May 10, 2010

Big Ten Expansion: Thoughts on the "New York market," a possible Notre Dame Network, and why the Big Ten should be wary of expanding to 16 teams.

All kinds of reports out there that the Big Ten is on the verge of expansion, and now some of the names are leaking out. Seems like there is a consensus that Nebraska and Missouri will be involved with some combination of Rutgers, Syracuse, UConn, or Pitt joining them. As always, Notre Dame is in the mix, but let's break this conference expansion talk down and explore some of the big issues out there.

1) Do Big Ten fans really want this 16 team league that is being discussed and are the 5 rumored teams (Nebraska, Missouri, Rutgers, Syracuse, Pitt) really going to get people excited??

No and no.

For the folks in the media who continue to trumpet a proposed 16 team Big Ten like it would be the greatest conference ever assembled, please consider the following:

1) Massive brand dilution -- Nebraska would be a great addition on the football side, but the rest of these schools do nothing to change the national perception of the Big Ten. Are people really that excited about adding schools like Pitt and Rutgers and Syracuse to the league?? Are Michigan fans really clamoring to make the trip to Piscataway to watch Michigan play in a 45,000 seat Rutgers Stadium on the banks of the Old Raritan?? Are Minnesota fans fired up about seeing their Gophers play in front of 25,000 Pitt fans at a half-full Heinz Field?? Are Illinois fans really pumped about that new rivalry with Syracuse even though they've probably never met a Syracuse alum/fan in their lives??

Where is the nexus between a school like Wisconsin and Rutgers?? I don't get it. Wisconsin is a big Midwestern, land grant, beer and bratwurst, cheeshead, northern accent kinda scene. Rutgers is Snooki and The Situation and "Gym, Tan, Laundry."

Pitt doesn't even have their own stadium. They'd be the only school in the Big Ten that plays in a pro stadium. Has anyone stopped to consider this?? All of the Big Ten schools (outside of maybe Northwestern) have big regional fanbases. Pitt and Rutgers aren't even a big deal in their own states, and certainly not in any other state.

Syracuse would add some major brand name equity on the basketball side, but this expansion isn't about basketball. Basketball is already strong in the Big Ten. Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Purdue have developed into very strong basketball programs, and it's only a matter of time before Indiana and Michigan get their acts together.

Plus, Syracuse would be a strange fit even in basketball. Syracuse recruits NYC kids. Would Syracuse still be a major play in New York when suddenly all over their games were in Champaign and East Lansing and Iowa City???

And if basketball is really a strong consideration, adding Rutgers is laughable. Rutgers basketball is in shambles, and really is lucky to even be in the Big East at all. They'd immediately be the worst program in the Big Ten if they joined the league.

2) The myth of capturing "The New York Market"

I keep hearing that the Big Ten really wants to capture the New York City market, and that they hope to do it through expansion. I can understand the reasoning. NYC is the biggest market in the country, and if the Big Ten could get the BTN on basic cable in New York through expansion, it would be a massive coup for the league. Imagine 20 million New Yorkers ponying up $.70 a pop per month for the BTN through their cable providers. You're talking about some major dollars there.

But it's a complete fantasy because it would never happen. If you add Syracuse and Rutgers, that isn't changing the landscape in New York City one bit. Does anyone really think New Yorkers give a crap about Rutgers football or basketball?? Hilarious. Rutgers has a 2,500 seat basketball arena that doesn't even sell out. And I highly doubt that New Yorkers are showing up in droves to watch Rutgers football.

New York is a pro town. Local media coverage goes to the Yanks, Knicks, Mets, Giants, Jets, etc. Even among "local" colleges, Rutgers probably is behind St. Johns and Seton Hall and Syracuse and UConn in terms of interest.

If you want to capture the New York market, the only school worth pursuing is Notre Dame. There's a reason why Notre Dame was asked to play at Yankee Stadium this year ($175 tickets....outrageous!). ND can sell out Yankee Stadium and create buzz in the city. Rutgers does neither.

