As the Big Ten continues to talk and plan for expansion, there are many other things that must be taken into account other than just football. I know that is hard to believe, but yes, outside of football and basketball there are other issues.
Right now each Big Ten University gets $22,000,000 per year from the Big Ten Network. It is by far the biggest payout in college. Everyone talks about Notre Dame’s big money deal with NBC and that only pays the Irish close to $8,000,000.
Make no mistake that when expansion is all said and done it will end at 16 teams. If they can get the right 16 teams sources INSIDE the Big Ten have told me on the condition of anonymity, as they aren’t allowed to talk on the subject per Jim Delany the Big Ten commissioner, that they expect that to go as high as $40,000,000 if a Texas and Notre Dame can be added.
No matter what you are being told, the Big Ten is trying to lure Notre Dame and Texas to join. If Notre Dame joins, according to my source at the Big Ten, they will not have to get a Syracuse or a Rutgers. Both schools do not bring the tangible benefits that other schools do or anywhere close to the recognition. According to the source, “If Notre Dame joins they have such a huge national following and especially on the east coast that we wouldn’t have to add the other two (Syracuse and Rutgers) to get the east coast HUT levels.” HUT is a TV acronym that stands for households using television.
Another benefit for Notre Dame is that although independent in football, they are aligned with the Big East in their other sports. Having to travel to the east coast for non-revenue sports is very expensive. “If they join the Big Ten, not only does their payout go much higher, they also save millions in travel expenses for their non-revenue teams,” this again according to the Big Ten source familiar with the situation. They added about Notre Dame, “The NBC contract doesn’t hold water. They will make millions more with the Big Ten. Last time they dumped us at the altar. We were planning the party at the conference office and the deal was done. They backed out at the last minute and the commissioner has a very long memory.”
Texas is in a very similar situation. They make a paltry sum from the Big Twelve and joining the Big Ten not only lands them a nearly $40,000,000 dollar windfall, it gives them more than enough to travel for the non-revenue sports and still come out way ahead financially.
A source employed by the Texas Athletic Department told Spartan Nation on December 22 and 23 of 2009 that, “This seems like a no brainer. We would add millions more to the athletic department checkbook, more than enough to cover the cost of non-revenues, and we could get an agreement to play A & M (Texas) in all of our sports as part of our non-conference schedule every year. That agreement could help this go down easier.”
Texas and Notre Dame bring notoriety and prestige to the already established and respected Big Ten. Both schools are competitive in all athletics and both make sense when you look at it from all points. They have high academic standards, a commitment to research, and big budget research type projects that the Big Ten academia’s who loathe athletics and the money sports generates love.
Syracuse is a terrible fit. They have roughly 12,000 students. Like Rutgers they are also an AAU school. That is nice, but in football they have a Carrier Dome that seats 49,000 and there is little room to expand. That isn’t a problem since they struggle to get just over 30,000 per game. They would essentially be adding a school like Northwestern that at times struggles now to fit.
Rutgers doesn’t guarantee you the east coast and their athletic programs are horrendous. The Big Ten expansion is because of sports and Rutgers doesn’t belong. Do they have prestigious academia? Yes. Is their athletic program as good as any in the Big Ten? No.
They would immediately start as the worst athletic program in the Big Ten. The worst. You don’t add someone who immediately takes up residency at the bottom when you can’t even guarantee they deliver the NY market.
They average just over 40,000 in attendance for football in a stadium that seats just over 50,000. They are terrible. Their basketball program would instantly go to the cellar of the Big Ten. I would rather see CMU join the Big Ten than Rutgers or Syracuse and that isn’t a joke.
The Big Ten should crave the eastern TV markets, so go Big. Get a Notre Dame and if you can’t, you move on. My father used to say better to do nothing than the wrong thing. Wait.
I will talk more tomorrow about Missouri, Nebraska and Pittsburgh. Three teams that the Big Ten needs to add to go with Notre Dame and Texas. Also, tomorrow I will take you into a meeting at the Big Ten conference recently where Jim Delany was livid over an Internet report. We will tell you what that Internet report said and what Delany did along with how you can interpret Delany’s reaction.