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Big Ten To Add More Conference Games; Is This Another Lure For UVA, GT, UNC And Duke?

luresThe Big Ten will move to at least nine conference football games per season and possibly 10 according to league commissioner Jim Delany.  The move has been rumored for several weeks, but Delany confirmed the decision yesterday:

 

“There’s real recognition that we now live in two regions of the country, and we want to make sure those are bound together as best we can, so more games (makes sense).  Eight games is not on the table.  It’s nine or 10.”

 

Ohio State AD Gene Smith also said: “There’s television considerations there when you have intriguing conference matchups that are better than some of our non-conference matchups, that’s an important piece.”

That could also be an important piece for the SEC moving forward.  Under current plans, the Big Ten, Pac-12, and Big XII will all be playing at least nine conference games per year.  The SEC currently plays eight league games.  The SEC’s format results in one more cupcake game per year for each school and fewer visits to and from conference rivals.

Eventually — as we’ve stated for more than a year — the Southeastern Conference will move to a nine-game schedule.  It will have to (barring a scheduling alliance with another conference).  Its television partners and the league’s own SEC Network will require such a move for content purposes.  And with a selection committee deciding each year’s four playoff participants, the SEC won’t be able to allow other leagues to claim their teams are playing tougher schedules.  There is already a move to “spread the wealth” of football championships or else there would be no new playoff in the first place.  If members of the selection committee can point to something as simple as “SEC teams play more creampuff non-conference games,” you better believe they’ll do so in order to get teams from as many leagues as possible into the playoffs each year.

But look again at Delany’s statement.  “We now live in two regions of the country,” meaning the Midwest and the East.  There are hardly as many Big Ten schools in the East as there are in the Midwest.  But more are probably on the way.

In recent weeks we’ve reported that our sources have said Virginia and Georgia Tech have both had contact with the Big Ten.  We’ve been told those schools are waiting to see the final bill Maryland will have to pay to get out of the ACC before they decide whether or not to follow the Terrapins’ lead.  Everyone and their brother is now reporting the same thing (or at least reporting on the reports that are already out there).

There have also been rumors that the Big Ten is wooing North Carolina, Duke, Boston College, and Florida State.  At MrSEC.com, we don’t see BC or FSU as being realistic partners with the Big Ten as they lack AAU status, but we’ll mention the rumors just the same.

By adding Maryland and Rutgers late last year, Delany’s league made it clear that it is a) looking to add large numbers of cable households for its Big Ten Network and b) trying to expand southward.  As Delany himself has mentioned time and again, part of the decision to look south is driven by population shifts and demographics.  Several Big Ten states have the slowest growth rates in the country.  Some of the fastest growing states are in the South.  So if you want more television revenue and you need robust populations to create new students and donors, clearly you try to grab a number of top schools farther south.

So what’s this have to do with adding conference games?

A move to nine or 10 conference games could be a lure to a number of ACC schools.  “Come with us and you can continue to pal around with a number of your old buddies.”  If the Big Ten — and this is simply speculation — were to add Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, and Georgia Tech to the recently nabbed Maryland and Rutgers, well, that would be an East Division.

And Delany seems to be considering several moves that would please the ACC schools on his wish list.

There have been recent rumblings that the Big Ten might add lacrosse power Johns Hopkins to its roster of teams in some partial capacity.  That league’s academic consortium — the Committee on Institutional Cooperation — already includes the University of Chicago, once a full-fledged Big Ten member before it downshifted out of the world of big-time athletics.  Opening a door to Johns Hopkins for lacrosse and the CIC would not require a paradigm shift as the Big Ten already has a partial member.

Now consider the fact that the Big Ten has three lacrosse-playing schools who have to play that sport in other conferences.  And also keep in mind that the four current, lacrosse-playing ACC schools are Maryland (moving to the Big Ten), Virginia, North Carolina, and Duke.  Hmmm.

Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture here.  Delany has said that his league has to pay attention to population shifts into the Sun Belt region.  He’s just grabbed Rutgers and Maryland.  One of those schools brings the nation’s largest television market into the Big Ten fold.  The other provides the Washington, DC and Baltimore markets as well as a gateway into the South.  Adding Johns Hopkins would give the Big Ten the opportunity to create a lacrosse league for new ACC targets and it would further strengthen the Big Ten’s academic reputation.  Finally, Delany’s league will be adding conference games which will allow any new ACC targets to play each other more often and soften the blow of realignment/expansion.

That’s a lot to sell to the administrations of Virginia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Duke.

They could join the richest college conference (which also makes the Big Ten a stable college conference).  They could enter a peer group of some of the top academic universities in the country (including the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins).  Lacrosse schools like Virginia, Duke and North Carolina could partner with Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan to form a strong league.  And those Eastern/Southern teams could play each other more often in football and basketball.

Imagine a Big Ten consisting of three six-school divisions:

 

  West   Central   East
  Illinois   Indiana   Duke
  Iowa   Michigan   Georgia Tech
  Minnesota   Michigan State   Maryland
  Nebraska   Ohio State   North Carolina
  Northwestern   Penn State   Virginia
  Wisconsin   Purdue   Rutgers

 

It would be hard for the SEC or any other conference to match such a league in terms of cable households, nationally-known sports brands, and academic reputation.  If the Big Ten could pull all of that off it would — in theory — set itself up for years of success to come.

And from lacrosse rumors to changes in the league’s scheduling format, we believe that’s exactly what the Big Ten is indeed hoping to pull off.

 


175 comments
DanHogan
DanHogan

I have to say that I really surprised to hear you putting LAX into the conference realignment puzzle  You've banged on the drums from the beginning that this is driven by academics/research and football to the extent that even basketball is a long-forgotten consequence.  Living in Maryland when Maryland basketball made a real run and later when multiple LAX teams were at the top, I can tell you that LAX plays a significant back seat to college basketball.  And this is in what I would think is one of the bigtime LAX centers in the country. 

ezgame
ezgame

 I enjoyed everyones input from the comments below.  Really got into what makes a conference choose which university (money, AAU status, geography-location, tradition, branding, etc).  Also, really enjoyed the debates of... if this then that, may happen...  Good stuff, guys.  Really!

For my 2 cents:  IMHO, being a Big10 fan, the beauty of the BTN is 3 fold.  One, its an equal partnership between all participating universities.  Two, it is its own network, not a channel within ESPN.  Three, the BTN is supported or sponsored by Fox, not ESPN (nothing personal against ESPN, but they're just too big.  You may not get your local team televised, or you're at ESPN's mercy... unless you pay more for "ESPN on demand").  Yes, there are areas of improvement that the BTN can & should review.  But overall it is satisfactory for me.

Now the reason that spurred this comment.  Some believe the BTN is in the drivers seat ("catbird seat" was the term used below)?  I agree.  Some believe the 2016-17 BTN TV contract will be huge, and possibly overshadow the SEC, PAC12, Big12 & ACC contracts?  I agree.  Here's the debate...  Some believe ESPN might skew or save a conference by influencing a particular university from leaving?  Possible, but not probable, and here's why.

Part 1:  IMHO, ESPN is currently under contract with the ACC for $3.6B 15yrs (yr 2 is 2013).  If UNC or whomever were to do an analysis of money in 2018, I'm confident the BTN would be around the reported $40 Mill vs the ACC's contract of $17 Mill (40-17 = 23, vs 35-17 = 18).  Choice is clear, BTN & Big10 conference are clear winners with a minimum estimate of $5Mill more than SEC, and $23Mill more than ACC.  But the true beauty is that these figures are MINIMUMs, which may not include what the BTN will pull in with the additions of NYC, DC & Baltimore areas (might have 1 years worth of data).  Those local TV agreements may boost the BTN's revenue another $50 to +500 Mill each yr, depending upon basic cable subscribers per year?  As more & more people become comfortable with the product, more & more cable subscribers will buy the BTN in surrounding areas.  The BTN is a self generating monster, which every universitites graduating class will go forth and multiply (whether urban or suburban, local or national).

