It all started when the Big 10 Conference (which actually has 11 teams) signed the most lucrative television contract in the history of the sport. Part of that contract calls for the creation of the Big 10 Network, a cable/satellite station devoted to coverage of the 11 schools’ sports programs.
According to the contract, the Big 10 will receive 40 cents for every person who subscribes to the Big 10 Network, except in state where there is a conference school. In those states, the conference would receive 70 cents for each subscriber.
Talk immediately began about expanding the conference. Already officials were considering adding one team to the conference, making the total 12.
With 12 teams, the Big 10 would be able to have an end-of-season conference championship game, much like the Atlantic Coast, Southeastern and Big 12 conferences already do.
A championship game could help the conference gain more respect in the national polls. But mainly, a championship game helps a conference pull in much money.
With the news of the Big 10 television contract, ideas for expansion focused not on one team but five. Many speculated the Big 10 would try to lure schools from other conferences (Nebraska, Missouri, Texas) in order to expand its national market, and give the conference more money from its television contract. Rutgers from the Big East became a rumored prospect because it would deliver the New York City to the conference market.
With these rumors flooding the newspapers and radio shows, officials from the ACC, SEC, Big East and Big 12 became nervous. The idea seemed to be, “Get on board now, or see your conference disappear.”
So talk began about adding four teams to each conference. Some ideas had ACC teams going to the ACC (Clemson, North Carolina and Virginia Tech most often mentioned). Some ideas had SEC teams going to the ACC (Kentucky and Vanderbilt most often mentioned).
Other ideas had the conferences raiding the Big East (Syracuse and South Florida most often mentioned) or the Big 12 (Texas, Texas A&M and Kansas mentioned).
Reports say that conference are scared that if they do not do something to secure their teams, they will leave for greener pastures, only to be replaced by what is commonly known as “directional school,” such as Southwest Louisiana, Central Florida and Western Kentucky.
Fans seem to be divided on this issue. While many would love to see Alabama face Texas every year in the regular season, they don’t want to give up Alabama-Florida. Traditional regional rivalries by be left by the wayside to make room for new rivalries based more on television ratings than the passions of the fans in the stadium.
So what do you think? Should the ACC and SEC expand to 16 teams? Go to www.theeasleyprogress.com and cast your vote.
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