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Big Ten Still Focused On The East, Commish Says

gfx - they said itGiven the opportunity yesterday to place a headstone above the grave of conference realignment, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany passed.  “Dead is a strong word” he said when asked about further conference expansion.

That shouldn’t scare anyone.  It’s a “forever” question and a lot can change in a day, a year, 10 years or 20 years.  To say expansion is stone-cold dead means it’s forever dead and that’s not going to be the case…. even though the ACC appears stable at the moment.  Also, Big East, er, American Athletic Conference schools don’t appear to be attractive enough for the Big Ten or others to come calling right now.  But Delany says his league still has its eyes open and when it moves, it will likely move east:

 

“I can’t speak for others, but we’ve been focused on making a home in a new region (with Rutgers and Maryland), making new members feel at home in this region.  Everything we’ll do competitively and in television and in bowls is to bring, as quickly as we can, a level of comfort.  The Eastern corridor is… the richest corridor in the world from the standpoint of financial institutions, political institutions, media institutions, and we’re new to it.  So if we can build relationships, make friend and be impactful and relevant over time, that’s the goal.

We’re not going to be changing the world, but we are looking forward to doing everything we can to build a presence in that place.”

 

Whether a conference can thrive as a two-region entity remains to be seen.  And while Delany is correct about the advantages to be found on the Atlantic Seaboard, those advantages haven’t helped the ACC or Big East very much.  The former has been picked clean of its best athletic programs and totally rebranded while the latter now ranks as the poorest league cash-wise among the five remaining major conferences.

Of course, ACC and Big East schools haven’t matched Big Ten schools in terms of size — where 50,000 students on a campus isn’t unheard of — and, therefore, in terms of alumni.  Delany pointed out yesterday that the Big Ten has 1.2 million alumni living between Northern Virginia and New York.  Not bad for a conference that’s not even located in the area.

Delany also said that his league is planning to open up a second conference office — probably in New York — to serve the East Coast.  All for Rutgers, Maryland, and maybe Penn State?

Expansion isn’t dead.  It’s resting.  And at some point — hopefully several years down the pike — it will awake and rise again.  When that happens, it’s clear in which direction the Big Ten will start looking.  If it sees that it can make it as a two-region league.

 


17 comments
JRsec
JRsec

I think Delany is just keeping his profile up in a potential area for future growth with these comments.  I could be surprised but it doesn't look like there will be much movement any time soon out of the ACC.  If anything big happens it will likely come from the Big 12 and involve just about everybody since it takes 8 votes to dissolve the conference and end the GOR.  It's true that the ACC right now stands to be last out of the Power 5 conferences in terms of revenue.  However that could change significantly should they pick up Texas and or Oklahoma and friends.  When the SEC seemed to be looking East we took from the West.  With Delany looking East he may be eyeing Kansas, Oklahoma, or Texas or a combination of two of them.  I don't think because of the Longhorns network affiliations that they would likely head to FOX country.  If they move I expect it to be to a location where ESPN holds network rights and that would be either the ACC or SEC.  Oklahoma I believe is with Comcast so the PAC or even the Big 10 might be hospitable in converting their network endeavors into a grander picture.  How the rest falls into place would be the spectacle.

I've even heard one speculation that N.C. State and Virginia Tech could be cleared to move to the SEC should the ACC desire to expand their footprint further by taking 4 from the Big 12.  I'm sure all parties would have to be willing for anything like that to happen but with ESPN holding the tabs on both conferences and perhaps looking to shelter their best product in the Big 12 from FOX that might be a possibility.  Still I would believe something like that when it happens.  But the idea was intriguing.  

