Big Ten Expansion. NOW What Does It Do? 22 Thoughts For 2022, No. 14

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Big Ten Expansion. NOW What Does It Do? 22 Thoughts For 2022, No. 14

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Big Ten Expansion. NOW What Does It Do? 22 Thoughts For 2022, No. 14

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22 College Football Thoughts for 2022, No. 14: After the SEC landed Texas and Oklahoma, how can the Big Ten possibly respond to expand and keep up the pace?


22 College Football Thoughts For 2022

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2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams

22 College Football Thoughts For 2022
22, College football is changing, and it’s okay
21, Texas & Oklahoma, you really want the SEC?
20. SEC is really, really good if you like it or not
19. James Madison, welcome to the show
18. Sun Belt is the cool conference
17. Transfer Portal will only get bigger
16. NFL, keep your hands off our announcers
15. Big 12: Get bigger and stronger, or else

14. Big Ten expansion: NOW what does it do?

Conference expansion and realignment have been a part of college football ever since college alliances began, but business-wise, it all went up a few notches in the early 1990s.

The Southwest Conference and Big 8 created the Big 12, Florida State joined the ACC – setting the tone for a wave of additions from the Big East – and Penn State went to the most forward-thinking conference of the bunch, the Big Ten.

Even when the Big Ten wasn’t bringing aboard schools, it was getting everyone talking.

When it has expansion and big business ideas, the B1G usually tells you what it’s going to do – or, at the very least, hints at it – and why? Because it can.

However, after Texas and Oklahoma made the move to the SEC, the Big Ten has been strangely quiet when it comes to conference expansion. As in, like, dead silent.

Under former Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, the conference had a way of subtly letting out the expansion trial balloons to see which way the wind was blowing. So far under new commissioner Kevin Warren, there’s apparently no interest in adding more schools, everything is fine as is, and …

There aren’t a whole lot of options. That’s the problem. And there’s a bigger existential concern that Big Ten people don’t like to talk about at parties …

Ohio State.

All of a sudden, the SEC is positioning itself to take over the Big Ten as the most dominant revenue producing conference, but it needs more. It needs to make people outside of the southeast part of the country care about the product when it’s not the Alabama vs. Big Other SEC Team of the Moment showdown.

The SEC getting Oklahoma was one thing, but landing Texas changed the game.

First, it’s Texas. Blow off the problems on the football field; that’s the big boy at the table when it comes to revenue producing athletic departments.

Second, it’s Texas. It’s going to step in and be the second-best academic institution in the SEC behind Vanderbilt, or arguably 2B along with Florida.

Third, it’s Texas. Having Texas A&M is great, but you get the University of Texas, you get all the big markets across the entire state including a lockdown of the Dallas/Fort Worth area – the fifth largest media market in the country.

The SEC now owns Dallas, it owns Atlanta (7th largest media market according to the Nielsen Ratings), and it pretty much has Houston (8th), Tampa/St. Petersburg (13th), and Orlando (17th). That’s not quite like having Chicago (3rd), Philadelphia (4th), Washington DC (9th), Minneapolis (14th), Detroit (15th), Cleveland (19th) and whatever parts of New York that cares about college football, but it’s huge.

And the Big Ten totally blew it.


Big Ten 2022 Schedule Analysis: 3 things to know
Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Maryland | Michigan
Michigan State | 
Minnesota | Nebraska | Ohio State
Penn State | PurdueRutgers | Wisconsin


It was one of those spitballed ideas several years ago when the Big Ten was looking to expand. Texas was – and still is – the PERFECT fit for the Big Ten in every possible way. As I said in an earlier rant, Texas people aren’t doing their jobs – in terms of potential football success, revenue, and academic profile – if it doesn’t do a double-take on this SEC move.

But that’s not going to happen, Texas is going to the SEC, and that opens the gate for every big-time athletic school that would trade it all for a little bit more.

It’s doubtful the SEC could ever get Michigan – horrible academic branding downgrade – but Ohio State? It’s been more than just hinted that the SEC would love to get THE school in Ohio and all but end any possible balance of college football power.