Part 2:  The Big10 & BTN gets some of its money from basic cable subscribers (49%).  Some from ESPN Tier 1 & 2 rights ($100Mill per yr), and even some from Bowls & Final 4 appearances.  Why not use the BTN profits (49%) to guide the next round of TV negotiations in 2016/17?  If the BTN is pulling in $300 mill, should that not be the starting point for the next go around of Tier 1 & 2 TV rights?  Why would the Big10 regress to the $100 Mill point back in 2006-07?  I say push the envelope, start bidding at $300 or $350 Mill per yr (knowing exactly what the BTN has AND what the ACC, SEC, Big12 & Pac12 contracts were-are).  I truly think the Big10's 2016-17 TV contract will be the first $5 Billion dollar deal ever for Tier 1 & 2 rights (well maybe 4.75 or 4.8), with time length of 10 to 15 yrs.  I just don't see any conference keeping pace, even if ESPN were to double all existing contracts.  Time will tell.

Lastly, everything is uncertain & these are just my thoughts & feelings.  It would be nice (like having cake & eating it too) if the Big10 would win a Natty now & then :)  So for you SEC homers...  good job winning 7, 8, 9 or 10 in a row...  Big10 is coming (one of these years).

kentky95
kentky95

I agree that the SEC should add FSU and Clemson if we are going to add any other universities.  It would only enhance the SEC brand while blocking the Big 12 out of SEC country.  If we must have the North Carolina and Virginia  footprint fine, add them too, but FSU and Clemson should be the first choices.  They fit the SEC culture like no other  that are not already in the SEC.

JayBoDingess
JayBoDingess

I admit, I am an SEC homer, but I just have to step in and say a few things a couple of things here...

 

There is nothing anywhere from the SEC offices that state they are looking at adding AAU schools.  That is just a made up attempt to portray the SEC as something it isn't out of fear the Big 10 has somehow "one-up'd" the SEC. It is mere coincidence that the most recent additions to the SEC were AAU schools. They were brought in for their markets. Texas A&M has a recognizable brand with historical significance in college football, and they reside within a state that has 26 million people, tons of recruits and huge metropolitan areas to sell the upcoming SEC Network. The AAU never came into the equation.

 

Essentially the same reasons brought Missouri on board. They don't offer the recruiting base that A&M does, but they bring 6 million potential viewers and two top 50 television markets in St. Louis and Kansas City. Again, AAU was never... I repeat... N-E-V-E-R part of the equation to bring them in. So just stop with that attempt at making it out as if the SEC is doing something it isn't just to try and pump up the SEC's academics as if they aren't good enough to stand on their own. The SEC's academics are just fine. Anyone graduating from one of their schools should hold their head high and be proud. There are nearly 1000 colleges and universities in this country alone. Every single SEC school is ranked in the top 20% of all schools in the country. Some of the schools have different missions than schools in other conferences, but they accomplish their missions just fine.

 

If the SEC brings in a school that just happens to be an AAU member, then so be it. Nothing bad about that, but it is not a deal maker or breaker in the least in terms of determining a new member.

 

The SEC has won the last 7 national titles because they put the best product on the field. Not because they get confused about whether or not football is noble or not. they recognize football for what it is... a sport and marketing tool to advertise their universities, and they do it better than all the other conferences combined. If AAU membership equated success on the field, the Big 10 would have won the last 25 titles in a row. All those US News rankings and AAU members haven't been able to figure out a way to beat the SEC in bowls with any regularity.

 

The one thing the SEC lacks is large metropolitan markets to sell its new network to.

 

As for the schools mentioned as options... in breath, it is claimed that AAU membership is a primary target of the SEC, and in the next, the talk is about bringing in Virginia Tech and NC State... neither of which are in any danger of being accepted into the AAU in the near future. Those two schools do offer a solid product on the field, which is what has separated the SEC from the rest of the pack over the last decade. Cincinnati is also a school that is not an AAU member, but has been bandied about in this discussion. I mentioned them in a previous post, but not because they have anything to do with AAU status.

 

So which is it?  AAU or strong product in the field in a new market?

 

In reference to Virginia Tech offering all the same markets that WVU does... all I can say is... WHAT? You do realize West Virginia and Virginia Tech are in two totally separate states, right? You also realize that there are 11 FBS schools in closer geographic proximity to the D.C./Baltimore metro areas than Virginia Tech too, right? I bet you didn't.

 

I am no expert on West Virginia or Virginia geography, but I do have a marketing degree, and I am familiar with the top 210 TV markets. The first 100 are considered to be the so-called large markets and the latter 110 are considered the smaller markets. Typically, marketing firms focus on the top 50 markets when pushing a product, because most of the smaller markets are covered within those top 50 to a degree.

 

Looking at the markets in Virginia and West Virginia, VT has no influence on the #65 national market (Charleston-Huntington):

 

http://www.wchstv.com/market.shtml

 

Morgantown, itself, is part of the #23 Pittsburgh market:

 

http://www.truckads.com/Affiliate/Pittsburgh.htm

 

Although one of the smaller markets, the Wheeling, WV/Steubenville, OH market is not impacted in the least by Virginia Tech.

 

If your argument is that you just like VT better than WVU, then just say that outright. You don't have to justify it with made up reasons for your preference, just say you don't like a particular school.

 

So almost none of your arguments are based in fact, but solely your own opinion that your are passing off as fact.

 

The SEC is the dominant conference in college athletics, and we don't have to apologize for it, and we certainly don't need hyperbolic arguments to make our case for it.

 

7 national titles in a row speaks for itself. We also have at least 3 national titles in the last 8 years in basketball. We have done it all without a lineup of AAU schools or large media markets. If we add either of those, it will just be icing on the cake.

Niner5
Niner5

Being a B1G fan I'm more than slightly amused at how many of the SEC'er comments above keep mentioning how the SEC is only going to consider AAU schools in it's next expansion.  Even if it were true, which I highly doubt, don't think for even a millisecond that the B1G won't get any AAU school it wants.  The B1G is the leading conference for research dollars and AAU membership, and any school with half a brain would want to be a member in the B1G over the SEC.   Sorry, but your football dominance (at this time in history) means nothing compared to the billions of dollars in research grants that can be obtained by being a member of the B1G.  Presidents make this decision, not fans or ADs.  Best get your minds wrapped around that concept.

 

UNC and UVA...(the two biggest prizes in the expansion wars right now)...will go B1G if they decide to go any where.   This is undisputed fact.  Any other AAU school the B1G wants, it will get, all others conferences will wait for leftovers...including the SEC.  Don't even attempt to challenge this statement, you will only make yourself look silly. 

 

Regarding Notre Dame...again, those of you stating they will go Big12 over the B1G are truly insane.  There are NO traditional ND rivals in the Big12.  Plus, the geography of the Big12 is not where the majority of ND alumni reside.  Basically, you have very little value to them other than a place to stick their olympic sports once the ACC collapses.  Again, indisputable fact.

 

So, to recap, the B1G will dominate expansion going forward....all others will sit and wait for the leftovers.  Only good news for you is that quality schools like VT, FSU, CLEM and PITT will not be considered by the B1G...at least if it decides to not go beyond 20 schools.

 

UVA, UNC, GT, Mizzu, ND and BC will be the next six for the B1G, with the last two not coming on board (as a package deal) for several years due to ND holding out as an IND.

 

MemphisFanPSN
MemphisFanPSN

@jay_256 @H_Scott012 My bad. I gave you the wrong link.

DaveHenson
DaveHenson

Big Ten, I will see your 18-school, three division league and raise you:

 

EAST

Virginia Tech

NC State

Clemson

South Carolina

Georgia

Florida

 

CENTRAL

Kentucky

Tennessee

Vanderbilt

Alabama

Auburn

FSU

 

WEST

Missouri

Arkansas

Mississippi

Mississippi State

LSU

Texas A&M

 

These divisions would be competitively equal and actually make geographic sense (as would the Southeastern Conference as a whole).

