Category Archives: Big Ten Football

It’s Thursday night in Minnesota.

The problem with making sure your broadcast partner is kept happier than your fans…

“… some weird one-off because it’s a Thursday” isn’t a bug for the BTN, my friend.  It’s a feature.


Filed under Big Ten Football

“It looked like the same movie.”

Know despair.

Players and coaches spent the offseason focusing on the errors that have contributed to Nebraska going 12-20 with three fifth-place finishes in the Big Ten West Division since Frost returned to the program he quarterbacked to a national title in 1997. Frost felt he had his best team entering the season, one with the experience and maturity to play cleaner games in a conference that punishes the error prone.

But Huskers blunders contributed to almost every Illinois score on Saturday, starting with Cam Taylor-Britt catching a punt inside of his 2-yard line and being dropped for a safety while attempting to fling the ball out of the end zone. Nebraska appeared to be in control up 9-2 when Taylor-Britt intercepted a pass from Illinois backup quarterback Art Sitkowski. But linebacker Caleb Tannor was flagged for roughing Sitkowski, and also received an unsportsmanlike conduct foul on the play. The Illini drove for a game-tying touchdown.

Disaster struck in the final minute of the first half as Martinez fumbled and Illinois’ Calvin Hart Jr. recovered and raced 41 yards to the end zone. Nebraska’s lone turnover along with five penalties and two missed extra-point attempts from Connor Culp, the 2020 Big Ten Kicker of the Year, all contributed to the program’s first-ever loss in August.

Nebraska lost to an inferior opponent by 8 in a game where it missed two PATs, gave up a cheap safety on a misjudged punt and a touchdown on a scoop and score.  Frost got outcoached by Bert, who hadn’t coached a college game in three seasons.  Four years into his term and his team looks like a complete mess.

Worse, though, is how you go about replacing him as the season goes south.  He’s got a huge buyout and if the hometown hero can’t fix things, who’s out there who can?

The only fans who are less happy than Husker fans appear to be Georgia fans who believe that a head coach who can’t enjoy some level of success over his first five years against Nick Saban is a failure.


Filed under Big Ten Football

Off to a roaring start

Well, heavens to Betsy, I’m old enough to remember just *** checks notes *** three days ago that Pete Thamel and Dan Wetzel were warning all of us that scheduling hell was about to be unleashed on the poor ol’ SEC.

The new scheduling should create additional marquee games and perhaps increased television money, while potentially squeezing the SEC in non-conference scheduling.

Four ACC teams have annual games with in-state SEC rivals — Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Florida State-Florida and Louisville-Kentucky. Those games would continue, but there would be a decided lack of available non-conference dates for other SEC teams seeking major opponents.

You mean like this, fellas?

The cherry on top of that particular sundae is putting the game on ESPN.  That’ll show ’em the Alliance means business!

And even when they’re not, it appears.  Curious, indeed.


Filed under ACC Football, Big Ten Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football

Dear Idiots,

You’ve got to hand it to the Alliance geniuses.  One day in, and they’re already making enemies.

Maybe all the PR bullshit wasn’t such a good idea, eh?

Meanwhile, Greg Sankey’s all “if you don’t hang out with the other mean kids, you can’t violate antitrust law”.

Roll Safe GIFs | Tenor


Filed under ACC Football, Big Ten Football, Pac-12 Football, See You In Court

Whole lotta nothin’

I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea for the commissioners of the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 to meet the press yesterday, because to say the end result was underwhelming is probably selling that term short.  For all the highfalutin jabbering, this would have sufficed instead.

That’s it.  That’s the Alliance (or ‘Alliance’, if you’re Dan Wetzel).

It was a presser that was longer on motive than substance.

“I wouldn’t say this is a reaction to Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC,” Warren said, “but I think to be totally candid, you have to evaluate what’s going on in the landscape of college athletics. … This is a year for seismic shifts, and I think it’s really important to make sure that you are aware of all these different things going on, and make sure that from our individual conferences that we do all we can to make sure we protect our conferences and build strong relationships to make sure that we protect our student-athletes.”

When they say it’s not about the SEC, it’s about the SEC.  When they say it’s about doing it for the kids, it’s about the SEC.

It’s not a coincidence that trust became a key talking point among these three commissioners. The lack of trust that followed Texas and Oklahoma’s decision to join the SEC was the springboard for creating this alliance, and it’s the underlying reason why other leagues are not currently involved. Kliavkoff even joked that the information surrounding the the 12-team playoff expansion hasn’t changed since the idea was first floated, but “who knows about it has changed” — a not-so-subtle dig at SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, who helped design the format while also negotiating with Oklahoma and Texas.

Maybe they think peer pressure will get Sankey to reverse his expansion decision.

So where does this go?  Beats me.  I doubt the three commissioners and their 41 schools have the first clue.

But the bigger reason for the “gentleman’s agreement” is that no one really wants this to be formal. For one, the Alston case is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and three conferences colluding on the future of the NCAA in any official capacity would be a big red flag with antitrust litigation looming. Moreover, there are 41 schools involved here, and putting any formal language together would likely create some dissent. If there’s no concrete language beyond a general agreement to keep talking, the support is unanimous. Once specific language is on a page and signatures get attached, the potential for blowback ratchets up a lot.