Of course there’s the sports side, but to get all of the Ohio markets – and create a much, much bigger overall media deal – would be a devastating blow to the Big Ten.

No, I don’t think Ohio State is ever leaving the Big Ten, but it sure as shoot has a whole lot of negotiating power with a whole lot of muscle.

So now the Big Ten has to do something splashy to not only keep up with the SEC, but to make the current members richer and happier. 

But how?

There are two expansion issues for the conference. Expansion only makes sense if it raises the revenue for everyone. There’s no reason to keep adding schools just to add schools if it splits up the pie a few more slices. The other issue is the lack of options.

Part arrogance, part negotiating stalemates, part not wanting to add big-time football schools to make life a wee bit harder for the powerhouses – notice there was no griping whatsoever from the football coaches after adding Rutgers and Maryland – the Big Ten didn’t get Texas. It never really came all that close to figuring it out with Notre Dame – that was on both sides. It completely whiffed by not jumping on Missouri and Colorado to expand west, and it didn’t really go hard enough on the top ACC schools when it had the chance. 

That last one is the killer. 

The Big Ten would LOVE to have North Carolina – it fits in the exact same way Texas would have. It would have probably pushed for Georgia Tech for the Atlanta market – just like it wanted Rutgers for New York/New Jersey and Maryland for Baltimore/Washington DC – Boston College and Syracuse would’ve been interesting ideas, and Virginia would be a no-brainer.

But the ACC has its schools locked up until 2035 in a rough media deal – that’s sort of why you haven’t heard much about the SEC putting a fence around the southeast part of the country by taking over Clemson, Florida State, and Miami.

Everything has its price, and there’s always a way, but the ACC is all but out. Notre Dame continues to be a non-starter, and the Big Ten and Pac-12 don’t seem to want to mess with each other in any sort of expansion rumors – even though USC, UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona, and Washington are all probably more in the Big Ten’s thought bubble than many might want to believe.

So now what?

There are only a few schools that make sense for what the Big Ten is looking for. They have to be Tier 1 research universities with a good media reach and the ability expand the overall footprint – don’t worry too much about geography and travel; it’s 1,300 miles from Piscataway to Lincoln.

And it has to have the main schools the respective states – like THE University of Nebraska, and THE University of Maryland, and THE State University of New Jersey.

The easy starting point would be Kansas – great basketball, Tier 1 research, Kansas City and St. Louis markets, easy geographic rival for the Big Ten West – but that’s not exactly matching the SEC getting Oklahoma and Texas.

All of the other Big 12 schools other than TCU have the Tier 1 academic profile, but … nah. West Virginia doesn’t really fit, and the Big Ten isn’t going after Iowa State when it has Iowa, or Kansas State when it can probably get Kansas.

So that leaves the Pac-12. The Big Ten doesn’t want to ruffle that relationship, but business is business, and Colorado would slide right in and be at home in the Big Ten. The Pac-12 would get all mad, and then it would finally do what it should’ve done years ago and snatch Colorado State, San Diego State, and UNLV from the Mountain West.

Colorado and Kansas? Really? That would be the Big Ten’s smartest and best answer to the SEC getting Texas and Oklahoma? 

Yeah – because it works. 

Remember, this is business – don’t get caught up in level of play on the football field. 

Colorado would be about adding Denver – the 16th biggest media market in the country – and Kansas, again, gets you Kansas City (34th) and helps with St. Louis (23rd) to go along with the national basketball base that would park it on the Big Ten Network during the season.

Or nothing could happen, the Big Ten will keep printing money, and it’ll spend its time working on keeping the member institutions from thinking about entering the conference transfer portal.

But it’s the Big Ten. It might be quiet, but ohhhhhhhh, no. It’s not going to sit this one out.

You really think the Big Ten is going to let the SEC take over the world?

22 College Football Thoughts For 2022
22, College football is changing, and it’s okay
21, Texas & Oklahoma, you really want the SEC?
20. SEC is really, really good if you like it or not
19. James Madison, welcome to the show
18. Sun Belt is the cool conference
17. Transfer Portal will only get bigger
16. NFL, keep your hands off our announcers
15. Big 12: Get bigger and stronger, or else

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams

 

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