You know something? Talking about Big 10 Expansion has actually gotten me excited again about college football. I have no idea why. I guess it has to do with the opportunity it would present for a championship game, a new, fresh opponent hopefully worthy of being in the Big 10 and not some flea bag that we "let" in because if you have been following along, the economics of joining the Big 10 make it a no brainer for just about any school out there, unless you are Notre Dame or Texas.
I am not buying the recent "up trend" in the marketability of a team from the BEast...Granted, they are better now than they seemed to be even when Miami, Va Tech and BC were involved, but let's think for a second: If the ACC had it's choice between BC and Syracuse (Which I can't stand, by the way) and they chose BC, WHY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH would the Big 10 slop up any of the dregs that the ACC left in the Big East? Rutgers? Please...Go away. Pitt? We already have Penn State. Cincinnati and Louisville? Not Big 10 Caliber academics and, believe it or not, relatively small endowments - even Louisville who I figured would have some Kentucky money coming in from somewhere....
So, that leaves us with the Big 12. And Texas is the prize, plain and simple. I don't think you will have a lot of Big 10 Presidents looking to chop up and take a smaller share of pie for a potential $15M play-off game pay out. It's just not going to happen. And I don't see the Big 10 bringing someone in that will agree to taking less. The strength of the Big 10 has always been, "Everyone gets a fair share whether you're playing on New Year's Day or not." That's the power of it.
So, that being said, I am thinking Texas will happen. But I wanted to throw something else out there: If the Big 10 and Texas do agree, what happens to the Big 12?
Assume Colorado and Utah join the Pac 10. And that's a very real possibility as the Pac 10 is starting to feel left out of the Championship game pie, not to mention that they want their own television network as well. I won't link all the info, but it's out there with some easy searches.
That would leave:
Please take note of the order. While this isn't exact, this is the order where the rest of the collgiate and commercial world believes the value is. In other words, Nebraska becomes the "most powerful" remaining team in the Big 12, followed by Oklahoma, Missouri, etc. What's interesting is that Kansas and it's storied basketball tradition and revitalized football program fall so far down the list...But look at the television markets and you will see everything you need to know. Farmers own lots of land and might watcht their sports, but their simply aren't that many of them per square foot.
I was also surprised to see that the market "believes" that A&M doesn't have the pull that Texas does. However, when you compare the national "footprint" of Michigan and Michigan State, you begin to see how this is possible. Even when locally A&M and Texas are synonomous, as are Sparty and the Wolverines, Nationally, it just doesn't hold.
So, if for a minute you assume you can replace a Top 10 and a Top 40 television audience (Texas and Colorado) with someone, who is it going to be? Leaving geography out of the equation and looking at the weakness in the Big East, does it make sense for the Big 12 to try to make it's own footprint expansion, and if so, where does it go and better yet: How Many Teams does it add?
Obviously, the locals will want TCU in the Big 12. Big Mistake. Now, it's starting to look a lot like the SWC which didn't survive. I think with a strong Basketball presence the Big 12 could and should push for a presence in the Eastern Midwest. Louisville, the aforementioned Big 10 reject, has endowments larger the the laugable K-State and parallels Kansas. In addition, Cincinnatti makes sense with their strong Basketball and current presence in football. But is that really expanding the market? Does that bring a stronger brand to the table when ESPN comes calling and is looking at 2 games to show on Saturday - and Texas is playing Michigan and OSU is playing PSU? Uh, Big 12, what do you have for us? And if you take those two, for the sake of argument, where exactly does that leave the BEast?
Not counting Basketball schools:
Anything Football wise "really" excite you here at this point? Me either....
The Big 12 needs to think radical - as does the Big East. While I am not sure what "radical" is and whether or not they can pull it off without the big money that the Big 10, SEC, ACC and Pac 10 have behind them, there needs to be some thought given to saving the conferences. Otherwise, you will see the former Big 8 become the "new Big 8" and you won't find them anywhere on the tube....right there along with the BEast.
So, if you can't get big markets, do you get as many small, relatively good markets as you can? In other words, will the new Conference USA be some sort of quasi-merger of Big East and Big 12 athletics? That would shake things up. But is it better?
Big 12-BEast Football: Welcome to Wednesday (and Thursday) Night Lights.....