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More Big Ten expansion hair splitting and marginalia

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  • According to Lenn Robbins in the Post yesterday, if the Big Ten goes after some combination of Syracuse and/or Pittsburgh to really force Notre Dame's hand, the remaining Big East schools aren't even going to bother continuing with the hybrid system. It'd then be time to raid the Atlantic 10. That article is worth reading in its entirety.
  • As is Aditi Kinkhabwala's new one from the WSJ's New York Metro section, which has one major revelation about recent athletic department contact with the Big Ten. Yes, it's clear from the financial numbers that the Rutgers athletic department simply must be making every possible overture through back channels (ala, their 1989 attempt which is now a matter of public record). However, they also are trying to be a bit more discreet than Missouri's open campaigning for membership.

    Bob Mulcahy's pronoun usage stands out too. In spite of Pres. McCormick forcing Mulcahy to resign because of pressure from state legislators, Mulcahy remains close to the athletic department and invested in its success.
  • What's driving the rumored expansion is that the revenues at play may be larger than anyone could have anticipated, throwing any former base assumptions completely by the wayside. Bolded emphasis mine.
  • Last year, schools received roughly $9 million each from the conference's deal with ABC/ESPN and another $7 million to $8 million from the BTN. Add revenue from bowl games, the NCAA basketball tournament and licensing, and you arrive at the estimated $22 million-a-year distribution figure that's the envy of every Division I school outside the Southeastern Conference.

    If the Big Ten expands and chooses the right schools, conference officials have seen estimates of television revenues doubling by 2015-16.

    If the conference could lock up the tri-state area (New York/New Jersey/Connecticut) by adding schools such as Rutgers, Syracuse and Connecticut — granted, a big "if" — it could add more than 9 million TV households. Rutgers is also an hour from Philadelphia and its 2.95 million households.

    "That's a lot of homes," one TV executive said, "and a lot of money."

    Of the 9 million cable households in the tri-state area, over 7.3 million are located in the New York City metropolitan area (Storrs is located in Northeastern Connecticut, and Syracuse is in Central/Northwestern New York state). This is about markets.
  • One of the bigger challenges in analyzing expansion is getting an exact figure on present conference revenue payments (absent, say, a successful FOIA request). I've seen and quoted higher numbers from elsewhere (i.e., 7 million from Robbins), but the Ledger article quoted a different set of numbers from a December Outside the Lines report, and the Providence Journal is quoting its own set of numbers.
  • The Big East generates somewhere between $4-6 million for its eight football schools. The eight schools that don’t play football in the conference, like Providence College, don’t share a dime of football money. They pocket somewhere around $1.7 million a year from the conference.

  • Mike Vorkunov argues that a move to the Big Ten would resign Rutgers football to mediocrity. I disagree, because a hypothetical Big Ten schedule wouldn't feature Ohio State every game. Indiana is in the Big Ten too, and counts as much towards the mean Big Ten team. Mike's right that the road to a BCS autobid would be tougher in the Big Ten, but that would be counterbalanced by better bowl bids and more national respect (even if not warranted).
  • I don't care for it, but this story has a way of attracting pageviews.
  • On a similar note, over the past week, SBN's Minnesota affiliate The Daily Gopher has been running interviews with various Big East bloggers. I was particularly struck by a line in the Pittsburgh one.
  • Pitt has been in the Big East since the early 80s. It hasn't always been good -- owing more to Pitt's own ineptness and neglect of athletics in the 90s. -- but it has been a lot of fun in the last 10 years.

    It really does seem like Pitt has had their act together in recent years. They've changed football and basketball coaches, and even athletic directors, but there's an underlying institutional stability there. While we're waiting for this mess to get sordid out, priority #1 should be to find whatever magic pixie dust they're using and take it. Actually, the very root of any problems is probably the mentality of thinking of their success as caused by inexorable qualitative properties instead of emulatible principles of sound leadership and resource management.