired from Ohio State after giving $6,000 to a recruit from Serbia, then claimed it was to help the family in a war-torn region. He sued Ohio State and won for wrongful termination. He also had the Final Four stripped because of use of an ineligible player. He also left Boston College (his alma mater) in a huff after two recruits were denied admission, and he sued the school. Furthermore, he turned 61 Friday and being out of coaching for six years could be an issue.
Bio bytes: Head coach at Manhattan (4 seasons), St. John’s (2 seasons) and New Mexico (3 seasons)
Why he fits: He knows New York City and the Metropolitan area and can coach. He took Manhattan to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and won 22 games in his second season at St. John’s. He understands x’s and o’s, and is relevant to recruits because of his work on ESPN. He has been to three NCAAs and five NITs, and has a desire to get back into coaching.
The concerns: He hasn’t been on the bench in eight years, and there has to be a reason. He was run out of St. John’s after a 22-10 mark, and his time in New Mexico was not very good. His off-court behavior was a question, and he had the reputation for being theatrical on the sideline.
Bio bytes: Head coach at Texas El-Paso (2 seasons), Texas A&M (3 seasons) and Kentucky (2 seasons)
Why he fits: He is a workaholic and prepares teams well, coaches a defensive, tough-nosed style that can be successful even without the most athletic players. He can recruit and is personable, and has national cache after building Texas A&M in to a nationally ranked program and is well-known as a former Kentucky coach. He was a two-time Big 12 coach of the year and the SEC co-coach of the year his first season at Kentucky.
The concerns: Not only was his firing from Kentucky messy, but he has three DUI arrests on his record, although only one resulted in him pleading guilty. Once the charges were dropped, and another time he pled guilty to a lesser charge. He had an ugly firing from Kentucky, and his black-and-blue style rubs some purists the wrong way.
Bio bytes: Head coach at Pennsylvania (17 seasons) and Temple (4 seasons)
Why he fits: He is a strong game coach and understands strategy. He is a proven recruiter and has won at his two stops. He ran the dominant program in the Ivy League, and brought Temple back to relevance when he replaced legendary John Chaney. He has been to the NCAA Tournament 12 times, including each of the last three seasons. He finished lower than third place twice in his career.
The concerns: He is 61-years-old and his ties are to the Philadelphia area. Even Big East power Villanova makes a hearty living in New Jersey, and Dunphy would need to hire someone to attract New Jersey and New York City talent to Rutgers.
Bio bytes: Head coach of St. Francis, Pa. (5 seasons), St. Bonaventure (9 seasons) and Rhode Island (9 seasons)
Why he fits: Solid coach with a respectable reputation. He is the three-time Atlantic 10 coach of the year, and has made a living building supposed second-tier programs into postseason regulars. He is respectful, smart and represents universities well. He has 10 NIT appearances and two NCAA berths, and recruits New York/New Jersey.
The concerns: He is not a marquee name and will not cause the fan base to get excited. He has had success at his three head coaching stops, but not enough success to get the big programs interested. Postseason is the norm, but trips to the NCAAs few and far between. He is yet to take Rhode Island to the NCAAs, although he did win 20 games each of the last three seasons.
Obrien, Fraschilla, and Gillespie are frontrunners.
Billy Gillespie is my hands down favorite. Any thoughts on O’Brien from his time in the Big Ten at OSU?
@Rick: Regarding O’Brien as an OSU fan, it’s difficult to keep emotion out of it given how his tenure ended here. When he was fired we were also dealing with the Clarett situation, so adding problems to the basketball program was kind of throwing kerosene on the fire. OSU was hit with pretty hard sanctions because of it, ie. loss of scholarships, ban on postseason play, etc.
He can coach, there’s no question. He’s not a terrific recruiter, which was a sticking point even when OSU loved him as a coach. Additionally, during the end of his time he had health problems as I recall.
Lastly, whether or not you want to believe his payment to the Serbian player was altruistic has to come into play. Personally I don’t. He’s been a coach a long time and knew the rules. If he wanted to help out a war torn nation, there are probably countless charities where he could donate. Instead he happened to make a direct donation to the family of a kid that could play basketball. He’s either naive/irresponsible or a liar, and I tend to lean toward the latter. But, as I said, it’s difficult to be impartial.
I don’t like O’brien for this job. RU needs a younger coach (OB is 61), charismatic, great recruiter, good X/O’s. Both Gillespie and Frachilla seem to fit. Gillespie is the turnaround guy they need. Thanks
Any thoughts on Gillespie from the TAM folks?
