What happens if the Big Ten goes to 16 teams?

 

Indianapolis—Yes, we are attending the Super Bowl of college basketball and tonight the story lines abound: Duke will go for its fourth national championship and its first since 2001, under Coach K against Butler. Rated rival North Carolina has cut down the nets twice (2005, 2009) since their hated rival won a title. Coach Mike Krzyzewski is in his 11th Final Four, which ties Carolina’s Dean Smith. One more for K and he passes the Dean for No. 2 on the all-time list.

Butler is playing six miles from its campus. Their playing facility, Hinkle Fieldhouse, was where the championship game in “Hoosiers” was filmed. CBS must be tempted to bring in Gene Hackman and let him walk onto the floor and measure the baskets like he did in the movie that is beloved by all hoopsters.

Understand this about Butler. This isn’t tiny Milan taking on Muncie Central for the Indiana state high school championship in 1954. Butler is really good and is well coached  by a guy who looks like he should be a study hall monitor instead of a coach with an 89-14 record. They can beat Duke if they are healthy and the Blue Devils are little cold from behind the arc. We’re expecting another crowd of over 70,000 at Lucas Oil Field.

But enough about hoops. That’s tonight.  I’m here today to tell you what’s going on behind the scenes of tonight’s national championship game.  I am not big into hyperbole, but you need to know that two things are being discussed that could, in the next six months, could radically change the college athletics landscape as we know it.

The first, of course, is the potential expansion of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament field from 65 to 96 teams. The NCAA floated that trial balloon on Thursday and for the first time gave details about how it could work. That effort was met with criticism that turned into downright derision from fans and media. Why take one of the best sporting events in the world and risk hurting it by trying to shoe-horn another round of games into the same three-week calendar?

You already know the answer. It’s about the money. It’s always been about the money. The NCAA has three more years on its current 11-year, $6 billion contract with CBS but has the option to opt out of those years and put the tournament back up for bid. Needless to say there are other suitors, like ESPN or NBC/Comcast who might want to step up to the plate.  Given the realities of the economy, all schools need more money.

Here is my prediction and that’s all it is: The tournament goes to 96 team  out of pure financial necessity. The 32 team NIT, which the NCAA  also controls, will go always and those teams will be folded into the big tournament. CBS retains the rights to the tournament and finds a cable partner to share in the costs and the distribution. Don’t be surprised if it’s Turner Broadcasting. Then the NCAA will have to do a lot of selling to a skeptical public and press and convince them that the event that they love so much will not be watered down with first round games that include a 9 vs. 24 seed.

I spoke to several commissioners of smaller conferences who are convinced that the vast majority of this money is not going to trickle down to them because most of those 32 extra slots in the tournament will go to teams in the BCS conferences.

The NCAA insists this is not a done deal but my conversations this week tell me the train is at the station and getting ready to move out. Everybody just needs to jump on board.

The other big topic here has a chance to completely change college football as we know it. I’ve spoken to a number of athletics directors and commissioners who are convinced that the Big Ten is positioning itself to seriously consider becoming college football first super conference by expanding to as many as 16 teams.

The Big Ten is looking at three plans: Stand pat with 11 teams, add one team (hopefully Notre Dame) or make a blockbuster move and go to 16.

“If they go to 16 and one of them is Notre Dame then we’ve got an entirely new ball game,” a conference commissioner told me confidentially.

There is pretty serious speculation that The Big Ten would look to the Big East in its big master plan. Now I don’t know which teams are involved, but Just for fun, let’s  say the Big Ten asks Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Connecticut and Rutgers to join. If they said yes, the Big East would be out of the football business. I think the Catholic schools (Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, Marquette, Seton Hall, DePaul, Providence)  in the league move on  and form their own basketball conference.

What would happen to the other football playing schools in the Big East: West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida? Does the ACC take them in order to match the Big 16?

What would happened to Notre Dame? Would they be invited to join the Catholic conference for basketball? What about their other sports?

And what does the SEC do if the Big Ten throws down this gauntlet? The conference has its 15-year, $3 billion television contract in place.  Does the SEC have to react to the new marketplace that has been created? The SEC and Big Ten have separated themselves financially from the rest of Division I. If the SEC stood pat would it risk watching the Big Ten with the additional dollars that would come in, pull away from the SEC?

