Thursday, November 22, 2012


So conference realignment apparently makes every writer-type person's head explode into 10,000 words about various related topics. Given the pure volume of content that's been produced over the last couple days (some of it newsy, some of it analytical, some of it speculative), there's a lot of stuff out there worth reading. I have attempted to compile said stuff here for something to do before/after/during the Thanksgiving engorgement.

Coastal Division FTW: Brian at MGoBlog wins the interwebz for this:
Okay okay okay you guys I've got it




Michigan State
Ohio State
Penn State



*ineligible for championship game, plays all games against coastal division
Yesssss. I'm unclear as to why Purdue no longer exists, though.

The real divisions: They aren't done yet, according to Jim Delany, who basically accused Maryland's president of smoking crack by saying this about the reported Maryland-and-Rutgers-to-the-Leaders thing:
"I have absolutely no idea where that came from," Delany said Tuesday. "We have not had discussion one about that. Just because it's out there doesn't make it true."
That's spectacularly awesome news inasmuch as it provides some hope that Michigan and Ohio State will end up in the same division. Anything other than that as an end result means the people doing the dividing still don't understand exactly what/why they're dividing.

Gene Smith agrees: According to a Gene Smith radio interview (or at least the guy conducting the interview), the Michigan/Ohio State thing might actually be in the works already:
Get the feeling talking to Gene just now that OSU and Michigan in same division will be a likely endgame. ...

Gene: "we have to protect that last date vs. Michigan"
Keep up the good work, Gene Smith. Those words have never before been typed in that particular order on this blog.

Now what? Scary thoughts from Jack Handy Gene Wojciechowski:
The Big Ten could stop at 14 teams or go all-in and expand to 16. The ACC could hit the expansion gas pedal. The Big East could suffer another cluster migraine. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who is a registered expansionist, could start kicking the tires on two to four programs.

Whatever happens, this isn't the end of realignment and expansion. These days, you're either in or you're out.

The Big Ten is in.
I mean ... yeah. There's a lot of speculation out there in the ether that the Big Ten has no intention of stopping at 14 and has some totally genius master plan to bring in Georgia Tech and somebody else to get to 16 and commence world domination. Believable? Yeah. Pretty much everything is at this point. And it probably goes without saying that I would hate a 16-team Big Ten with the fiery passion of 1,000 suns; a 16-team conference isn't a conference as much as a loose affiliation of teams that occasionally play each other. I do not want the Big Ten to be that since it means never again playing Wisconsin or Penn State or Northwestern or somebody; it probably will be anyway.

And just to be clear, Notre Dame ain't comin'. Even if the Big Ten were to pluck another respectable program away from the ACC (Georgia Tech or Boston College, hypothetically), the ACC could just turn around and help itself to Louisville and UConn out of the Big East to fill its two holes and not really be any worse off than it is now. There's nothing the Big Ten can do to get Notre Dame, especially since being a part of any conference has to seem less desirable than ever at this point. As for the other conferences, I have no idea what happens next and have no desire to speculate about the infinite possible scenarios.

The thing about TV money: Very Smart Man Jon Chait of the New York Times brings up the BTN-on-cable thing in an attempt to explain why bilking a lot of people out of a dollar probably isn't a viable long-term strategy:
As a profit-making mechanism, this is essentially a scam. It relies on an opaque pricing mechanism (bundled cable television) forcing people to pay for a product they don’t want. Right now, it’s a highly lucrative scam. But bundled cable television pricing is not going to last forever, and possibly not very long at all. There is already a revolution in video content under way that is going to render the cable television bundle model obsolete. When that revolution has finished, the Big Ten will realize it pulled apart its entire identity to grab a profit stream that has disappeared.
Upshot: Internet TV distribution will render cable bundles irrelevant, at which point the Big Ten will have sold its soul for doughnuts. There's some truth to that argument; there's also some, um, falseness. The cable TV model isn't going away in the immediate future because cable TV companies aren't gonna start giving their content away the way newspapers did. That's not even possible since producing live content costs money (a lot of it). You'll either pay a cable company for cable or you'll pay various entities (say, MLB and the Big Ten or maybe Google at some point in the not-too-distant future) for the online packages you want. The inevitable a la carte pricing Chait's talking about will most likely will result in individual channels just costing a lot more since fewer people will have them (this argument can be rehashed in any number of places on the interwebz), so will just cost you (or me, to be more accurate) $10 a month instead of $1 a month since the number of people actually wanting to pay for it will get cut in 10. Chait's point (I think) is that demographics and market shares won't even matter at that point -- and he's right -- but Rutgers and Maryland won't drastically alter "the entire identity" of the Big Ten any more than adding Nebraska did. They'll just be average programs that are kinda/sorta geographic outliers (although both are closer to Penn State than any other team in the conference is currently).