People aren't thinking this stuff through. If the Big Ten adds Syracuse and Rutgers and then demands that the big New York cable companies add the BTN on basic cable, those cable companies would laugh in Jim Delany's face. They had trouble adding the freaking YES Network to basic cable when it came out for god sakes. Do you really think they're adding a channel that carries Minnesota-Wisconsin women's softball for half the year on basic cable?? No chance. There are too many interests in New York City to create a captive audience. You can force your way onto basic cable in Columbus, Ohio where people are nuts for OSU sports and will demand to see every game. That isn't happening in New York. If Syracuse fans can't see all their hoops games, tough luck. Go to a sports bar.

If I was the Big Ten, I would forget the New York market. There's not enough demand for college sports there. I would go where to places where college sports matter like the Midwest, Great Plains, and the south.

The media seems to buy into this "bigger is better" mantra, but all this looks like to me is a watered-down product. You've taken a Midwestern league and created this unwieldy 16 team mess that adds very little in terms of big time programs or passionate new fanbases.

3) Logistical nightmare for football -- Have people really stopped to think about what a 16 team league would look like in terms of scheduling for football?? It would be a complete mess.

How are you going to have balanced schedules when you have a 16 team football conference and only a 12 game season?? It's impossible. Big Ten fans don't want to go 3-4 years in a row where they don't get to play one of the teams in the league. If you're an Ohio State fan, it would be annoying to watch Wisconsin win the league title without going through you to get there. You want to have a say in how the standings shape up. With a 16 team league, the standings would be arbitrary.

Unless you create a 16 game regular season like the NFL, I don't see how this would be a positive change for the league. Part of the appeal of being in a conference is that you know the other schools so well from playing them every year. If you go to a 16 game league, you lose the connection that comes from being in a conference.

2) Is the Big Ten Network such a gamechanger in the college sports landscape that all these big name schools will come running to the Big Ten just to be a part of it??

No, but let me preface that statement by saying that creating the Big Ten Network has turned out to be a brilliant move by the Big Ten. When the BTN first came out, I thought it was a shaky move that would marginalize the Big Ten into an even more regional entity than it already is. For the first year or two, the BTN wasn't even on the local cable providers (Time Warner and Comcast), which created a situation where you had Indiana fans rushing off to sports bars to watch Tuesday night Big Ten hoops games and Wisconsin fans finding buddies with satellite dishes or obscure cable providers to watch a football game on Saturday.

Basically, the base of the Big Ten fanbase was blocked out from watching Big Ten games on their home tvs. Great strategy. And with Time Warner and Comcast digging in their heels, I thought the Big Ten Network was doomed. If fans can't watch the games, what is the point of having this product??

But once the Big Ten finally struck a deal with "big cable" to get this thing on basic cable in the Midwest and a sports tier nationally, I gotta admit that I'm seeing the wisdom of what the Big Ten has done. They took a local product (for example, OSU basketball games were pretty much limited to Columbus tv in terms of local coverage before the BTN) and turned it into a regional product. If you live in Indianapolis but graduated from Minnesota, you can watch every Minnesota basketball game now on the Big Ten Network. If you live in Chicago, you can watch that random Michigan State-Eastern Michigan football game that would have never seen the light of day outside of East Lansing, and you can do it from your home tv. Heck, there are retirees all over Arizona and Florida who can stay dialed into their Big Ten teams by paying for the Big Ten Network. It has made being a Big Ten fan substantially easier no matter where you live.

I'm not sure what types of ratings it is getting, but think about all the crap that is currently on cable tv. Does anyone watch truTV or the Hallmark channel or all these random networks that are out there?? There is a niche tv network for just about everything. Why not college sports?? The Big Ten Network has a lot of goofy programming, but people watch it. If you want to watch Ohio State baseball, all the games are on now. You can watch the Big Ten tennis tournament or the golf tournament or women's softball if that's your thing. During football season, they have all kinds of highlight shows and Xs and Os breakdown shows with Gerry Dinardo and Dave Revisine, and I will admit that I watch some of it.