 

Does the SEC get aggressive and pick up the phone call Texas? That’s the one school that would move the financial needle to improve  the great deal the SEC already has. And if you take Texas, you have to take Texas A&M because of the politics. Does the SEC take another look at Florida State and Miami and see if those schools would be interested in leaving the ACC for a better financial deal?

I have been saying this for years: The dominoes of expansion will start tumbling when the Big Ten makes its move. If it only adds one team, even if it’s Notre Dame, then relatively little will change.  But if commissioner Jim Delany wants to make a splash and go to 16, then absolutely  anything is possible.   If members of the Big East want to leave, they must remain in the conference for an additional 27 months after they declare. So if the Big Ten wants to take some Big East teams, they must make a decision soon in order for those teams  to be in place for the 2012 football season.

Understand that there is a lot of smoke here. None of this could happen. Or all of it could. So stay tuned.

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264 comments Add your comment

Steve

April 5th, 2010
8:49 am

Would the big 10, if expanded to 16 teams, have more than one or two competitive teams as they have now? Whateve4r they decide, good luck to them.

Worm

April 5th, 2010
9:01 am

Don’t really care what the Big 10 does..I like the SEC product as it stands..OOC scheduling would be a nightmare for the Big 10.

Doug Coleman

April 5th, 2010
9:08 am

AS THE AUTHOR STATES “SMOKE.” AND THAT DOES SUM IT ALL UP! The Irish, no matter how harried, will not join any conference soon. However the theories and articles will continue like a California wildfire! “Would the Big Ten consider adding Trinity or Eaton?” Enjoy people!

naganole

April 5th, 2010
9:08 am

What does it matter? Unless they do add Pitt, it’s only going to be more fluff for tOSU and soon UMich…

DIXIE

April 5th, 2010
9:09 am

Leave the Big Ten alone!!!

Rudy

April 5th, 2010
9:11 am

16 teams in the Big 10 would be terrible but at least they could change the name without an issue! I’d rather see the Big 10 add a 12th team like Notre Dame or Pitt. If that doesn’t happen then kick out a team and go back to 10 and play a round robin schedule.

glenn

April 5th, 2010
9:16 am

A sixteen team conference is silly . 12 teams I see . A title football game ? Sure . That would just a very watered down product IMO . The SEC is currently perfect .

Doug Coleman

April 5th, 2010
9:21 am

Worm-What scheduling problem? Computerized programs take care of that and then the league fills in the dates. The problem comes with this scenario for example-Ohio State has league dates with Michigan (stop laughing they will return with a vengeance), MSU,Iowa, PSU, Pitt,and for good measure adds in the Irish, Texas, or USC. ‘Suicide by schedule.’I still say it’s smoke and mirrors!

Old Dawg

April 5th, 2010
9:23 am

I could imagine the SEC offering Texas, Texas A&M, and FSU – but I think they would offer Clemson rather than Miami. They want large state universities with large fan bases. Miami does not have that despite their hype. The old Orange Bowl was half empty even when Miami was the power in the 80’s and 90’s.

Larry

April 5th, 2010
9:32 am

The Big 10 can’t count to 11 so they are really going to have problems if they go to 16 teams !!!

Autiger

April 5th, 2010
9:32 am

Really hope Texas, Fla St and Miami doesn’t join the SEC. Texas is a prennial national contender and Miami and Florida State may come back around in a couple years. It they were to join that would mess up the National landscape big time as you would have 5 or 6 teams in the SEC that could compete for a NC.

mike

April 5th, 2010
9:33 am

Then there will be 16 mediocre teams.

Brian

April 5th, 2010
9:36 am

I’d like to see them add a 12th football team, split into 2 divsions and have a title game in Lucas Oil Stad.

droopydawg

April 5th, 2010
9:38 am

please do not add Texas and A&M to the SEC…if anything, let Arkansas go to the Big 12 if it expands (since those are its natural rivals anyway) and add Clemson, FSU and GT or UM to get to 14 in the SEC.