 

Perhaps more importantly, it would alleviate the scheduling bottleneck that having just two divisions is creating.  Each team plays the others in their division (5 games), a permanent opponent from each of the other divisions (2 games) and a rotating opponent from each of the other divisions (2 games).  With this nine game schedule format, all cross divisional rivalries are maintained and each team gets guaranteed annual exposure throughout the league's footprint.

 

Dammit Slive, make it happen. SEC supporters want FSU and Clemson, period.  Virginia Tech and NC State will do more than enough to increase our television footprint, which would then cover all of the former Confederacy (with Kentucky and Missouri to boot).  Adding FSU and Clemson is about ENHANCING THE BRAND, and wrapping up the Florida market can't hurt either.

 

 

JayBoDingess
JayBoDingess

Going by the information posted about numbers for R&D, by adding UVA, UNC, Duke, GT, Missouri & ND, the Big 10 would effectively be adding Three Billion Dollars in annual research funds to their CIC.

 

That is a lot of money to add to their circle of power in controling the government's research dollars.

Seanbo
Seanbo

If the SEC took UNC, Duke, Virginia Tech and  Florida State, there is nothing left for the B1G Ten to take or even consider in the south.  At that point, it doesn't matter what the B1G does expansion wise because all the markets that the SEC values is protected.  The B1G won't take NC State and Clemson, what's left? Georgia Tech, so what.

 

The SEC won't have to revisit expansion again until the Big XII grant of rights expire in 2025.  At that point, the SEC can consider whether they want to go to 20 with (a) Texas and Oklahoma, (b) Texas and West Virginia or (c) Oklahoma and West Virginia.

 

BTN est 2007
BTN est 2007

SEC will get the scraps deemed unworthy by the Big Ten.  Try as you might, you are not on the Big Ten's level.

Holtbru
Holtbru

Whatever The Big 10 decides to do on expansion, and if Mr. Slive is waiting on The Big 10 to move again FIRST, then I feel rather sure that Mr. Slive has his Plan A, B, or C......depending on how things go.....  

 

It would be interesting though, if either the ACC or Big 12 decided through talks with the SEC and Mr. Slive, that one of the these conferences decided to  move into the SEC Conference Scenario..... I wonder if  Mr. Slive has had that kind of discussion with either or both conferences.....?!

 

BRUCE

JayBoDingess
JayBoDingess

Delaney said recently that expansion could go south or west for the Big 10. The SEC has "no-buy" out for its members. Missouri originally wanted to be in the Big 10, and many believe after the manhandling they received this year in the SEC, they would love a chance to jump to the Big 10, which would be a penalty-free jump.

 

Boston College and Florida State are not AAU schools, and they will not be invited to join the Big 10. The only exception to the AAU requirement is Notre Dame, and I will address that shortly.

 

I agree that UVA, UNC, Duke and GT all end up in the Big 10. But I do not agree that it will end there. A 20-team Big 10 essentially creates two "Big 10's," if you will; a “Big 10 East” and a “Big 10 West.” They already said they were losing the leaders and legends divisional names. This 10-team divisional format allows them to work the Big 10 brand into media conversation more. Instead of saying Leader Division Champion, so-and-so, they will say Big 10 West Division Champion, so-and-so.

 

The four ACC schools will give the conference 18 members. Missouri will come on board and make 19 members. The ACC will be crippled. Notre Dame will have no legitimate home for its non-revenue sports. The Big 10 has always coveted Notre Dame. This is how the Big 10 finally forces the hand of Notre Dame, and gets their full membership into the conference as team number 20. Notre Dame's issue has been their independence, but there will be no one left to allow their Olympic sports to feed off of them. They also fancy themselves a national institution that plays a national schedule.

 

With 20 members in two time zones in several regions in the country including the northeast, mid-west, and deep south, this effectively serves as a national schedule for Notre Dame. With a 10-game conference schedule and two nonconference games, Notre Dame can still play USC and Navy every year and face most of their traditional rivals in conference play as well. Keep in mind that Notre Dame has already agreed to schedule 6 ACC teams each year in football, so changing up their schedule won't be the issue that some will claim it is. Notre Dame's Chancellor stated in 2010, I believe, that Notre Dame's hand may one day be forced in terms of having to join a conference.

 

Also important to note is that just yesterday, February 12, 2013, Comcast (the parent company of the Big 10 Network) bought out General Electric's stake in NBC for $16 billion. That can seriously influence the television contract Notre Dame has with NBC.

 

For the SEC and their new coming network, they will end up taking Virginia Tech and North Carolina State. After losing Missouri, this will put them at 15 teams. There are few options left on the table for the SEC if they truly intend to refrain from taking schools in states where there is already an SEC member. And with the grant of rights in the Big 12, that eliminates any of their members for the time being.

 

So the next logical choice in terms of adding a new large TV market for their network, adding a new recruiting area, remaining in a contiguous conference footprint, and shooting a cannonball across the bow of the Big 10 by moving into their back yard after having the Big 10 encroach upon SEC territory and take one of their members is to move into Ohio State's back yard and take Cincinnati.

 

I know people won't accept it. Save the arguments against it. I already know what you will say.  And you have a valid point, I do not deny that.

But we as fans won't be making the decisions. Business men parading around as college leaders will make the decisions. Cincinnati may not be at the level of the upper echelon of SEC football, but they have come a long way in the last 10 years, and their basketball program would immediately be top 1/3 in the SEC. They also make a nice basketball rival for nearby state border rival Kentucky. Make no mistake, this is about football, but the SEC Network will need year-round content, and Cincinnati would be a nice get. Tommy Tuberville will begin the process of turning Cincinnati into an SEC-modeled program immediately. They won't challenge to top tier of the conference, but they will fit in nicely for the role they will be expected to play.

 

The Big 10 will be the only 20-team conference for the foreseeable future, but all bets are off after the Big 12's grant of rights expires if they fail to renew it when the time comes.

 

Until then, with the SEC growing to 16 members, and waits to see what happens with the Big 12 down the road.

 

With the ACC in shambles, the Big 12 could swoop in and offer homes to Florida State, Miami, Clemson, Louisville, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Syracuse. They probably won't grow that big, but it makes sense for them to expand into the huge eastern markets. The Big 12 currently sits in only 5 states. Adding those eight schools adds an additional 7 states to their geographic footprint and essentially triples the amount of potential viewers they have currently.

 

This would give the Big 12 18 teams, nine members in the west that are traditional Big 12 members, and nine members in the east that mostly have a history together.

 

In the West Division, you would have Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State.

 

In the East Division you would have West Virginia, Florida State, Miami, Clemson, Wake Forest, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Syracuse.

 

Without specific numbers at hand, those 8 schools would bring approximately 15 previous national titles and 8 Heisman trophies to the Big 12's line up - give or take. It also brings in several national titles in basketball. That is a pretty good haul for the Big 12. It also brings in a minimum of four additional top 50 television markets.

 

Who knows what the Pac-12 will do, but they remain unchallenged out west, so they have no need to expand any further if they are comfortable at 12 members. They will act if the Big 12 allows its grant of rights to expire, but as much money as the Big 12 is making, that seems unlikely.

ezgame
ezgame

 @DanHogan  Not disagreeing with you.  But if you were to rank the sports, wouldn't you come up with Football, Basketball, Hockey, Baseball/softball, volleyball, soccor, T&F-XC, Gym & Wrestling, Tennis, Swim&Dive, Golf, Rowing, LAX and finally Field Hockey?  Base your rankings on how many fans show up, and I think the above is pretty close to what each conference draws (some schools may draw more for wrestling than T&F-XC, but think of averages from a conference stand point).

 

Guess my point is that its just another selling point for TV markets & conferences (every little bit helps)?

