1. In a struggle the weaker power is the one usually making defensive moves. That's the Big 10.
2. In the end television money is about a maximizing a byproduct of content and markets. Delany's strategy will gain him markets, but adds little to nothing to his content in the one area in which it needs content, football.
3. Research needs to be actually done by most bloggers on the CIC. It helps in lobby for grants. It helps in coordinating grant money to schools working on different aspects of the same research project and it does have advantages. But, it does not really garner a research University like North Carolina that much more money than they get already, especially when cooperating within the research triangle with other neighboring North Carolina schools. In fact the ways in which they are called upon to share within the CIC might even become a slight detriment to those schools.
4. Most of the Big 10 advantage is in the visionary network that they started a couple of years ago. But, even that is dependent upon a model of broadcasting and collection of advertising money that may not be an appropriate model in a rapidly changing market that is heavily influenced by innovations in technology. So is moving to the Big 10 a short term net positive with large potential downside? It's possible, but unclear.
5. In the end as long as the SEC increases its lobby strength within the AAC (especially if through expansion the SEC garners 4 more AAU schools to become the clear #2 conference in that regard) and maintains its athletic prowess which is what garners the nations interest in viewing, then they will only continue to gain ground on the Big 10.
In this game the Big 10 has markets, research money, and academic standing. They should be looking for content. The SEC has content, they are looking to add markets and increase academic standing thereby increasing research dollars. Texas A&M delivered a competitive athletic program that increased market size and academic reputation. Missouri strengthened basketball, increased markets and added academic reputation. So far the SEC has gotten what it needs without sacrificing its athletic reputation to get it. So far the Big 10 hasn't acquired what it needs most, in fact it has weakened its strength athletically with Rutgers and Maryland. If it adds Virginia, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina it will have only added one significant sports program and that in basketball, a Big 10 strength, not a Big 10 need.
I think Slive is playing his hand beautifully. If Delany pursues his course he will have tremendous market penetration, tremendous academics, tremendous research grant connections, and not one danged thing worth watching on his network outside of hoops!
@JRsec One thing I don't understand is why Slive doesn't want to break up the ACC by inviting UNC/Duke/Virginia proactively? Why wait for Delany to do the work first (grabbed Maryland and others) then get what we want (in UNC/Duke/Virginia)? It's no time to be gentleman or play strategy. I know Slive is really good at it. It's time for action when power is in his hand.
@adarpy @JRsec The best negotiator and/or salesman in the world won't be successful unless he has a willing buyer. I forget where the rumor began - it did seem credible - that the SEC has been trying to land UNC and Duke since 2009.
Slive's problem when it comes to the Big 2 in Carolina is that his most valuable asset is not necessarily the thing that's important to UNC and Duke. Delany has a competitive advantage because he 1) has a profitable conference network, 2) has 13 AAU schools in the fold, and 3) has the CIC to include as part of the package. Still, even that might not be enough. It seems that UNC and Duke would very much prefer to remain in the ACC. That's why I think Delany needs to destroy the ACC - probably with Slive's help - in order to land Carolina. Some believe the Big Ten doesn't really want Duke. Who knows?
Similarly, Slive would have a competitive advantage if he were to try to land FSU and Clemson, namely that he can increase the value of their already very valuable football programs by adding them to the most valuable college sports product in the country.
Of course, the problem is that the SEC doesn't want FSU and Clemson b/c they do nothing to increase the value of the SEC Network. It is possible that we've reached a stalemate. In fact, it might even be likely. The only way I see movement is if Delany goes out and gets Virginia and Georgia Tech. That might set off a chain reaction - Va Tech to the SEC, maybe the Big 12 expands - that could shake loose the one school (UNC) that everybody wants but that is still firmly attached to the tree.
@Roggespierre @adarpy You may be right about a stalemate, but if Slive truly wanted North Carolina he has one card to play that Delany can't. He could offer Duke and N.C. State along with the Heels. There's no way the Big 10 wants to do that. Of course neither does the SEC want to do it, but they are a lot freer to than the Big 10. I still believe the stalemate will be resolved definitively following the Maryland suit. I think it's ESPN that is waiting to see what to do about their ACC property. If Maryland wins then ESPN may try to shelter their best brands in the SEC, or simply pony up the cash to buy stability. I'd put my eggs in the first basket. It would simply be good business. If Maryland loses then ESPN is off the hook for having to have a significantly larger payout to keep the ACC together. Then I believe they will encourage their best brands in the Big 12 to move to the SEC and ACC. Either way I think we wait.
@adarpy Siive and the SEC, and Swafford and the ACC both get a large portion (in the SEC's case) or all (in the ACC's case) of their revenue from ESPN. They aren't going to get paid enough to do what they wish to do unless ESPN agrees to it. And a healthy ACC is probably more in the SEC's interest as a buffer against the Big 10 because their presence maintains the environment in the South that has helped the SEC grow as strong as it has. So, why change it?