Otto

April 5th, 2010
9:38 am

Tony, IMO if the Big10 expands with the Big East teams it will not damage the SEC or Big 12 much. However, Nebraska and Mizzou have been linked to Big10 expansion. Further Colorado has been linked to a PAC10 expansion.

If those happen it really shakes up the CFB world. What happens to the Big 12? The Big10 with Nebraska and Mizzo the Big10 could rise to the 2nd strongest Football conf by default with the fall of the Big12.

How could this happen? Many point to the way Big12 money is distributed to the teams with Texas and OU getting 1st cut and others getting smaller slices of the pie.

If Texas sees the Big12 start to fold do they take an early invitation to the PAC10? and move with Colorado

droopydawg

April 5th, 2010
9:39 am

Lucas Oil is smaller than most of the Beg Ten football stadiums…70000 for b-ball is about 62000 for football which is a SMALL venue

Otto

April 5th, 2010
9:43 am

Miami vs. Clemson? Miami draws bigger TV viewership, Clemson draws bigger ticket sales. The SEC is making their money off the TV contract not at the Ticket Counter. However, Miami’s image (which imo does not reflect the current program) does clash with the SEC culture. It is an intersting debate.

BAMA STAN

April 5th, 2010
9:43 am

13 NATIONAL TITLES – 22 SEC TITLES!!!

Hate the super conference concept – too large and totally locked into your side of the conference.

Notre Dame to the B10 would be good for that conference – and college football. With that said, I hate it that ND get’s it own special provisions as an independent.
For example:
– automatic BCS bowl berth if they win 10 games.
– They get a slice of the BCS payout – even if they do not participate in a bowl – not just a BCS Bowl – any bowl.

With their independent arrangement – I hope ND continues to be mediocre.

REGARDING SEC EXPANSION:
12 seems to be a perfect number. I like how the SEC rotates opponents so that you get to play each school within a few years.

If anything were to change in the SEC – I would like to see ARKANSAS go the the B12 – as they have natural rivalries with Texas AM, Texas, and their geography to Kansas, K-State and Mo is ideal. MO/ARK would be a great rivalry. This would be good for the B12 – of course Colorado would probably be sent to the Pac 10 for this to work.

The SEC would then pick up GT.
Would love to see GT back in the SEC, Ironic that ALABAMA was one of the reasons that GT left.

Back in the day – GT had a great rivalry with Auburn, Tennessee and Alabama – and obviously UGA. And GT could more than hold there own then – and I think could do so now.

Imagine Saturday – Auburn rolling into GT – or Tennessee – or Florida – or Alabama. Atlanta is truly the heart of SEC – not Birmingham – heck we have our Conference Title game a few miles from Tech’s campus – and the geography is just too dang convenient.

How would this work?
GT in the SEC EAST – KY to the SEC WEST.

I would NOT be in favor of FSU. The SEC offered – FSU turned us down stating it was too hard FOR THEM to win Titles – and went to the weaker ACC – THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE – of which they dominated.
Geogrpahy favors GT and Atlanta – pull these guys back in!!

ROLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL TIDE!!!

morgwreck243

April 5th, 2010
9:43 am

Miami moves the TV ratings, much like Notre Dame. But Clemson would be a good fit.

Otto

April 5th, 2010
9:48 am

Arkansas will not leave the SEC on their own. Nobody can offer them near the money.

FSU what has happened is in the past. They would draw TV ratings and sell tickets. It is a natural fit.

GT left the SEC over Bobby Dodd throwing a tantrum, and I would tink Clemson could have joined after the Southern Conf. fell from power. Miami on the other hand tried to join in the 60s and was turned down. So does the SEC take Miami?

T3

April 5th, 2010
9:49 am

Tony:

While you’re in Indy, please give us ALL the reasons why a playoff system for
College Basketball (and every other college sports for that matter) is a REALLY bad idea.

Afterall, you enthusiatically denounce a legit playoff system for College Football.

Obvious

April 5th, 2010
9:51 am

If the Big Ten expands, the SEC will try to go even bigger, I know one of the targets for SEC expansion is the Clarke County jail, there’s more college football players there than anywhere.

