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November 18, 2012

I am starting to think that expansiopocolypse won’t end until we have a “conference” of 64 teams, divided into 5 divisions and each division bifurcated into two sections.

The latest shots fired come from the Big 10, in what can only be considered to be their biggest “all about the money” move in this never-ending program shifting.

The University of Maryland is in serious negotiations to join the Big Ten Conference, sources told ESPN on Saturday.

If Maryland goes from the ACC to the Big Ten, Rutgers of the Big East is expected to follow suit. The addition of Maryland and Rutgers would give the Big Ten 14 members as the league gears toward negotiations on a new media rights deal when its first-tier rights expire in 2017.

No date has been set for a potential announcement, though it could come as soon as Monday. The Maryland board of regents will meet at 9 a.m. Monday morning to decide on the move, a source with direct knowledge told ESPN.com Sunday morning.

But there is not a consensus among athletic department officials. The source said the school is leaning toward the move but there is still time for the school to decide to stay in the ACC.

Except the biggest homers for Maryland and Rutgers — no one is pretending that this possibility is about anything other than money. Specifically, the Big Ten Network (BTN).

There can be speculation about how the move by ND to partial membership to the ACC spooked Jim Delaney and the Big 10, but the most that did was make it clear to the Big 10 powers that even considering waiting for ND is finished. This is all and completely a money play.

There is no perfect answer but Rutgers and Maryland do bring TV sets for the Big Ten Network to be placed on basic cable tiers, and thus generate millions in additional revenue. The states should also provide fresh recruiting ground for current members to fan out and potentially improve their rosters.

It certainly isn’t to immediately bolster football credibility.

Still, the money from potentially being able to jam the Big Ten Network into the home of every cable subscriber in each state (combined population: 14.6 million), is significant. It also allows the league to extend some reach into major Eastern media markets such as Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and even New York City. That said, the Big Ten added the Terrapins and Scarlet Knights, not the Giants, Jets, Eagles, Ravens and Redskins. College football just isn’t that big of a deal.

The Maryland addition to the Big 10 has long been a speculated possibility. Rutgers was half-hearted, with the whole New York City market fools gold. Yet, there may be a just as enticing subplot that makes Rutgers a more logical addition — in terms of money: Fox.

Fox holds a partial ownership stake in BTN. They are also looking to take an interest in a very important cable channel in New York and New Jersey.

News Corp is expected to announce this week that it has taken a minority stake in the YES Network, a New York-based sports channel that broadcasts Yankee baseball and Nets basketball games. The deal could be announced as early as Friday, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction.

The deal would expand News Corp’s network of 13 Fox regional sports channels and four other channels in which it is affiliated. Those channels have 67 million subscribers in Los Angeles, Houston and other cities.

The YES network is available in approximately 15 million homes.

The deal would allow YES to raise the $2.99 monthly fee per subscriber it currently charges cable and satellite operators to carry the channel, said the person. News Corp could negotiate on its behalf with the operators as part of a larger package of sports channels.

[Emphasis added.]

Bundling is so very important. On its own, BTN would have a hard time getting a deal in New Jersey and especially New York City. But as part of a sports bundle that includes the New York Yankees network? Suddenly the BTN money train takes a huge jump.

The interesting thing is that the Big 10 is apparently given up most pretenses of anything but money with this move. Yes, both Rutgers and Maryland hold the nice AAU membership in addition to being good schools. But there is nothing competitively attractive about adding these teams. Unlike their past flirtations and words. Somewhere in Columbia, Missouri a chancellor is kicking his wall.

The domino is Maryland, though. The Big Ten won’t expand to just 13 or take Rutgers without the Terrapins. Rutgers is simply the best throw-in. Just as Mizzou was for the SEC when they took Texas A&M.

The money is obvious for Maryland, but they also have a $50 million exit fee to pay the ACC. And it isn’t clear if Maryland really wants to leave the ACC. The money might be too much to pass, but this isn’t the no-brainer of a Big East team fleeing to another conference.

Regarding the ACC exit fee of $50 million. Frank the Tank — who becomes required reading during expansiopocolypse scenarios — makes the salient point.

The $50 million exit fee that the ACC instituted back in September when Notre Dame joined as a non-football member is certainly a deterrent for Maryland to leave, but we have learned in conference realignment that no one has ever turned down a conference upgrade because of an exit fee.  These types of exit penalties inevitably get negotiated down to lower figures.  At the same time, it’s doubtful that Maryland (whose athletic department is about as solvent as Greece) will have to pay that exit fee out-of-pocket.  The Big Ten might front some of that money and deduct an amount from Maryland’s conference earnings for several years.  (This is what the Big 12 is doing with West Virginia.)  So, $50 million might sound like a lot, but the reality is (1) that number will likely end up being much lower and (2) someone other than Maryland itself is probably going to be paying a lot of that in the beginning.

