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July 26, 2013

Clock Is Ticking on NYC

Filed under: ACC,Basketball,Big 11,Conference — Chas @ 10:52 am

The new Big East better be wildly successful beyond expectations. And quickly. They already know that the ACC is gunning for NYC.

Don’t forget the Big Ten.

“Make no mistake about it: We’re going to be out there with events and with press opportunities, and we’re going to work hard to build relationships and friendships,” Delany said. “We know it’s a competitive area for everything, and so we won’t dominate anything, but we want to be relevant for years to come.”

That means, as he told The Star-Ledger Thursday, that “everything is on the table” — even the Big Ten football kickoff, an annual event that attracts thousands of fans at $100 a pop for a luncheon and autograph session with coaches and players.

That one has a long history here and won’t move any time soon. But the Big Ten basketball tip-off? The postseason hoops tournament? All of that could be coming to a hotel ballroom or an arena in the New York area, sooner than later, because Delany wants to conquer the media capital of the world.

The ACC would do well to force its way into MSG or Barclays soon. Better to be battling the Big 10 from a position inside than trying to vie with them for the spot.

May 8, 2013

Okay, so as the match-ups for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge were being leaked this morning, it became clear that Pitt wasn’t going to land one of the heavyweights from the B1G. That’s not surprising. Pitt will not be considered in the preseason as one of the top 5 or 6 teams in the ACC. So, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan St., Ohio St. and Indiana weren’t going to be likely opponents. Among the best of the rest there would have been Iowa, Illinois and Purdue. But Iowa and Purdue got leaked and their opponents were not Pitt.

So, more and more likely it was going to be a Pennsylvania battle.

And indeed it will be. Penn State comes to the Pete on Tuesday, December 3.

Now the Nits will be better than they were this past year. They have a bunch of decent players coming back from injury, including Tim Frazier.

But, from helping the overall strength of Pitt’s non-con schedule it won’t do much.  So that’s the bad news. Also John Johnson won’t be eligible to play for Penn State for that game.

I’m still relatively happy with the game. There really was no reason for Pitt and Penn State to stop playing basketball. Other than the fact that Penn State was really tired of being embarrassed. Hopefully this will be the spark to renew this as an annual game.

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 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).


February 15, 2012

Expansiopocolypse: Staying for 2012

Filed under: Big 11,Conference — Chas @ 6:57 am

Not a shock that Pitt appears to be staying in the Big East for 2012. $20 million without a Big 12-like $10 million subsidy to help is not going to be forthcoming from Pitt. Nor would it be likely that the Big East would be as compliant with the potential to see the conference down to 6 or 5 for 2012.

The only real news regarding the move to the ACC, is that Big East Stooge Commish John Marinatto is actually stating something everyone already knew.

Big East Commissioner John Marinatto says his league “might be open to a discussion” about allowing Syracuse and Pittsburgh to join the Atlantic Coast Conference for the 2013 football season.

The Big East reached a settlement with West Virginia on Monday that allows the school to become a member of the Big 12 in 2012.

Marinatto had previously said that the Big East intends to hold all three schools in the conference until 2014.

“But given the strength and speed of our expansion efforts, I think our board might be open to a discussion about 2013,” Marinatto said in a telephone interview.

No kidding. By 2013, for better or worse the Big East will have SDSU, UCF, SMU, Houston, Memphis and Boise St. to go with UConn, USF, Rutgers, Cinci and Louisville. There is no reality where the Big East wants to have a 13-team conference for one season. Fall to 11, then back up to 12 in 2015 when Navy comes.


May 31, 2011

That Duquesne Head Coach Ron Everhart may be a leading candidate to take over at Penn State is amusing. For what little attention is being paid to it,  the overall reaction to the news is essentially, meh. Everhart has done a nice job to make Duquesne competitve from their 3-25 record before he got there. But he has yet to win big games, and no NCAA appearances. Nor did he have NCAA appearances at McNeese St. or Northeastern on his coaching climb.

What makes the potential choice of Everhart odd is that he is coaching on the wrong side of the state. If PSU were pursuing the head coach of LaSalle or Penn, or a current or former assistant from Villanova it would make sense. There’s still more talent in Philly for basketball, and even if it doesn’t apply in basketball so much the Penn State name probably has more cache there.


