Big Ten Expansion has to Consider More than Money

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Delany has earned my respect, but adding schools only for the households they bring geographically is foolish.

Delany has earned my respect, but adding schools only for the households they bring geographically is foolish.


There is no secret that the reason for Big Ten expansion is cash. There is no doubt that rather than concentrating on the legacy of a commissioner retiring in 2013, the Big Ten has to think past today’s checks and see tomorrow’s legacy.


To lead takes vision. To lead takes someone being willing to face today’s critics on the belief that tomorrow will heap praise. Whether you like Jim Delany, the Big Ten commissioner, or not, you can’t ignore the Big Ten Network as the crown jewel of his career. It was a brilliant move in the face of immense scrutiny and he proved his leadership acumen.


He implored the Presidents to work with him without the ADs in order to make the network a reality. If starting the network had been up to the ADs at the time or the coaches it wouldn’t have got 30% support. He saw the bigger picture and it has become a cash cow. His concept of a network and shrew political maneuvering behind the scenes to make it a reality have to be called even by his critics an act of brilliance.


Now the Big Ten spearheaded by Delany wants more. That is fine. This is America and as of the writing of this article profit motive still isn’t illegal although frowned upon by some. I get it. In an economy of shrinking revenue, expansion will bring more. The bigger question is at what cost.


Arguments can be made for Pittsburgh, Missouri, Nebraska, but minus a big fish they can’t add teams for the sake of expansion only. Rutgers and Syracuse would only be added for the TV markets they bring for the Big Ten Network. Neither of those schools other than the coveted eastern television sets brings anything to the league. Why would those schools want to join a league that wanted the homes that they bring and not them? Syracuse and Rutgers would be terrible choices that dilute the league. They may bring more money, but they bring nothing else. Even if Rutgers and Syracuse don’t have the pride to say no to a league that doesn’t really want them, because they want that leagues money.


I support expansion. It is going to happen and when it is said and done it will bring the Big Ten to sixteen teams. I am sad to think that they would add teams that don’t belong just for the money. They may pick up cash with a Syracuse or a Rutgers, but they lose with them. Short-term answers (more cash) often lead to long-term trouble.


Delany was right taking on a short-term struggle of starting the Big Ten Network and has proven it was the best long-term answer. With his career at the conference office coming to an end (2013), a short-term answer of a Rutgers and Syracuse is a long-term loss for the Big Ten. He won’t be here to face the critics, but it will tarnish his legacy.


Big Ten expansion? Without a doubt. Syracuse and Rutgers? Forget about it. They don’t fit and adding them for the wrong reasons spells trouble down the road; a road that Delany won’t be here to navigate, but the fans will.