Paging Kevin Plank. Mr. Plank, please pick up the red and black courtesy phone.

As for what that means for the ACC if Maryland leaves? The assumption would be that UConn would get the call if the ACC wanted to stay at 14/15. But, the ACC could well decide to wait. Keeping at 13/14 means no extra expansion if/when ND finally has to join. And the fact is adding UConn wouldn’t make much of an impression one way or another. Well, other than putting the ACC closer to a configuration of half former Big East refugees.

Best guess, if Maryland leaves for the Big 10, the ACC holds for at least another year or two while UConn does everything it can to throw itself at the conference.





Jim Delany was pissed off because the girl he wanted to take to the prom, “Notre Dame”, went with someone else. They spent so much effort trying to woo Notre Dame that he needed to do something to save his job. I think he a pompous A-hole and he has been behind the curve, all along. Maryland and Rutgers may expand the footprint, but they will bring nothing to conference in football and little in basketball. If the Maryland people think they were overlooked in the ACC, just wait until they are in the Big Ten.

Comment by Justinian 11.19.12 @ 12:58 pm

@Justinian
Yeah Maryland just went from being the red headed step child to North Carolina and Duke to a similar position to Ohio State and Michigan.

Comment by Floyd 11.19.12 @ 1:03 pm

The ACC should target Texas, Penn State and Vandy. The ACC may very well lose NC, VA and Ga Tech to the Big 10. NC St and Va Tech to the SEC. It doesn’t appear that the SEC wants Fl St given Florida’s objections and no new market. So unless the Big 12 comes knocking, Fl St is safe. Clemson is tied to Fl St. Inviting Louisville, UConn or any other school at this point won’t make Fl St happy. Therefore, the target must be a football power with a national following. If Texas and Penn State can be convinced, The Domers will go ‘all in.’ That means unequal revenue sharing. If this doesn’t happen, I see Pitt being in a mid major conference which takes the leftovers from the Big 12, ACC and Big East.

Comment by TX Panther 11.19.12 @ 1:12 pm

If Vandy would be agreeable to joining the ACC, that would be the best move. Vandy is out of place in the SEC with regard to academics. My second choice would be Louisville. They would bring both football and basketball strength to the conference. UConn will always be available in the future if FSU or Clemson would leave.

I wonder if the SEC would trade Vandy for FSU. That way the SEC could do away with all pretense that college sports has anything to do with academics.

Comment by John In South Carolina 11.19.12 @ 1:30 pm

How about Towson St. to get the Maryland market back???

Comment by Dan 11.19.12 @ 1:30 pm

Maryland and Rutgers are Scooby Snacks for OSU and Michigan.

Comment by sfpitt 11.19.12 @ 1:56 pm

I was looking forward to seeing Pitt at Md. I guess I’ll have to drive a little farther to VT and UVA.

Comment by Pittastic 11.19.12 @ 2:31 pm

Who cares about Maryland. They sold out because they apparently can’t keep their athletic department in the black. If UCONN is the worst alternative for a replacement, they’re a better basketball and football program.

Good riddance. Have fun getting steamrolled playing 1950’s football in the asshole of America.

Comment by Denny 11.19.12 @ 2:46 pm

I bet Penn St. isn’t really that far-fetched. ND has to see what’s going on and I’m guessing that they know that the time to join for football is approaching fast. Penn St. might jump at the chance to be in a conference with Pitt, ND, Syracuse, and the other old rivals, especially under the current circumstances at the school. Get uconn and one more school to join. The league would very strong in all sports.

Comment by Vulcan Rob 11.19.12 @ 2:50 pm

vandy will not leave the sec and that money
when you think of a team you have to think of a team that will really come not pipe dreams.
go to rivals and look at there list of div 1 teams

then you will see who you can pick from not that many that is why you go with u conn for BB and
L VILLE FOR bb and FOOTBALL OR TULANE BECUSE THEY ARE A AAU SCHOOL for academics there are not more then 5 or 6 good schools to pick from.

who would really come forget schools in big 10 or big 12 or sec or pac 10 once you do that youwill see there are not that many to pick from forget the pipe dreams try to keep it real we are the 5th
best conference mony wise so be real.

Comment by FRANKCAN 11.19.12 @ 2:51 pm

The reactions to this, especially in our Rivals forums, have been ridiculous.