June 9, 2010

I really can’t tell you, but this might be a better jolt than morning coffee.

An executive at a Big 12 school relayed to The World-Herald on Tuesday that he expects Nebraska to become a member of the Big Ten as early as Friday.

NU Chancellor Harvey Perlman has declined all interviews about conference realignment and expansion. He is expected to address the topic with the Board of Regents at its Friday meeting in Lincoln.

Direct confirmation from Nebraska of a conference change for the Huskers wasn’t immediately available. Sources at two other Big 12 schools told The World-Herald that their athletic directors have instructed them to be ready by week’s end for a briefing on probable Big 12 changes.

Nebraska A.D. Tom Osborne offered implicit confirmation Tuesday night that the timetable on national conference realignment has been accelerated.

On his monthly appearance on the Husker Sports Network, Osborne said:

“I think before too long — I don’t know exactly what that time frame is — we’ll be able to put this to bed,” then he jokingly added, “because I’m getting tired of it.”

That really doesn’t prove much, but everyone is getting more skittish by the day. There is definitely a sense that Nebraska is not going to bend to the Texas/Big 12 ultimatum.

May 24, 2010

Spent the weekend computer free. Not really by choice. This was one of the first weekends home where there was nice weather. That meant trying to work on clearing out the garage and a lot of sanding and staining a couple dressers that we really need to put into service soon.

The P-G and Trib finally come in with bland, perfunctory — and quite late — pieces on expansion. No new ground broken there. It’s about money and it could have a far-reaching effect on college sports. Good work, guys.


May 21, 2010

Political Ponderings

Filed under: Big 11,Conference,Money,Tactics — Chas @ 10:20 am

Here’s something to think about heading into the weekend.

When the ACC expanded, it was not a unified decision by the members. To the point that Virginia and the state politics became the swing vote to get expansion done.

As you may recall, the original plan by the ACC was for Miami, BC and Syracuse. This was because Miami wanted to have connections to Boston and NYC where they had strong alumni bases. The problem was that there was significant disagreement within the ACC over this. Miami was problematic enough, but those two schools to the north seemed too far out. There didn’t seem to be the votes for all three.

There was a lot of scrambling and the Virginia legislature was in turmoil and lots of VT pressure was brought on them and the Virginia Governor. The VA Gov. Warner in turn leaned on UVa to back VT or not support any ACC expansion.

The ACC commish found he needed Virginia’s support to get the plan through. So, VT became the school to come with Miami. There still was not enough support at that moment for BC or Syracuse, they waited another year before bringing in BC — after the NCAA rejected their request to change conference championship rules to allow the minimum be lowered to 11 teams.

Pitt is the only candidate (aside from ND) that is within a state that already has a Big 11 member.

Now obviously the Pennsylvania political structure is nowhere near the same and political influence over the major schools seems much more limited — as witnessed by the failure of several attempts to mandate Pitt-PSU play each other annually as states like Florida and Alabama have done.

Now we don’t know how Big Something expansion will work out. It is known that the Big 11 needs 8 of the 11 present members to back an applying school for membership.

(I’m sure everyone can see where this is going.)

So here’s the question: Do you think Pitt and its supporters in the legislature  should bring pressure to bear on PSU to back Pitt into the Big Something? Whether this is done publicly or privately is not relevant.

To the point of demanding they not support any other school unless Pitt is included? Would it make a difference? Is it already taking place quietly?

Or do you think that the Big 11 schools would be too unified for PSU to stop it (i.e., at least 8 votes among the other 10 for all other candidates for membership)?

As a fan of limited government and not wild about them interfering in higher education, my natural instincts are to recoil. Of course, the Pitt alum/fan in me is screaming, “By any and all means necessary!”

This may be a no-brainer. Still worth asking.

May 19, 2010

As expected the words of Big 11 Commish Delany set off a frenzy of parsing what he said and what it means for expansion. Specifically the bit about population shift and the Sun Belt (not the conference).

Delany said the expansion process has been driven primarily by two factors: the demographic shift of population toward the Sun Belt and expanding the reach of the Big Ten Network.

