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Maryland and Rutgers Join The Big Ten…Wait…Why?

The Times They Are A Changin’–Bob Dylan

Even Bob Dylan’s words from his 1960s classic rings true in 2012 in College Football.  The landscape has changed in college football drastically over the past few years.

A 4 team playoff begins next year and conference realignment is at an all time high.  I honestly can’t keep track of it, I think Utah and Colorado are in the Pac 12, Nebraska in the Big 10, and I forget who all is in the ACC or Big East now.

But that’s besides the point right now.

When Maryland and Rutgers joined the Big 10 this week I heard the following comments from many of my friends, co workers, family,  and clients.

“Wait, Why?”

“That doesn’t help the Big 10 at all!”

“It makes the fan experience for college football worse in that conference.”

“Why would the big 10 want to do that?”

Guess what?  It’s not about you! It’s about…

The almighty dollar was the main machine working behind the scenes on this deal.  From both sides of the ball, not just from the Big 10 but from Maryland and Rutgers as well.

And you know what, I am not writing this to complain about corporate greed in college sports, the super conference realignment will ruin the sanctity of the game, etc etc.

Nope not at all.  It is what it is.  I can’t control it nor do I really care all that much about it.  Don’t sweat it, the games will still be played and you will still have fun rooting for your team.

What I want to explain is why this happened

First from the side of the Big 10.  The Big 10 did not do this to improve the fan experience or to make their football conference better.  They did it because of money as I explained before.  But what does that mean?  How do they make money off of this?

Some are speculating that it is because they are adding the New York City and the Washington DC/Baltimore markets and that will be a huge boost.  What that means though is not that millions of people in New York City will suddenly be watching Rutgers football and noticing the Big 10.  Where it benefits the Big 10 is increased prices to cable subscriptions in those markets.  The Big 10 can now go to to the cable companies in those HUGE markets and get the Big 10 Network added or increased to the cable plans.  The cable company then will charge say an extra $3 to every subscription plan in the market and the Big 10 Network will keep a portion of that revenue.

These are BIG markets!  It will give the Big 10 a ENORMOUS boost in revenue from the Big 10 Network.

Also another factor at play here for the Big 10 is the actual ratings on the Big 10 Network.  The network simply struggles when they aren’t playing live sports and live games.  Don’t believe me?  Read more HERE from May of this year when they slashed non athletic shows.  They don’t have enough good content or material to have any type of ratings when live games aren’t on.  Two more teams…two more football games every week they can air, three more basketball games they can air, higher ratings.  Higher ratings means they can renegotiate these cable subscription contracts in the future in ALL of their markets and ask the cable company for a larger share of revenue or more money to charge the consumer.

That’s it.  Plain Cold Turkey served on a plate.  There’s nothing else behind it from the Big 10 side.

It’s not about tradition of programs, the “Legends” and the “Leaders”, etc.  Cable contracts, revenue sharing, renegotiations, etc.

Look it is what it is, I’m not calling them out…I am simply explaining the details behind the deal for the fan wondering why they would add Maryland to an already down football conference.

Why did this benefit Maryland and Rutgers?

No more Maryland Duke!  No more Maryland North Carolina!  These were great rivalries, why were they tossed away by Maryland?

Because college basketball doesn’t matter.  College Football is king.  That’s where the money comes from and that’s where the revenue comes from.  As great as those Maryland Duke games have been, it dwarfs in comparison in terms of revenue to what Maryland will share and receive and same with Rutgers when they get to play Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan, etc.

There is a positive…read on!

Some will curse this into the ground.  But I found a great silver lining in these deals.  It is well documented that Maryland’s Athletic Department has struggled for a number of years, they are facing a 5 million dollar deficit. Here is some more info on this from the Washington Post documenting the struggles this summer.  Scholarships reduced, lesser sports either eliminated or travel and money into the sport has been slashed.

Rutgers and Maryland now don’t have to worry about that.  The Big 10 will bring in enough revenue for them.  And that will benefit Jason who walks on to the basketball team his senior year and gets a partial scholarship, it benefits Diane from Rutgers who gets free room and board for being on the rowing team, for Ben who plays golf at Maryland…he won’t have to ride a bus overnight home from matches because they can’t afford a hotel room.

Hopefully this will bring more scholarships, more sports back, more opportunities back to both of these programs for the Million Student Athletes that are going pro in something other than sports!

That’s my take and thoughts.  Once again I am not in anyway complaining about the deal, only explaining it for anyone who may have been a tad surprised that the Big 10 added two mediocore football teams to a conference that has taken quite a bit of heat over the past few years.  Enjoy the ride, don’t complain because you can’t control it, and keep having fun!

Thanks for reading everyone especially on this Thanksgiving Holiday, my you and your families all have plenty to be thankful for and enjoy this day no matter where you are!

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