Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Buy or Sell: The Big Ten= The New Big Twelve?

There has been a bit of buzz surrounding the topic over the last year or so, especially on the blogosphere. Being the son of two University of Iowa grads and a lifelong Hawkeye fan I feel like chiming in with my thoughts. It really is a pretty interesting idea.

I am totally buying the idea of the Big Ten expanding to 12 teams. It seems to work wonderfully for other conferences. I think since the Big Ten doesn't even have 10 teams (adding Penn St. made it an 11-team conference) why not just add one more? Why make it an 11-team conference if you're not planning on jumping up to 12?

Some people talk about contraction. Some people are fools. On the surface, booting a team from the conference makes sense; after all, this is the Big Ten, and eleven minus one is ... hey! But who would go? So, without anyone to boot why not pick up a team and make it 12?! These days in college sports (especially in NCAA Football) money is huge. What could possibly be bigger money-wise than expanding the Big Ten?

If the Big Ten expanded to 12 teams they could eventually split into 2 6-team divisions and have a conference championship. That would bring in huge revenue and would avoid any co-champions and would make it probably a little more fair being as everyone doesn't play every team in the Big Ten already. Honestly, what TV representative wouldn't want to buy the rights to a game as big as the Big Ten championship?

However not everyone agrees:

"I've not met anybody in coaching that really enjoys it...There's a lot of downside to it, in my opinion." - U. of Iowa Football Coach Kirk Ferentz

The Big Ten has managed, one way or another, to tolerate co-champions when it needs to, and I think the largest fear in nay-sayers is the fear of losing a BCS bid by having a conference championship game.

I, however, am all for it and it makes great sense financially. Now lets quickly examine some potential candidates...The Big Ten has a history of on-field excellence as well as high academic standards for its institutions, so those factors must be weighed heavily when considering which team to add. The third major factor would be the addition of a large media market to the Big Ten stable. All factors considered here's what I think:

Notre Dame
Academically they are the best bet out of the group. They also are probably the most marketable and have the best history and one of the largest fan bases. Notre Dame is a no-brainer as a target for the Big-Ten. The problem is, it is also a no-brainer for Notre Dame to remain independent. They have that lucrative TV contract with NBC which also stands in the way a bit with the new Big Ten Network near birth.

Academically they are right on par with Notre Dame. They are a little less marketable being in Anapolis, MD, however they have a pretty decent fan base. Plus, the Big Ten would be inheriting the Army vs. Navy game which would be huge. They have had some recent success going to bowl games the last 4 seasons (while winning 2).

There academics are probably a B or B+ in comparison to Navy and Notre Dame. However, the present something that Navy and ND cannot: the addition of the New York/New Jersey media market to the Big Ten stable. Rutgers has more to offer in that regard than any other team. Historically they suck. However, they have had some recent success and are a program who are on the definite rise. However, they are VERY high risk/high reward. If last year was a fluke and this team isn't on the rise like I think they are then the Big Ten just inherits another doormat like Indiana.

Iowa State
They're academics are very good for a state school and they are in the bets location being so purely Midwestern. They would bring some definite positives to the table. The main reason Iowa State would be considered is so they can establish the in-state rivalry which could attract more fans to the Big Ten. If Iowa and Iowa State played late in season, it could possibly have conference championship implications, which would attract more ratings, and potentially more money for the conference. However, they would have to be extracted from the Big 12 and that spot would need to be filled to keep that conference at 12. So, while it sounds nice it would be quite the hassle.

Their program has fallen recently over the years, but their large budget mixed with Big Ten revenue sharing could bring the program back up. Syracuse would not only potentially help the depth of the conference, but also would make the academic record better. Like Rutgers, the Orange would bring in the New York area fan base and introduce them to Big Ten football.

Are you buying or selling the expansion? If you're a buyer who do you like as a joiner?

1 comment:

Stefan Ming said...

notre dame will not join a conference anytime soon. if they expand it would make most sense to get a big east or big 12 member. pittsburgh, rutgers (like you said), and syracuse all look good, iowa st., colorado, maybe even texas. but if texas leaves then the big 12 likely crumbles