“As far as the shifting population is concerned, I think that is reason enough by itself to look at the concept of expansion,” Delany said. “The rates of growth in the Sun Belt are four times what they are in the East or Midwest.”

That statement seems to contradict widespread conjecture that the Big Ten is looking at schools from the Big East (Notre Dame, Rutgers, Syracuse and Pittsburgh) and Big 12 (Missouri and Nebraska). The only Southern school mentioned as a possibility is Texas, which is considered the biggest catch, but probably the most elusive one.

The issue of demographics was actually mentioned in advance by Iowa’s AD. Now as Black Heart, Gold Pants noted that still helps a school like Rutgers that is about the metro NY area and subscribers. To say nothing of a region that isn’t shrinking, but constantly replenishing itself. Metro areas that consistently reinvent and are reinvigorated by people coming there — NYC, DC, Boston those types of metro areas.


May 18, 2010

Jim Delany spoke to the media at the Big 11 meetings today. No real rush on things is his claim. Meanwhile another reporter, Dave Birkett of tweeted some potentially interesting tidbits:

This: Delany on #NotreDame: “It chooses to be an independent in football and be a member of the Big East. That’s it’s destiny.”

This: Delany: Biggest factors driving expansion are population shift south and Big Ten Network.

And This: “the competitive aspects … the educational fit … and also it would have to be fiscally sound.”

All of which when more of it is disseminated in a less disjointed manner will then be proceeded to be parsed and dissected to within an nanometer of its being.


May 11, 2010

So, as we all await what happens with the Big Ten and their expansion plan, it seemed a perfect time to have a little chat with still a couple fellow Big East blogging compatriots and either future mates in the Big Something or rivals to get there. Sean of Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician (Syracuse) and Jon of On the Banks (Rutgers) joined me for a roundtable bit about things relating to the Big Ten and Big East.

Actually the questions were asked prior to the past day’s spurt of rumorism, so it may already be moot. Who can say anymore.

Both have their own questions and the roundtable will be moving to On the Banks (OTB) for Wednesday and then finish up at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician (TNIAAM) on Thursday. By then, of course, the Big East could well be disbanded. the Big 12 swallowed by the Big Something, the Pac-Whatever and SEC Magnum edition.


May 10, 2010

It really does seem to be it’s own beast now.

The reports are swirling that offers have been made. Honestly, while the story may be close to what could ultimately be reality — Nebraska, Mizzou, Rutgers and then a last chance offer to ND followed by one more team if they say yes — I don’t believe anything has actually happened yet. It doesn’t pass the smell test — right down to the outlet reporting the story.

So, another round of speculating and dreaming…


May 3, 2010

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 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.

April 27, 2010

Several things for this post, but let’s start with a press release from the Big East announcing the bowl line-up. Take it away Commissioner Marinatto:

“By all accounts the BIG EAST bowl lineup is stronger than it’s ever been.” said Marinatto.  “We have aligned ourselves with great bowl games in first-class destinations.”

So let’s go to:

BCS Bowl – BIG EAST Champion
Champs Sports Bowl – BIG EAST vs. ACC
Meineke Car Care Bowl – BIG EAST vs. ACC
New Era Pinstripe Bowl – BIG EAST vs. Big 12 Bowl/AutoZone Liberty Bowl – BIG EAST vs. SEC or C-USA
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl – BIG EAST vs. C-USA

Yes, instead of going to Birmingham, Alabama to play someone from the lower-half of the SEC. A Big East team could find itself in Memphis to play something from C-USA (or possibly a different lower-half SEC team).

This might well be the best bowl line-up for the Big East in terms of pay-outs and compared to the last deal. But it hardly serves as a reason why any Big East team would say to a Big 11 offer, “no thanks, we’re good.”

The Indy Star spoke to ex-Purdue president and 1954 Pitt grad, Dr. Steven Beering about Big 10 expansion:

When Penn State joined, Beering was optimistic a 12th school would come along.

“There were a number of us that were hopeful of adding the University of Pittsburgh as well,” said the 77-year old Beering, a 1954 graduate of Pittsburgh. “We had, at that time, a number of new presidents who were not secure in what they knew about the situation to cast a vote. They abstained and we never got a unanimous vote to add a 12th member.”