The ACC will pick up Louisville or UConn, both of whom are huge academic and athletic upgrades. Maryland is buttawful both academically and athletically.

By spring no one will even remember the embarrassing burst of Chicken Little-ism that was the reaction of far too many to the worst university in the ACC leaving.

It’s just ridiculous. The ACC is not going to be around for a year or two, it’s going to be around for a long, long time. The Big Ten just added a steaming dumpster to its conference and people are saying that its the end of the world for the ACC?

Comment by deepelemblues 11.19.12 @ 4:09 pm

POSTS from news sorces say ACC looking at Lville
u conn cinci and SF and that ACC might take 2 teams not just one like i said give us a total of
15

Comment by FRANKCAN 11.19.12 @ 4:31 pm

The more teams the ACC takes the less often the current teams get a home game with Notre Dame.

So does anyone other than Uconn to replace Maryland make sense ?

The big 50K watt talker radio station in the middle of ACC country is reporting that Uconn is the one !

Comment by Emel 11.19.12 @ 4:47 pm

I can’t see any southern schools (like UNC, UVA, GT or whoever) going north to play football in the cold weather with a (as they would say) bunch of yankees. More money or not. Somethings can’t be bought and none of these schools are anywhere near as desperate as financially strapped as Maryland and well in Rutgers case, getting left behind in the Gang of 5.

That is how ridiculous these Little 11 ppl think in regards to their overrated, archaic conference.
Like Notre Dame in their own backyard, none of these other ACC teams need the Little 11 to rescue them financially. And like Notre Dame these schools would thumb their noses at the Little 11.

Comment by Emel 11.19.12 @ 5:00 pm

Oh they’re going to play up north at BC, PITT & Syracuse & ND, but it’s as members of their conference. Not someone else’s.

Comment by Emel 11.19.12 @ 5:05 pm

Bleacher report and outhers say Rutgers to tell big east good bye on tuesdsay we are going to big ten.
also ACC looking at L ville as well as u conn.
that ACC is in talks with 4 schools cenci and SF
also.

now ask yourself this can big east go on with the loss of 2 scools or the loss of 3 or is it dead.

Comment by FRANKCAN 11.19.12 @ 5:07 pm

I don’t get why people don’t see the danger to the ACC in the UMD move.

Coach K does:

link to sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Comment by BATR 11.19.12 @ 7:48 pm

Why are people thinking that Maryland will be able to negotiate its way out of for less than the 50 mil? Don’t you have to have something the other side wants in order to negotiate?

Comment by panther94 11.19.12 @ 7:59 pm

Maryland voted against the $50M exit. Justified or not, that will be the basis for their argument that it shouldn’t apply to them.

Comment by BATR 11.19.12 @ 8:20 pm

@BATR

Thanks for the explanation. That makes sense.

Comment by panther94 11.19.12 @ 8:32 pm

@FrankCan

Take a read: link to espn.go.com

Comment by panther94 11.19.12 @ 8:34 pm

Southern schools like NC and Va may be tempted due to the academics of the Big 10 and of course the money. NC may not like having to play second fiddle to tOSU and Michigan however. But Delaney is a NC grad. Fans will suffer in the end while university administrators become the fat cat CEO’s.

Comment by TX Panther 11.19.12 @ 8:58 pm

Pitt and stability do not go together. But what a wonderful and curious ride it has been.

Comment by TX Panther 11.19.12 @ 8:59 pm

panther94 thanks big rast could be done

Comment by FRANKCAN 11.19.12 @ 9:01 pm

@TX Panther

ACC is the best academic conference as of 2011 rankings:
link to bleacherreport.com

Comment by panther94 11.19.12 @ 9:09 pm

Yeah this is getting scary. I wish the B1G would have taken us. Notre Dame seems to like us enough to come with us. Then the B1G could take Syracuse too, forming the first 16 team superconference.

Comment by Timmeh 11.19.12 @ 9:12 pm

PITT is a great University in a great City, we have a huge Endowment(it will be 2nd or 3rd in the ACC) and our football tradition is 2nd to very few despite the middling last 30 years and we have one of the best basketball venues in college basketball and have been the best in the BigEast for a decade, regular season record wise.

We need to get over this self-doubting Bullshit.

Having lived in an area where I have to sell PITT , I have no doubts. You need to quit listening to the haters of PITT, which amounts to 50% of Pittsburgh and most of the media up there.

Stand tall my brothers and be proud. PITT is IT !

Veritas et Virtus !

Comment by Emel 11.19.12 @ 9:16 pm

I second that, Emel.