I’m not a big basketball fan and I don’t get to follow A&M much since I live outside of Big 12 territory (if only they got into a national conference!).
That said, A&M is traditionally a school that values football and competes well in every sport but basketball. Shortly after the Big 12 formed they built a big arena to give more attention to the sport, but it wasn’t until Gillispie came along that they became a force in the Big 12.
I don’t know if you can give the credit for the recent turnaround in A&M basketball to anyone but him. To understand how dramatic the turnaround was, check the wikipedia listing of A&M basketball records through the years:
@Rick – Is there any buzz about former DePaul/UVA coach Dave Leitao? He just signed on to be an assistant with Steve Lavin at St. John’s, but he knows both the Big East and the NYC recruiting trails very well. Leitao had DePaul on the rise before he left for a large contract at UVA.
Frank: he is not being mentioned yet. Sounds good though. There is a debate as to the need for big AAU NYC metro connections vs. name turnaround guys like Gillespe. Fran F. knows his way around NY Metro AAU very well.
BTW, since this blog is showing posts using Mountain time, is that a subliminal hint that CO is still in the running…or Boise. Gotta be Boise. That’s what ND is holding out for. If the B10+ will take Boise, then they’ll let ND have a green field. Hmmm, wait a sec…
Some short blurbs from Missouri’s chancellor on Big Ten expansion from the Columbus Dispatch:
Of course, how can Mizzou really threaten the ones that are the beneficiaries of the Big XII’s revenue distribution model – specifically Texas? Texas can leave for the Big Ten or Pac-10 itself, which would crush everyone in the Big XII. Mizzou may find out that the only thing worse than the Big XII’s revenue model with Texas is the Big XII’s revenue model without Texas.
I hope he gets louder with those proclamations; they can only give a push to those who might leave the conference.
Depending on who is added to the Big Ten say (Syracuse, Rutgers, Notre Dame, and Pitt) the conference could even keep the name “Big 10” because Ten different states would be represented by members in the conference.
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-What if the NCAA allowed for a “conference tournament” for leagues with 16 or more teams (meaning Semi Finals and Conf Champ game)? In that case having 4 pods means the winners face off in the semis and then move on to a conf champ game. Just think of the money from having Iowa vs Ohio St and Penn St vs ND games to sell to ABC followed by the B10 Champ the week after. And wouldn’t having this new rule lead to the SEC moving to 16?
-Even without that senario I do like the pod format and think it is the best fit. That allows for teams to play each other one in three years vs much longer with 2 set divisions.
-If you do go 2 set divisions and the B10 goes East, then you could put most of the current B10 teams in the West leaving rivalries in place. Just move PSU and NW over to the East. I doubt they would be missed. The only issue is that the East would be much weaker having only PSU and ND as real programs.
-I find it funny how some think the B10 would ruin its brand. Nationally most people view the B10 as a slow boring conference in both FB and BBall, ranking it behind SEC/B12 (FB) and the ACC/BE (BBall). Academically I could see it but athletically not so much.
-Syracuse is like the State school of upstate NY. There are 7 million people in the region and Syracuse has a strong influence over them. So even without taking NYC into account there is plenty of reach. Also I believe Syracuse is currently the 2nd most popular BBall team in NYC behind Duke.
-Upstate NY has far more in common with the Midwest than the NE.
-Syracuse is a Top 10 BBall prorgam all time and a Top 25 Football program.
-The research money at SU simply is not there. And that is a fair point. As is being a private school. All other points being made are bogus.
Thanks everyone for the comments regarding my attempted comparison of the NHL and Big 10. Well, as I’ve seen many here attempt to nail down “what constitutes the Big 10”, here’s my “if kudzu defines the South, then _____ defines Big 10 country” – and any attempt to move significantly out/away from it should be handled with extreme scrutiny by the Presidents, lest the conference be dashed on the rocks of NHL-expansion by the siren song of TV money from far-away markets : )
Characteristics of the Big 10 brand:
1. The higher your chance of being killed by a tornado the more Big 10 it is (limits New England)
2. The more number of days below freezing (to distinguish from the SEC)
3. The more populous the state/higher the median income (brings it further East and prevents numbers 1 and 2 from centering it over North Dakota)
4. The closer to the Miss River (anchors it geographically)
I think these are the factors that you START from in your expansion. THEN (and only then) do you start asking who can get the conference the most TV’s and work out from the center of there.
From my variables, adding Texas/AM and ND would be the best way to go.