@adarpy Just remember in actuality the Big 10 in this latest round of realignment has only added two: Rutgers and Maryland. The SEC has only added two: Texas A&M and Missouri. I would say our additions were both proactive and strategic. In the great scheme of realignment the SEC was the first to move to 12. And even though the ACC moved to 14 first, the SEC was the first to move to and play with 14 out of the power conferences. I feel like we will be the first to do the same with 16 or more. And, I like A&M & Mizzou a heckuva lot better than Rutgers and Maryland!
@JRsec Well said and very logical. But my question still persists - why being so gentle and reactive? If SEC can get UNC/Duke/Virginia now, why bother to worry about Big Ten? Why worry about ESPN? If we got UNC/Duke/Virginia tomorrow, won't ESPN knock on our door and ask for broadcasting right for next 100 years? Being defensive just put ourselves under the mercy of ESPN and Big Ten.
But you might be right that in the end, the most powerful man in college sports is indeed ESPN (or Fox). Slive or Delany are just chess ponies. My worry is if Big Ten got what they want, Delany could be the most powerful guy - at that time, even ESPN/Fox will have to cave in because nobody can provide the same product (Michigan, Ohio State, UNC etc) in big-population and rich states.
Let's just think and act proactively, no more being strategic and nice.
@JRsec I agree that Slive has played his hand most effectively and that he at least deserves consideration for the #1 spot. However, as much as I respect your opinions, I think that you miss the mark just a hair with regards to B1G expansion. These were not defensive moves. The point can be argued given Alvarez's statements about Penn State, but the fact remains that adding Rutgers and Maryland gave the Big Ten inroads into a very important portion of the country. Rutgers, in particular, is primed to own the NY/NJ market. Its games with Ohio State and Penn State will be the biggest college football games of the year in two of the nation's four largest TV markets.
Also, it's important to remember that conference networks are game changers. The BTN had the best ratings in its history in January 2013 due to basketball. As much as football drives the bus, it's important to remember that basketball is very important to conference networks. There are more games that can be spread out over more nights and time slots. If the SEC Network is going to equal the BTN with regards to advertising dollars, then the SEC will need to vastly improve its basketball product. Remember, the big football games featuring the conference heavyweights are still going to be on CBS and ESPN. Don't get me wrong - that's a good thing. However, profitable conference networks depend on depth. Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Mississippi State, and Arkansas will typically be the featured football programs on the SEC Network. Just as the BTN doesn't get many Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska games, so, too, will the SEC Network not have much access to Alabama, Florida, Texas A&M, Georgia, and LSU. The middle and lower tier SEC football schools will have to carry the network in the fall.
Basketball offers four times the content of football. Other than Penn State and Nebraska, just about every B1G alumni base is fully engaged in its basketball program. Is that true in the SEC? I admit that I don't know, but it's certainly not part of the conference's reputation outside of Kentucky and, perhaps, Missouri.
The argument in favor of Delany is the BTN. He changed the game. Slive is trying to catch up despite the fact that his football conference is the best and most popular product in all of college sports.
@Roggespierre The defensive move I was referring to was not the additions of Maryland and Rutgers and I never really considered Penn State a threat to abandon the Big 10. What I had in mind was the need of the Big 10 to move South to find growing markets. It, should it happen would be an offensive move, but with a defensive motivation. The fact that they are aware of shifting demographics and feel the need to respond is defensive in nature in that they are responding to a threat rather than initiating one.
Remember one thing about the SEC. Baseball, Softball, Swimming and Diving, Track and Field, Tennis, Golf, Gymnastics, and Equestrian are all sports at which the SEC excels and will provide (if marketed properly) interesting nightly events to watch in the Spring and Winter. Add to that a growing interest in women's soccer among high school girls in the South and you have another angle to play that wasn't there a few years ago. And, interest in college Baseball within the SEC has more than a pulse and could easily draw some numbers for midweek and weekend viewing in the Spring. Plus it has plenty of content.
You are dead right about the Basketball deficit, although we do not lack in recent national titles in the sport. But we certainly lack in depth of quality within the conference. The interest level in basketball in the SEC is not dead, but I wouldn't call it healthy either. The reasons for this are related to one of my responses to you below. But in short it's hard to get emotionally invested in the players when their turnover rate is so very high among the really talented ones. Pete Maravich and John Mengelt among others helped to build basketball in the SEC. The many Kentucky and Tennessee greats and Dale Brown at L.S.U. and personalities like Charles Barkley and Chuck and Wes Person helped to keep it alive beyond the Maravich affect. But the fans had 4 years to get to know those kids and buy in. I look at what Kentucky did last year and what they lost after just one season and where they are today as an bubble team and I think my point about continuity of buy in is a vital one. Sure Kentucky will sell out Rupp next year, but how long will it take before turnover rates of players starts to hurt their fan participation as well? That's why I don't believe basketball is a reliable commodity upon which to build a network. Contribute to content? Absolutely But, help to sustain? Not so sure.
