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.