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Last Call Drinks Rye Whiskey, Puts the Finishing Touches on the Big Ten Conference Platform

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In the two days since I've taken over as Commissioner, I've received a steady stream of feedback, from the good:

"All Hail Emperor LB!  May his reign be as glorious as his plans are wise."

To the bemused:

"Some older folk might refer to that as heresy."

To the bad:

"Bye, Bye, Baldie? It's only a matter of time until you get sued for defamation."

Hey, it's the truth, isn't it?  Jim Delany is bald.  Lane Kiffin is dumb.  And I'm in charge.

So far my platform for change has four planks: Weekly Night Games, Stadium Microbrews, BCS Conference Challenges, and a Twelfth TeamIn the spirit of the conquistador, it's time to build the ship.  Here are my final innovations.

Esq_bullet_medium The Fifth Plank: Soldier Bowl.  As head honcho, I'll throw my weight around to encourage the adoption of a major New Years bowl game in the Northwestern Territory.  The site: Chicago's Soldier Field.

The Soldier Bowl would replace the Outback Bowl as the Conference's bronze reward.  To ensure comity with other major bowls, it would pit the No. 3 Big Ten team against a similarly situated rotating opponent from a melange of warm-weather conferences.  To that end:

2009: No. 3 Big Ten v. No. 3 SEC

2010: No. 3 Big Ten v. No. 3 Big Twelve

2011: No. 3 Big Ten v. No. 3 Pac 10

2012: No. 3 Big Ten v. No. 3 ACC

The setup makes sense if we follow Bama's tripartite formula for bowl success, money, attendance, and ratings.

As a major urban center Chicago boasts world class amenities: dining, accommodations, and recreational gravitas.  Sophisticated travelers, interested in ringing in the New Years in a world class forum, could follow their football, while at the same time enjoying a host of cultural activities for their entire family.

Chicago is within a 500 mile radius from every school in the Big Ten (okay, State College, PA is technically 513 miles away), with the great majority of campuses within 350 miles.  That reduces the burden of both land and air travel. 

At the same time, the Windy City has the national appeal to bring fair-weather fans from single-dimensional climates like California, Arizona, Texas, New Orleans, Florida, and South Carolina North for the holidays.  Every warm-weather fan who watches Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life over Christmas break will dream of an escape to a "winter wonderland."

We'll give it to 'em, in more ways than one.

The Big Ten Network could enjoy exclusive coverage rights within the Midwest, justifying a large-scale payout, and satisfying the money component.

Finally, on the ratings end of the scale, it's well-known that mid-major contests have terrific appeal. 

As The Birmingham News observes, "For the second straight year, the Capital One Bowl produced a higher rating than the Orange Bowl."  This despite competing "against the Gator and Outback during its New Year's Day time slot, while the Orange had no competition from bowls later that night."

Imagine the pomp and circumstance surrounding a wilderness adventure that forces soft-skinned Southern athletes to brave the lake-effect in December...

Esq_bullet_medium The Sixth Plank: Eight Team Playoff.  Like you didn't see this one coming.  In my first year as Commissioner I will vigorously advocate the remedial adoption of an 8-team FBS playoff for the determination of a national champion.

I'll leave the details up to you.

More self-effulgence when Last Call returns to the barstool...