Is conference expansion off the table?  For the next fifteen minutes, anyway.  But let’s not forget we’re watching the Big Ten, which took Maryland off the ACC’s hands in its last round of expansion, singing in the kumbaya chorus.  I doubt these guys really trust each other that deeply; they just trust each other a little more than Greg Sankey.  Is it better to be trusted than feared?  Ask again after the next round of broadcast deals comes to light.

What about the 12-team playoff?

The most telling comment about the playoff came in a Zoom call the three commissioners had with ESPN after their news conference. “I think that people are really focused on being thoughtful, and very methodical in this issue,” Warren said. “So I know from where the Big Ten stands from is we’re still gathering information. We will be prepared by the time we walk into that meeting on Sept. 28. But I don’t think where we are with the turbulence that exists in college athletics. You know, anything as we go forward will be a rubber stamp, I think everyone is going to look through their decision-making process through critical eyes.”

“There still are some unanswered questions there,” Phillips said. “And that’s why I don’t think anybody could definitively say, ‘Hey, we’re ready to vote yes or no on it.'”

Translation:  fuck you, Sankey and ESPN, but, yeah, we’d like the money, anyway.


As Phillips said, “We are bullish on scheduling, as it will elevate the national profile of all of our teams by playing from coast to coast, with college fans across the country as the beneficiaries.” But as for a timeline … nobody was going there just yet. The truth is, we are going to have to potentially wait years for that to happen. First, all three commissioners were clear they are not going to tear up existing scheduling agreements. Because of the way nonconference scheduling is done, many schools are locked into games through at least the next five years.

“This is not about getting out of contracts and blowing anything up,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said. “This is about honoring those existing contracts, but also building relationships between these three like-minded conferences, as we look forward from a scheduling standpoint to see if there’s opportunity to build unique games that will come together.

“We’re really at the beginning stages of this.”

The delicious part of this is that they’re clearly jockeying for a more attractive slate of games to sell to their broadcast partners, but, for example, the Pac-12 would have to convince ESPN that it’s a benefit to reduce the conference schedule by a game.

“To move to fewer games sooner than three years, we need to have partnership with ESPN and Fox to do that,” Kliavkoff said, “although I think there’s a compelling argument that the games we could replace those with if they were in the alliance would be very compelling and worth making that move sooner. We’ll work through that with our media partners and our alliance partners.”

If you think it’s going to be a little awkward to ask the same folks you’re crapping on in a very public way to ignore that and do you a large in the next minute… well, it’s not any more awkward than the ACC’s situation, which involves an exclusive deal with Mickey for the next fifteen years.

As I’ve said for a while, the issue isn’t that ESPN has just now made itself too big to be good for the sport.  It’s that they burrowed insidiously into the sport years ago and the Clampetts are coming to the realization — the late realization — that their options are restricted.

There is the spite, though.

And in the end this was all about trying to upset the SEC, which is persona non grata after adding Oklahoma and Texas, which is what the other three leagues wish they could have done.

Maybe they should go all in on this and take a pro wrestling approach to this whole Alliance vs. SEC thing.  It’s bound to be less of a bore than what they said yesterday.


Filed under ACC Football, Big Ten Football, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football

An Alliance, if you can keep it

So, Jed and Jed and Jed are about to make a Big Announcement.

The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 are set to formally announce an alliance, which pending final approvals could come as early as Tuesday, sources told Yahoo Sports. The Athletic first reported the possibility of an announcement this week.

The Alliance will center on a shared vision for the future governance of college athletics. For now, the Alliance will mean the three leagues can, among other things, form a voting block that will blunt the growing influence of an expanded SEC. It also allows three leagues that consider themselves like-minded to gain voting power on issues as the NCAA’s influence diminishes.

Can you feel the excitement?

On the scheduling front, the idea is that each football team in the three conferences would play one opponent from each of the other two leagues on an annual basis.  Sounds great, until you get into the details.  The Big Ten and Pac-12 would evidently reduce their conference schedules from nine to eight in order to accommodate this.  (The ACC is already at eight.) Notre Dame would count as an ACC team for this purpose.  Even taking all of that into account, it seems like a bunch of guaranteed games would need to be bought out to make the numbers work.  That ain’t gonna happen, so shrinking conference schedules is really the only way in the short term to open up inventory for the Alliance.

Ah, but the spite!

The new scheduling should create additional marquee games and perhaps increased television money, while potentially squeezing the SEC in non-conference scheduling.

Four ACC teams have annual games with in-state SEC rivals — Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Florida State-Florida and Louisville-Kentucky. Those games would continue, but there would be a decided lack of available non-conference dates for other SEC teams seeking major opponents.

Somehow, I don’t think Greg Sankey is losing any sleep over that possibility.  As I’ve said before, I’ll wait to see which Alliance school is the first to turn down a $5 million pay day to face ‘Bama in a neutral site opener.  Besides, if the SEC needs more big games, it can always increase the conference schedule; that’s what adding Oklahoma and Texas gives you.

