27 Jul 2010
Take this for precisely what it is worth (it is a random weekend link from the New York Post, after all, albeit one that uses real quotes from Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany), but when Big Ten media days kick up next week, there is a very good chance that Big Ten expansion will once again be the topic at hand. Jim Delany is still apparently yearning for entry into the northeastern corridor of the country.
Coincidence or not, the Big East -- which has come to absorb expansion tremors the way Californians shrug off earthquakes that register at the low end of the Richter scale -- will host its media days at the same time as the Big Ten. The ACC's media days are Monday and Tuesday.
Those leagues contain programs of most appeal in addition to Notre Dame, an independent, and Missouri of the Big 12 because of their markets. ... [T]he Big Ten's clock still is ticking, and FBS schools in the Boston (Boston College), New York (Rutgers and Syracuse) and Washington, D.C. (Maryland) markets prime properties. Should the Big East lose two members and/or the ACC lose Maryland, a charter member that is cash-strapped, it could reshape the Eastern seaboard.
And just like that, Delany and the New York Post have reminded us that the topic that carried us through most of this offseason (until player arrests and illegal agent activities took over in July) might be about to re-enter the conversation. Try to contain your excitement.
So here's a quick brainstorming activity, at least for those who aren't too sick of the subject to even fathom another round of rumors: what does happen if the Big Ten decides to attack the northeast in another four to eight months? You have to figure Rutgers is the first team on the list because of its metropolitan attractiveness. Assuming Notre Dame and Missouri are not in the cards, the second addition (because it's hard to run a 13-team conference) would also be from the same area. If it is a Big East team (Syracuse, for instance ... that would get the Big Ten officially into the New York footprint, even if Syracuse is further away from New York City than College Park, Maryland), then that conference is suddenly down to six football-playing members. What happens next?
A. The Big East adds Central Florida and another team (possibly East Carolina) and calls it a day.
B. The ACC comes after 2-4 Big East teams (say, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and maybe a couple more) to solidify their own standing.
C. The ACC comes calling, and the Big 12 starts to look at somebody like Louisville, Cincinnati, or both.
The Big 12 will only expand if it can bring in schools capable of generating the TV revenue necessary to keep up their projected TV revenue of $15-20 million per team. That means schools like TCU and Houston are out because they bring nothing to table in terms of TV revenue. They could only even possibly expand with schools like Louisville, Cincinnati, the Conference USA's Memphis, or (more of a reach) West Virginia or Pittsburgh. It is at least slightly possible that, after Big Ten expansion almost caused the death of the Big 12, further Big Ten expansion could further bolster the Big 12's general health.
In any case, the return of the 'E' word would represent a step in the right direction for college football conversation after more arrests this past weekend. Whatever kills time until games actually start in less than six weeks.
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Critical games this weekend in the Pac-12, Big Ten, and ACC could go a long way in determining conference championships -- and maybe even playoff berths.