Otto

April 5th, 2010
9:53 am

Big Orange

April 5th, 2010
9:55 am

Agree with B-STAN – current 12 team format is great for the SEC – adding Tech captures that Atlanta market – and is much more convenient to fans traveling to games. Tennessee/GT was great – miss the rivalry.

WonderDawg

April 5th, 2010
9:59 am

Tony, I don’t know if the Steelers will leave the NFL for the Big Ten…

Big Orange

April 5th, 2010
10:00 am

Tech tried to get back into the SEC in teh late 70’s – was voted down. Bobby Dodd said leaving the SEC was his big regret.

Plenty of Tennessee, Auburn, Bama, Florida and Carolina fans in Atlanta area – geography is perfect – convenient for the local fans.

Miami TV market would be huge – would take Miami over FSU. Miami over Clemson. However, dang it is a long way to Miami – ever driven there? Stay with GT. Monopolize Atlanta TV market – best fit for fans.

HokieMan

April 5th, 2010
10:02 am

How about VaTech in the SEC??? Va Tech / Tennessee would be a great rivalry. Va Tech/ UGA, Va Tech / Florida – man – that would be great!

13 NATIONAL TITLES - 13 NCAA PROBATIONS!!

April 5th, 2010
10:03 am

PJ ain’t coming to the SEC …

BAMA STAN

April 5th, 2010
10:04 am

13 NATIONAL TILES – 22 SEC TITLES!!!

OTTO – I always enjoy your posts and respect your comments. your thoughts on SEC expansion – GT. Miami, Clemson, Va Tech, Texas, Texas A&M?

ROLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL TIDE???

Otto

April 5th, 2010
10:07 am

GT would bring back memories of past great games. As a UGA fan it opens up an OOC date for UGA. However, IMO GT can not compete over a full season, year in year out. They would be another Ole Miss.

FSU would sell just as many tix and would draw even bigger on the TV.

I do agree 12 teams works very well, more teams would split up long time rivals. The only really BIG game lost in the expansion was Auburn/UF.

Fast Eddie

April 5th, 2010
10:09 am

Tony, I expect the everyday fans who respond to your articles to be lousy typists and wordsmiths but I thought you were a professional writer. Do you ever read over your articles before you post them? After I read your article, I thought I had read something written by a Jawja Bulldawg. Oh, wait. Never mind!

Ramblin Wreck for Georgia Tech!!!

April 5th, 2010
10:14 am

I personally would hate to leave the ACC. Have grown accustomed to our great rivalry with Clemson – and enjoy our side of the division with VA Tech and Miami – great schools. Playing Georgia at the end of the year really caps off our season. If the SEC did raid the ACC for a team – I would want TECH to go back to the SEC. Just a better football conference and the thoughts of playing Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky and rotating Auburn, LSU and Alabama would be too much to turn down.

And I agree with the Tennessee fan – geopgrpahy wise – a better fit – and easier for all of us to travel.
UGA – 90 minutes
Tennessee – 3-1/2 hours
Auburn – 1-3/4 hours
Alabama – 3 hours
Vandy – 4 hours
South Carolina – 3 hours
Florida – 6 hours

Clemson is our closets ACC school – everything else is a minimum of 4 hours.

BAMA STAN

April 5th, 2010
10:21 am

13 NATIONAL TITLES – 22 SEC TITLES!!!

OTTO – Agree that FSU is also a fit – but still would rather see GT. I would think that GT might be a little better than Ole Miss over the long haul – but I get your point.

I am being selfish – but GT is more convenient – and I’vd had enough FSU drama to last for while – heck – I’ve had enough BAMA drama to last for a while – just leave SABAN in Tuscaloosa and keep fighting to stay on top!!! Also – something about FSU – them turning down the SEC in favor for a weaker conference – just rubs me the wrong way. At least Bobby Dodd and GT left the SEC on a sound arguement. Dodd regretted leaving and wanted back in – man – he screwed up!

Otto

April 5th, 2010
10:27 am

Stan likewise,

Expansion will be interesting if it does happen because IMO the SEC will be reacting and thus depeneding on where other chips fall.

