In-law visited on Thursday and stayed through the weekend. Somehow, the efforts to watch the kids and give the wife and I time to do other things never quite works out.
Each week I think I’ll try and round-up some of the best and strangest conference expansion/realignment material for a post.
There is no real Big Something news. There is the usual rumor stuff that has been baseless. Even that stuff seems to be getting more sporadic as they get embarrassed by being exposed for being so stupid and inaccurate. This is a good thing.
In the mean time, the one thing that isn’t stopping is speculation. Not just the why and general speculation of how many and which.
You get the pattern. The more the weaknesses of a potential one-school addition become obvious, the more likely the Big Ten is to see strength in numbers and pursue a 14- or 16-team scenario.
Missouri and Nebraska might be more likely to join if the other did. If those schools looked as if they were headed to the Big Ten, Texas might consider the possibility of joining rather than remaining in a weakened Big 12.
If the Big Ten looked to poach some Big East schools, a package that included some combination of, say, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Syracuse would remake the college landscape.
What could ensue is a game of intraconference chicken in which members are torn about leaving the Big East but afraid of not taking the plunge and being left behind in a conference that’s a shell of itself.
Yes, I know, there is no real question. Any Big East team asked will leave simply for the money.
Nor is it simply the quiet desperation where Cinci can find themselves losing out to conference roulette.
There is the realization that Georgetown may lose not just its rivalry with Syracuse but a lot more.
Whatever happens in the coming months will be driven by college sports’ seemingly insatiable quest for more revenue. Specifically, it will be driven by the demands of big-time college football.
But at Georgetown, the heart of this very unsettled and unsettling matter is men’s basketball and, by extension, the viability of the conference the Hoyas helped found in 1979 and build into the nation’s preeminent basketball league, along with Syracuse, Connecticut and Villanova.
It really doesn’t do much to explore the possibilities for the basketball schools. I think they honestly don’t understand how minimized they could become without a full football-basketball conference TV deal. It does make the point many of us who doubt Rutgers true viability.
But Rutgers? It’s a stretch to assume that adding Rutgers, simply because of its proximity to New York, would reel in New York’s coveted TV market.
The ACC, for example, hasn’t exactly converted Boston to college basketball’s Tobacco Road North just by adding Boston College. Boston remains a resolute pro town, and Boston College basketball has suffered for its flight south.
To be fair, it isn’t about actually reeling in eyeballs. So much as it is about getting the Big Ten Network on cable systems in the area.
Meanwhile, even schools safely in relatively stable BCS conferences seem worried — or at least there is speculation of concern. How about Clemson being “stuck” in the ACC?
Right where it is now. Which isn’t a good thing.
At last week’s BCS meetings, the SEC sent a veiled threat that it would be ready if the Big 10 made its move. Commissioner Mike Slive told reporters that “if there is going to be a significant shift in the conference paradigm, the SEC will be strategic and thoughtful to make sure it maintains its position as one of the nation’s preeminent conferences.”
Some Clemson fans have suggested that CU would be a natural SEC expansion target.
They’re ignoring expansion’s biggest factors: television and money, partners intertwined like peanut butter and jelly.
TV is why the SEC and Big Ten are the two most powerful leagues: Big Ten schools make $22 million per year in TV revenue and SEC schools $17 million. Why? The Big Ten has its own ultra-profitable network; the SEC just signed a 15-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and CBS.
Future expansion is about maximizing that revenue. That’s why, as CBSSports.com suggested, the SEC could poach the Big 12 for Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.
That’s new territory, just like the Eastern seaboard is for the Big Ten.
Money, money, money. No one wants to be in the conference that doesn’t bring it at least close to the same level of money to compete.
For even more absurdity. How about suggesting Kentucky explore a move to the Big Something.
That reason is football.
UK and the overwhelming majority of its fan base may see Kentucky as a basketball school, but even here in Lexington it is football that brings home the financial bacon.
For the 2009-10 fiscal year, UK Athletics projected 35.4 percent of its revenue (some $25.7 million) from football, compared to 21.4 percent of revenue ($15.56 million) from men’s hoops.
All national indicators suggest that football is becoming more and more dominant in shaping the landscape of college sports conferences.
So if Kentucky could find a spot in a conference that is a cash machine similar to the $EC but where UK football would have a far more realistic chance to sustain success, shouldn’t it at least be worth considering?
Which brings us back to the Big Ten.
Or Vandy? OK. Not really, just message board stuff that amused me.
Perhaps most disturbingly, a Toledo columnist felt the need to write a column explaining that the Big Something will never take Toledo or any MAC school.
As for Pitt, it remains, that but for the TV market issue, they are the best fit.