(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Frank the Tank, an Illini attorney and sports blogger, lays out an index of expansion targets for the Big 10.
The Big 10, which has had 11 teams since the inclusion of Penn State, has started a cable network and is seeking to expand. Frank does an admirable job of looking at the real issues in such an expansion (mainly money, followed by academics as a distant second). Frank ranks the teams on the Big 10 hit list: Texas first, Notre Dame second. Everyone else ranks as a “meh” addition.
The PAC-10 has announced an interest in expanding as well. Currently, however, the Pac 10’s television contract is weaker than the Big 12 contract. Possible PAC-10 targets include Utah and Colorado. Colorado and Texas came close to joining the PAC 10 in the 1990s.
The Big 12 has been good to Texas. Texas generates more athletic revenue than any other school and has established itself as a national power in all the major sports. The status-quo isn’t bad. Having graduated in 1990, I still remember getting our heads handed to us by teams like Baylor and the University of Houston on a regular basis.
Texas must compete with the SEC and Big 10 schools, however, and currently receives less than half the Big 10 television take. If there are going to be super conferences (Big 10, SEC) then Texas must consider an invitation to join. What they cannot allow is for Colorado and Mizzou to bolt with the largest only tv markets in the Big-12 North to other conferences and languish in a diminished leftover conference.
Quite frankly, Notre Dame must either get a much more lucrative tv contract from someone, or they would be crazy not to join. Despite the deal with NBC, Notre Dame currently ranks third in the state of Indiana behind U of I and Perdue in tv revenue. If the Big 10 schools can’t figure out how to use $10 million in additional revenue per year for each school to leave the Domers behind from a competitive standpoint, ummm, let’s just say there would be some athletic directors who need to be fired. Notre Dame enjoys a unique national following, but no brand can endure the beating of losing indefinitely. Notre Dame may be able to keep their status as an independent, but it will not be by getting paid $9m per year by NBC.
Speculation is already running rampant. Let the games begin…