Everyone and their mother has a take on Big Ten Expansion, and I am no different. I make my case for a 16 team expansion here(http://hailtothevictorsblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/how-big-ten-expansion-could-destroy-big.html).
I have been a strong proponent of leaving the Big East intact. In short I believe the Big East is a good football conference and a great basketball conference, which doesn’t pose a threat to how the Big Ten does business, but either will it dramatically help the conference in terms of competition vs the SEC or Big 12 for that matter. So why break them up? Of course the answer is TV sets and potential money for the BTN. But expansion must be more complicated than just adding a potential viewing populous that has been virtually dormant for years now.
With that said, if the Big Ten does decide to go East, I hope they decide to add The Pitt Panthers. Not because Pitt brings X amount of TV sets or because they are popular with viewers between the ages of 18 and 45. But because Pitt is an academically sound research university with a damn fine football team and a national basketball powerhouse, not to mention a natural rival with Penn State. I’m sick of all the analysis of team value being about how many TV viewers a program brings. How about the value of wins and losses. Pitt basketball under Jamie Dixon is 264-79 in the past ten years, while the Pitt Panther Football team is 74-49 during the same time period. That is a two sport winning percentage of .725. Hell Texas has a .763 two sport winning percentage.
Does Rutgers blow your skirt up, because of the potential 19 million viewers the NYC market could add to the BTN? Well where are those viewers for Rutgers now? I love the Big Ten but I’m skeptical that just adding some games vs U of M, OSU, and Penn State, will automatically turn NYC into Big Ten country. It just seems like a stretch.
Lets take a look what is under that skirt. Rosie O’Donnell comes to mind. Rutgers has had 2, 10 win seasons in the last 100 years. In the last ten years, Rutgers Football is 58-62, and this is considered the glory days of their football program. Rutgers Basketball is 137-158 over the same ten year period. Now extrapolate Rutgers success in the Big Ten? Tell me why the East Coast is suddenly going to fall in love with Big Ten football, when their East Coast Team is fighting for 6th or 8th place most years? I do not buy the benefits of Rutgers.
But the writing may be on the wall.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sadly explains why Pitt may be on the outside looking in.
Pitt might again be left off the Big Ten’s invite list – not because of its academic profile but because of its location. The Big Ten is looking to grow – in size and geographic footprint – so that it becomes a more marketable conference to TV executives.
That could work against Pitt, said Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist at Smith College in Massachusetts, because Penn State already brings the Big Ten to Pennsylvania.
“I’m not saying they wouldn’t go for Pittsburgh,” Zimbalist said. “There’s just a smaller inducement to go into Pittsburgh as there would be New Jersey.”
This sounds like a bad dream in terms of competition, but easily could become reality if Delany rules that market is more important than product.