Big Ten Expansion: Who Has the Most to Gain and Lose with New Realignment?
We spent the summer dealing with the Clemson-Florida State-Big 12 drama, and in the end, what we got was absolutely nothing. We entered this past weekend without a single thought of Big Ten expansion, and we come into Monday with a major move sitting in our laps.
The Washington Post, along with just about everyone else, is reporting that Maryland, and Rutgers, will be joining the Big Ten.
Whew, that didn't take long, as Maryland's Board of Regents bailed on the ACC in what, at least publicly, was a quick decision. ESPN's Brett McMurphy let us know:
Maryland's board of regents unanimously approves move to Big Ten, source tells @espn— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) November 19, 2012
So, with the official word from the school, starting July 1, 2014 the Maryland Terrapins will be the newest member of the Big Ten. Big move for the Terps and, in the coming days, the Scarlet Knights.
So, who wins and who loses here?
Losers first: Big Ten traditionalist fan and the Big East.
Yes, the ACC has lost a team, and sure, if you'd like to point and laugh at it, go ahead. However, the ACC already has a stronghold in the D.C. marketplace with Virginia Tech and Virginia; losing the Terps is not going to shut it out of that digital market.
However, the ACC could become the biggest loser here, if it ends up seeing more dominoes fall. As Dennis Dodd alludes to in his piece for CBS Sports, if Jim Delany adds his alma mater, UNC, in the future, that could be a critical blow to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
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As it stands now, Big Ten traditional guy and the Big East are the ones truly hurt to the core here. Adding teams to get to 14 means less games against cross-divisional foes, and that's not what Big Ten fan wants.
It also means trips to Piscataway and College Park, something Mr. Midwest did not exactly have on his bucket list where college-football destinations are concerned.
To say that the general response from Big Ten fan is "less than thrilled" would be a monumental understatement. A league that folks thought was above the television-market grabbing of other conferences is playing the same game to help grow its product.
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On the flip side of Big Ten fan, we have the Big East. A league that finally seemed to get things together, including announcing its divisions for the 2013 season just under a week ago, takes a shot to the gut it did not expect.
Simply put, if you're the Big East, as a team, a coach, an employee or just a fan, that sucks. Rutgers played you the entire time, and as it escapes to the cash-filled promised land of the Big Ten, you're stuck in the Big East hoping the ACC looks your way as it tries to replace Maryland.
Oh, and of course, the ACC has already got its wheels in motion, as the San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner let's us know:
Realignment source: UConn to ACC could happen as soon as Tuesday.— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) November 19, 2012
There are losers, but there are also some big, big-time winners in all of this: Rutgers, Maryland and the Big Ten.
Rutgers and Maryland can finally get caught up from a financial standpoint.
No more taking second- or third-rate money in a game where the leaders are just increasing their profit margins and leaving you behind. Now, Maryland and Rutgers join the ranks of the financial leaders, and if the current state of college football has taught us anything, it's that full pockets make a lot of things better.
Sure, like West Virginia, Missouri or TCU, the Terps and Scarlet Knights will have their hands full in early competition after stepping up conferences.
However, they will also have the cash to keep coaches who find success, upgrade facilities to help in recruiting their already talent-rich landscapes and spend more on football operations in general.
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Which brings us to the biggest winner: the Big Ten.
While Big Ten fan loses here, and then stomps off and pouts, the actual conference is coming out on top. Its television network will now be added to the D.C. Metro, Baltimore and New Jersey basic-tier television packages. That's a lot of subscribers, and a lot of new money going into the coffers.
Both Maryland plus D.C. Metro and New Jersey are in the top half of states as far as population is concerned and are ahead of current Big Ten states such as Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota.
By getting the Big Ten Network added to the basic, standard-cable tier, it is roping in a largely untapped cash source—whether the people tune in to the channel or not.
That move, in and of itself, is a good thing, but the big fish hanging in the balance is the way Rutgers helps the Big Ten in New York City.
In the end will this Big Ten move be a plus for the conference?
Let's not pretend that Rutgers delivers the Big Apple to the Big Ten. That's silly. In all likelihood, Penn State, Ohio State or Michigan would and do deliver a bigger "foot in the door" where New York City is concerned. However, what Rutgers does is give the network a "man on the ground."
In other words, having strong followings and alumni based in New York City is great. Having a school that's under an hour from New York City that will be playing all of those schools is even better.
Throw in the fact that, as Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel points out, the Big Ten's partner, FOX-News Corp., is looking to buy the YES Network, and the Big Ten has a decidedly strong push towards grabbing the New York City market.
Jim Delany's not dumb, folks.
Is this a risk?
Certainly, but, as Delany has shown time and again in everything from establishing the Big Ten Network to Nebraska expansion and the Big Ten's standing in the new playoff, he only makes well-thought-out, calculated moves.
If you're a gambling man, gamble on the Big Ten's pockets getting fatter after this move; that's what Delany does, without fail.
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