@JRsec SEC Baseball in particular could represent a treasure trove of untapped potential for the SEC Network. As dominant as the SEC is in football, a case could be made that it is actually more dominant in baseball. Of course, the problem with college baseball has always been the professional minor league system. The best college players - those who are drafted in the first round - tend to begin their professional careers in high A ball and then disappear for a year or two until they make it to the MLB. That and the fact that top high school players often go straight to the minors will always keep a lid on the potential of college baseball. But I agree that the SEC is perfectly positioned to take advantage of whatever potential is there.
I think the Big Ten has designs on making lacrosse its staple sport in the spring. That makes sense to me. It snowed throughout Big Ten Country this week. Our baseball teams often have to travel to Florida for weeks at a time just to play a few games. Lacrosse works in the cold. And rich people in the Mid-Atlantic really like it.
The key to basketball content is the fans and not so much the product. Purdue, for example, stinks this year. But Mackey Arena is sold out for every game. In the BTN's record breaking January, Purdue has more appearances on the network than any other school. That's because, well, it stinks and CBS and ESPN weren't interested in carrying its lousy games. But Purdue is a huge school that has lots of basketball fans that will watch its games despite how putrid the level of play might be. That's what carries a conference network that is built on 3rd tier rights (a nice way of saying the crummy teams). Chances are that Purdue will be significantly improved next year. Its games will be on CBS and ESPN, and some other putrid Big Ten team that lost most of its best players - Indiana? - will continue to draw lots of eyeballs on the BTN.
I misunderstood your statement about defensive moves, but I would not call the Southern moves defensive, either. They are aggressive insofar as they expand the subscriber base of the BTN. Further, I would argue that all moves thus far by the Big Ten, SEC, and Pac-12 were aggressive. The ACC has been defenisve. Perhaps that is why it is the one that finds itself in such a precarious position.
"Research needs to be actually done by most bloggers on the CIC."
Apparently research needs to be done by university presidents and their fellow academicians because many of them spend a great deal of time praising the CIC and its value. As a matter of fact, the SEC began it's own academic consortium in 2005 in an attempt to build what the Big Ten already has.
Slive may be playing his hand beautifully, but Delany has more power at the moment -- by a hair -- at this point. Slive isn't going to break up the ACC and bring about the age of the super-conference. Delany might and he's got the ability to do it.
Thanks for reading the site,
@John at MrSEC Of course the SEC started its own consortium in 2005. Shared research projects and lobby power are important when dealing with and obtaining Federal grants. The point of my comment is still germane. North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, and other ACC schools already have a version of the CIC as well. It's advantage is in the management and procurement and brokering of detailed aspects of research within its conference. The SEC had none of that collectively prior to 2005. The advantages of the Big 10 are not that great for schools like North Carolina and Duke. They probably would help Georgia Tech which of course specializes in engineering and would find many avenues to partner with say a Purdue. For schools like Kansas and Iowa State it would be a huge plus. But again not a game changer for Texas which has its own internal state oil fund to draw from. Delany and Slive have influence, but it is network money that make these moves possible. Therein lie the futures of the ACC and Big 12. Personally it would be better for the SEC for the ACC to survive. They buffer our markets quite effectively and in the long term would be better partners for us than the Big 12. If a buffer is lost the one to the West is not as essential now that we have Missouri and Texas A&M.
"Delany might and he's got the ability to do it" should read "FOX is willing to spend to get it so Delany has the ability to do it." Well so does the Bristol based corporate Mouse and what they decide to do will probably have more effect upon the conclusion of this realignment process than anything else at this point.
@Roggespierre @John at MrSEC But isn't that really just reflective of the 13 - 4 advantage in recognized research universities? And if the right mix (and I'm not saying they will) joined the SEC from the ACC that gap would be closed quite a bit. Let's say the SEC went to 20 with Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech (just a hypothentical) that gap would close from 13 -4 to
13 - 9 and would effectively lock the Big 10 out of the Southeast. Now such a hostile move wouldn't be good for either conference and they have a lot to gain by working together. If the SEC decided to expand to 24 and AAU was the game there is Tulane, Rice, Texas, and Kansas to go after. I know it gets ridiculous. But my first point was we have to remember what is paying the bills here. Television will demand content. So AAU targets are important, but only is as much as they also provide content.
@JRsec @John at MrSEC It's also about capacity and scale economies. The Big Ten has an enormous advantage. Its 14 schools combine to draw more than double the research dollars that the SEC's 14 schools attract. That kind of scale is important even for schools such as UNC, Duke and Virginia. The fact that the Big Ten schools are so large is another advantage because it makes the CIC consortium extremely powerful. The Big Ten schools buy more stuff. That kind of scale is a benefit to any institution that is considering a move.