Beering said the same schools being discussed today – Notre Dame, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Rutgers — were the ones talked about nearly two decades ago.

You know, given the way Pitt was being run at that time, I’m not totally convinced the Pitt administration wouldn’t have still botched it.

Ray Graham is happy at Pitt.

Now, though, Graham has had a full offseason to digest the playbook and work on his technique. He’s also bulked up considerably, going from 170 pounds when he reported to campus to a sturdy 194 this spring.

“I’m not second-guessing myself now,” he said. “When I hear the call on a play, I’m like, ‘OK, I know that. I know my reads.’ And now, I can run through people to get where I’m going.”

Where Lewis excels in bouncing off tackles, Graham is more of a home-run threat with a great stutter step who thrives in open space. Picture them both in the backfield at the same time. Then picture a nervous defense.

“Teams can’t just focus on one type of running back because we’re both different kinds of runners,” Lewis said. “That’s going to help us out a lot.”

There’s no question who the No. 1 tailback is, but Graham is staying patient for his turn in that role. It could happen as soon as next year, since Lewis will be eligible to enter the 2011 draft because he attended prep school. Wannstedt has told him to have faith, because his time will come.

The Panthers don’t have to worry, though, about Graham going somewhere else.

“I’m here to stay,” he said. “Pitt is like my family.”

Unless the middle of the O-line gels a lot more than I expect, Lewis’ style is going to accomplish more. Lewis has an easier time bouncing through and outside to where Pitt’s O-line is stronger.

Graham is a strong back, but getting to the open space may be more difficult, unless Pitt follows through on the spring practice talk of using Graham out in space to catch passes.

Well, writers seem to think Pitt “looks” like a football team.

Finally, the ACC commish Swofford offers BC and WF to the Big 11.

April 22, 2010

It never ends well with pasty white people, tailgating, dancing and a video camera. The good folks at Black Heart, Gold Pants have the Nit fans, um, unironically rocking out to what I think is Miley Cyrus or some other bubblegum pop. The true embarrassment: the flags in the background. A confederate flag? Really?

Our friends at Marquette are celebrating being named the top Catholic party school by Playboy. Suck on that Notre Dame, Boston College and even Duquesne.

And closer to us, the Big East is taking action with unpaid consultant Paul Tagliabue? What?

The official party line is that Tagliabue will help assess the league’s strengths and weaknesses and help in negotiating future TV and other media rights deals.

TNIAMM has a list of possible ideas Tags may float. To which I’ll add the idea of moving WVU to Maryland for a larger TV market.

In a way he is perfect for working with the Big East. A Georgetown grad from the NFL trying to help in a college football issue. How can this not fail?

But there could be some other action. There has been speculation that the Big East is going after Maryland, and there has even been talk that it could send out an olive branch to see if Boston College would come back. Throw in Central Florida as a partner in that state with South Florida, add that to a core Northeast group centered around Rutgers, Pitt, Syracuse, Connecticut, and West Virginia, and you might have something.

Any inclusion of Atlantic Coast Conference schools probably would happen only if a league such as the Southeastern Conference dipped in. If the ACC lost schools such as Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, or Miami, Maryland and BC might be more inclined to look for safe haven in the Northeast.

Yesterday, SEC commissioner Mike Slive said his league would be proactive.

Critics suggest that the Big East is too big as a basketball league at 16 teams. What about 20?

“Who is to say we couldn’t go to 20 teams in basketball, but not have one 20-team league, but a league with pods of four or five teams?’’ said Marinatto. “You have to think strategic alliances — what strategic alliances could we create?

“We need a new way of thinking. Strategic thinking. We need to be proactive rather than reactive, and develop our assets. Paul’s theory is, ‘Think long-term, think over the horizon.’ ‘Out-of-the-box thinking,’ Jim is always saying to me, ‘You have to think differently.’

“So hopefully Paul is going to help us think differently.’’

Right. Because after the Big East and ACC would theoretically get raided, teams from the ACC would line-up for an unstable hybrid conference that has gotten less money in TV contracts. The Big East football teams would have no interest in going to the ACC.

/weeps into keyboard.

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