We hear it all the time. The same BS, boilerplate line every time conference re-alignment happens.
“This is great for the competitiveness of the league.”
“We look forward to welcoming these teams and elevating our conference to new heights.” Or whatever the new phrasing is.
With Thursday’s announcement that USC and UCLA are on the verge of joining the league and leaving the Pac-12, the Big Ten has ruined that guise of “competitiveness” when adding new teams. It’s about money. Money rules the world.
I’m not exactly reporting breaking news there, but let’s call a spade a spade, can we? The Big Ten will not only have the TV markets all throughout the Midwest and New York like they have now, but they will add Los Angeles. The money grab this will bring for the league is insane, and you must applaud them for even going after it.
According to Adam Rittenberg who’s been covering the Big Ten for years, USC and UCLA originally reached out and it was hard for the league to say no, and how can it not be? Jon Wilner, who originally broke the news and apparently is a big Pac-12 reporter, says the additions will bring over $100M in revenue to the league. Rittenberg has also implicated that The B1G wants Notre Dame, and has for a while, which would bring in even more. It’s hard to not understand this move from a business side, and that’s fine. At the end of the day, we’re just fans, and sports are still a business.
Geography? That’s gone, and it was shot a long time ago once Penn State joined back in the 90s. I can’t imagine any fan is really gearing up to watch Rutgers and USC kick off at 11 P.M. Eastern Time from the Coliseum in LA, but hey the money. I’m interested to see how all these teams do traveling through different time zones throughout the course of an entire sports season. I can’t imagine they’ll hold up too well by the end of the season, that’s a lot of travel. I’m also interested to see how the Trojans and Bruins hold up playing in a snowstorm in Ann Arbor in late November or playing a baseball series in Lincoln in late March/early April.
How does this effect Nebraska? Well, if you want my two cents – you probably don’t, I just type words on a page and I’m just a cynical fan but you’ll get it anyway – I think Nebraska sports in terms of competitiveness, are either dead, or the hill to climb just got a lot more steeper. The football team can barely beat anybody in the league now, and it’s supposed to beat two teams in a state where athletes grow on trees, one of them coached by Lincoln Riley? Right. Husker Hoops? Well, ya know, that’s that. Husker baseball should still be okay in the long run, UCLA is the only good baseball program coming over, and they’ll have to follow the B1G scholarship rules for baseball which is only about 11 scholarships or so? Something like that, don’t quote me, it’s not a lot. I’m not up on the Pac-12 baseball scholarship rules.
The Big Ten may not be done either. Let’s say, Notre Dame ends up joining the league, along with some other Pac-12 schools? Modern day Nebraska is supposed to compete with modern day Notre Dame and maybe more? I think recruiting will get better just given the fact that Nebraska will now have the California pipeline open, and all those parents can still see their kids play back home, and not to mention NIL incomes should be through the roof now. You’re dreaming if you think parents don’t want to watch their kids play football even at this level. Anyway, CALIBRASKA IS BACK BABY!
Also, can we acknowledge how hilarious it is that Lincoln Riley bolted for an easier conference and is now being thrust right back into a tough one, and one that’s probably going to get tougher when all is said and done?
Overall, I’m curious to see how this works. Are divisions going to be eliminated, eliminate non-conference and just play everybody? Is the league going to expand to 20 teams and divide it up that way? If the B1G does increase to 20 teams, is it going to be two divisions of 10, four five-team pods with rotating crossovers to keep geography and travel still a little manageable? I’m not sure Kevin Warren cares at this point as he is bathing in a money bathtub, but one thing is for sure – the road back to even a little bit of relevancy for Nebraska just got a lot tougher. Do you think the Big 12 will take us back? I will still gladly lead that train. I don’t care about the money, it’s not mine. I want to win games again.