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @ezgame No, its not the Big Ten NETWORK that is in the "catbird seat", its the Big Ten CONFERENCE itself. The first tier contract with ABC/ESPN goes up for renegotiation soon, likely to be split into a broadcast network first tier and cable network second tier. Fox, CBS and ABC will be in the running for the first tier contract, and ESPN and the new "Fox Sports One" or whatever they are going to call it will be in the running for the second tier contract.

 

The Big Ten Network is not like that, it is a revenue sharing arrangement, so if it generates a larger surplus in a year, it yields more revenue to the Big Ten schools that year. And the contracts it has are with the carriers, which are each on their own terms, so those contracts are not going to be coming up for renewal all in the same year.

JRsec
JRsec

 @ezgame Remember the SEC numbers do not reflect the 3rd tier rights they retain, and like the Big 10 numbers do not reflect the states they seek but which have not joined.  The Big 10's present estimation is around 42 million.  The SEC's is around 35 million plus ancillary third tier rights that they retain beyond those to be granted to the network.  So the average SEC team is closer to 39 million.  In the end the Big 10 may well out earn the SEC but it will likely be by about the same 2 to 3 million dollar range that in actuality exists now.  For many schools such a small relative disparity could be lost by alienating alumni with a move or made up by playing more regional schedules.  In any event the difference will not be a difference maker, or deal breaker for either the SEC or Big 10 when schools are choosing between the two for conference affiliation.  

ezgame
ezgame

Oh and MrSEC... I really, really like your "Big Bang Theories", and "who wins", and "more conference games" articles.

Please keep up good work.

FYI:  maybe new article is "Bowl Envy"... eh?  You can write about how the Big10 is looking for better or different bowls.  How the Big12 & SEC are watching.  How the ACC is reluctantly agreeing or bent over a barrel, if Big10 comes calling with a bowl?  You could even paint a picture of the Big10 being the money bullies of the north?  Where Jim is dictating to MSG or the Yes Network how his conference bowls should be run???  Good stuff huh.  I'd read it.  I'm a conference/college football/expansion junkie... I can't help it.

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @JayBoDingess I actually agree with you here. The only reason the SEC cares about number of AAU schools is because its something that stakeholders inside UNC would pay attention to. And the reason that the SEC wants UNC is not BECAUSE it is an AAU school, but because its the biggest available play for audience in one of the major growth areas on the eastern seaboard.

 

 So the SEC going after UNC is not chasing "AAU schools", the SEC is chasing "a school that is an AAU member".

 

Now, the Big Ten athletic directors would be happy to have the leeway that the SEC has in chasing schools that are 50th-150th in research, but because of the schools that the Big Ten athletic programs happen to be attached to, they don't.

 

JRsec
JRsec

 @JayBoDingess Virginia Tech brings 4 times the number of viewing households as W.V.U. in a state to state comparison.  VT gets following in much of West Virginia.  The following of WVU in Virginia is there, but percentage wise VT is the stronger choice, especially if Pittsburgh is in the discussion for membership as well.  So let's make this clear shall we.  Realignment is not about football, or basketball.  It is about enhancing a revenue stream.  It is about securing revenue streams that you have.  The Big 10 has maintained control of AAU funds for years because they had the largest representation in that association and held it by a wide margin.  11-5 over the ACC, 11-2 over the SEC  11-5 over the Big 12, and 11-6 over the PAC.  Two factors stand out among the many that are involved in the distribution of Federal Grants.  One is who is added to membership and the other is whose membership in the organization is rescinded or surrendered.  The other is of course on the political end.

 

I'm sure the AAU issue was not initially a primary focus of any particular conference (other than meeting membership profile in the Big 10).  But when the SEC took Texas A&M and Missouri last year we found ourselves doubling our AAU membership.  Now further additions from the ACC could take that total as high as 9 if the right teams are taken.  With population shifts creating house seats in the Southeast and Southwest, and reducing house seats in some of the Northern non-coastal areas suddenly (whether intended or not) the once solid command of AAU membership hold over the college football playing schools is threatened.  The Big 10 has watched its hold over being the highest paid sports conference slipping away to the Southeast which in the last 30 years has made tremendous gains against what was once an unchallenged position held by the Big 10 in that regard.  So, what may have started simply as a market grab is now a contest that does involve both factors.  The SEC established their own version of the CIC a few years ago.  The concept is still under development.  But what is holding it back are the number of participating AAU members.  Hence our interest whether you perceive it that way or not.

 

I find your remarks to be dichotomous.  On the one hand in a post below you talk about why the Big 10 would want to add six schools that would take them to 3 billion in federal grants.  On the other you claim that the SEC is about product supremacy.  Are not academics part of the product too?  We are talking about revenue streams here, remember that.  If expansion is about enhancing revenue streams then the SEC upside has a limited ceiling in on field product simply because we are the best (yest at this time, but with no imminent decline in sight).  We can improve that with a very few additions (teams like Texas, Florida State, Oklahoma).  We can enhance a significantly minor (by comparison) money sport, basketball,  with additions like U.N.C., Duke, and Kansas.  Our interest in the latter three really is not about basketball.  Their prowess in that sport would only be a bonus.  We are interested in them because they have cache as a national brand, they bring valuable markets, and they are all AAU.  

 

If you are thinking you have to ask yourself why Mike Slive would have been working on North Carolina and Duke for three years instead of pushing for more football powers.  Let's assume that Texas and Oklahoma were off the board.  If what the SEC is doing is about football why wouldn't we want the strongest two brands from the ACC, Florida State and Clemson?  Okay so its about markets would be your next statement and there is more truth in that so then the top two schools would that would be the next two strongest gets from the ACC ( and their numbers in all regards are significantly behind those of Florida State and Clemson in television draw, attendance, and performance) are Virginia Tech and N.C. State.  But Slive has been working on two basketball schools for 3 years, Duke and U.N.C.  Basketball doesn't pay but 15% of what football brings in so why Duke?  Why U.N.C. over N.C. State?  They have something Virginia Tech and N.C. State don't have and you named it, AAU status.  You stated in your post below what I mentioned in mine and that is the Federal Grant money dwarfs that earned in sports revenue.  And yet you say that the SEC is not motivated by, and has not considered the AAU status of those they invite to join?  Please!  I bet you are under 40 in age.  Your generation never leaned critical thinking, were never offered logic in school (banned for being Euro-centric in viewpoint), and don't believe anything unless its printed in a book.  The longer you live the more you realize that everything you are taught is subject to error and correction.  The ability to reason is therefore the most valuable skill set no longer developed by education.  Of course the SEC is interested in AAU status.  That's where the dollars are.  Since we are gaining house seats at the expense of much of the Big 10's territory that is why Jim Delany is talking demographics and wanting to move South.

 

Slive is trying to match several objectives with each invitation issued.  He wants AAU schools (otherwise West Virginia might have received more consideration over Missouri).  He wants large new markets (otherwise he would have taken Clemson and Florida State and would have taken West Virginia over Missouri), he wants flagship state universities or at least large land grant schools (because when the economy continues its stagnation, inflation of the dollar finally comes home to roost, and overseas slave wages continue to locate blue collar jobs overseas, all of these conferences want state subsidized universities in their ranks and preferably those with large Federal Grants).  It's really not about football.  It's about dependable revenue streams.  Why?  Because it is about survival.  Fewer jobs, higher inflation, and more people coupled with ever increasing automation (even in the military) mean poverty.  Poverty is not a great motivator for high personal debt garnered in college loans to obtain skills that are no longer valued in the workplace in sufficient enough quantity to affect the demand to employ the majority of those graduating each year from our myriad number of colleges and universities.  The risk of the college debt outweighs the probability of potential gain and that means vast future declines in enrollment which places ever more pressure on schools to find corporate and Federal support.  That's what the last two presidents meant when they said about the future that Americans would have to live more simply and locally.  For those lacking the ability to analyze information the loose translation is "Americans need to live on a lot less and learn to be happy with it because the global economic factors and global market forces, which since NAFTA you have become exposed to, all indicate that you are not going to be able to afford the lifestyles enjoyed by the previous generations of Americans."  Now what they said sounded a lot more progressive than you are going be poorer.  But hey, the enlightened I read it on the internet generation just won't get it until they are in a bread line. 

