08 September 2011

Big 10 Rumors

Rumors are swirling around the internet this morning about Texas and Notre Dame making offers to join to the Big 10 starting in 2014.  I heard the news from a friend with connections in the ND administration.  He didn't say where he heard it.  It's all over various Big 10 and other football message boards, but I can't pin down a source.  Here's the whole text that's making the rounds:
Earlier this evening, Notre Dame and Texas jointly presented the Big Ten Conference with their proposed terms of entry into the conference. These terms resulted from lengthy discussions among both schools and the Big Ten over the past several months.

The major items include:
1. The preservation of an eight game (plus championship) conference football schedule. Both ND and Texas wish to preserve rivalries with non-Big Ten universities on a regular basis. This would require the Big Ten to abandon its current plans of a 9 game conference schedule.
2. The staggering of the schedule to allow for mid-season scheduling with non-conference football opponents.
3. The preservation of the status quo conference makeup until approximately 2014, unless the Big XII fails to retain key (NOT including A&M) conference members. This will provide the member schools, acting in unison, with the greatest leverage negotiating ongoing television contracts, particularly with ESPN.
4. Should Texas depart the conference for the Big Ten before ND due to the further disintegration of the Big XII, ND will remain independent until approximately 2014
5. The Longhorn Network would remain independent until approximately 2014, at which point the network would become a part of an expanded Big Ten Network (specifically referred to as "BTN2"), likely either in partnership with Fox, NBC, or less likely ABC

The Big Ten just wrapped up a meeting to initially consider all of the terms presented by the schools, including the aforementioned.

Notably, there is a general discontent with the reporting of the situation by ESPN with specific regard to Texas. ESPN has, for self-serving purposes, drastically exaggerated the lean of Texas to the Pac12 conference in nearly all commentary. ESPN has essentially waged a propaganda campaign to drive support among the Texas stakeholders to the Pac12 conference. ESPN has gone so far as to attempt to accelerate the disintegration of the Big XII to pressure Texas into making an immediate conference change decision. Texas has steadfastly resisted change, and will do so until the appropriate time occurs for Texas to stand in a strong position to renegotiate television contracts, including with ESPN.

In reality, the preference expressed by Texas' relevant leadership is to depart the Big XII for the Big Ten at the time that gives Texas the greatest leverage in negotiating a new television rights deal. The Big Ten and Texas agreed that Texas should do what is best for Texas, which they also both agree is a move by Texas to join the Big Ten Conference. Delaney's top priority has been to create an environment for Texas and Notre Dame to join the conference on mutually benefical terms.

Notre Dame has an interest in preserving its traditional rivalries, three of which occur already in the Big Ten, and creating a new national rivalry with a traditional powerhouse. The Big Ten believes that ND prefers independence, but realizes that it will soon have no choice but to join a conference. The Big Ten also believes that ND is trying to position itself so that if it must join a conference, it does so on the most favorable terms possible. Hence the return to the 8 game schedule and a protected game with national power Texas. The Big Ten will attempt to create a mutually beneficial environment for ND that allows it to preserve a great deal of independence to retain all its traditional rivalries within the conference context.

The initial mood at the Big Ten to the terms provided by the two schools is "receptive."
I think I am in a small subset of ND fans who would like to see us join a conference. The independence is nice in theory, but as my buddy put it, ND is becoming the Chicago Cubs of college football. We just don't have the clout to go it alone any more. To me the biggest advantage to being independent is being able to set your own schedule, and I've been mostly disappointed with the schedules of the last few years. I'd rather see ND playing a Big 10 schedule than what we have now, provided USC and Navy could stay in the mix. (Yes, I'm leaving BC off intentionally.)

1 comment:

  1. I can see the following accept/reject to the above by the B1G:
    1: reject, perhaps tapered approach or if 16 team conference has four divisions
    2: accept
    3: accept
    4: accept
    5: possible
    One of the big draws of the B1G is equal representation between the members. The B1G is HUGE when it comes to the B1G Network, member equality for both representation and benefits and membership criteria. If Texas thinks they will strong arm the conference like they have been in the Big XII (as well as ND for that matter) I think they will be in for a rude awakening.