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Monday, November 19, 2012
What they're saying: Big Ten expansion

By Brian Bennett

Regular lunchtime links are coming up soon, but here is a sampling of what people are saying about the Big Ten expansion plans to add Maryland and Rutgers to the league:

Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel: "According to a television executive familiar with the Northeast corridor, the move could ultimately be worth as much as $200 million annually for the Big Ten in cable subscription fees. This is a Pollyannaish figure that's unlikely to ever materialize, but it shows the scope of the potential value. The interesting part, considering the current cable climate, is that the potential move also comes with considerable risk.

"There are an estimated 15 million available households in the New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C. markets. If the Big Ten Network got on basic cable in all those places, which is an enormous long shot, the per-household figure by the time Rutgers and Maryland joined the league would project in the neighborhood of $1.25 per month. That would equate to about $200 million per year.

"The risk comes because none of that money is guaranteed. Considering the struggles the Pac-12 has had with DirecTV and the distribution issues surrounding the Longhorn Network, it's clear cable subscribers automatically handing over distribution is far from a given."

The Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein: "The additions of Maryland and Rutgers would be largely about one word: demographics.

"Delany studies population shifts. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, Michigan's population shrunk 0.08 percent from April, 2010 to July, 2011. It ranked 49th among U.S. states. Ohio was 47th. Illinois 42nd. Pennsylvania 41st. Wisconsin 37th. Indiana 34th.

"The District of Columbia had the nation's largest growth rate, at 2.7 percent.

"This is long-term thinking."

Yahoo!'s Dan Wetzel: "In flat-out terms, the Big Ten would be weaker than it currently is. Potential growth is still all about potential. Much of which never is realized.

"And sure, Big Ten Network money is nice, but at what is a lightly watched, if highly profitable, cable channel determining the direction of the Big Ten itself? This seems like the tail wagging the dog. It's not like Big Ten programs were hurting for revenue or resources. When is enough money enough? Does it really matter to students and fans if the athletic director's already opulent oversized office gets remodeled … again?

"Is that worth not having Ohio State come to town very often?"

The Patriot-News' David Jones: "Jim Delany knows what he's doing. And what he's doing is making money.

"When Michigan and Ohio State and Nebraska and Penn State start showing up on a regular basis in Piscataway and College Park, suddenly major-college football will have arrived. It will then be a legit contender for the local sports dollar -- especially when Penn State and Ohio State fans are driving in.

"Nothing like it has ever happened in Eastern major metros. Name-brand college football has not been part of the landscape here on a regular basis since Red Blaik was running the great Army teams up and down the I-95 corridor (before there was an I-95 corridor). It will be fascinating to watch.

"Effects on Penn State? I can think of one major one right away: Two of the Nittany Lions' major recruiting gardens will be tougher to cultivate."

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Doug Lesmerises: "For Ohio State fans, players, coaches, alumni and students, what's the cost of playing fewer games against Nebraska, Northwestern or Iowa in football? How much is losing a men's basketball game against Michigan State worth? Against Indiana or Wisconsin or Michigan?

"Because that's what's being sold in this deal. However many millions more are being taken in each season, Ohio State could be selling two of its eight conference football games against current Big Ten foes, and two or three or four of its current men's basketball games.
What if Ohio State every year in football played Rutgers, Maryland, Indiana, Purdue, Penn State and Wisconsin in the division and Michigan as a cross-division rival. The other six Big Ten teams (Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois, Michigan State) could shuffle through a single opening in Ohio State's schedule.

"Congrats on adding Nebraska two years ago. Enjoy playing them twice a decade."

The Lansing State Journal's Graham Couch: "The Big Ten will almost certainly grow to 16 teams, furthering the evolution to four power conferences, and thus helping to secure its champion’s annual place in the upcoming four-team football playoff.

"Note: This is all about football. In the global scheme of college athletics, basketball is closer to field hockey, which is why Indiana, Kentucky and Kansas will never have a say in anything.

"Whatever the motivation to move now, the Big Ten is showing its teeth by potentially gobbling up teams from the Big 12, Big East and, most notably, Atlantic Coast Conference, over the course of the last three years."