If not, then start looking at the Mizzous/Pitts/Nebraskas/Marylands
Lastly would be the SYR/Rutgers/Uconn/BCs of the world
I think this would cause the least brand disruption, but obviously what the he// do i know, its just a hypothesis …
For what it’s worth, I agree that a play for the New York City market will require a multi-school approach. However, I’m convinced that going above 12 is not good for the health of the league, no matter how much money is at stake. Conclusion: I’m inclined to forget about going after New York.
@ Adam – No, you’re not advocating NIU, but you are advocating Iowa St. They’d have about the same impact on conference finances.
Mike B., I am not advocating Iowa State on the assumption that they would be ruinous. As I said, I only mention them on the unlikely hypothetical that the Big Ten staff somehow discover something the rest of the world hasn’t about how they would be financially sound. I am not advocating Iowa State, because I accept what I think most people accept, which is that they are simply a non-option financially.
To put it another way, if it came down to Iowa State or Texas, I would say the Big Ten should stand pat at 11 teams.
Just for fun, say the Big10 got Syracuse, Rutgers, & UConn (to wrap up NYC) along with ND and Nebraska (for national appeal).
You could go with pods:
Only rivalry broken up would be Purdue-ND (and OSU-PSU).
Or, you could just forgo a championship game and have 3 permanent rivals for each team.
ND would have their 3 traditional Big10 rivals protected.
To get PU and IU on board, they would both get a new name brand protected opponent (Nebraska & OSU, respectively). PU-Northwestern would be broken up.
Nebraska’s other 2 protected rivals would be Iowa and Minn, obviously. IL-Northwestern would still be protected (as well as IU-PU). Wisconsin-IL would be protected. Iowa-Minn-Wisconsin would all still play each other. MSU-Michigan, Michigan-OSU, & OSU-PSU would still be protected. Syracuse-Rutgers-UConn would all play each other. Syracuse & Rutgers would also play PSU each year. MSU-Northwestern would be a protected rivalry now (MSU would be happy to play in Chicago every year because it has a ton of alums here). Northwestern and UConn will be the final protected rivalry (of all the Big10 schools, Northwestern probably has the biggest percentage of alums on the East Coast, and Hartford is reachable from NYC and all of New England).
One game a year, ND/OSU/Michigan/PSU will play ‘Cuse/Rutgers/UConn in the Meadowlands or Buffalo (PSU/OSU vs. SU) or Foxboro (ND vs. UConn) or Philly (PSU vs. Rutgers) in the Big Ten Kickoff Classic to start the season.
Another game on November between the previous set of schools will be played at Yankee Stadium or Northwestern will play somebody at Wrigley.
Back in the day, I use to think ND joining the Big Ten would be good but I no longer buy that notion. (disclaimer, I did my undergrad at Michigan State and my grad at a Jesuit school, SF). It is similar to group identity politics. Someone or some group has to play the role of the ‘Other’. ND self-identity as a major independent while sitting in the middle of Big Ten country fits this role. It is why this particular conference more than any other causes more bantering between fans about most wins, best win pct., most Heismans, most NC, tie one for the Gipper, etc. The long kabuki dance of being in the same conference really needs to end. While both sides have been willing to adjust their academic brands, they still haven’t made the move.
Since the Texas two-step (UT & TAMU) doesn’t seem feasible, I’m more for a return to extending the brand by a combo of academics, athletics, 10 figure endowments and a few new TV markets. It may not be the home runs fans are wishing for but I think there is still a lot of present and future value in expansion.
If it’s going to be 16, then I see similar pods as above.
Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska
Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, Indiana
Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Pittsburgh
Penn State, Maryland, Virginia, Rutgers
If Virginia is willing to join. I’d prefer capturing NYC (which I think is possible even without ND, though it would require bringing in all 3 of Rutgers, Syracuse, and UConn).
BTW, that article doesn’t have it’s facts right. The author seems to think ND would take a paycut if they join any conference, which just isn’t true (as any reader of this blog would know). The BCS money also isn’t that much different (unless ND starts going to the BCS every other year or so, which they haven’t done recently).
By reading these posts, Nebraska is sounding better to me all the time. They bring the Midwestern cultural fit unlike other serious candidates like Texas and the Big East candidates. I’m an Illini fan and talking to Hawkeye and Badger fans last night at a party, they feel strongly about trying to keep it primarily a Midwestern conference. But, is that really going to matter to the decision makers? I am still intrigued by Maryland and the recent blog on the 3 other top academic institutions of the ACC–Virginia, North Carolina and Duke, as expansion possiblities.