Chait also cites the Big 12 as an example of a superconference imploding due to "geographic appendages" but fails to acknowledge that the Big 12's implosion had nothing to do with the geography of the conference or the decrease in the number of rivalry games or anything of that nature; it was all about Texas getting a hilariously oversized piece of the revenue pie. The reason the Big Ten is so desirable is exactly the opposite: equal sharing of a massive pie.

Anyway, there's some interesting stuff in there, and even if I don't agree with most of it, I unquestionably agree with this QED assessment of why the whole thing sucks:
Without tradition, college football is just an NFL minor league. Big Ten football mainly consists on a week-to-week basis of games like Michigan versus Minnesota and Illinois versus Wisconsin. Those games have meaning to the fans in ways outsiders can’t grasp. The series have gone on for a century. They often have funny old trophies. Every game is lodged into a long historical narrative of cherished (or cursed) memory. Replacing those games with some other equally good (or, as the case may be, not good) program is like snuffing out your family dog and replacing it with some slightly better-trained breed. It is not the same thing.
Well said.

Summing it up: Going a step beyond the BTN-in-various-markets discussion is this excerpt from ESPN's Adam Rittenberg:
But the real big day for the league will be when it announces a new television agreement in 2017. Keep in mind all the other conferences have had their turn and cashed in. The Big Ten is the last in line, and should get the biggest payout. 
The Big Ten is going to get a head-asplodingly massive TV deal in about four years that will dwarf what the SEC and Pac-12 are getting (their contracts are locked in for at least 15 years each), and that head-asplodingly massive deal will probably be an order of magnitude more massive just because somebody at the Big Ten will be able to convince ESPN/FOX/whoever that viewership on the East Coast will increase incrementally via the Maryland/Rutgers fan bases plus the roughly half a million Big Ten alums in the major metro areas. So yeah: Staking claim to those markets has financial benefits that go way beyond just getting that $1-a-subscriber payout for the BTN. In conclusion, Jim Delany might be hate all of us but definitely loves money.

The money goes somewhere: The view from the other side: Rutgers just won the lottery and has a list of things to buy. It's a depressing list, really.
End the subsidy and significantly reduce the student fees. Everyone else helped out athletics through its lean years. Now that it's finally found a good job and moved out of its parents' basement, it's time to not only be independent but pay some back rent as well for the sanity and well-being of everyone involved. ...

Staff raises and respectable budgets should be in order all around. ...

In summary, expect incremental improvements for the time being, with the hopes of accomplishing more over time. Rutgers has been stimulating its athletic department for the past decade to the precipice of being a Big Ten team, and clearly that strategy has been completely vindicated.
Rutgers haz a happy.

The best thing ever: BHGP. Brilliant.
PISCATAWAY, NJ (AP) -- Despite recent victories in Maryland and New Jersey, Lord High Commissioner of the Big Ten Jim Delany declared yesterday that he is far from satisfied and will look to expand his football/media empire. In a top-secret briefing held at Big Ten high command's field headquarters, Delany outlined a vision for Big Ten expansion that promises to bring the Big Ten to New England, Quebec and beyond.

"At long last we have a secure foothold on the eastern seaboard" said Delany, the gold buttons on his immaculate commissioner's uniform gleaming in the sun. "With our new redoubts in New Jersey and Maryland, we are well disposed to expand our realm via land and sea and will not hesitate to do so."

Delany then clapped his hands and a servant in white livery produced a large map of the world with the arrayed forces of the college football conferences represented on it. Delany proceeded to demonstrate his strategy by feverishly moving miniature stacks of money and TV screens around on the board.

"First we will march through New York, capturing the crucial SUNY system in one fell swoop. Then, we will flank the concentrated ACC forces in Massachusetts and capture New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, leaving Boston College contained and isolated. From there, it should be a simple matter to capture Quebec and Greenland." A maniacal glint then came into the eyes of the bushy-eyebrowed conference bureaucrat: "And once we have Greenland, it is but a hop, skip and a jump to Iceland... and Europe!"

Delany then adjusted his bicorne hat and directed his adjutants to prepare his white stallion, Fritz Crisler, for departure. As his mount was made ready, he explained his broader strategy. "The ACC and SEC are far too dug in along the Mason-Dixon line for our forces to make a frontal assault, and we regard the barren wastes to our west as scarcely worth the candle of an invasion. Therefore our only option is to move our forces across the sea to Europe, then circle around and attack from the south. No conference can sustain a two-front war, as the Conference USA demonstrated so memorably."
There's more; read it. The illustrations alone are worth your time.


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