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The latest on undeserved riches

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There was an interesting thread on Pitt's Rivals board last week. Remember that story from two weeks ago regarding Barry Alvarez and Big Ten expansion? The article's author supposedly went on a Pittsburgh radio station, and gave his opinion on the leading expansion candidate. As a disclaimer, please note that the supposed conversation is not available online, and hence I cannot verify the story at all.

As previously established, when it comes to this topic, Alvarez seems to be sharing more than most. When he's talking about Eastern travelling partners and the New York media market, when all of the leaks seem to be talking about expansion solely in terms of cable subscriber revenue (beyond any jump solely from the move to twelve teams), everyone's inclination of course is going to be to start connecting the dots.

However, Barry giveth, and he taketh away.

The Big Ten generates more money than any other conference, thanks in part to its one-of-a-kind Big Ten Network. And no one in the conference, not even enthusiastic expansion advocates such as Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, wants to sacrifice a dime of the roughly $22 million each school gets a year.

"You just don't jump into the league and get a full share of what everyone else in this league has established over time," Alvarez said. "I think someone has to buy their way into the league."

Makes sense. The new kid on the block isn't going to get an equal share of the pie from day one. That's more of an issue for dream candidates like Texas and Notre Dame, than a Rutgers, which wouldn't look that gift horse in the mouth. Take into account the $5m exit fee from the Big East, and it's even less of an immediate windfall. However, that doesn't change how much of a no-brainer the jump would be in terms of the athletic department's long term fiscal future.

Read that whole AP article, because there's some detailed information about the Big Ten's mindset (adding Penn State was a disappointment, and they really have to cover their bases this time), and where exactly the $22m yearly figure comes from.

Penn State, according to University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson, hasn't delivered as much of the East Coast TV audience as the Big Ten would have liked.

"For New Yorkers, they think Penn State is somewhere right around California," he said.

Well, yeah, it'll be a challenge even with Rutgers being the best candidate for cracking the New York media market. The key remains getting Time Warner and Cablevision on board with covering the Big Ten Network in on the other side of the Hudson. Even more so than the Big Ten movers and shakers like Alvarez, Paterno, Delaney, Tim Pernetti needs to be focusing his attention on leveraging his extensive rolodex of contacts in the media industry to clear the way of obstacles, just like he used to for Terrell Willis, and get this deal over the goal line. It's only a fortune and the fate of the entire athletic department at stake.