NCAA Football

Conference Expansion Heats Up, Notre Dame to Decide Big 12’s Fate?

| by Sports Nickel

Confused about the whole conference expansion mess? Don’t worry, you are not the only one. Let me attempt to make it easy.

First off, lets explore why all of this is happening.

Why? Timing and money. Financially the Big 10 and Pac 10 are looking to become more viable. The Big 10 has been trying to move to a 12 team conference for quite some time, but it had to make sense, monetarily that is.

Now the Big 10 was not wanting to make a decision just yet, but newly anointed Pac 10 commissioner Larry Scott, forced Big 10’s commissioner Bob Delany’s hand by gaining the approval of the Pac 10 schools presidents to pursue an expansion in last weeks Pac 10 league meetings.

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So why is the Pac 10 all of the sudden looking to expand to 16 teams? A lot has to do with Larry Scott. Scott, former CEO and Chairman of the Women’s Tennis Association was brought in to shake things up as he did in Women’s tennis. With Scott overseeing Women’s Tennis, sponsorship of the sport increased fivefold. In his new role as Pac 10 commissioner Scott see’s expansion as a bargaining chip when the conferences less than formidable TV deal expires next year.  By announcing the Pac 10’s intentions, the Big 10 is forced to make their move.

Now who are the players and what are the scenarios? At this point the Big 10 , Notre Dame and Nebraska are the wobbling dominoes.

Notre Dame holds the key to the future of the college football landscape

Big 10. Who do they want?

Notre Dame has been in the Big 10’s sight first and foremost. They have pursued and ND has declined. Now ND may not have a choice but to align with the conference. Notre Dame being an Independent (meaning they are not affiliated with any conference) has never needed to join a conference seeing as they are able to operate without a major conference, being the most storied football program in the nation, which has made them a formidable financial draw. They have their own TV deal and have had one since 1991. Their current mega deal with NBC does not expire till 2015.

So why join the Big 10? ND would most certainly like to stay Independent because they have been able to schedule relevant teams to keep themselves inline with the BCS, which in turn makes them relevant, which in turn makes them more money. The Big 10 eventually is going to expand, with or without ND. Without ND, they would most likely pursue the 16 team mega-conference which would in turn force the other major conferences to do the same, such as the SEC and Pac 10.  If this happens, Notre Dame is left out in the cold and the viable teams that kept them in the BCS mix are going to schedule more conference games which in turn squeezes ND out leaving them to schedule inferior opponents. Notre Dame is currently in discussions with they Big 10 at this point and them joining is a real possibility.

Now what happens in Notre Dame joins the Big 10?

Notre Dame does not want to be in a 16 team conference. The revenue sharing would not make sense, so its has been speculated that in Notre Dame does join the Big 10 they would make it a stipulation that the Big 10 expand to 12 and stay at 12 teams.

What happens if Notre Dame does not move to the Big 10? This is what sparks the college football Armageddon.
The Big 10 would look elsewhere to expand and they have their eyes on Nebraska and possibly Missouri.

Nebraska and Missouri have been put on the clock. After the Big 12 meetings Nebraska and Mizzou would not commit to staying in the Big 12. The Big 12 (Texas) is asking them to swear their allegiance to the Big 12 or Texas has to start looking into their contingency plan. Nebraska has an old gripe with Texas and still feels like they have the possibility to net more revenue outside of the Texas favored Big 12.  If Nebraska and Mizzou bolt for the Big 10, Texas would have no choice to make a move and seriously consider moving to the Pac 10.

So where does Texas stand in all this. Although being highly coveted, others move will determine what happens with the Longhorns.

Texas is in favor of keeping the Big 12 intact, but being the most profitable college program in the nation, they naturally seek larger percentages in when it comes to the TV money and revenue sharing.  Texas alone brought in almost as much revenue as the Big 12 did as a whole.

So there it is. At this point, it looks like Notre Dame is going to decide what happens to college football.