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Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Big Ten, power conferences to get richer

By Brian Bennett

Forget about the prospect of superconferences in the future. They're already here -- at least in terms of money.

Colleague Brett McMurphy reports that the five so-called power leagues -- the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12, Big 12 and (for some reason) the ACC -- stand to earn an average of $75 million more per year than all other FBS leagues during the 12-year contract for the new college football playoff.

The Big Ten, along with those other four conferences, will rake in at least $91 million per year during the contract, which begins in 2014. By comparison, a league like the Big East will make only a little more than $17 million per year in the same time frame. That's all you really need to know about why teams are so desperate to flee the Big East.

The money comes from the new contract ESPN signed with the BCS, which averages $470 million annually. The five power leagues will receive more than $50 million each annually from that deal.  The Big Ten and Pac-12 will also receive about $40 million annually for the Rose Bowl, which is the same amount the SEC and Big 12 will get for the Sugar Bowl. The ACC will get $27.5 million for the Orange Bowl, and if a Big Ten places a team in that game, it will get the same amount.

So even if the Big Ten misses out on the four-team playoff but puts its champion in the Rose and the runner-up in the Orange, it could make close to $120 million from the distributed playoff share and both bowls. Right now, the Big Ten receives $23.6 million for its automatic BCS bid and gets an extra $6.2 million for a second, at-large BCS bid.

That's a whole lot of extra dollars for a league that is already doing great financially thanks to the Big Ten Network. And we haven't even begun to calculate what the Big Ten's new TV deal will look like in a few years, especially when you add in the new markets that Maryland and Rutgers (and, who knows, maybe others by then) will provide. It's expected to dwarf what the Big Ten currently has.

We've discussed in the past week the Big Ten's need to pay its football assistants more money to keep up with the likes of the SEC. Well, a whole bunch of new money is about to come in.

The $470 million annual deal also includes an academic reward system. Each school that meets the NCAA minimum APR score will receive an additional $300,000. Those who do not meet the score receive nothing. In the event that some schools miss the cutoff, the other teams would share a bigger pie. McMurphy writes that if only 12 of the 14 Big Ten schools reached the APR score, for example, those 12 would get $350,000 each.

The good news there is that all 12 current league schools passed the APR minimum of 930 in the most recent evaluation period.