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @MikeNiner5 " Any other AAU school the B1G wants, it will get, all others conferences will wait for leftovers" ... I'm assuming that means any AAU school in the ACC ~ it would be an idiotic statement if applied across the board.

 

Its a plausible claim but not a total certainty. After all, if the Big Ten could just snap its fingers and get any AAU member of the ACC it wants, UVA and UNC would already be announced in an expansion to 16.

Roggespierre
Roggespierre

 @MikeNiner5 I'm a B1G fan, too, and I disagree.  The B1G will not get any AAU school that it wants.  Texas is not moving to the Big Ten.  Florida is not moving to the Big Ten.  If you don't think the B1G would take either one of those schools in a heartbeat, then you're the one who's fooling yourself.

 

I agree that Notre Dame would likely prefer the Big Ten IF it were to be forced to drop its independence in football.  The Big East, ACC, and Big 12 was, is, and will be attractive only insofar as they are willing to accommodate football independence.  It's a sign of a conference's weakness, not strength. 

 

However, I don't think that traditional rivalries have anything to do with it.  Notre Dame has already dropped its annual dates with Michigan and Michigan State.  Purdue is likely next in line.  I believe that this is one reason why the Big Ten is considering moving to a ten-game conference schedule.  Notre Dame would rather play Stanford, USC, Navy, and Boston College every year.  It is on record saying that it values these rivalries more than it values its traditional Big Ten rivals.  That really is undisputed fact.

 

Missouri is an interesting possibility.  It made no secret of its desire to be included in the Big Ten.  It doesn't seem like a natural fit in the SEC, but perhaps that will change over time.  Would it consider leaving so soon?  I have no idea.

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @Seanbo "If the SEC took UNC, Duke, Virginia Tech and  Florida State"

If the SEC takes those four, no question that the Big Ten takes Virginia and Georgia Tech and stops at 16.

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @Seanbo Getting UNC to move without a safe landing for NC State is a fine trick, given that the two universities have the same board. But if the SEC took those four, you could pretty much guarantee that the Big Ten would take UVA and GTech and then stop at 16 for a while. NC State and Clemson would have to end up at the Big12, since unless NC State ends up somewhere UNC is not going anywhere, and it would not be surprising if the Big12 took Pitt and somebody else to make 14, and the seven teams of the "Big14 East" made up of TCU and six teams actually east of the Mississippi.

Jimisawesome
Jimisawesome

 @Seanbo

 It does not work like that for anyone where they can just chose to go on their own terms or pick schools on their own terms well except Big East schools.  There is nothing to indicate that UNC is anything but happy in the current ACC and for that matter even with all the chatter that GT and UVA are talking to the B1G it very well might be do we have a place if the ACC falls apart.  Most of the schools in the ACC are actually happy in the ACC.  The schools in the ACC recruit their OOS regular students from the footprint for the most part.  After graduation if a student leaves its mostly to areas in the footprint.  The ACC sponsors a lot of sports and overall is very competitive with the Pac for the directors cup. 

 

With that out of the way and assuming that schools are going to leave many have several choices while some are limited.  If forced the presidents of the ACC would all rather go to the B1G over the SEC.  This is not to insult the SEC in anyway but the simple fact is the B1G has a name brand academic reputation that is world wide in academic circles.  The B1G offers the CIC which while its benefits tend to get overblow in expansion talk still has value to the schools.  The B1G sponsors more sports and the indications are they are willing to add some important sports to mid Atlantic schools.  The biggest plus for the SEC over the B1G is baseball but the B1G schools have spent and are spending a ton to upgrade their facilities.  Football is a wash because Michigan or Alabama you are selling out at premium pricing.  And of course there is the straight cash homey.  The B1G already has a successful and profitable conference owned network after the vesting period a school is good to go.  The SEC has not made the details public yet of its network and even if everything goes perfectly (which it won't) it will still take years for it to hit current BTN numbers just because of the nature of the footprint.  The B1G also is about to have its T1/2 rights go on the market where they can have multiple bidders while the SEC has to go back to CBS and ESPN to ask for more money.  

 

The SEC very well might land its dream expansion candidates but at this point they are the second choice for the ACC presidents if they move at all.   

Seanbo
Seanbo

 @Roggespierre looks like business is about to pick up in the Sun Belt, MAC, CUSA err...New Big East err...New ACC.

JRsec
JRsec

 @Roggespierre I don't think it will take long for the SEC to follow suit.  I also don't think Alvarez said everything he could have said, and I think that was by design.  At the start of last season Saban said that he expected us to eventually play only other upper tier schools.  His remarks were rooted in future expectations of what realignment will mean.  I think Barry deliberately held back in carrying it that far.  But, I sincerely believe that not only will the Big 10 not play any further FCS schools, but they also only intend to play upper tier teams once realignment is over.  Saying so now, however, would not only be premature, but would inspire those likely lower tier FBS schools to start lining up for litigation.  It's better to get the upper tier aligned before declaring it to be wholly contained unto itself.

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @BTN est 2007 I remember my first time going on forums while drunk, though back then it was Usenet rather than World Wide Web. I hope your hangover wasn't too bad.

JRsec
JRsec

 @BTN est 2007 Read the posts and you will find out that this is a discussion site, not a smack room, or trolling site.

StephenBruneau
StephenBruneau

 @JayBoDingess You seemed intellectual until you bragged about Tommy Tuberville. He was a horrendous failure at Texas Tech, which played an easier schedule than Cincinnati would play in SEC.

JRsec
JRsec

 @JayBoDingess 

1.  Missouri is not free of entanglements from the SEC, there is just no formal exit fee.

2.  Notre Dame will not join the Big 10, especially if there was a 16 - 18 member Big 12 that is willing to give them a similar deal to what the ACC offered.

3.  Do you really think the SEC would move on Cincinnati before they went after Pittsburgh which is AAU?

4.  Even if N.D. ever considered the Big 10 they would insist on taking a friend, or friends, (B.C., Syracuse, Pitt).

5.  It remains to be seen how strong the Big 10 draw will be to Duke and North Carolina who have a large alumni base that does not want to leave the ACC, and if they had to leave the ACC do not want membership in the Big 10 or Big 12.

6.  Even if the SEC loses out on U.N.C. and Duke as you suggest it does not mean that they will sit back and watch the Big 10 gobble up markets.  It is business and they (who heretofore have played their realignment business as deftly as the Big 10, or better) will move to take the new markets available to them, and perhaps to consolidate their branding within their footprint where profitable to do so.  And F.S.U. is still profitable to take.  Virginia Tech, N.C. State, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Florida State, and possibly Clemson could all still happen.

7.  I agree that the SEC will wait to see what happens in the Big 12, but they can wait with 20, the same as the Big 10.  24 is still doable.  Beyond that no scheduling model is sufficient to assure that all schools play each other every three years. 

DanHogan
DanHogan

 @ezgame I'd probably agreet with your lineup with some geographic adjustments.  In the midwest, hockey fits right where you put it (thanks for that) but baseball would probably be even lower.  In the south, baseball might be higher and hockey is non-existent.  In the mid-atlantic, lacrosse almost certainly sits at #3 with the others being well behind it. 

