When I wrote the first article I promised we'd return to the formula to explore how expansion candidates compare to the current conference roster. It's time to do just that. Here is a quantitative look at the eight most popular expansion candidates, as seen through the eyes of a university president. Should the Big Ten go to 12, 14, or even 16 teams? Read on.
Category 1: Revenue
The way I see it, the two factors that most directly affect a conference's balance sheet are 1. Athletic Department total revenues (as determined by the Orlando Sentinel's 2007-08 survey), and 2. Total league attendance (as determined by the NCAA in 2009). I've set up this category so that total revenues comprise 75% of the ranking composite, while attendance makes up the other 25%. Here's how the nine top expansion candidates stack up:
Here I'm looking for native television audience, so I've taken the population of the state the school is located in (as determined by the 2009 estimates of the U.S. Census Bureau), and weighed it against the size of the nearest metropolitian area (as measured by this list of the most populus incorporated areas in the United States). Both factors are considered equally at this step in the analysis.
|Rank||Program||State Population||Metro Population|
|4||Syracuse||19,541,453||&0000000000206886.0000j 2 2w22206,886|
Category 3: Competitiveness
To determine a program's historical competitiveness, I've used ESPN's Prestige Rankings.
Again, I've used U.S News and World Report's Best Colleges rankings.
It's finally time to look at the candidate rankings, as determined by weighing all four categories equally and averaging each school's rank. In reverse order:
8. The University of Missouri (6.75 Average)
7. The University of Kansas (6.00 Average)
6. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (5.5 Average)
5. Syracuse University (5.25 Average)
4. University of Pittsburgh (5 Average)
3. University of Nebraska (4.75 Average)
2. Texas A&M University (3.5 Average)
T-1. University of Notre Dame (1.75 Average)
T-1. University of Texas (1.75 Average)
If you're anything like me, you're shocked to see Texas A&M as high as it is on the list. Don't get me wrong, the only way the Aggies get an offer to join the Big Ten is if it's in tandem with Texas. But the truth is Mike Sherman's team isn't as far back as you might imagine. Even if we remove Category 2 and take away Texas' sweeping statewide population, the Aggies still average a 4.33, which is good enough to keep them in the Top 3. That means you can officially stop comparing the Texas/Texas A&M compromise to the Keenan Allen/Zach Maynard situation.
On the other hand, I'm surprised to see Missouri in dead last place. After all, the Tigers have generated an extraordinary amount of attention in expansion circles. But despite the complimentary geographic cohesion, Mizzou has the least to offer the conference of any popular candidate.
What does all this mean? Well, on paper, it means that Jim Delaney's pitch to the COP/C should be as follows:
If the Big Ten decides to add only one team, it's Texas, Notre Dame, or bust. The difference between these two programs and the rest of the pack is dramatic. While it's possible that the conference could take only a Nebraska, or Pittsburgh and still realize a positive gain, neither has near the cachet of the Longhorns and the Irish.
Although Tony Barnhart of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says a fourteen team Big Ten is the least likely of all scenarios, if the league chooses to add three teams, it should consider the following strategies in order:
1. Notre Dame, Texas, Texas A&M
2. Notre Dame, Nebraska, Pittsburgh
3. Notre Dame, Nebraska, Syracuse
4. Texas, Texas A&M, Nebraska
If a superconference is in our future, we can make the most waves by offering: Texas, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Pittsburgh. If the Longhorns and the Aggies stay put, the Big Ten should go for:
1. Notre Dame, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Rutgers
Then again, my gut tells me that the following scenario might be in play:
2. Notre Dame, Syracuse, Rutgers, Kansas, and Missouri
Are you noticing a pattern? Expansion in any form must include either Texas or Notre Dame. Drop either of these two mainstays and we're in the bottom half of the candidate pool pretty quickly.