I continue to read about Larry Scott’s valiant effort to lead the Pac-10 into a new age of mega-conferences (the conventional wisdom has swung from “visionary” to “Colorado and Utah – is that all?” and now seems to be heading back in the direction of visionary again) and remain puzzled about something.
Yes, going to twelve schools and two divisions is going to reap a financial reward with a conference championship game. And it’s quite likely that the Pac-10 is going to benefit from the insatiable sports programming needs of TV broadcasters. But they’re getting all that with a twelve-team conference.
So, as I read Dennis Dodd’s potpourri of Larry Scott – Pac-10 – college expansion speculation (ain’t it all great?), I keep wondering one thing: what’s so fabulous about going to sixteen-team conferences? There should be something more compelling than this:
Start with the assumption that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and SEC commissioner Mike Slive don’t particularly like each other.
It goes back to this treatise posted on the Big Ten’s website almost 3½ years ago. Pay attention to Delany’s line, “… it seems premature for us to lower our admission standards.” That’s a clear shot at the SEC and seems more pertinent today with the league having won the last four national championships. We all know that expansion is about money and market share and television, but could it have an ulterior motive? Consider the Rose Bowl’s place in a world of 16-team super conferences. With an expanded Pac-10 and Big Ten, the Rose would be partners with 32 of the biggest and best football programs in the country, almost 27 percent of Division I-A. That list would include USC, Ohio State, Michigan, Texas and Oklahoma.
In that scenario, the possibility of national titles being monopolized by the Pac-10 and Big Ten suddenly goes up. The possibility of a mere 16-team SEC becoming marginalized also goes up. That’s a long way to go for payback by Delany but it’s worth contemplating.
Skip the Delany-is-a-prick nonsense for a minute. If mega-conference expansion is indeed all about money, how come nobody can point to where all that new money is coming from? Texas stayed in the Big XII for a reason. The Big Ten, fueled, we’re told, by a network that’s all about adding financial value by adding big media markets, didn’t expand by taking Rutgers, Syracuse or Missouri, but by bringing in Nebraska. And stopping at twelve.
Mike Slive isn’t stupid, at least when it comes to enhancing the financial coffers of his conference. If it was as obvious to him as it is to so many in the media that taking the SEC to sixteen teams would be a huge boon money-wise for its members, why would he sit back and be reactive to other conferences’ expansion moves?
Maybe I’m missing something here, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what it is.