 

My point is this..  With realignment being so football-focused that schools like Kansas and UConn end up at the mercy of the stream.  The C7 had to change the rules of the game by leaving the football-focused world before they got any leverage at all.  If they weren't already in power leagues, I'd guess schools like Kentucky and Purdue would be out of luck too.  And, no, UNC and Duke aren't desired for their basketball prowess -- it's that research dough that conferences want a piece of.  If the clear #2 sport doesn't move the needle much in most cases, I'd be surprised if the debated #3 sport did anything at all.

ezgame
ezgame

 @JRsec  @ezgame   You're right, I haven't been following the Tier 3 rights (too complicated & unpredictable).  The numbers I have are:

Big10 = 24.0 (2011), 26.2 (2012), 30.4 (2013), 29.1 (2014), 30.6 (2015), 30.2 (2016), 49.1 (2017), 51.7 (2018), 54.7 (2019) & 58.2 (2020).  These include a 15% increase in viewship by MD & NJ/NYC, a $350 iincrease in 2017 by ESPN, and the pie is split 15 ways (1 extra for BTN itself).  Oh, and if you add 2014-19 years & subtract the ACC's TV monies, you get 102.5 Mill more... which was a selling point for MD?

SEC = 22.1 (2011), 21.9 (2012), 22.7 (2013), 25.5 (2014), 25.5 (2015), 25.5 (2016), 26.2 (2017), 27.7 (2018), 32.6 (2019) & 34.8 (2020).  These include a quicker increase to both ESPN's "look-in" clause & the SEC Network (presuming ESPN won't let SEC go to Fox or NBC).  FYI;  I guessed that the 150 would increase to 200 by 2014, and again to 300 by 2019.  I also presumed the SEC Network launches in 2016 (with 0%, 5%, 10%, jump per "look-in", 10%, 10%, and 15% increases for last 3 yrs of TV contract...  these %'s noted are faster than BTN's % growths due to rabid fan base).  I also bumped teams from 12 to 13 in 2012, and to 14 in 2014 to reflect partical & full memberships of Mizzu & TAM.

 

Disclaimer:  these are my numbers (built on what I've read), nobody elses & probably not entirely correct.  But they give me a point of reference, that I believe in...  so take as drop in bucket approach.

 

Point is, a writer from the Washington Post said during the 2012 MD acceptance press conference that by 2020, the Big10 would be around a projected 50M each school (I got 58.2).  Plus some noted the SEC would be around a projected 35M each school (I got 34.8) during same time (not including Tier 3's).  The difference of 58.2-34.8 = 23.4M is large, and it continues to increase as time goes on.  Only thing that decreases that gap is the SEC's TV Contract negotiations in 2025-26, where I believe Silva will really work CBS & ESPN for 1 billion per year (I got 637M in 2023).  Aren't those figures just rediculas...  1 billion a year for 14 schools is 71.4M each, and the Big10 is right there with 73.7M each... O.M.G.  boggles my mind.  But its what the SEC will need to do if they want to keep pace?

Seanbo
Seanbo

 @BruceMcF Exactly my point.  UNC, Duke, VT and FSU to SEC.   The SEC draws the line at Virginia and B1G expansion is over.  B1G is stopped at 16 until Notre Dame decides otherwise or until the Big XII grant of rights expire.

 

The SEC remains the dominant conference.  The SEC adds 2 more AAU schools, 2 new markets for the SEC network which will make as much or more than the BTN and Florida recruiting is protected.

 

Georgia produces as many SEC recruits as Florida does but if you look at 4 star and 5 star rated recruits then Florida produced 52 this year compared to Georgia's 24.

Seanbo
Seanbo

 @Jimisawesome They are second choice to some presidents, not all.  FSU and Clemson would pick the SEC.  I think NC State and Virginia Tech would also.  UNC considers themselves a southern school and would prefer staying southern if they had a choice.  

 

All would prefer to stay in the ACC first, the problem is the ACC has a terrible TV deal which can not be overcome until 2027.

JRsec
JRsec

 @Jimisawesome  @Seanbo What you say is all true I'm sure.  The SEC will likely have some start up issues with the network, but they will have no problem with tier 1 & 2 revenue bumps.  Their on field product in the top money making sport is superior at this time.  And the SEC draws more viewers nationally than any conference, including those within the largest markets.  Product bought those eyes, not the CIC.  The SEC is also developing its version of the CIC and since ACC AAU schools have not missed the benefits of the grant money then their choice will not be based as much upon that issue as it will be a struggle simply put between the culture of their alumni, and the culture of their academics.  The former gives the edge to the SEC and the latter gives the edge to the Big 10.

 

When touting the superiority of the Big 10 attributes over those of the SEC bear one thing in mind.  They are the ones seeking future relevance by desiring to expand South.  The shift in representation always lags the shift in census.  They know that it will not be long before the political pressure will be for more research dollars to head where they buy the most votes.  The SEC has the advantage of not needing to have to get into any particular part of the country.  Where they wish to expand is really native to their culture.

 

While the Big 10 may well expand South, it will neither improve its product, which will eventually lose paid viewers, nor will it find cohesion.  Midwestern, Atlantic Coast, and New England cultures are not going to mesh the way that Southeastern and Southwestern cultures will.  These geopolitical issues will have to be weighed as well.  And those with pull far beyond that of mere college presidents will be helping to make them.

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @JRsec  @Roggespierre I'd reckon the Big Ten expects most schools will continue to schedule "Group of Five" schools on a regular basis in September under the current system ... the Buckeyes, That School Up North, the Huskers and Penn State when they've recovered might go all-Big 5, but they won't insist that the Hawkeyes or Boilermakers or Hoosiers follow suit.

 

The evolution if the big split occurs would be a Kick Off Classic weekend of all NCAA FBS schools hosted by Top Tier conference schools, in a Top Tier 13 game regular season, to allow everyone to play their 12 Top Tier OOC and conference games Home and Home and still have 7 home games (or equivalent) in their ticket book. If the NCAA FBS division schools have a 12 game season, they finish a week earlier, allowing for a CCG and an eight team championship, with the first round during the Top Tier CCG week and the semi-final round as December bowl games. Then the NCAA FBS championship game can fall in the slot in the schedule between the end of the Access Bowls and the Top Tier NCG.

Roggespierre
Roggespierre

 @JRsec I think you're right.  Alvarez appears to be the designated spokesman for the Big Ten ADs.  That's probably a good thing.  He's got juice with his own administration and with the intercollegiate athletics community.  Despite his reputation for being a lone wolf, he's proven to be a strategically prudent guy.  I agree that he likely held back on much that he could have said.

 

Ultimately, there will be litigation.  If it doesn't come from the FCS schools, then it'll come from the lower tier FBS schools.  14 Big Ten members colluding to exclude those schools is probably a non-starter.  But if that number grows to 65-80 members of BIG conferences...

Roggespierre
Roggespierre

 @StephenBruneau  @JayBoDingess It might not happen, but I think there is a good chance that Tuberville falls flat on his face at Cincinnati.  He's already upset coaches at powerhouse programs in Ohio.  That tends not to be a good idea when you're coaching at a university in Ohio.

 

If Tuberville thinks he can win by going all in on 3rd tier Florida kids and Mississippi JUCOs, then good luck to him.  Those strategies didn't work so well in the Midwest for Purdue's Danny Hope and Illinois' Ron Zook, respectively.

Manny_Insanity
Manny_Insanity

 @JRsec  @JayBoDingess 

The SEC isn't overly concerned about AAU status when it comes to expansion and they have wanted access to Ohio for years.  I think you're #6 is logical though and makes a ton of sense.

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @DanHogan  @ezgame  But that's confusing two different types of influence. Conference realignment is so football focused because of the different economics of football and basketball ~ more of the media value in basketball is in championship tourneys, and only a relatively small fraction of media revenue from the the NCAA tournament gets paid out to participants. Indeed, since part gets paid out to schools based on number of athletic scholarships, and football is the most scholarship hungry sport, basketball media money subsidizes football directly.

 

But that does not mean that the influence at all schools is anywhere nearly so football focused. Basketball has a lot of clout with alumni givers at UNC, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana and etc.

