Big Ten Expansion: Big-Time TV Deals Now King in College Football

Ethan GrantAnalyst INovember 19, 2012

July 26, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany speaks during the Big Ten media day at the McCormick Place Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Reid Compton-US PRESSWIRE

Maryland and Rutgers appear headed to the Big Ten conference after the board of regents for the Terps approved the move on Monday. While the conference is growing and another shift in the national landscape of college football is taking place, the real story here is how TV deals are now impacting the game.

On the surface, there's no business for either one of these two teams to be joining the Big Ten. The recruiting isn't the same in the Big East or ACC, and Maryland has struggled the past two seasons since Randy Edsall has come aboard.

Money talks.

Over the past several years, conferences have been striking it rich with cable companies and team-specific networks that now rule the television landscape of the sport. The deal with Maryland and Rutgers stands to net the Big Ten $120 million, as reported by CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd.

Call Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany whatever you want, but one thing the man is not is lazy in his position. He helped start the craze for the Big Ten Network and other conferences continue to reap the benefits of this one-up system between leagues and television providers. Here's an excerpt from Dodd's piece:

Delany has shown he is willing to fight long and hard to prove he's right. After being turned down by ESPN for increased rights' fees in the mid-2000s, he went to his presidents with permission to start BTN. It was a long, hard slog going from cable carrier to cable carrier within the Big Ten region to sell something that those carriers had never seen.

Now, Delany sees the light bulb to more expansion. Unlike the rest of the major conferences, which are tied up in long deals with carriers that take them into the 2020s, the Big Ten stand to make a major payday as the only major conference up for grabs in 2016.

With the New York and Maryland markets now in his pocket, coupled with Eastern influence Penn State and Southern-most Nebraska, the Big Ten stands to make more money than many conferences who are putting better football on the field each week.

Think back over the past two seasons. The Pac-12 and SEC have both added schools to carry the weight of a new television deal that stands to net the two a combined $9.2 billion, as noted by Steve Berkowitz earlier this year.

The Big 12 has also been in headlines over the past year due to the University of Texas signing the deal with ESPN's Longhorn Network. It created animosity between the Longhorns and other schools in the conference and ultimately led to Texas A&M bolting for the SEC.

As Connecticut now prepares to head to the ACC, don't be surprise to see teams take into account the markets they are bringing in correlation to the product.

Despite college football's best efforts to keep money out of where teams align, it appears the greenbacks have won again. Who will be next to take the plunge? Which conferences will cease to exist?

So many questions, only answerable by which way the money moves.


Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team.