I read a story where the Regents vote that decided Colorado’s conf with the Big12 would have been in the PAC10 if the vote was taken later. They took the vote and it did not pass. However new board members were coming on (that would have voted PAC10) could only witness the vote.

http://www.thewizofodds.com/the_wiz_of_odds/2010/03/cost-of-colorado-jumping-to-pac10-9-million.html

The wizoffods blog also has some interesting news linking Nebraska and Mizzou to the Big10.

16 teams for the SEC? FSU, Miami, Clemson, GT top 4 in that order.

If Texas goes with the PAC10. The Big takes Neb. and Mizzou. Further if the ACC teams don’t join, the remaing Big 12 gets very interesting. Oklahoma is not linked to any moves. I would imagine the MWC and WAC gets shuffled too.

If the Big10 does get serious on going to 16 teams, Nebraska and Mizzou have one foot out the the door. Does Oklahoma try to sweeten the deal? OU vs. Nebraska has spent far to long not being a yearly fixture of the season. The Big12 dropped the ball on that one.

Don’t forget L’ville could be hung out to dry with the Big10 raiding the Big East and would be a nice fit especially with Basketball.

DaveDawg

April 5th, 2010
10:31 am

I think Syracuse is the most likely Big East team to join the Big 10. (It’s the best candidate to bring in the NY market, despite what Rutgers backers say. You do have to consider the basketball component.) The next best fit is Missouri, and of course Notre Dame is always on the table. So, those schools make it a Big 14.

I also think Colorado and Utah will got to the PAC-10. This would be a two team loss for the Big 12 (Mizzou and Colorado), so I think it is possible for Arkansas to move to the Big 12 (with a little cash from Jerry Jones) along with TCU.

The SEC void could be filled by FSU or Clemson.

The ACC fills its void with West Virginia.

Then the Mountain West fills its two vacancies with Boise State and Nevada.

The Big East fills its two vacancies and adds two more schools with Memphis, Marshall, East Carolina and Central Florida.

So a lot of dominoes would fall across the country, but it’s not the seismic move described by Tony and a Big 16.

BAMA STAN

April 5th, 2010
10:34 am

67 NATIONAL TITLES – 123 SEC TITLES!!!

I personally don’t understand why anyone would join a conference with my mighty TIDE. 0% chance of success.

Ala-FREAKIN-bama, Ala-FREAKIN-bama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ECDawg

April 5th, 2010
10:35 am

Enter your comments here

DaveDawg

April 5th, 2010
10:35 am

I think Syracuse is the most likely Big East team to join the Big 10. (It’s the best candidate to bring in the NYC market, despite what Rutgers backers say. You do have to consider the basketball component.) The next best fit is Missouri, and of course Notre Dame is always on the table. So, those schools make it a Big 14.

I also think Colorado and Utah will got to the PAC-10. This would be a two team loss for the Big 12 (Mizzou and Colorado), so I think it is possible for Arkansas to move to the Big 12 (with a little cash from Jerry Jones) along with TCU.

The SEC void could be filled by FSU or Clemson.

The ACC fills its void with West Virginia.

Then the Mountain West fills its two vacancies (Utah, TCU) with Boise State and Nevada.

The Big East fills its two vacancies (Syracuse, WVU) and adds two more schools with Memphis, Marshall, East Carolina and Central Florida.

So a lot of dominoes would fall across the country, but it’s not the seismic move described by Tony and a Big 16.

Will

April 5th, 2010
10:38 am

I wonder what the new name of the SEC would be if Texas came over?

Otto

April 5th, 2010
10:38 am

Stan, Agreed I think FSU drama will calm down with the new staff. Miami drama has really calmed down. A board I used to post on had a Miami alum that would post arrest and graduation stats. From what he posted Miami looked cleaner than UF or FSU. I need to see if I can find their Fulmer Cup standings.

IIRC Bowden wanted to be 100% certain that he did not have to play Auburn and Bama in the same year on top of UF, and Miami. In the 90s that could have been half of the AP top 10. It rubs me wrong too but he does have a point. Also the ACC was knocking on their door wanting the exposure. Bowden is retired and the new staff has SEC ties. Besides I have family down in Tallahassee sp? and always liked going down there.

