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B1G 2016, The Future: Why the Big Ten is Not Going to Expand

A look at why it makes no sense that the Big Ten will expand anywhere in the near future

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

So this may come off as pretty rich from the writer who is here because the Big Ten expanded, but I don't believe the Big Ten is going to expand anytime soon.  Graham took a look the other day along with various other writers as to why the Big Ten will be looking to expand in the near future.  I don't think that's the case.

The Big Ten has already expanded (a few times) to reach 14 teams, that much we all know.  The original Big Ten fans don't really take kindly to more expansion and they're probably right.  Jim Delany is a smart man, that much we can all agree on.  He expanded the Big Ten to include the Maryland Terrapins and Rutgers Scarlet Knights two years ago in part to increase the TV demand of the Big Ten Network.  That's a win-win for everyone involved since the windfall is directly to all schools.  He also did this to increase the potential to be received on the rengotiation of the TV rights deal that is currently about to expire.

So, given that Jim Delany is a genius with putting the Big Ten in the right place to maximize the money that it can make and therefore how much they can distribute to member schools, why would he expand after renegotiating the TV rights?  You could point to it expanding the Big Ten Network, if he chooses to expand outside of the current footprint, but outside of pulling UConn in this doesn't seem likely.  The current "menu" of schools that the Big Ten could pursue are either already within the BTN footprint and therefore does not expand TV sets or a majority members of the ACC/Big 12, which all schools have signed a grant of rights clause that forfeits over any TV revenue money that they earn through 2027.  That throws out Big 12 and ACC schools unless they are willing to take it to court.  I don't see that going over well since they all signed it, so I'm going to take a not so far fetched assumption that further poaching of those two is out.

Who does that leave? Missouri? Notre Dame? UConn? Missouri already is a part of the SEC, who is the only conference that is competing with the Big Ten for revenues, so there isn't much incentive for them to move.  Notre Dame traditionalists refuse to go all in on a conference and attempt to maintain their Independent status for as long as possible, so until they are gone I don't see Notre Dame fully joining any one conference.  They are a part of the ACC for all non-revenue sports except for Hockey, for which they are a part of the Big Ten.  UConn would bring more northeast TV sets, but you need to find a pairing for them to join with and their sports programs outside of women's basketball aren't doing so hot.  That didn't stop MD or Rutgers, but it's a consideration.

In short, there is no financial incentive for the Big Ten to expand at this point in time.  You can't poach an ACC or Big 12 school due to the grant of rights issue that would need to be resolved and that leaves slim pickings otherwise.  One can never count on Notre Dame to actually join a conference and then that means we are poaching non Power 5 schools to join if we are staying in the same geographical footprint.  Sorry expansion supporters, but it isn't happening with the TV rights deal almost finalized.