If, however, the Big 12 adds a couple of teams then I think it's all over for at least 10 years.  It's just that without a network of their own, and without substantial enough targets to gain them the market presence they need, I don't think in 5 years they will be earning what the ACC does.  I believe Dodds knows that and that is why they haven't wanted to expand.  Add more teams and it becomes nearly impossible to place enough of them to dissolve the GOR and free Texas to escape to better academic and athletic digs.  Therein lies the only realignment possibilities I see for the remaining power conferences in the present environment.   

adarpy
adarpy

From what he said, I think Delany really wants his alma mater to join the Big Ten.  I can tell he hasn't given up yet, despite ACC's GOR.  In next five years if the revenue gap between Big Ten and ACC keeps growing, Delany will strike again.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

The Big 12 will face another round of defections when their GOR is up as their agreement expires first.  What happens to the ACC, I don't know.


I still think a good conclusion to all this would be for the SEC to cut a deal with about 10 ACC schools and form a super-conference.  It might have to happen at the end of the GOR, but a 24 school league could work.  Take everyone in the ACC except Pitt, Syracuse, Wake, and BC.  The amount of content generated by that sort of league would be unmatched by anyone else.

lodger16x
lodger16x

Concerning the ACC GOR, wouldn't the total amount of media money lost by a defecting school decrease each year?  So maybe 8 or 10 years from now the Big 10 could afford to compensate 1 or 2 teams for leaving.  They can take UCONN at any time.   Maybe before the ACC GOR expires, they will "buy out"  SYR, BC, and/or PITT.  They might  go farther south and try for VA, VA TECH, NC,  or NCST, and even GA TECH has been mentioned.

BAMANOLE26
BAMANOLE26

Sounds like Delaney is hinting at going after the northeast ACC schools, which has been rumored for quite a while. If this is the case I wonder how long it would take Slive & Co. to go after the remaining ACC schools to prevent the B1G from infiltrating farther South. The regional maps of the SEC and B1G are coincidentally starting to look like a map of the US during the Civil War, dividing the States into Union and Confederate areas. That would be especially true if both leagues wind up swallowing the ACC with them splitting the Virginia schools.

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

As discussed in many articles, you think the ACC would go after schools that are seperated by the SEC?  Just try to imagine 4 schools "pulling a WV".

My opinion is that if the ACC wants to promote basketball more than fb, they should have taken the schools left over from the Big East & let those with fb go free.  This way, you're getting more of what you want without expanding #'s.  The SEC could have taken those schools & grew in size.  So, now you have the whole South & Eastern part of the US covered by both conferences.

thomaslrowe
thomaslrowe

@AllTideUp I don't get why people want Super Conferences. I'd be interested to know your age ... as an old guy, I'd rather keep the tradition that I grew up with. My guess is that younger folks might be more open to larger conferences in that they really haven't bought into the tradition. I'm not putting you down, just interested to see it's a young v. old thing. 

The SEC already gets criticized for not playing enough cross-division games. Go to 24 and you would get to play the other teams in the other division once every 12 years, or something like that. Why have a big conference if you don't get to play more?

thomaslrowe
thomaslrowe

@lodger16x I think you are right, but it still a ton of money. Each school in the conference would have to agree to take a lesser share for a number of years. If you weigh that against what the new team(s) bring in once the GOR expires, it could be years and years before they make that money back. I am sure there are smart folks who would run the numbers, but I'm getting the feel that at least the next decade we will not see expansion from the SEC (the most likely B1G expansion candidates).

thomaslrowe
thomaslrowe

@BAMANOLE26 The ACC is safe for at least a decade or more. The Grant or Rights (GOR) that all ACC schools signed ensures this.

JRsec
JRsec

@thomaslrowe @AllTideUp I think this is an interesting argument.  All Tide Up would have been in agreement with our great-grandfathers who probably hated to see the old Southern Conference break apart.  While we on the other hand grew up with a smaller SEC and remember all of the old rivalries.  It's still hard to believe that there is no longer a wreck Tech parade at Auburn and that students today know nothing of the infamous greasing of the tracks.  But, large conferences are coming back because state budgets are shrinking and in tough economic times leveraging combined power into income is a necessity.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

@thomaslrowe

I'm in my 30s.  For me, it's not so much about what I want as much about what I think is going to happen.  Ultimately I just want the SEC to end up on top and I don't think conference realignment is over.  The factors driving realignment haven't changed so as far as my suggestion goes I'm just interested in blocking the Big Ten from gaining an advantage.