So by all accounts, this thing has become a moneymaker and a successful entity. With all the relatively large population states in the Midwest (Illinois - 5th, Michigan - 8th, Pennsylvania - 6th, Ohio - 7th, Indiana -14th), there are a lot of eyeballs and passionate fans who are going to watch Big Ten Tonight and "Big Ten Classic" and all the basketball games and football games.

Back to my original question though: Is the Big Ten Network such a gamechanger in the landscape that all these big name schools will come running to the Big Ten just to be a part of it??

A lot of people in the media cite the BTN's revenue ($22 million a year! How could anyone not want to join?) as reason enough for schools to jump ship to the Big Ten. But for schools like Notre Dame or Texas, I just don't think that being part of the BTN is going to be a driving factor in enticing them to join the league.

The Big Ten Network is very successful right now because it's the only conference-owned sports network out there. But is that really going to be the case ten years from now?? What is stopping the Big East or the ACC or the Pac 10 or even the Big 12 from forming its own network?? What is stopping a school like Texas from creating the "Longhorn Sports Network" that shows 24-7 Texas sports?? If Texas could create a network like that (it's already been rumored), wouldn't that be more of a moneymaker than getting a share of the BTN revenue??

Same with Notre Dame. Couldn't ND form a "Notre Dame Network" in conjunction with NBC that shows all ND hoops games that aren't on ESPN, all ND Olympic sports (soccer, baseball, lacrosse, softball, volleyball, etc), various campus programming (Mass at the Basilica, classroom stuff, interviews with Fr. Jenkins), coaches shows (you could do this for a bunch of sports), a "Jack Swarbrick Show" to discuss big picture issues, and a bunch of "Notre Dame Classic" stuff with tapes of old games and season-in-review kinda stuff. You wouldn't watch that?? I'd probably watch that every night.

Heck, we might even be able to eventually show all the ND football games on a channel like that someday. Not sure when that would come about, but I could see that becoming an option 10-15 years from now. ND has enough programming to create a 24-7 ND network, and I think there's a market for it. That thing would be a cash cow.

My larger point here is that the tv/media landscape is changing rapidly. The Big Ten Network was the early leader in the clubhouse, but other leagues/schools are eventually going to replicate this model and catch up. They will have to scrape and claw to get their programming on local tv, but demand usually wins out. If the ACC creates its own network and puts a bunch of Duke and Carolina basketball games on there, fans are going to demand that their local cable providers pick up that channel on basic cable.

I don't see the incentive to join the Big Ten just to be a part of that network when the entire sports media scene could be completely different in 10 years. And whatever financial advantage there is right now to being a part of the Big Ten Network will eventually dissipate over time.

3) Where does Notre Dame fit in, and should ND consider getting on board??

I will admit that I've wavered on this topic from time to time and have probably had moments where I thought Big Ten membership could be a positive change for ND sports. It would certainly help from a scheduling standpoint since we could line up annual games with Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Iowa plus a possible Big Ten championship game. Run the table against that group, and no one would be questioning our credentials for the BCS title game. Plus, the USC game would still be there as a potential nonconference showdown.

That would be one heckuva schedule, and it would alleviate the November scheduling problems. From what I can see, that issue does not appear to be going away any time soon, especially since Swarbrick lined up a ten year deal with Purdue with all the games coming in September and early October. Fantastic work Jack. Way to blow all our scheduling flexibility for the next decade. Looking forward to ND-Tulsa in November in 2017-2020.

