Rumors and reports are flying around the country at inhumane pace today. It kicked off yesterday when the PAC 10’s intentions to eat the Big 12 made it’s way out from behind closed doors and wound up on the internet. Once something takes root on the internet it is there for good. The responses both from the Big 12 and from the PAC 10 are attempts to throw water on a blazing inferno, with varying degrees of success. I feel pretty safe in saying that the invitations to Colorado, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Texas are in the mail. Whether or not they all go is still up in the air. As Doc Saturday pointed out Texas is the lynch pin of any bid to eat the Big 12 by any conference. So while in invitation will be there, its hard to see if Texas would go through with it. Texas controls the Big 12 pretty handily, they have the conferences TV contracts set up perfectly for them. Any deal would have to be better than the system that built for themselves. But if that happens, and Texas goes I would expect the rest of them to go. The question is what do the other conferences do and how does this affect UC?
As for what happens I would anticipate that the SEC, ACC and Big 10 will all go to 14 at the very least. 16 teams remains a very strong option for consideration. In fact I would suspect that the Big 10 and the SEC will go to 16 straightaway. I am not going to go into a great deal of depth, or attempt to demonstrate an understanding of the mechanics of it. But my basic idea of how this will go is thus. The Big 10 will consume most of the remainder of the Big 12 and probably 1, maybe 2 of the schools from the Big East. The SEC will then take out their frustration and anger and add four teams which they will pluck from the ACC in all likely hood. The ACC in a bid to survive as a football conference would then eat either the entirety or the majority of what was once the Big East. If the PAC 10 is successful with their Napoleonic ambitions towards the Big 12 I think that the end result for UC will be moving to the ACC.
Each network wants to have a network that generates money for their schools the way the Big 10 Network does for theirs. The key for launching a network like that is to have a direct tie to the largest television markets in the country. The Big 10 has access to 7 of the top 25 markets and has created a demand for their product in those markets which has made their network a success. I think that this is ultimately going to be the key piece of UC’s foundation to whether the coming storm. Cincinnati is the 33rd largest market in the country and UC has a proven and demonstrated history for drawing ratings. The Big 10 claims Cincinnati as its market, but the fact is that UC runs this TV market. There are a lot of alumnus and fans of other universities in this city, but UC out numbers them handily, and they have backed that up in ways that researchers can measure which is the key.