Keep The Big Ten As It Is (Cont.)

The proposed expansion of the Big Ten, which I addressed in this post, continues to be the subject of intense discussion in the blogosphere.  This piece, which argues that Texas would happily leap to the Big Ten, is a good example of what you can find out on the internet if you do a bit of looking.

What I find most interesting about the linked article — and the only reason I can see why the Big Ten would be interested in a school like Texas, or why Texas would be interested in jumping ship to the Big Ten — is the money angle.  If the Big Ten added a 12th team and had a conference championship, it clearly would mean more money for the Big Ten and its member schools.  The financial incentive for Texas is even more obvious.  Consider this eye-popping statistic:  TV revenue for each Big Ten school is $22 million per school, whereas TV revenue in the Big 12 is a mere $6.5 million per school.  I had no idea that the difference was so dramatic.  The presidents of Big Ten schools like Indiana must thank their lucky stars every day of the year that they are a member of the Big Ten where they cash that TV revenue check regardless of whether their season was good, bad, or indifferent.

The financial considerations are significant, because anyone who thinks that current college presidents aren’t focused, first and foremost, on getting money for their institutions is mired in a state of self-deception.  In these days of declining governmental financial support for education and state budget deficits, large public universities have to be concerned with enhancing, and then locking in, their revenue streams.  If joining the Big Ten gives Texas an immediate bottom-line revenue increase of more than $10 million, the president of the University of Texas inevitably would have to consider that option.  Similarly, if adding Texas as the 12th team would give Big Ten schools millions in additional revenue due to a championship game, there will be many schools that will find that possibility extremely attractive.  As a traditionalist who believes that the last game of the Big Ten season should be Ohio State-Michigan, that thought makes me very sad, indeed.

While we are on the topic of the Big Ten, let me also point out that, for all of the criticism of the purportedly boring, slow-footed Big Ten style of play, the Conference has done pretty well this bowl season.  In addition to the Buckeyes’ win over Oregon, Penn State beat LSU and Wisconsin beat Miami, and Northwestern almost topped Auburn.  I’m hoping that Iowa, too, wins tonight.

3 thoughts on “Keep The Big Ten As It Is (Cont.)

  1. Despite my admittedly very long posts about the prospect of Texas in the Big Ten, I don’t think we’re that far apart in terms of our thinking. In fact, that’s why I emphasized that Notre Dame and Texas are “The Only Real Choices”. The last thing that I want to see is the Big Ten expand just for the sake of expansion. If a blockbuster name like Notre Dame and Texas wants to join the Big Ten, though, then the conference has to make that move. For all of the traditions of the Big Ten (which is why I love the conference as an Illinois alum), it’s also very forward-looking, which has put itself in the financial position that you noted today. It added Penn State during a time when strict geographic purity was supposed to be the aim of conferences and the Big Ten Network was created at great risk. Those very high impact and unconventional moves have paid off big time, which enables the Big Ten to be very choosy about its future. If neither Notre Dame nor Texas want to join the Big Ten, then I fully believe that the conference will stay at 11 schools.


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