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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Is Jim Delany Selling Out Big Ten Football to be a Big Time TV Guy?

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who has been one of the biggest obstacles to a college football playoff (even of the "Plus One" variety), is now suddenly in favor of adding a 12th team and, possibly, a conference championship game for the league. So why the change of heart? To help out his struggling-to-get-carriage, nobody-wants-to-watch-MSU-vs.-Purdue-tennis Big Ten "Network," of course.

In case you haven't been following Jimmy's Quest, Delany has his knickers in a knot because most of the big cable providers don't want to carry a niche channel like the BTN, at least not for free on basic cable (as Delany wants).

That's where expansion comes in.

According to Delany, the BTN would benefit from an additional big-name university in a large television market. “The broader (the network) is distributed, the more value (expansion) has. We have eight states. With expansion, you could have nine,” he said.

While that's a good business move for a network that nobody wants to carry, I don't think it's in the best interest of Big Ten football. If it ain't broke...

And whether 1, 2 or 5 teams are added, I have a news flash for Delany: The BTN isn't a national network. It isn't ESPN. Nobody outside of the conference gives a rat's cornhole about the IU-Wisco lacrosse smack down. Seriously. Clue up. You think anybody in Michigan or Pennsylvania wants to watch the SEC or Big 12 Network on a regular basis? Here's a hint: no. And they don't care about the BTN. It's a regional network. Deal with it.

So how else can one coerce cable providers into carrying a sports channel they don't want? By adding a conference championship game on the football side then only showing it on "your" network, naturally.

But while Delany claims the addition of a 12th team wouldn't automatically mean a championship game (yeah, right. If you believe that one...), the president of the BTN is salivating at the prospect, saying, "Any television executive would do whatever they could to be able to air a game like the Big Ten championship. It would be worth a considerable amount of value.”

There's that word again: Value. Value, value, value. I guess it would look way too whorish to just come out and say "money."

Does anybody else see hypocrisy in all this?

Delany's a guy who, in Congressional testimony, said that if college presidents adopted a so-called Plus One model (where the top two teams after the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta would play for the title), it would lead to a full-blown playoff and declared the Big Ten would abandon its BCS partners if they adopted such a system. Now he's trying to add a 12th team and potentially "plus one" to the Big Ten?

I hate conference championship games. I think they're nothing more than money grabs and dilute the regular season. Oh, and they usually suck. Most of the time it seems like there's one great team going up against some 3 or 4 loss team from the other weak-ass division (that the great team has often already played and beaten during the regular season).

Just imagine if Michigan and Ohio State were to meet once again as undefeated, top ranked teams and the winner, instead of clinching a BCS title bid instead has to first square off against, say, an 8-3 Purdue team from the "West Division" it already smacked back in October.

What a let down. Not only does that take the luster off the M-OSU clash but it puts the victor of that game in a no-win situation.

Then again, maybe I just don't understand "value" like I should.

Should the Big Ten add a 12th team and championship game?
pollcode.com free polls


Blue (and White) Fan said...

In this attached article Texas, of all teams, is considered a candidate to join (you have to scroll down a little bit to read it).

If we are going to expand, I'd take West Virginia or Rutgers just out of my pure selfishness. Forget sPitt, they have no fan base and will not add anything of value to the conference, unless you want even worse ratings.


R39mich said...

No the the championship game. Yes to the 12th team. ..But only if it's Notre Dame.

Black Shoe Diaries said...

I think they should add a 12th team, but no championship game. Let Ohio State and Michigan have the showcase game at the end of the year. But have the option of a championship game only when necessary if there is a tie at the top between two teams that did not meet in the regular season.


With all the Big Ten alumni and fans around the country the Big Ten Nework would definelty be a national network.

wats said...

Why does everyone keep thinking that the BTN will not show quality games? They will still show great Big Ten sports, including basketball, football, and hockey. Also they will show a top game if you live outside a local market.

Like say on the off chance that there are Michigan alumni living in New York.

GH said...

Anyone else see that the ND game is back on for the forseeable future? Good news I suppose. No word on the finer points (ie. home-home-away-away or anything like that to balance out the USC-ND and the UM-OSU stuff).

Still wouldn't mind seeing another strong OCC opponant every year instead of 2 MACs and a D2.

Scott said...

Not only does that take the luster off the M-OSU clash but it puts the victor of that game in a no-win situation.

This may be big news to some in Columbus and Ann Arbor, but the purpose of the Big Ten is not to add luster to the Michigan-Ohio State game. Nobody else in the Big Ten gives a damn about that game beyond the possibility that it may affect their own team's final standing.

CrimeNotes said...

Also they will show a top game if you live outside a local market.

Like say on the off chance that there are Michigan alumni living in New York.

Actually, if you put any thought into this, the BTN is absolutely screwing those of us who live in New York. GamePlan effectively guaranteed access to every Big Ten game, and the spillover on YES and FSNY meant that almost every minor game (Indiana at Illinois, etc.) was available on basic cable.

If Time Warner even picks up BTN (and I won't blame them if they don't, because the idea is such a mess) it will probably be in the pay tier with all of the regional Fox Sports channels, and even then it's a mixed bag. If there are conflicting games, we're stuck with whatever BTN selects as the premier national game that weekend -- no option of using GamePlan or flipping to YES.

The end result of this is less access, more money and more hassle. Jim Delany is a disgrace.

Yost said...


First I want to take a moment to welcome a Purdue fan to the site.

Second, maybe if you read the entire portion of the post instead of taking it out of context, you would understand that I'm making a point by giving a recent example.

The same would hold true if, say, MSU and PSU were undefeated going into their regular season game but the winner that to play a 3 lost Michigan, Ohio State or anybody else.

I simply used the Michigan-Ohio State example because, first of all, if you check the name of the blog, you'll notice it's a Michigan site and second, it might be a lot harder for folks to imagine, oh say, Northwestern and Purdue going undefeated for the purposes of the point.

farris said...

I still don't understand why Jim Boy isn't willing to simply let this be regional. NOBODY gives a fuck in Oregon what happens in Women's Baskeball between Minnesota and Illinois. I'd totally be willing to shell out $2.95 more a month just to get this on my TV so that I could watch more Big 10 games, but I don't want to force Pheonix to do the same thing...

Bret said...

@ wats: While the network may show football and basketball, I doubt that it will be showing any hockey, as hockey isn't a Big 10 sport; all of the teams in the Big 10 (that play hockey) are either in the WCHA or the CCHA. As for why the network won't show any big games, ABC gets first pick of everything, so I have to think most marquee matchups are going to be there, rather than on some dumb regional cable network.