 

The main reason both the SEC and the Big Ten are lusting after UNC in their hearts is because of already important and relatively rapidly growing media markets. But because they are both wooing UNC, what is of interest to UNC becomes of interest to those conferences. The fact that the Big Ten is a more diverse all-sports conference than the SEC is an additional point of differentiation it will use in selling itself to UNC, alongside more prestigious academics, Major as opposed to Mid-Major level basketball strength of schedule and a higher conference payout.

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @Seanbo However, its less than 50/50 that Duke would agree to what many would perceive as slumming with SEC academic standard  and second-rank basketball competition. That makes UNC/Duke/VTech/FSU to the SEC less than 50/50. Indeed, its not clear whether Duke to the SEC or FSU to the Big Ten is less likely ~ the primary obstacle to the first is at Duke, the primary obstacle to the second is in the Big Ten.

 

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @Seanbo  @Jimisawesome We don't know which one FSU would prefer ~ it would surely be a tussle either way. NC State, Virginia Tech and Clemson may have the SEC as a first choice, but they are not serious options for the Big Ten so its a moot point.

 

UNC considers itself a southern school, an elite research university and a basketball power. It built a conference for itself that is compatible with all three. Whether it would go slumming in terms of basketball and, especially in the wake of a serious academic scandal, in terms of academics is an open question. And moving from the ACC of 2012 to the Big Ten of 2012 is a much bigger jump than moving from the ACC of 2014, which includes BC, Syracuse and Pitt, to a Big Ten East division or a Big Ten Southern Region under rotating divisions that includes five former ACC schools.

 

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @Roggespierre  @Jimisawesome  @JRsec  @Seanbo If they were fully fungible, if the value of the commodity followed the commodity wherever it went, then Pitt would have the same value to the Big12, SEC and Big Ten, but clearly Pitt has much less value to the Big Ten than to the other two.

 

If they were fully fungible, it wouldn't much matter whether realignment was going to occur before, during or after contract negotiation, but since they aren't fully fungible, it does matter. The kind of issues you raise about using contract negotiations with ESPN to ensure that ESPN does not make a move to counter a desired add only works if the contract negotiation is taking place while the realignment negotiations are taking place.

 

Indeed, to look at an example where that exact kind of thing has happened, look at the NuBigEast and the departure of the C7. Because of the NO vote by 4 schools that are no longer in the NuBigEast or are leaving next year, the BigEast turned down $130m a year. So the Big East was stuck with negotiating realignment while also negotiating a TV contract, and in the process, Fox stepped in and made a side deal with the Catholic 7 instead, resulting in the hybrid Big East league collapsing into a total shambles.

 

But the Big Ten is going to have a set conference alignment already worked out when its contract comes up for renegotiation. Its either going to have UNC already, or be negotiating its TV deal on the basis of not having UNC.

 

In the scenarios where the Big Ten is negotiating a move by UNC in the next two years, ESPN is not going to want to screw the Big Ten over and make it likely that the Big Ten would be biased toward the Fox Sport Network rather than to their existing contract partner.

 

In the scenarios where the collapse of the ACC goes in slow motion, the UNC may move after the new deal is in place, but in that case, the additional value to the existing schools of the Big Ten taking its contract to the open market is likely greater than the additional value of possibly adding UNC sometime in the future and dividing the conference payout by 18 instead of 16. So any concern that there would be blowback for the chance of getting UNC would not prevent the Big Ten from taking it to the open market.

 

In the scenario where both negotiations are taking place simultaneously, what you raise could well interfere with contract negotiations. But the Big Ten has more sense than to open the door to that, and they can avoid it by not doing both at the same time.

 

Roggespierre
Roggespierre

 @BruceMcF  @Jimisawesome  @JRsec  @Seanbo Schools are as fungible with regards to conference membership when they have ten years left on their rights agreements as they are when they have only two years remaining.  The difference is embedded in the incentive to move rather than the ability to do so. 

 

I do not disagree with you with regards to pre-committing to extend the ESPN deal in order to increase the probability of landing UNC.  That would be foolish.  However, I do think that the Big Ten should be predisposed to extend its deal with ESPN, all other things being equal or close to equal.  And I am less concerned with the likelihood that UNC will join the SEC than I am with the possibility of the ACC sticking together in its current form. 

 

Now is the time to give UNC the opportunity and incentive to join the Big Ten.  I could be wrong, but I suspect that the only way to make that happen is to destroy the ACC.  That would necessarily put the media rights for all ACC schools in play.  ESPN is probably fine with that with regards to Wake Forest, but I can't imagine that it will not fight to retain the rights to UNC.  If ESPN is going to have those rights anyway due to an extension with the Big Ten, then a major potential hurdle is avoided.

 

What you say is compelling, but I respectfully disagree with your conclusion.  An ESPN upgrade of the ACC rights fees would be a disaster.  The Big Ten can not anticipate that it will always have the advantages that it enjoys now.  The appropriate goal should not be revenue maximization, but rather comparative advantage.

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @Roggespierre  @Jimisawesome  @JRsec  @Seanbo That seems to be treating fungibility like a light switch ~ its either fungible or its not ~ as opposed to the reality of it being a matter of degree ~ the close a conference is coming to the expiration of a long term network rights deal and the more revenue it gains on a revenue-share basis rather than on a rights-payment basis, the more fungible the value of the schools are.

 

In order to take the concern that you raise for ESPN off the table, the Big Ten would have to pre-commit to extending the contract with ESPN years before the current contract expires, and risk taking what their projections indicate to be millions or tens of millions of dollars per school off the table. That just isn't going to happen in order to result in some unknowable change in the likelihood of UNC picking the Big Ten.

 

Indeed, your scenario assumes that all parties assume that UNC is so closely balanced between going to the SEC and the Big Ten that secondary changes in per school conference payments are going to flip UNC's decision. I think its (1) fairly uncertain how much instability will be required to make UNC prefer moving to staying and (2) relatively UNlikely that if UNC flips to moving as its first priority, that its preference between the SEC and the Big Ten is all that finely balanced. There has been and will continue to be a political fight on which direction to go, and the odds are that one side or the other is going to gain the upper hand in that fight.

 

And in particular, if the UNC is tilted to going to the Big Ten but there is a sufficient upgrade from ESPN for the ACC rights to get UNC to stay instead ... that itself plus the best market price for Big Ten rights is a perfectly fine outcome for the Big Ten. If the financial incentives continue to be there for consolidation, and UNC is leaning toward the Big Ten in the event it moves, then the Big Ten will keep the lights on for UNC.

 

Roggespierre
Roggespierre

 @BruceMcF  @Jimisawesome  @JRsec  @Seanbo Catbird seat for premium pricing due to market competition?  Absolutely, we agree that the Big Ten is in the catbird seat.

 

However, the Big Ten is already locked into its BTN partnership with Fox.  If it were to not re-up with ESPN, then that network would be in full scale competition with Fox for content and might be willing to pay higher prices to other conferences in order to retain key member schools that the Big Ten might want.  We all tend to think of the conferences as having the TV deals.  The truth is that they're just middle men that bundle and sell the rights of the individual schools.  Conference membership, as we have seen, is quite fungible.

 

For example, ESPN wants rights to carry, say, North Carolina basketball.  It has no economic reason to care if it's UNC basketball as an ACC, Big Ten, or SEC member.  It simply wants the school's product.  Right now, ESPN knows that it gets UNC basketball if the school is a member of the ACC or SEC.  It does not know that if UNC goes to the Big Ten.  ESPN can influence UNC's decision based on the rights fees that it's willing to pay.  It is in the Big Ten's best interest to ensure that ESPN stands down.

 

That's why I think it's important that the Big Ten retain a strong relationship with ESPN, even if it's for 2nd tier rights.  Even the catbird seat has lumps.

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @Roggespierre  @Jimisawesome  @JRsec  @Seanbo No, with three broadcast television networks and two two-channel national cable networks in the hunt for some slice of rights, the Big Ten is indeed in the catbird seat.