Ogeechee Dawg

April 5th, 2010
10:39 am

Let the rest of the world twist and turn – the SEC is perfectly set up for the long haul. Only move I would like to see is somehouw get GT back in – but only if Arkansas bailed out to a revamped B12 or South Carolina goes to the ACC.

ECDawg

April 5th, 2010
10:39 am

A 16 team Big Ten still loses the title game to the SEC champion. 16 teams splitting a pie that expands little means less for all 16 teams. Delaney, if he has a brain, adds one team and tries to play second fiddle to the SEC. That is the maximum he can achieve in this scenerio.

A 16 team Big Ten would be about as popular as the Big Ten Network, wherever that is in any cable package………..

Otto

April 5th, 2010
10:42 am

Dave Dawg, Big12 guys are saying Nebraska is looking as or maybe more likely to move than Mizzou at the moment.

http://www.thewizofodds.com/the_wiz_of_odds/2010/03/nebraskas-proactive-approach-is-bad-news-for-big-12.html

knute rockne

April 5th, 2010
10:43 am

the logical choice would be expand to 12 with ND filling the role. ND plays 3-4 Big 10 schools annually (MSU, Michigan and Purdue every year, with Indiana, Northwestern and/or Penn State from time to time). but as previously noted, ND isn’t going to join a conference anytime soon. and it’s about more than just $$$. ND likes its independence and sole control over its brand. the SEC seems to be the gold standard for college football conference brand and ND is the gold standard for individual brand. let’s say that as in independent, ND’s annual (football) revenue is $100 million, but as a member of the Big 10 they could earn $150 million, so what? while it is true all college sports are about the money, in ND’s case, $100 million is enough, if the school maintain sole ownership of the brand.

JB

April 5th, 2010
10:45 am

The SEC really really needs to swap Vandy for Clemson.

BAMA STAN

April 5th, 2010
10:46 am

67 NATIONAL TITLES – 123 SEC TITLES!!!

Correction fellas: Make that 69 NATIONAL TITLES. Just found a couple more while surfin’ the net.

Ala-FREAKIN-bama, Ala-FREAKIN-bama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

david

April 5th, 2010
10:47 am

Otto

April 5th, 2010
9:43 am

Miami vs. Clemson? Miami draws bigger TV viewership, Clemson draws bigger ticket sales. The SEC is making their money off the TV contract not at the Ticket Counter. However, Miami’s image (which imo does not reflect the current program) does clash with the SEC culture. It is an intersting debate.

Otto, how many arrests has UGA, and Tenn had over the last few years? Miami’s so called bad image is mostly from the press the last 10 years. The only arrest they had was Marve breaking a side view mirror on south beach. Marve is now at Purdue.

GT

April 5th, 2010
10:48 am

In the past decade, GT played for the national title in basketball, and went to the BCS. How many other schools have done that? Just Flordia and Ohio State I believe. And GT maintains a top 30 national ranking in academics. And we’re ranked #3 in baseball. I think that whatever happens as far as re-alignment, if we end up in the ACC or the SEC, GT will be just fine.

The SEC isn’t as strong as you think in football. It’s just Alabama, Florida, and the 10 dwarves. GT would do fine in the SEC.

Rob

April 5th, 2010
10:55 am

If the Big 10 expands to 16 teams, then the SEC and PAC-10 might feel that they have to expand to keep up.

The big questions then would be what Texas decides to do and which direction the SEC tries to go. Does the SEC try to get the football schools from the ACC or does it try to expand its footprint (and tv base) by going west after Big 12 schools?

Its not hard to see this ending up with four 16-team megaconferences in football and a restructured basketball conference made of the Big East basketball schools and a handful of ACC schools (Duke, UNC?) who decide they might be better off in a basketball based conference.

HugoStiglitz

April 5th, 2010
10:56 am

Wow. If the Big Ten went to 16 with those teams then they would not only be the premier football conference but would also be the premier basketball conference. That would be amazing to watch. Seems like an overly bold move though.