Scott C: The academic all-american list is rather interesting. However, I’d support Nebraska joining the Big Ten for a lot of reasons beyond that. Excellent football. Good director’s cup ranking for overall sports. Good academics. Good level of research–that would add to the CIC. Excellent fans. Very good fit geographically. And a reach well beyond the population of Nebraska’s 2.8 million. Add in the Dakotas (1.4 million), plus regional fans in Kansas, eastern Colorado, Montana, (I won’t count those in Minnesota and Iowa who are already in Big Ten country), plus those who follow the team elsewhere around the country, and I think they’d be a great addition. Although I’d love to see Texas join the league, too, I’d argue they are probably the best overall fit to the current Big Ten.
Actually, academics & research would be a negative for Nebraska (they’d be worse than any present Big10 member), though they’re no worse than any other Big12 North team besides Colorado and seem to want to improve academically.
In academics, Nebraska is ranked lower than ideal, but it’s not, in my mind, unreasonable. It’s ranked in the 71-90 range by ARWU. Yes, that’s below all other Big Ten schools. And it’s below Texas, Texas A&M, Maryland, Pitt, and Rutgers. It’s tied with UConn and ranked ahead of Kansas, Missouri, Boston College and Notre Dame. (Again, according to ARWU.)
Nebraska is ranked lower in the US News rankings, tied with Kansas at 96. That’s behind all Big Ten schools and behind almost all other candidate schools.
Nebraska’s 2008 research number is #52 among US universities, with $349,220,000. That’s not far behind Michigan State ($356,767,000, currently at #10) and ahead of Iowa ($293,564,000, currently #11). (For some reason Iowa dropped a lot in 2008, down from $363,243,000 in 2007 and $346,357,000 in 2006, otherwise you’d be right, Nebraska would be behind all Big Ten schools, but not far off the lower end.) So Nebraska would add something to the CIC.
Compared to other candidate schools being discussed, Nebraska does smaller research numbers than Pitt ($595,627,000), Texas A&M ($582,365,000), Texas ($493,294,000, and Maryland ($395,037,000), but a bit more than Rutgers ($323,404,000), and noticeably more than Missouri ($249,210,000), UConn ($225,904,000) and Kansas ($215,364,000). (And, as previously pointed out, it’s vastly more than Notre Dame, Boston College and Syracuse.)
It has been very interesting reading this article by Frank and the many comments by the Big 10 fans. It gives an outsider like myself (a Bama/SEC fan) a sense of what the Big 10 fans are thinking in regards to expansion and they all have been very interesting thoughts and insight. If I was in the Big 10’s shoes though, I would be very aware of the mistakes that the Big 12 and the ACC committed when they expanded.
The Big 12, in an attempt keep the conference strictly divided geographically, they made the conference divisions very uneven by putting both TX and OK in the same division (although they really didn’t know that Neb would be down as long as they have). This is where the Big 12 missed the boat.
The ACC, in an attempt to make their divisions equal, didn’t pay enough attention to aligning the teams geographically to where rivalries have a better chance to florish. They also made a mistake of bringing BC which has no rivals in the ACC (or not bringing in a school close to them to spurn a regional rivalry).
If the Big 10 does expand, they need to be cognizant of regional rivalries while also being cognizant of not making one division stronger by giving it the upper tier teams.
I think that Justin’s 2 division breakdown with SU, UConn, BC, & Rutgers along with ND, PSU, Purd, and IN in the eastern division gives the Big 10 the best scenario on expansion. You wrap up the whole NE market to yourselves and not allowing the ACC to get in on it. Plus you create regional rivalries with the NE schools and PSU and ND (which has a huge NE following). Plus the Indiana schools stay together for rivalry reasons and BC and ND can create a “Catholic” rivalry. This is the best chance anyone has to tap into the NE college football market by creating very interesting matchups for them. Plus The “core” Big 10 schools (outside of Purd & IN) also get to keep their rivalries. Gaining market share for the Big 10 network seems to be the whole reason for the expansion and this seems to be the best way to ensure that you gain the NY/NJ/Conn & Boston markets.
Expansion for the Big12 has been more lucrative than expansion for the ACC, so it seems that dividing divisions in order to acheive perceived balance is a bad idea in general.
BTW, I don’t think PU and IU would be too happy with virtually never playing Michigan & OSU, even if IU does add ND as a permanent game (the Indiana schools care far more about playing Michigan & OSU than they do about playing PSU).