 

Fox, CBS, or ABC or Fox/CBS or Fox/ABC or CBS/ABC could all be in the hunt for the broadcast network rights, and ESPN and FoxSports will be in the hunt for the cable tier 2 rights, so the eventual rights partner will have to pay a fair share of the expected market value of the rights.

 

The issue about "if the Big Ten goes here, then that channel over there does this" is a wash ~ equally, if the Big Ten were to go with ABC/ESPN, then that would push Fox / Fox Sports Network to greater coverage of other schools. That doesn't force the Big Ten to go with ESPN for the tier 2 rights and therefore doesn't allow ESPN to get away with low-balling their bid.

 

 

JRsec
JRsec

 @Roggespierre  @Jimisawesome  @Seanbo As per the network war, and that is what we are experiencing now and is the reason for the delay in the culmination of this mess, it could well be that ESPN is going to seek to keep its most valued properties under banners that they are assured will be in their camp.  There are a couple of ways to accomplish this.  One would be to send members of the Big 12 to both the ACC and SEC to make 20 member conferences out of both and to enable a partnership between the two.  Four schools to the ACC plus Cincinnati and Connecticut would do the trick and six schools to the SEC.  That would account for all ten and end any potential advantage FOX would enjoy from sharing the Big 12.

 

The second and more wily approach would be to take the top brands only from each and to create a 24 team SEC.  Why?  They would accomplish in national audience and appeal trough the paying of 24 (32 at the most) schools what FOX / Comcast could accomplish through 3 conferences (counting the C7)  (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia, F.S.U., U.N.C., Duke, Virginia Tech).  Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, T.C.U., and Baylor would be available to the PAC if they wanted them.  But easier to pull off would be a 32 team move.

 

Let's look at (under the network control of ESPN) which 18 schools might likely comprise the remainder of the 32:  Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Iowa State (8 from Big 12 enough to end the GOR and dissolve the conference) and North Carolina, N.C. State, Duke, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Clemson, Miami (8 from the ACC) and Connecticut and Cincinnati from the Big East.  Those 32 under the ESPN Banner keeps them in New England to counter the Big 10, buys for them the former Big 12 schools, and protects the most valuable brands in the ACC (of which I would hardly call Georgia Tech and Virginia two of them).  That leaves B.C. and Notre Dame to both be offered hybrid relationships with the new conference should they desire them.  Perhaps B.Y.U. is offered the same as well.  The point being that 75% of the most profitable brands would be consolidated under ESPN's control.  

JRsec
JRsec

 @Jimisawesome  @Seanbo You say fan culture doesn't matter, but the fans make up the donors, the business owners that support the schools, and even the corporate sponsors of the program.  While the latter may not be as stalwart in their allegiance as the others they will lobby on the side that butters their bread.  I stand by my statement, the weaker one is the one that needs to move.  As for as contracts are concerned there is quite an easy way around that.  It would be distasteful, but easy.  Re-brand.  An SEC-ACC or SEC-Big 12 merger would permit such a rebranding and permit new contracts if need be.  I doubt we will have to come to that.  The Big 10 estimates presented to Maryland were in the ball park of 42 million per team and that included Maryland and Rutgers in the mix.  The SEC package stands as is at around 35 million for all 14 schools.  But, it is a pre network figure.  For the next 2 years the SEC will own its tier 3 rights.  That puts our schools near the 40 million mark.  Not much difference there.  Time will tell.

Roggespierre
Roggespierre

 @Jimisawesome  @JRsec  @Seanbo I'm enjoying reading the back-and-forth between you guys.  You're well informed and you present well reasoned arguments.

 

Jimiawesome - I've thought a lot about the Big Ten's leverage in its upcoming negotiations.  I'm not convinced as convinced as you that it's in the catbird's seat.  Yes, the timing is terrific and the established profitability of the BTN as well as its budding partnership with Fox do indeed provide some advantages.

 

However, I am of the opinion that the Big Ten needs ESPN just as much as ESPN needs the Big Ten.  The conference expansion battles are being waged not only among conferences, but also among television networks.  If the Big Ten were to continue with ESPN, then the latter might be less inclined to wage a pricing war in an effort to prevent schools from moving to the B1G.  Conversely, if the Big Ten were go go with, say, Fox and NBC, then ESPN would have incentive to increase rights payments to its conference partners such as the SEC in order to retain the schools that it wants.  The resulting price war would diminish revenues for both Fox and ESPN and make it more difficult for conferences to expand.

 

As to the issue of control, I tend to think that there is no such thing among conferences.  If it had did, then Notre Dame, Texas and North Carolina would all be members by now.  With regards to schools, the lucky ones control their own destinies.  Those also happen to be the institutions that everybody wants.  The result is a seemingly endless set of contingencies.

Jimisawesome
Jimisawesome

 @JRsec  @Seanbo

 Going by the leak and other rumors of what the new SEC deal looks like the T1/2 deal did not have a significant jump in revenue for SEC schools.  When its actually officially announced it might be a competently different story but I can only go by the information that is out there.  CBS fought giving more money and the leak shows they gave just a slight per school bump with the expansion.  Adding FSU, Texas or OU would most likely change CBS tune to some degree but UNC is not going to be the A side for their pick in the near future.  Again when they announce there might be a huge surprise.  The bigger issue is the SEC has to work with in the framework of existing contracts and because of this does not have leverage while the B1G is about to go to market where it has all of the leverage.  The B1G will be able to entertain bids from Fox, ESPN/ABC and NBC/Comcast.  Fox and NBC/Comcast both are or have started sports channels that aim to go after ESPN and need content.  ESPN cant afford to lose B1G content as its a huge money maker for them and they don't want Fox or NBC to have the content to compete against them.  Basically B1G hit the lottery in terms of timing while the ACC contract came up at the worst possible time.   

 

As for the demographic talk its not the south in general that is growing in population compared to the B1G states its the Atlantic Seaboard and Texas that are growing.  States like KY, AR, AL, MS, and LA have a growth rate similar to that of the B1G states and less overall growth because B1G states in average are larger to begin with. 

 

The culture you are speaking of is fan culture which is of minor importance.  What matter is campus culture more specifically do schools share a vision of what they want from their universities.  The B1G schools for example are all large research centers.  The schools that most would say are desirable like UNC, VT, GT, UVA, Duke, and even FSU are all large research centers.  But even using your version of culture FSU which is probably the most SEC school on the surface actually recruits more non athletic students from the Midwest then it does from the non Atlantic SEC states.  Illinois alone sends more students year in year out then Mississippi and Alabama together and those 2 states boarder Florida and fairly close to Tallahassee.  Michigan would be the state that sent the most kids to FSU if it was in the SEC behind GA and Texas.  In the B1G Michigan is 6th in sending kids to FSU. 

 

There are reasons schools that have a choice might very well end up in the SEC.  The point I am trying to make though is the SEC is not in control and would have to make an awesome pitch to overcome what the B1G can offer. 

JRsec
JRsec

 @Roggespierre If you take a look at Athletic Department actual expenditures to cover all of the sports within a University and then you look at the number of sports offered by the University, and then you factor their academic ranking, and their admissions standards into the equation and polish it off with stadium size, endowment size, and average attendance I think it is fair to say that the cutoff points of 60, 65, and 71 can be fairly well established.  Upon selection to one of the remaining 2 or 3 conferences and prior to establishing the upper tier, what needs to be done is to establish the criteria for inclusion into the upper tier (those things which differentiate it from the former tier) and also list the standards that must be met before application to the upper tier is met.  As long as there is fluid access to the upper tier I believe the lawsuits will be severely curtailed.   

 

At that point there also needs to be an equal growth amendment to future expansion.  For instance if there are two conferences then 4 teams must meat the criteria before expansion, if there are 3 conferences then 6 teams must meet the criteria.  The only time this will be excepted is in the event that a school within the upper tier no longer meets the standards and is forced to a lower tier, or abandons any of the key sports.

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