The other thing that conference membership might help is that it would probably force us to take stock of our program and create more tangible goals. Right now, we're sort of on an island. We kind of hold ourselves above the fray in the college football world, but it has created sort of an aloof program that has lost its way in college football and doesn't really have any goals besides a half-baked goal to compete for national championships. It's like Coke and Pepsi. If Coke didn't have Pepsi pushing them, they'd probably lose their way in terms of creating the best marketing campaigns and the best products. They'd have no one to compare themselves to.

Even though we consider USC to be our rival, there's no real nexus between ND and USC. We don't run our program like they do, we don't schedule like they do, we don't have players like Everson Griffen flexing between plays, we don't have the same admissions policies, we don't hand out HGH to our players, and we only have limited overlap in recruiting or culture. USC is a football factory in southern California with 80 degree weather and a bunch of Pac 10 rivals. We're on their radar, but we're not really a measuring stick for USC at all.

In the SEC, all these schools are trying to one-up each other. In recruiting and coaches salaries and assistant coaches salaries and budgeting and marketing and finding every edge possible. Doesn't that make a difference?? Florida is always paying attention to what Alabama is doing to keep up.

ND needs a measuring stick to some degree. We should be able to point to some other schools who can push us to higher levels of performance. I don't know if the other schools in the Big Ten are an appropriate measuring stick, but joining a league might actually help create a competitive environment for our football program. It has helped in basketball to some degree because we can see where we stand in the pecking order and what we need to do to improve our standing.

But every time I think I'm about to embrace the idea of joining the Big Ten, I find myself hesitating and thinking about what we would be giving up:

1) Money -- For all the talk about ND hurting itself financially by remaining independent in football, I think the exact opposite is true. I keep hearing this "ND would double its revenue by joining the Big 10" stuff, but I don't really buy it. ND was ranked the 2nd most profitable football program in America by Forbes Magazine last year behind Texas, and that is following 3-9, 7-6, and 6-6 seasons. If ND was actually good, we would be far and away the most profitable program.

If we are the most profitable program in the country, how would we be making more money by joining the Big 10?? ND makes money off its independent status. Maybe not in terms of tv dollars, but in terms of apparel and endorsement deals and sponsorships and global recognition. There are ND fans in every city in the country, and they are buying sweatshirts and tshirts and watching ND programming. In Ohio, they have shown the Charlie Weis Show and the Mike Brey Show on Sportstime Ohio for the last 3-4 years. What other program gets that type of attention?? And attention leads to dollars.

No one can convince me that joining the Big Ten would add more money to ND's coffers.

2) Branding - Notre Dame's entire brand is built around our identity as a national, Catholic university. If you spend even a few days on the ND campus, you realize quickly that there are just as many people from New York and Philly and DC and Phoenix and Los Angeles and Denver and Seattle as there are from Chicago and Indiana.

ND is the only college football program in the country that can fill a football stadium in every single region in the country. The Midwest, the south, the East, the name it. When I walk around Columbus, I don't see any LSU or Georgia hats. But everywhere I go, I see someone with ND gear on. This is an ND program that has gone 16-21 in the last three seasons! We couldn't be more irrelevant on the field, but the fanbase is still as strong as ever.

Maybe that wouldn't change if ND joined the Big Ten, but why even risk it?? ND has built itself into a national brand. I don't see how regionalizing that brand would be a good thing.

And that's before you get to the football side of things. If we joined the Big Ten, would kids in Florida and Texas and California and Oklahoma and Colorado still want to come to ND?? Some kids would still be attracted to ND's education and the Catholic/religious aspect, but I think our national appeal would be affected negatively. We'd be fighting more regional battles, but the talent pool in the Midwest is not as deep as it once was.

Brian Kelly has said that he wants to remain independent for recruiting reasons. He doesn't think he can sell the Big Ten to ND recruits, and he wants to be able to tell recruits that ND will play a national schedule in cities around the country. If that doesn't sell you on ND remaining independent, I don't know what does.

