In the interactive room on the first floor of the league’s new headquarters, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren met with sports Discuss the value of a mountain facing college sports.
Expansion became a talking point as Warren prepared to leave his second-floor office, almost a one-time issue. “Regarding the Big Ten,” Warren was asked, “it happens here and there every now and then. Do you expect (the conference) to stay with the current 14 teams?”
Warren began a lengthy response on how he likes the Big Ten’s institutional structure and why the academic focus remains a key tenet of athleticism. He then added, “But having said that, just be mindful of the world we live in. We just have to be thoughtful and mindful. What’s going on in college sports? But for now, I’m excited to finish the school year strong.”
Since there is no answer, it’s vague and purposeful. Six weeks later, Warren’s wording seemed prescient. Thursday, Ten welcomes USC and UCLA As its 15th and 16th members, completed perhaps the most surprising coup of the era of restructuring. Its power and stealth are astounding. It also leaves more questions than answers for the Big Ten, its member schools, newcomers and the rest of the collegiate sports scene. Here are 10 big topics for league officials to think about in the days and weeks ahead.
Three years after the birth of the Big Ten, the seven founding members met at the Chicago Beach Hotel on December 1, 1899, to consider expansion. Three Midwestern institutions applied to join: Indiana, Iowa and Notre Dame Cathedral.Indiana and Iowa sent representatives to propose and be accepted as members, join Minnesota, the state of Wisconsin, northwest, Michigan, PurdueChicago and Illinois. Notre Dame was not represented and its application was rejected.
This began a long and sometimes adversarial relationship between the Big Ten and the small Catholic university on Chicago’s east side. Once, the Big Ten tried to freeze the Irish, but relations thawed in the 1940s, and Notre Dame competes with several league programs each year. In 1999, a full century after Notre Dame first considered joining the Big Ten, the ultra-independent Irishman turned down an offer from the Big Ten. But as the rearranged tectonic plates rumbling, University of Notre Dame may consider Big Ten membership It doesn’t matter if independence means nothing.
The Big Ten is just weeks away from announcing lucrative media rights agreement May pay more than $1 billion annually to the league. It has received final submissions from NBC, CBS, ESPN and Amazon Prime to join FOX as a Big Ten football rights holder. Now, the alliance must recalibrate its value with two well-known brands in the second-largest media market in the United States.
The Big Ten and its media partners will now control 72 league-only games (up from 63) and 30-40 nonconference matchups (up from 25-35).The league already has some of the nation’s most-watched college football games, but now it’s possible University of Southern California and UCLA face Ohio State University,Michigan, Penn State University And the other Big Ten teams in high-stakes regular-season matchups. The additions will alter negotiations and potentially shift the announcement schedule from mid-July to September. Ultimately, joining a Los Angeles university could help the Big Ten spread its revenue well beyond the $55 million it currently offers to vested institutions.
A day after USC and UCLA were announced as future Big Ten members, the Pac-12 announced it would focus on expansion candidates. Ten remaining students released a statement expressing their disappointment at schools heading to the Big Ten. What neither of them mentioned is how they would take advantage of the opportunity to join the Big Ten.
Academic and football profiles of several Pac-12 programs are worth discussing in the Big Ten, including Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Utah. It also spread to ACC, and other colleges fit the bill. The question becomes, are the Big Ten considering UCLA and USC as a single move, or just the first salvo in a concert of change?
Departments and Timelines
Administrators seem keen to move away from the current geographic division structure, and these ideas are cemented now that UCLA and USC have joined the campus. It’s ridiculous to suggest that USC play in the West and then meet every four years with quality players from Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan. The top 10 media partners would also be unhappy.
However, some questions still linger. Will the Big Ten move to a no-divisional structure in 2023 with a new copyright deal, or will it wait until 2024 when USC and UCLA start football games to completely rebrand themselves? If the Big Ten was still a 16-team league, would it create a 3-6-6 schedule with 3 protected opponents of the year and then rotate the other 12 opponents twice in 4 years? Perhaps at the end of every four-year block, the league could adjust some of those protected series to periodically cycle USC and UCLA through more opponents. The possibilities are endless.
On November 20, 1946, the nine-team Big Ten and the defunct Pacific Coast Conference signed a five-year arrangement to send their championships to the Rose Bowl.Was eliminated at the time because West Coast representatives were interested in inviting army. But the PCC and the Big Ten stand firm against criticism. Illinois and Michigan voted against the move, ironically having played back-to-back in the first two contract bowls.
Big Ten and Pac-12 eventually became like-minded colleagues. They negotiated television rights together in the 1980s and ran the Rose Bowl as equal partners in the Rose Bowl parade. Through the ACC, they joined the short-lived league. This move clearly changed the landscape between the leagues. The Big Ten is the power player, and the Pac-12 has become a subordinate.
Whether it’s the Bowl League, the Bowl Championship Series or the College Football Playoffs, the Rose Bowl is like an oak in the winds of change. It had the greatest impact and cost of the college football championships in 1994 and 1997 in the All-Take All Championships. The Big Ten and the Pac-12 have made an impact to ensure the Rose Bowl remains ahead in terms of time slots and ratings.
In the wake of the USC-UCLA press release, no entity was more shocking than the Rose Bowl. The Bruins play their home game at the Rose Bowl. No team likes bowling games more than the Trojans. Once the regular season begins at UCLA, the location’s appeal to Big Ten fans dissipates. In a daring blow, the Big Ten and its two newcomers demeaned the historic bowl game.
Football is leading the way in every aspect of expansion, but Big Ten basketball fans can’t help but get excited about making regular trips to UCLA’s proud Poly Hall. Likewise, the Bruins must enjoy the prospect of playing basketball at elite Big Ten league venues such as Indiana’s Town Hall, Purdue’s McGee Arena and Michigan State’s Breslin Center.
The Big Ten men’s basketball team has led the nation in men’s basketball attendance for 45 consecutive seasons (excluding pandemic years). UCLA and USC have great coaches in Mick Cronin and Andy Enfield, respectively. Their athletes will enjoy a more consistent high-level environment and better TV exposure than they’ve seen in the Pac-12.
Few athletic departments come close to UCLA and USC when it comes to developing Olympians. It excels in no-revenue sports, from track and gymnastics to baseball and softball. While football is the main driver of this expansion, every sport will benefit from the competition and from the addition of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten.
Big Ten baseball has long struggled for NCAA tournament berths, including this year’s regular season and tournament runners-up Rutgers University Despite 44 wins, they didn’t make the cut. USC and UCLA should help the league’s RPI now and offer recruiting opportunities and warm-weather games in March and April.
It’s going to be a challenge for Big Ten schools, especially outside of football.According to the obtained figures sports Through a public records request, the league’s 13 public colleges spent more than $4.85 million in average travel costs in fiscal 2021. Charter rates will skyrocket, and the Midwest Olympic teams will have more commercial flights to regularly travel by bus. Costs for UCLA and USC will also increase with longer flights.
That could force league schedules to think differently. It could incorporate travel partners and have a team compete against USC and UCLA in three days, or do the same for those schools as they travel to Michigan and Michigan State.
The alliance’s network has shifted its stake from 51 percent when it debuted in 2007 to 49 percent in 2012 to 39 percent now.it integrates successfully Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers University entered its orbit in previous expansions and added these to the market. It will seek to do the same as USC, UCLA, and USC and do what the Pac-12 network cannot, which is full market penetration.
(Top photo by Kevin Warren: Michael Conroy/AP)