1) The Wire — Baltimore was the setting for HBO’s critically acclaimed series about crime and corruption in the city. The character were rich, complex and developed. “Rich” begins to describe Maryland’s move this week to the Big Ten. It’s an “in” to eastern cable markets that will drive more revenue for the Big Ten through the Big Ten Network, which is arguably commissioner Jim Delany’s master work. Maryland was a charter member of the ACC dating back to 1953, when not everyone had TVs. In 2013, TV matters. Maryland football is a fixer upper. Basketball is in better shape with coach Mark Turgeon pushing the buttons. Maryland also is the flagship for Under Armour, the latest blingy apparel company. Is this perhaps the Big Ten’s answer to Oregon? At least style-wise?
2) The Sopranos — Gritty New Jersey was the setting for the wildly popular HBO series about an Italian mob boss on Prozac. It’d be a stretch to tie Prozac to this, but Rutgers, of less gritty N.J., sits in the nation’s largest media market and is a member of the American Association of Universities, a prestigious academic consortium. I wondered about facilities, specifically football stadium. Rutgers has pumped some cash, $102 million in ’09, into High Point Solutions Stadium. Yes, High Point Solutions Stadium. That’s a naming rights thing, bought by the N.J., supplier of online server and router hardware in June 2011. It’s a $6.5 million deal. That makes two Big Ten football stadiums with naming deals, joining Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. It’s a stark contrast to Michigan Stadium, which seats 109,901 and has no visible advertising inside the bowl, where the football is.
3) The Waltons and The Dukes of Hazzard – It doesn’t feel like Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is finished here. The question is which schools become Nos. 15 and 16? It if happens, it could happen quickly. The Big Ten’s TV deal with ABC/ESPN expires in 2016-17 and is currently worth $100 million. If Delany can walk into the negotiations and throw down some massive demographics, this next deal is going to be eleventy-billion-ish. Seriously, lots and lots of money. A 16-team Big Ten would have a higher gross national product than Nova Scotia. These schools have to be in the AAU. Academics are driving this as much as athletics. The only school worth mentioning from the west is Kansas, but most alternatives point eastward. Can Delany lure North Carolina, his alma mater, out of the ACC? Will media market/demographics drive 15 and 16? It certainly drove 13 and 14, and so Georgia Tech (The Dukes of Hazzard) and Virginia (The Waltons) make a lot of sense. AAU, Atlanta and the entirety of D.C. metro.
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