3) Other leagues are possibilities -- I keep hearing about this doomsday scenario where all the BCS conferences conspire to create 4 superconferences, leave the NCAA, create their own postseason, and leave everyone else fighting for scraps. I don't personally see that happening any time soon, but if it did, wouldn't we still have plenty of opportunities to align ourselves with a league if/when that day comes??

If we have to join a league five years from now and the Big Ten is already locked in with Pitt and Syracuse and Rutgers (seriously, imagine if the Big Ten actually did that and didn't have room for ND), then let's join the ACC or even the Pac 10. Why not?? I don't care what league we join if we have to join a league. A league is a league. Since ND isn't tied to a Midwestern identity, getting locked out of the Big Ten doesn't bother me.

Joining the ACC would help us maintain more of a national profile anyway. We'd get 7-8 home games in the Midwest, 4-5 road games along the Atlantic seaboard from Boston to Miami, we'd play in major east coast markets on a regular basis, a possible ACC championship game in a warm weather location, and we could still play USC every year if we wanted to. I'm not seeing that much of a downside there. Plus, we'd be in the ACC for basketball, which would be fantastic.

This could be a hypothetical schedule for ND:

S11 @ USC
O02 @ Boston College
O16 @Clemson
N13 @Florida State
N27 @NC State

Where do I sign up for that right now?? That would be a phenomenal schedule. We'd have 3-4 heavyweights a year, a slew of good mid-level games, and a strong November schedule. Plus, we can still play USC. I would play that over any schedule we've put together in the last five years as an independent.

I'd prefer to stay independent, but if the time came and we had to make a move, we have plenty of options. The Big Ten is trying to put the squeeze on ND right now, but I don't see any rush to join in. We have plenty of options besides the Big Ten. I just hope the administration realizes that.

So what would I do if I was ND??

1) Create the Notre Dame network -- Get the plans ready, get it up and running, and move heaven and earth to at least get it on a premium sports tier with the major cable network providers. It wouldn't be a huge moneymaker right away, but at least we'd have a new content device to generate revenue down the road, especially if there's more of an ala-carte model for cable tv in the future.

2) Create challenging and interesting national football schedules ASAP -- This is the big one for me. We are going to have a 4 year stretch (2008-2011) of just god awful schedules that are an embarrassment to the legacy of the school. Not only are we not living up to our high standards of the past, we are now playing some of the weakest schedules among BCS conference schools. We should be playing a top 20 schedule every year and occasionally a top 10 schedule. If we are going to remain an independent and not play in a conference championship game, we need to show the nation that we can beat quality competition week in and week out.

Starting in 2012, we need to fix this. I like the Oklahoma addition for 2012 and 2013, but that can't just be an aberration. We need to start lining up home and homes in 2014 with the Bamas and Texases and other heavyweights of the world. Brian Kelly is saying he wants those games, and he should. The only way we're going to get some respect is to beat good teams.

We also need to start finding ways to get better opponents on the schedule in late October and November. Swarbrick has already blown this to some degree by keeping Purdue in late September for the next decade, but he can make this work if he goes to a 6-5-1 model and by taking occasional breaks from Pitt/Stanford/Purdue/Michigan State. If we agree to play 5 road games a year, we can offer up one more home and home spot to a quality program for a November game. It doesn't even have to be an Oklahoma type team. Give me a home and home with somebody like Georgia Tech or North Carolina or Texas A&M or Clemson or Ole Miss, and I'd be really happy.

We tried the Kevin White model for scheduling, and unfortunately it has damaged our brand. Hopefully Swarbrick has big plans to transition away from that model beginning in 2014.

3) Hope like crazy that Brian Kelly is the answer -- If BK can't get it done, the program is in big trouble. It's a sign that there is something else besides coaching that is holding this progrma back. Something culturally, too much focus on academics, no in state recruiting base, etc. If that's the case, we might not have enough pull in college football to remain independent.

If he wins, ND can still thrive as an independent as far as I'm concerned. Winning leads to ratings and money and interest, and we won't be as inclined to run to a conference if all those things are happening.

