This started on Black Shoes Diaries where folks were discussing this article about Big Ten expansion from Frank the Tank's Chicago sports blog. The article and the first follow up make a pretty strong case for Texas, and through which illustrates why almost any school would at least consider joining the Big Ten.
Here is the annual TV revenue for each conference as reported by ESPN’s Outside the Lines last month along with the average for each school:
- Big Ten: $242 million ($22 million per school)
- SEC: $205 million ($17.08 million per school)
- Big 12: $78 million ($6.5 million per school)
- ACC: $67 million ($5.58 million per school)
- Pac-10: $58 million ($5.8 million per school)
- Big East: $13 million for football/$20 million for basketball ($2.8 million per football school)
Take a look at those figures for a moment – every single Big Ten school makes almost twice as much TV revenue every year as the ENTIRE Big East football conference and even makes more than the entire Big East basketball contract (which that conference’s greatest strength). There is no rational president of a Big East university that is fulfilling his or her fiduciary responsibility to such university that would turn down an invitation from the Big Ten for any reason whatsoever (whether it’s what the basketball coach says or anything else).
Now there is a lot of armchair economics and speculation involved in trying to cut up the Big Ten revenue pie. I’m no tv executive, so I’ll leave it up to them to decide if 12 or 14 is the best for their conference and current situation.
BUT, let’s assume the suits decide it’s in the Big Ten’s interest to go up to 14, if they can get the right schools.
Thinking like a University President and a Cable TV executive, Texas A&M is more likely to come along with Texas than Oklahoma as some have hoped. A&M's academics are better: US News and World Report #61 and AAU member. They’re old SWC members too, so they don’t have as much invested in the Big Twelve. There’s also political pressure for Texas and A&M to be paired together (because football is that sort of priority for Texas Governors and legislature).
For a third new member, often Nebraska or Mizzou, the academics may be just too low even though both are AAU members. In this case I think they’ll either go for Notre Dame or Syracuse. Both are definitely up to par academically.
Notre Dame is Notre Dame. They may be against joining out of spite or because Catholicism doesn’t get along with the CIC and AAU. It’s a bigger obstacle than you might think.
I think Syracuse would join in a heartbeat. The monetary differences between the Big Ten and the Big East make it an easy decision, rivalries and basketball be damned.
Now some folks strongly disagreed with me, saying that Syracuse's Alumni and President would rather die than give up Big East basketball and the old rivalries.
I doubt that's true. I think the security of the Big Ten and the ridiculous increase in tv money would trump alumni grumbling in the end. That’s not even considering the academic and research benefits. Any Big East school president would be violating his fiscal and academic responsibilities by rejecting an offer to the Big Ten.
But that's only my opinion. I thought I'd come ask your fanbase directly.
Are the revenue and academic benefits good enough for Syracuse to become the 12th or 14th member of the Big Ten? Does it make a difference if it's as the 12th member or the 14th member?
p.s. Please don't take this as any sign of ill will. I'm a Pitt fan and I love playing against Syracuse. I think you're vital to the health of the Big East. I just think the potential benefits of joining the Big Ten are too overwhelming for any school with both academic and athletic aspirations to ignore.