I totally agree with Richard that “dividing divisions in order to achieve perceived balance is a bad idea in general.” When you rip up the traditional rivalries that are what keep people coming back for more in college football, you risk killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Bill James once said that a postseason format is only interesting if it achieves a balance between the champion being legitimate, but not necessarily the best team. When the best team always wins, it becomes more boring. I think being too worried about “balancing” the divisions is in much the same vein.
I agree that you can’t sacrifice ripping up traditional rivalries for balance (this is exactly what the ACC did and it isn’t working out for them very well). My point was that you have to consider both points when dividing up the conference. Take the SEC for example. the SEC was able to divide up the conference so that there was both balance and most of the rivalries were kept (if the SEC hadn’t considered conference balance, Auburn would be in the SEC East and Vandy would be in the SEC West per geography). But in order for the SEC to accomplish this, they had to add the permenant cross conference game so that the Bama/Tenn and Auburn/UGA rivalries stayed intact. My point is that it is a delicate balancing act between keeping the conference divisions balanced and keeping the rivalries intact and it is easier said than done.
Funny that you say that. I don’t know a lot about SEC geography or culture or business, but I’ve often remarked that, in my opinion, it’d be better to swap Vanderbilt for Auburn in the alignment, and then have Auburn’s permanent interdivisional rival be Alabama and Tennessee’s be Vanderbilt. That way you could bring back an annual series between Florida and Auburn, and Alabama and Vanderbilt. But I’m not an “SEC guy,” so I really can’t seriously recommend that because I know that I don’t know what I’m talking about.
There are two reasons that the SEC decided to put Auburn in the West and Vandy in the East. The first reason was so that there would be balance between the two divisions. If Vandy was in the west, then Bama would’ve been the only school that would be competing year in and year out for the SEC West championship (LSU was in a pretty deep funk back at the time of the SEC expansion, and had been for several decades ). So they had to put Auburn there to balance it out. Plus, they had to find a way to keep Bama’s rivalries with both Auburn and Tenn. They couldn’t sacrifice the Bama/Tenn game for the Auburn/Fla game. But one of the rivalries had to be sacrificed. That is one of the issues that the Big 10 will have to come to terms with. I don’t see any way that all of the current Big 10 teams will be able to keep both OSU and Mich on their schedule every year. So the Big 10 will have to decide which yearly games can be saved and which ones will need to be sacrificed.
And I have to disagree with your statement above that when the best teams win it becomes boring. Take a look at the year before last’s conference championship games. The SEC had Bama & Fla playing and the Big 12 had OK & somebody that I couldn’t remember without having to look it up (btw, it was Mizzou). Which game do you think had the higher ratings and got the most exposure in the media? If OK had been in the Big 12 south, then the big 12 championship game would’ve got about the same amount of coverage as the SEC game (and they wouldn’t have had to endure the scrutiny of OK playing in the game even though TX had beaten them that year, which is a whole other story). College football is much better off when the traditional powers are playing for the championships (whether it be for the conference championships or the BCS championships). Which game would you rather watch, a conference championship between OSU & PSU or a championship game between Indiana and OSU? I know as an outsider, the idea of an IN vs OSU game doesn’t excite me any where near as much as a PSU vs OSU. For the championship game to stir the national interest that it needs to in order for the game to get the exposure it needs in the media, the best teams need to be playing in it. Again, just my 2 cents worth from an SEC guy looking in from the outside. But I think that the SEC has got it about a close as anyone can which it comes to conference divisions and balancing both the teams in the divisions and deciding which rivalries it can keep and which need to be sacrificed.
You’re right that not everybody can stay on OSU’s and Michigan’s annual schedule. I’ve proposed a divisional split that I think preserves the most important rivalries. Assuming the 12th team is Notre Dame:
A Division: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin
B Division: Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State
And then it’s just a matter of arguing which game is the inter-divisional game. I believe the layout I proposed was:
I believe the only important rivalry that does not protect is Purdue-Indiana, and it makes several others (esp. Illinois-OSU, Michigan-Minnesota, MSU-Wisconsin) annual series.
For other realistic and popular expansion candidates, I’d substitute Syracuse for Notre Dame in the “B” Division (I think Syracuse is going to need to be in the same group as Penn State). If it’s Missouri or Nebraska, slide Purdue into the “B” Division and put Missouri or Nebraska in the “A” group. No point in further debating the interdivisional matchups at this point though.
If it’s 14, all bets are off.