Comment by panther94 11.19.12 @ 9:19 pm

Emel,

Pitt IS a great university. I’ve lived a successful life in large part due to my Pitt degrees, even though I haven’t lived in Pgh for 30 years. I love Pitt.

And the ACC move was great at the time. It’s just that things are changing every 5 minutes now. That doesn’t mean the move was a mistake.

There will be, IMO, 4 super conferences with 16 teams each eventually, give or take, and one “leftover” – probably the ACC, since it is the weakest in football (which is the revenue engine of it all).

And that’s where Pitt will be, in a conference of mostly basketball schools that dabble in football. It’s not the end of the world. Many great schools will be there, including Pitt. But make no mistake, it will be a second fiddle conference.

Comment by BATR 11.19.12 @ 9:27 pm

@BATR.

THE ACC will be one of the 4 Superconferences.

Why do I say this, one only need look out west to the current PAC 12. They only can get to 16 by adding Texas plus her 3 consorts (Ok, OSU & TT).

So that means the BIg 12 (10 now) will be history.

If you figure out how the PAC 12 gets to 16 without Texas please let me know.

Hail to PITT.

Wherever we’ll be it will be a Great Conference.

Comment by Emel 11.19.12 @ 9:32 pm

Emel,

I’ll have to admit I hadn’t considered that about the PAC 12. Thanks – that makes me feel a bit better. I think I’ll have a little libation – as Myron used to put it – and relax.

Hail to Pitt indeed.

Comment by BATR 11.19.12 @ 9:48 pm

My Goodness.
Folks…Maryland left the ACC, not the Union. They are broke and they’re desperate.
Routers is leaving the Big East: who wouldn’t?
Conferences are looking to distribute their own products. Like Cambpells buying soup kitchens.
The real entity in trouble is ESPN. It is their distribution network that is being attacked.
ND essentially distributes it’s own sports. The ACC needs to think ahead and create ACCTV or whatever it is they want to call it.
Add a team near New York, finance the damn thing and pray your not for profit status does nor get challenged.
If I am stategizing for ESPN, that is where I set my sights.
Pitt is just fine but the real dollars are not in the Marylands of the world, they are in distributing your own product.
That way, you don’t have to pay ESPN an access fee.

Comment by SFPitt 11.19.12 @ 9:57 pm

Wow, I can spell. Wrely, eye can!

Comment by SFPitt 11.19.12 @ 9:59 pm

All I have to say is I’m glad to be in the ACC and not the Big TenElevenTwelveThirteenFourteen. I hope the ACC doesn’t panic and invite UCONN off the cuff. I don’t see the value they bring. Get creative – hopefully, they’ve seen the writing on the wall and have a plan. The commish response to MD leaving was much less distressing than the BE’s when Pitt and ‘Cuse bolted.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 11.19.12 @ 10:20 pm

Look for the ACC to make a big move (they never sit around and wait).

My guess is that
1) they add UCONN immediately (easy decision)
2) they consider adding Louisville and possibly Cincinnati

ACC WILL BE THE FIRST CONFERENCE TO GO TO 16 giving the nod to everyone else to do the same. The B12 will be going after Lousiville (and possible Boise State) as they are not going to be left without additions. The real question is who gets to Lousville first (ACC or B12).

Next question will be doest the PAC 12 go to 16? (Texas, TTech, Oklahoma, Ok ST). If they do then the Big Whatever will reassess. The problem is that the Big Whatever is running out of choices of AAU schools in contiguous states.

The ACC will be fine. I will say that when Coach K shares concern then Swofford and the NC guys will listen. There next move will be more reactionary than anything. Reacting to the Big Whatever move and reacting to Coach K’s concern.

Comment by Pitt fan in Atlanta 11.20.12 @ 7:08 am

I think they need to think big. Talk to ND and see if PSU would make the leap. Please spare me the silly anti-PSU stuff. We all know what they would bring to the table, even with the recent, big issues… long term it would be smart, plus it would hurt the Big10 and solidify the footprint with a big brand.

But yes, it’s a long shot, but ND could help.

Comment by JoeP 11.20.12 @ 10:37 am

If its about TV set then go big.

Add USF (orlando), Louisville or Cincinnati. Throw in UCONN for a pseudo-NY market. This takes you to 16 + ND. Travel become easier for everyone as you go to North and South divisions.

Let’s be real about this. It isn’t about academics. Its about TV markets and TV appeal. UCONN gets in because of BBall. Louisville because of FBall and USF because of…well… Orlando.

Comment by PITT Fan in Atlanta 11.21.12 @ 3:36 pm

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