Maybe the best part about following the on-going dilemma of Big Ten Expansion is sifting through all of the rumors in regards to which schools will join.
As if any of us really know.
But the rumors keep pouring in every few days or so, an ebbing and flowing trend over the past few months. Often, they come from mainstream national media types who many listeners and readers trust.
Just don’t believe anything they say.
This time is different.
And that’s because the ramifications of the final decision on this subject brought by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and the leagues’s presidents will be so far-reaching, so landscape-changing in regards to college sports that they cannot afford to have meaningful information leak out.
Think about this:
It was far easier to keep this type of behind-closed-doors exploration secret 20 years ago when the league was studying whether or not to admit Penn State.
There was no Internet, no message boards, no email, no cell phone saturation.
It’s much different now.
So what better way to protect secrecy than to simply confuse the 24-hour-a-day media by slipping out bits of contradictory information in well-timed leaks. Or to simply not even attempt to shoot down anything being run out there, no matter how far off it may be.
Like reports of Nebraska being a player in these talks … and then not … and then being a
Like reports of Connecticut “definitely” coming on board. Connecticut? Really?
It goes on and on, to the point where there’s no way to possibly decipher the pertinent from the inconsequential.
Meanwhile, Delany and his presidents are quietly working, trying to figure out what is best for them.
Interestingly enough, most of the best reading on this subject comes from just a few bloggers who have no connection to the league or the media. In particular, check out Chicago lawyer “Frank the Tank”
He makes an interesting point in his latest entry this week, noting that he figures Big Ten officials still must be pursuing the biggest possibilities like Texas and Notre Dame. Why else could the search still possibly go on for months yet?
They know every other school in contention would certainly say “Yes!” in a moment, mainly because they would immediately double, triple or even better their TV revenue dollars simply by joining.
Know that the $22 million each Big Ten school receives now — which stands to increase with the right additions — does mean the world to these other schools. It pretty much means everything when it comes to academic research and paying for increasing athletic costs to schools working in the red.
Think Texas doesn’t have an interest in this?
Officials there know they almost certainly will have to do something in the near future. Even if the Big Ten takes only Nebraska or Missouri, that would be a major broadside hit to the Big 12, which already suffers from a poor TV contract and a not-so-fuzzy relationships among themselves.
They can’t really afford to see their “disappointing” $12 million in yearly TV revenue decrease.
So they may have to do something.
They will lose money if they stay and simply deal with Nebraska or Missouri, or both, being replaced by TCU and who-knows-who else.
But what does Texas do?
Do they risk joining the Pac-10 with most schools two time zones and thousands of miles away? Maybe. It’s difficult to tell.
Do they risk joining the SEC with most schools far below their academic standards? The geography is better, but Texas officials may never allow it because of that sticking point.
And think about the SEC. There already is a superiority complex at work, where the Floridas and Alabamas talk until they’re tired about how the tremendous competition already unfairly limits their national championship dreams.
Do they really want to add another super power to deal with?
This just provides a glimpse into the kind of things were working with here.
Texas, like several other schools, could be impacted so greatly by whatever the Big Ten decides that it will be forced to counteract in some fashion.
The frustrating and yet intriguing part is that we really don’t know how.
Or even when.
And if somebody tells you they do, they’re just kidding themselves.