I hate to be one of those dreaded baby-boomers who goes around quoting Bruce Springsteen lyrics, but I can’t get this one out of my head today:
Poor man wanna be rich,
rich man wanna be king
And a king ain’t satisfied
till he rules everything
Billionaires spend tens of millions to try to prop up the political candidates they think will help make them even more money. Actors and athletes who should already be financially set for several lifetimes still pitch products they would never dream of using.
You can never have enough money, I guess. Or power.
The Big Ten Conference, despite all of Commissioner Jim Delany’s previous claims of it being comfortable with 12 members, is about to get more bloated and less recognizable with the additions of the University of Maryland and Rutgers University.
Delany will say all the right things about what the excellence of the academics at Rutgers and Maryland, and all the fine qualities those institutions bring to his conference of excellent institutions.
It’s true, and it’s irrelevant. This is about population and television sets, only. This is about branding and branching out to be as super a superpower as the league can be.
It’s a total money and power grab, or at least that’s the goal. It’s about trying to jam the Big Ten Network onto as many cable television systems in New York/New Jersey/Maryland/Washington, D.C. It’s about trying to make the Big Ten relevant to the television markets of New York City/Newark, Washington and Baltimore. It’s about trying to make the Big Ten even more appealing to ABC/ESPN when its Big Ten media rights expire in 2016.
It’s about getting bigger and making almost everything else in college sports around it seem smaller in comparison.
It’s another king who ain’t satisfied till he rules everything.
This has all been coming down the road for some time now, and it won’t stop until the superpowers have left everyone else in marginalized rubble. The Big East is in shards. If conferences as established as the ACC and Big 12 could get raided by the Big Ten and the SEC, no one else ever had a chance.
Those who survive have a chance of operating athletic departments that don’t lose money. Sunday night on “60 Minutes,” Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon noted just 22 out of 125 major-college programs are either breaking even or making a profit.
“The business model of big-time college athletics is primarily broken,” Brandon said.
The University of Iowa is one of those few profit-centers, but it’s a tough go every year. It has to keep those donors donating, and keep those football season tickets selling. Getting more potential TV money sure looks good in Iowa City right about now.
Even though the Big Ten Network pie will be cut into two more slices, it will be done with Delany convincing the current members that this will only make for more long-term riches. He’s probably right. The guy always uses six syllables when two will do and can’t name his league’s football divisions without looking pompous, but he understands economics and has clear eyes when it comes to the future.
Financially, Maryland and Rutgers may help Iowa economically. But there are other prices to pay.
The Big Ten as its fans once knew and loved it is won’t be the same. In fact, it will be worse. Iowa, for instance, has already felt isolated from rivals with whom it shares a century of history.
Delany has suggested the league will go to a 9-game conference football schedule. Let’s hope it does. Iowa should be playing Wisconsin every year. It shouldn’t play Maryland and Rutgers as often as it faces the Badgers.
Iowa is happy to have the security of the league’s big tent, and that tent just got a lot bigger. I said bigger, not better.