I would recommend Frank The Tank's Slant blog and Adam Rittenberg's Big Ten Blog at ESPN.com. In addition I enjoy following GoBlue Wolverine for the local U of M discussions.
It seems that the mainstream is pointing to an expansion that entails mostly of Big East schools with maybe ND, Missouri, and Nebraska, joining in as well.
I have been looking at the many different examples of expansion but until now none of them have really met the criteria that I would think Jim Delany would be after.
With that said let me begin.
Jim Delany must consider, additional households for the BTN, existing TV contracts, A Championship Game, AAU membership academically, migration demographics, team travel, schedule, The SEC counter expansion, etc.
No small task right?
Assuming a 16 team league and that is still a big if. Here is what I believe Delany should do.
In my opinion the Big East is not a threat, if I were running the Big Ten I would want them to stay intact. They have some very good football programs and some great basketball universities, but why would I want to break them up?
It is not like The Northeast is a College Football hotbed, it is a area dominated by pro sports. Especially in the NYC area. WV and Pitt are very good programs but WV is not a member of the AAU, and the market share Pitt could bring is mostly held by Penn State. The only thing going for that area is TV sets, but nothing that really drives the needle, Rutgers really? I believe Delany should only threaten the demise of the Big East to force ND into the fold.
With that said, my driving force as commissioner if I were going to a 16 team league would be to have a cohesive unit of teams that dominate a region, and fit our economic profile. A region that has much in common with Big Ten values, and can bring additional revenue to the BTN, while making the on the field product better, to better compete with the SEC.
The answer in my opinion is the Big 12. TEXAS, A&M, MISSOURI, NEBRASKA, KANSAS OR ND. This expansion does a number of things.
First it doesn't just annex a team, it brings along tradition that can meld with the Big Ten pretty easily, since the region shares many of the same values, while continuing many of the Big 12 traditional match ups. Which I believe is an important selling point for team like Texas to leave their current situation, also bringing in these like members makes it easier for travel requirements to be worked out, because there is a familiarity with those added members.
These teams are all research AAU members, academically they fit perfect. ND may be an AAU exception, but it is a stand alone example of a fine University. ND doesn't pose any academic difficulty.
Another interesting aspect of expansion focused on the Big 12 is that it virtually controls the counter move of the SEC. If Delany could bring in the teams previously discussed the SEC would almost immediately pick up OU, OSU, Tex Tech, and Kansas (if ND goes to Big Ten) if not they could bring on Kansas St. but likely would bring someone like Louisville on board.
While the PAC 10 brings on CU.
That is how the Big 12 could become extinct.
For those of you who do not believe the SEC would be so easily manipulated and suggest they could raid the ACC of GA TECH, FLA ST, MIAMI, and CLEMSON. Think again. why would the SEC destroy the ACC in markets they are already the dominate league? SC, GA, FLA are already SEC footholds, in terms of recruits and market share. Silve would not only look like a prick, he would likely piss off some of his members. I can't see Florida wanting Miami or Fla State in the SEC. It simply makes more sense for the SEC to pick up the Big 12 pieces and expand its recruiting and national footprint. With some damn fine schools I would add.
Can you see how Delany could literally mold the two conferences?
But that is not all.
This expansion would hurt the huge SEC, ESPN TV deal. Now the SEC would have to share that deal with four more teams. No way ESPN is going to renegotiate a 15 year deal. In addition, the SEC can't form it's own network without breaking that deal. Again Delany comes out smelling like a rose. The Big Ten would add five teams, and ESPN would not renegotiate their deal either. But the BTN would easily fill in the revenue holes with the new Big 12 markets, and a new conference championship game, furthering the revenue divide between the conferences.
Hubris just may play a role with Big Ten Expansion, Delany and the Big Ten has been falling behind the Big 12 and SEC in recent Football performance. But if Delany can work a deal simlar to the one I propose, he could not only eliminate a conference foe, but shape another.
In my opinion Silve was courting Texas over the radio for a reason this week. Do you think he may see the writing on the wall? Who knows?
Just when you thought the Red River Rivalry could not get any nastier. Now put an SEC, OU vs. a Big Ten, Texas.
Note to Big 12, be nice to Texas this week, if that pin falls the league could be doomed.