Adam, I don’t see how dividing the divisions up in a manner where you have all of your traditional powers in one division will accomplish the goal of creating an exciting championship game on a national level. One of the main reasons that the powers that be in the Big 10 want to expand is so that the conference will remain relevent in December. Have a Big 10 conference championship between the NWs, Purdues, Illinois or the big ten against the UMs, PSUs, and OSUs of the Big 10 will not garner the attention from a national standpoint that the championship game needs to do. You will have to find a way to split OSU, PSU, UM, and ND/Neb if they join so that they play against each other in the conference championship games most years, or no one outside of the Big 10 will care about it. JMHO
I think the regular season, which lasts many weeks, is more important than the CCG, which is 1 game.
Whatever happens in regards to splitting up the Big Ten, they have to be extremely careful. I don’t think Nebraska would even consider leaving the Big XII had their rivalry with Oklahoma remained intact. No matter how people tried to spin the games with the rest of the Big XII North, none of the series with those teams were on the level of Nebraska/Oklahoma. I don’t think there is any way to truly split the Big Ten in such a way that everyone will be happy with the outcome.
True, which is an argument for not having a championship game but 3 protected rivals for each team. No teams will play championship week, and there’s sure to be tiebreaker controversies (though the Big10 could use the old tie-breaker of whoever hasn’t gone to the Rose Bowl/been champion longest), but there could be a bunch of games that have an impact on the conference title through November.
I completely agree with you on the idea that Nebraska wouldn’t be nearly as anxious to jump out of the Big 12 if the Oklahoma rivalry was still alive. Nearly every Husker fan will tell you that the Big 12 killed our only real rivalry and there is great resentment for that deep within the Husker faithful. That would be another perk for leaving the Big 12 is that atleast we could have the opportunity to schedule Oklahoma more often as a non-conference. As it is right now, we play Oklahoma 2 years; then off two years. That just is not enough with a rivalry of that magnitude; can you imagine OSU/Michigan taking a 2 year hiatus? Never. The death of the OU/NU rivalry is just one of the reasons Husker fans are ready to see the Big 12 in our rearview.
Bit late to the game on this one but you’ve got twins, so you know how it is!
Read the Barnhart piece and thought about you. Glad you picked up on it. FWIW, my thoughts:
This is an obvious “stalking horse” “leak” to Barnhart, with the B10 basically all but telling ND that if they want in, they’re in. Look at the scenarios:
1) B10 stands pat at 11. That would look kinda silly after all the hand signals and farting noises about expansion; it seems to say that “only ND is good enough for us.”
2) B10 expands by 1 (especially if ND is the 1). No more evidence is needed that the B10 really wants ND, especially being mentioned by name!
3) B10 expands to 16. Aside from being a long shot, expansion to 16 would probably be “it” for the foreseeable future. Any conference bigger than 16 would likely be too unwieldy, as discussed above.
As I see it, scenario 1 says to ND, “we want you and if you don’t want to join us right now, we’ll probably just stay as is.” Scenario 2 (with Scenario 3) says, “we’d expand beyond 12, but if we had you, ND, you’d be the only one we’d need to expand.” Scenario 3 is the stick to get ND off the dime, “if you choose not to join us, remember that we could expand to the point where the door is shut and you’re on the outside looking in.”
What this tells me is that while the B10 really, really wants ND, ND is still hemming and hawing and having a hard time getting off the fence.
I do think it is interesting that after all this time and multiple rejections the B10 STILL wants to court Our Lady and take her in.
As far as the alternatives, I could see the Big Ten expanding to 12 or 14 without ND. But I don’t think the B10 expands to 16 WITHOUT Our Lady. Reason being that I think the Big Ten will always leave the door open for dear Notre Dame.
I think the Big Ten’s timing is off. I don’t think ND is quite ready to throw in the towel on independence just yet. I think they need a year or two with Kelly; if he can take them to the BCS, I think ND will think “they’re back” and want to hang onto independence. If not, well…
If ND would reject a Big Ten invite (yet again), I too am hopeful that the B10 would cast it’s eyes westward towards the Huskers. Gonna be an interesting summer, that’s for sure.
@84Lion- Well thought out post. Without TX/A&M or ND, it would, IMO, be inconceivable that they not add at least one. Nebraska would appear to be the best choice of those passing Franks ‘smell test’. This would still allow Delany and the COP/C to go for control of the Northeast at a later time. That way, they won’t look like arrogant idiots for not finding anyone ‘worthy’ of Big Televen expansion.
It doesn’t appear that the non-revenue sports mean very much to ND, and since both