4) What should the Big Ten do??

If I was the Big Ten, I think I'd be very cautious about expansion. If they go and make the first move by adding a bunch of mediocre programs, I think that would be a disaster. How depressing would it be for the Big Ten if they blew their wad on this pupu platter and then watched Texas run off to the Pac 10 and OU go to the SEC?? The Big Ten would be further cementing its status as a conference in decline if that happened.

That's why I'd be very hesitant to make big moves if I was the Big Ten. Here's how I'd proceed:

1) Add Nebraska

I think Nebraska is a legitimately good addition for now. Add the Huskers, and you get one of the most passionate statewide fanbases in the country. I don't care about market size. Nebraska puts butts in the seats, they travel well for bowl games, and they will watch every last thing on the Big Ten Network. You could put "Great Moments in Husker" history on just about every night in the summer, and Nebraska fans will be tuning in.

That's just a really logical and solid first step for the Big Ten. The Big Ten gets a championship game to host in Indy or Detroit or Minnesota or Chicago every year, and it opens the door for the Big 12 to start breaking apart.

I see no reason for the Big Ten to go rushing into relationships with all these Big East schools. Those schools are small potatoes as far as I'm concerned. I'd be looking to raid the Big 12 first, and then see what happens from there.

2) See if dominoes start to fall and make a power play for a big boy (ND, Texas-Texas A&M, Tennessee??)

Let's say the Big Ten adds Nebraska. Then the Pac 10 makes a move to grab Colorado. Now the Big 12 is down to 10 teams. Maybe the Big 12 counters by adding TCU and Houston or something like that, but those two names aren't exactly going to get anyone too fired up outside of the state of Texas. The Big 12 would basically be the "Texas League" at that point. Nothing wrong with that, but I would consider the Big 12 to be weakened if they lose Nebraska and Colorado to other leagues.

At that point, would Texas (and A&M) start sniffing around and listening to other offers?? I don't get the vibe that Texas wants to be a part of the SEC, so it could come down to the Pac 10 and the Big Ten. The Pac 10 is probably the early favorite, but the Big Ten has the national exposure and academics and money to give Texas make Texas a big time offer. As great as Texas' athletic program is, it's a regional program that does not get a ton of exposure in the Midwest and East. If you add Texas to the Big Ten, look out.

Same with ND. I think the Big Ten has a tough sell to ND, but I realize that we're worth pursuing. If the Big Ten lines up Nebraska and Texas and A&M and suddenly it's looking like this superconference thing is going to happen, I would imagine that we'll be heading to the Big Ten to be a part of that. That would be one heckuva league.

3) Explore other flagship programs besides the Big East

Let's say the Big Ten goes hard after Texas and ND and gets shot down. Perfectly reasonable scenario there.

At that point, the Big Ten could do one of two things: Stand pat at 12 or go after the flagship universities in a state. Forget the Big East. There's a reason why these Big East schools play in small stadiums and have bad bowl tie-ins. It's just not a part of the nation that cares about college sports.

If the Big Ten still wants to expand after Nebraska and can't get any big boys, I would go after the following schools (in order):

Boston College
Georgia Tech

Maybe Tennessee is a pipe dream, but how would you know until you asked?? Maybe Tennessee would be intrigued by the idea. Maybe they want to improve their academic standing. Maybe they're looking to get the heck out of that SEC firestorm. Tennessee recruits nationally anyway, so Big Ten membership would feel a little more natural for them than some of the other southern schools.

Kentucky would be another fantastic addition. Maybe there's a little bit of a different cultural scene down there in Lexington, but Kentucky just seems like they would fit right into the league. They already have the rivalry with Indiana in hoops, and I think they would quickly get into the mix with Sparty and OSU and some of the other schools in the Big Ten. If you're a Minnesota fan, wouldn't it be a fun road trip to drive down to Lexington in October, spend Friday at Keeneland to watch some of the best horse racing in the world, and then go to the football game on Saturday??