Also, as MrSEC has written about, the top leagues are probably going to split off into their own division.  Add to that that fans are tired of seeing cupcake games.  When the split happens, schools will most likely play each other pretty exclusively.  So if we have larger leagues then I don't see why we can't have 11 or 12 conference games.  If done correctly we can play traditional rivals often and rotate in new blood fairly regularly.  If 24 teams, for example, come under the same conference umbrella for mutual benefit in the new order of doing things then I don't think that's a bad thing.

thomaslrowe
thomaslrowe

@lodger16x All of what you say also depends on the BTN numbers going to where they are projecting. As fast and certain as cable and satellite distribution will change in the next decade, I wouldn't be betting the farm on that.

BAMANOLE26
BAMANOLE26

@thomaslrowe @BAMANOLE26  That depends on which legal expert you listen to. Some say the language is iron clad, others say not so much. They haven't been tested in court as far as I know and we've seen what has happened to other contractual agreements tying schools to a conference

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

@JRsec @thomaslrowe

Yeah, it's the leverage aspect of negotiations that I think would equal the windfall in profits.  The size and the quality both would aid the cause.

Along with that, the SEC and ACC in many ways share the same footprint.  No other 2 conferences are as close to each other as these 2.  If the 2 had some sort of merger then the geographical and cultural ties would not be strained in order to make it work.  That's assuming 2 or 3 Northern teams were cut out of the deal...their properties aren't worth as much anyway.  If ever a super-conference was going to work then it would be this one because it wouldn't require the inclusion of multiple regions.

thomaslrowe
thomaslrowe

@BAMANOLE26@thomaslroweTesty? It's a comment section ... I simply challenged your statement. Nothing testy about it. I also would be interested in the legal experts that say otherwise ... I'd like to see their reasoning. Here is the article that I mentioned ... the comments section is particularly enlightening: http://www.outkickthecoverage.com/myth-of-the-big-12s-grant-of-rights.php

"it would depend on the language of the contract" ... exactly my point ... it isn't a contract, it's a GOR. Legally, a different animal altogether. One would always expect a liquidated damages clause to be challenged, and often times modified or found unenforceable. GORs are far simpler, and don't have the same limitations as contracts.

As for expiration, it expires in 2025 or thereabouts. That is why I said in my original post that the ACC is safe for at least a decade or so.

Again, not being testy ... just discussing.

BAMANOLE26
BAMANOLE26

@thomaslrowe @BAMANOLE26 Whoa there sparky, no need to get testy. I just said that, from my understanding, it would depend on the language of the contract and that as far as I know these agreements between conferences hadn't been tested yet. Not knowing the language of the GOR or much about them I have no idea. All I do know is that it does eventually expire which means that this is at most a stop-gap. I didn't say the B1G or ACC would poach schools tomorrow, just that from his talk he is still interested in pursing ACC schools.

thomaslrowe
thomaslrowe

@BAMANOLE26 @thomaslrowe With all due respect, find me one legal expert that says the GOR is not valid. You can't confuse the GOR - which is not a contract concept - with the $50 million liquidated damages clauses which is contract concept, and is often challenged successfully. Grants of rights - media, IP, etc., happen all day long and are always upheld absent fraud, etc. The only article I've seen is where the writer confused the GOR with contract law ... in the comments he was excoriated for not understanding the difference. The GOR is rock solid, and that is why you are seeing everyone say that expansion is over. The ACC was the purportedly wobbly conference that could have started the cycle all over again. I assure you that the day the ACC signed the GOR was a really bad day for the B1G and the BTN.

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