May 16th, 2013 01:30 PM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, New York
Given 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.
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