Missouri is a little boring, but a fine addition. I'm actually intrigued by the Boston College idea if they were interested. I know they don't have the big time fanbase that I consider to be important, but BC brings a good academic profile and a Catholic presence. Plus, BC really mines the Midwestern Catholic schools for talent, so it wouldn't be that unusual to see them in the Big Ten.

I don't understand why Kansas doesn't get more consideration. Adding the KU basketball program would be a coup for the Big 10. Plus, they are right there in the Kansas City area, so you'd be adding a nice-sized market. Honestly, I think I might even talk to Kansas over Missouri.

Finally, make the call to Maryland and Georgia Tech just to see if they might be interested. Maryland would be an underrated addition, and Georgia Tech has the big time engineering and academic profile (plus good sports programs) that would be very attractive to the Big Ten.

Maybe all those schools turn you down and you suddenly are turning to Pitt and Rutgers and Syracuse, but I think the Big Ten might be pleasantly surprised to discover that one of those schools is interested.

My guess is that Missouri and Nebraska are already on board, but it will be interesting to see what happens from there. If I was the Big Ten, I'd probably stand pat for awhile and see how things shake out.


Anonymous said...

Great post, lots of good stuff to think about.

Nobody should be excited about the Big Ten expanding. Especially from a fan's point of view, it will almost definitely dillute schedules in the future. Unless it's the "whole enchalada" of a super conference with Texas, Nebraska, A&M and two others, you can't expect people to get excited at the new games offered. You're dead on with the NYC market. The logistical nightmare would be incredible. This is the biggest thing people need to understand. Even with a 14 team league we'll have tons of matchups that we won't see for 3-4 years. Even if a big team like Texas came in, we wouldn't see them play Michigan or Ohio State for years on end (while each school involved may be 11-1 & looking to win their division)if they are not in the same division. Just think what that will mean if a lesser team like Mizzouri or Rutgers is the "highlight" of the "new" Big Ten or Big 14. In terms of getting me excited to watch more Big Ten games, expansion just isn't going to do it. Sure a school like Mizzouri would love the extra money (for now) and all the things they can do with that, but expanding just adds to the crappiness of the modern scheduling process.

I agree with most of what you're saying here, but I think you're too harsh on the Irish schedule. Yeah we could improve it, but we'd be risking diluting ours if we joined the Big Ten. From 98-09 we've been 36, 10, 24, 14, 14, 1, 5, 14, 18, 24, 50 and 37 in SoS according to Sagarin. That's darn difficult. I don't see much difference between the schedule next year and the one you proposed.

Sign me up for a Notre Dame channel or something like that. There is much money to be made with something like that, and it's only a matter of time before it does happen and other things shake out and even the balance of money. The BTN is making a lot now, but that doesn't mean it always will. They just need to try for Nebraska or just add one school, gain that championship game, and ride the wave of the BTN for the near future.

Anonymous said...

It was posted before...

"ND is the only college football program in the country that can fill a football stadium in every single region in the country."

Nebraska can! Already proved (you know the game a few years back). But. You are so right in this bog!!! From just randomly Nebraska Fan for life--- We "fit" in the Big 10 academically, for ALL sports, and . . . for . . . Join the Big 10 for 25 years from now-- not now,

B from Nebraska

Anonymous said...

ACC may be a better opportunity for ND. ND is already in the midwest, so it does not need more exposure locally; they already have it.

ACC gives you coveage from Boston to Miami to Atlanta to Chicago. helps solve the scheduling issue of playing national with markets such as florida, atlanta, NC, DC, NY, boston. ND already owns chicago market. take pitt or uconn and join ACC.

add in a texas game and the USC game and you are about as national as you need to be.

Titus said...