What’s striking to me here is while the Alliance purports to be wary of ESPN’s influence, it’s adopting the exact approach Mickey already embraced that’s likely to diminish traditional passions for college football.  Dropping a conference game so that Oregon State can face Georgia Tech is the kind of swapping regionalism for national appeal that ESPN has openly pushed since the CFP came into existence.  Sure, there’s a shiny toy aspect to it that will drum up appeal in the short run, but it won’t take long for the viewing public to look for newer, shinier toys.

And that’s the thing.  If you’re hungry for a national appeal for college football, the NFL is already there for you and will likely do a better job of it.

The irony here is that the SEC, whether it’s forced into it by the other three P5s or willingly accepts it, is looking like it will be the last regional holdout.  My bet is that five to ten years from now, the Alliance is going to be comparing broadcast ratings between them and the SEC and wondering what went wrong.

As far as the rest goes, well, if the Alliance is that hung up about ESPN that they’re willing to forego playoff expansion for another few years, more power to them.  It’s not as if the SEC is going to be shut out.  And such a power play isn’t likely to win the three of them many friends between the G5 and Notre Dame.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention the Big 12 there.  That’s because the one thing it appears the Alliance will accomplish in the short run is to kill the Big 12 off for good.  The only question is how long Bowlsby’s conference clings to OU and UT to stave off complete collapse before 2025.  Enjoy it while it lasts, fellas.

In the meantime,

When they say it isn’t about the money…


Filed under ACC Football, Big Ten Football, Pac-12 Football

When they tell you it’s not about the spite…

These Alliance people sound like a bunch of arrogant fucks.

“The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 all sponsor a lot of sports. We all celebrated our Olympians,” the administrator said. “The SEC is so football-dominant. Their philosophy is not on the same page.”

Kinda reminds me of the time Jim Delany waxed patronizing about the SEC.

(By the way, the SEC won more medals at this past Olympics than the Big Ten and ACC.)


Filed under ACC Football, Big Ten Football, Blowing Smoke, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football


This is why I love David Hale.


Filed under Big Ten Football, Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

The Alliance of Horseshit

Wheels.  Are.  Turning.  ($$)

The Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC are expected to make a formal announcement about their alignment soon, perhaps as early as next week, multiple sources told The Athletic. It’s not yet clear how specific the announcement will be because there are so many details to iron out, although administrators in all three leagues have stressed in recent conversations that issues of governance can and should be front and center.

Schools within the three conferences believe they are like-minded, that they want to continue to prioritize broad-based sports offerings and that the academic profile of their institutions matters — as does graduating athletes.

Yeah, when in doubt, say you’re doing it for the kids.  Even when it’s more about spite.

There is hope within all three leagues that their commissioners will align to delay the implementation of an expanded College Football Playoff. Athletic directors in all three leagues have expressed concerns over the composition of the four-member working group that proposed the 12-team format and treated it as an inevitability without hearing from any representatives of the three leagues.

Hey, if the Pac-12 is principled enough to walk away from a 12-team CFP format, more power to ’em.  It still doesn’t change that had Oklahoma and Texas approached one of them first, they’d have done the exact same thing Sankey did.


Filed under ACC Football, Big Ten Football, Pac-12 Football

Andy Staples’ Four Million Club

Today, he delves ($$) into why the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 are chasing an alliance of some sort.  His theory is both obvious and questionable.

… if the plan includes a scheduling alliance to create more games in the Four Million Club for each league, then it could be a valuable partnership for all of them. It also could benefit the viewers by giving us more interesting games to watch.

What’s the Four Million Club? It’s the group of football games that draw more than four million viewers.

These are the games networks are willing to pay premium prices for, and they’re also the type of games the SEC’s addition of Oklahoma and Texas will add to that league’s inventory. In conversations with television executives and consultants, conference officials and athletic directors, it has become clear that the hunt for premium television product will drive this round of realignment (or, in the case of the alliance, rearranging).

Here’s the list of the teams that played in at least ten regular season games from 2015 to 2019 that have topped four million viewers.

That certainly explains the last two SEC expansion moves.  It might even explain why the Big Ten wants an alliance.

… by creating a few more with the help of some friends, the Big Ten could stay relatively even and continue to distribute as much or more to each school as the SEC will once Oklahoma and Texas join and a new ESPN deal replaces the below-market deal CBS enjoys for the best SEC game each week.

On the surface, that seems plausible, but again, the devil’s in the details.  How much of the public is jonesing for, say, a Rutgers-Washington State showdown?  And what games are the Big Ten willing to jettison to make that happen?

I see that list and think the more efficient move for the Big Ten would be to eliminate the middleman and just go for a Big Ten-SEC Challenge.  Or just say the hell with it and go for a super-conference model that ditches every weak scheduling link in every P5 conference.

There just isn’t enough there there in this alliance proposal.  But I bet it makes a lot of folks feel good to discuss it.



One thing I will say in defense of Mike Slive and his relatively poor record handling the conference’s broadcast rights is that he saw the promotional value of the SEC on CBS deal.


Filed under ACC Football, Big Ten Football, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football