Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Maryland and Rutgers? Delaney: “Your Move, Jack”

The MMQ is still sitting behind me and the blank stare has turned into a droopy eyed listless gaze into nothing, so the FMQ is here to answer some of the questions I received via e-mail and in a couple of telephone conversations this week.

I hear all of you...Maryland and Rutgers?  What good is that?  Where's the interest there?  Rutgers rivalry?  Maybe with Sparty or someone....Maryland and Rutgers? Why?

Simple:  Expanded footprint. That was the obvious conclusion that everyone made and the fact that the BTN would have an additional 14.6 million households in the New York and Philadelphia markets that currently have Comcast where they are going to be able to add the BTN and get one dollar ($1 USD) per month of additional revenue for the league by adding the BTN. And the Comcast customer will see the $1 increase, shrug and swear about cable rates and send in the check. That’s $14.6M times 12 months….ANNUALLY.  Not a bad deal for the BTN and an additional $175M a year…..

Wetzel actually stole some of the FMQ’s thunder with his article regarding this piece of it, and yes, I agree with all of it.

But I also started thinking some more about the move. And asking some questions out loud (well in the FMQ’s head, actually) about the logic of it all. And the College Football landscape in general. Why would Delaney attack the ACC? And also go after a good, highly regarded AAU school (Rutgers) that was more than likely member number 15 or 16 for the ACC and devalue the B1G Football brand overall? Why on EARTH would Delaney attack a conference where Notre Dame just—

Then it hit me like the proverbial boulder hits the Coyote when the Road Runner one ups him for the infinite time…

Why on Earth, indeed, Mr. Delaney. Let’s review, shall we? The Domers initially joined the Beast way back when because the Beast allowed themselves to be MANIPULATED by the Domers and let the Domers keep Football independent. Great for Notre Dame, lousy for the Beast. And look what has happened to the Beast in the last 15 years since the Domers have been a part of them WITHOUT FOOTBALL.

So, there was no way the B1G was ever going to take the Domers on a conditional level and let Football remain independent. Ditto for the Big 12. Notre Dame goes in the next logical direction for Notre Dame, and approaches the ACC. The ACC having a mediocre television contract for Football (Not terrible, just not great) agrees to let the Domers keep their independence but they have to play 5 ACC games a year. Okay. Domers get their way AGAIN with pseudo-conference affiliation.

But let’s see. That probably pissed off one or two of the institutions inside of the ACC that were having Athletic Department cash flow problems (Maryland cut 9 - I think - non-revenue sports last year) where a FULLY INVESTED Domer brand that would SELL the entire ACC conference and make a television contract more lucrative for EVERYONE INVOLVED.  THAT possibility just got flushed down the toilet. Result: PISSED OFF ACC MEMBERS!

Is EVERYONE following along at this point? Good.

So, you now have ACC institutions that are not only pissed at the ACC in general, but they are willing to look at any other long term deal in a stable conference that might have a better brand value than what the ACC currently has for football.

Yes, the B1G was a no brainer for Maryland. $50M buyout? Peanuts. And Maryland and Rutgers will have an annual “income adder” from the BTN that is projected to be in the $30M range in 4-5 years. Excellent long term plan.

But what about Florida State? The 1 loss team in a weak ACC that is getting jobbed because they aren’t in a stronger conference? There were rumors earlier this year that the Big 12 was looking at Clemson and FSU. Don’t be surprised if that was just more than rumor. I know the MMQ said that they would be idiots to leave the ACC, but what about the individual brands helping the Big 12 collectively and making them a much more attractive package as a whole for TV rights? That’s possible.

And the SEC needs two more schools to be at 16 teams…Which is probably where this conference alignment thing is going…

So, (I know, it’s hard to follow all of this in my own head at times as well) you now have an ACC conference that Jim Delaney has exposed for what it is. He removed one of the original bricks from the dyke. He revealed a conference that’s scared about keeping itself together (Why else have a $50 Million Buy-Out clause?) He’s shown us it’s possible to pilfer a conference that has several viable candidates for either the SEC or the Big 12 if they envision any moves of going to 16 members. And the Big 12 can always go get the left over dregs from the Beast (Cincinnati and Louisville and whoever else is left). But wouldn’t Clemson and FSU get the Big 12 into BETTER Markets? And wouldn’t that be a BETTER brand for those two institutions than the ACC the way it sits today?? Not to mention that the SEC could get some upper northeast exposure with Pitt or Syracuse? Boston College anyone?  Virginia nd Virginia Tech are also strong, independent brands that have no allegiance to Tobacco Road schools North Carolina and Duke....

See where this is going? The Domers destroyed the Beast singlehandedly by not giving of itself fully to the conference and bringing and sharing its strongest brand. That created upheaval. By trying to do the same thing in the ACC, the process is going to repeat itself. It’s not going to happen overnight, but mark my words, it’ll happen. Jealousy regarding control by one member cannot be understated. And there are simply too many options for too many good institutions where their brands and location would make a collective of solid brands (Big 12 and SEC) and those member institutions better. The Domers simply DON’T GET THAT!

Chess is a game of subtle and not so subtle moves. I’m not a chess master by any means. My youngest daughter is proving that often. But if I had to identify $warbuck$ move to the ACC, I would call it an elementary opening move known as the “Queen’s Gambit”. Jack was bold and above board and tried to take control of his own destiny and manipulate the ACC into doing what he wanted. It was quick and decisive and he was hoping it ended the changing conference alignment discussions. Delaney’s move was much more contrived and based on the middle game theory; in fact, it’ll probably take years to play out. Delaney has “Castled” the B1G regionally and left two spots open. When everyone else starts scrambling and ACC schools start looking for new homes in 16 team mega conferences, the ACC collective will start looking a lot like the old Beast – which is where a bulk of the ACC schools came from. With the Domers sitting their wondering what happened and how they ended up with the same family members sitting across the table from them at holidays when they dumped that family years before.

And Delaney, or someone else, will once again give the Domers the option of joining the B1G in one of the two open spots remaining.

Your move, Jack.

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