Have you ever been to Tennessee? I don't know what goes on up in Kentucky, but the Big 10---or anyone else---is about as likely to have a successful snipe hunt as they are to get UT out of the SEC. These core original SEC schools (and maybe even fringe teams like Arkansas and Kentucky, I don't know) are rabid about that conference. And they're rabid about Southern football. They couldn't give a hoot about some weird yankee team coming to town every year. As for committing to play half their schedule in frozen midwest wastelands? That'll be the day. If you think UT is leaving the SEC you're completely off your rocker.

pvb said...


Lots of good stuff but be careful with the BTN revenue. Its a lot more complicated than one number.

The fact is the Big Ten has a deal with ABC/ESPN, that pays each school more than $9M a year for football broadcasts (plus some BB). The BTN adds to that another $11.5M a year per school through rights fees and profits.

The game changing is the fact that the Big 10 revenue from TV/media is basically double the standard network TV deal, now that they have the BTN. And all home games for the conference are now broadcast.

Its been very successful but that doesn't mean its for ND. On that we agree!

Anonymous said...

It's important to remember the academic factor in this. Don't underestimate how snooty the Big Ten will be about that. There's already been one Big Ten president (Illinois) who has suggested that Missouri isn't good enough academically. All of the Big Ten schools are members of the Association of American Universities, and the thought is that any new member (ND being the probable lone exception) would have to be as well. Therefore, you can pretty much forget Kentucky and Tennessee since they're not part of that group. They would be better additions from a sports perspective than many schools, but part of the reason why Syracuse, Rutgers, and Pitt are getting such play is because they fit the conference's academic profile -- highly-ranked and part of the AAU. You have to believe that the list of candidates would look much different if the academic issue wasn't there.

Really everything that's out there right now I think should be taken with a grain of salt. Even though Nebraska and Mizzou will probably be on the short list, I find it hard to believe that the Big Ten would make moves this quickly and would add a school with as many question marks surrounding their profile as Rutgers without trying to get the heavy hitters like Texas on board first. This is all fun to speculate about, but the guess here is that the Big Ten isn't going to make any moves for a while and is going to thoroughly explore everything.

Craig said...

@pvb, the dollar figures for the Integer network have been crumbling over the last week or so. At the outset, the story was that they were getting $22 MM/school just from the network. Now, that figure has slipped to the point where the revised (and much more believable) story is that they're getting the $22 MM/school from all Integer revenue sources (TV, bowls, conference merchandising) combined. It's a nice payout, but one ND doesn't have a lot of trouble matching.

@Doug, you said, "We also need to start finding ways to get better opponents on the schedule in late October and November. Swarbrick has already blown this to some degree by keeping Purdue in late September for the next decade..."

This is an ongoing pet peeve of mine. You make a legitimate point about our schedules in October and November, and then say that playing Purdue in September is the problem??? Seriously???

The bitchfest about Purdue makes zero sense. ZERO. They're a good breather opponent in September. If you want to complain about a long-term September opponent, complain about Michigan State. They're usually tough, we usually get them in a letdown game after Michigan which makes them dangerous out of proportion to their actual ability, and they'd be a notable improvement over some of our lesser late-schedule opponents. Purdue, not so much.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I thought that complaining about the lack of November games rings hollow, especially when you're taking your anger out on Purdue. Doesn't make much sense.

Anyway, we're playing Utah and USC in November of 2010...two teams likely to have 10+ wins and be in the top 20 when we play them.

JR said...

Someone commented on the academic aspects of the conference. That is how the conference started, remember.

Another point to keep in mind is that the current Big Ten bylaws state that any expansion has to include a school within current Big Ten states or states adjacent to at least one Big Ten state. Thus, Nebraska without Missouri is unlikely. Texas is all but unbelievable. They'd need Kentucky to get to Tennessee (not that I think that's terribly likely).

Of course, these bylaws could be changed, but it would be more difficult to add those geographically isolated schools.

JR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JR said...

I was mistaken. I was thinking Kansas, not Nebraska. Nebraska is doable without adding Mizzou thanks to Iowa.