B1G Realignment: What Did We Win?

By Kyle Rowland on April 23, 2013 at 9:30a

Our long national nightmare may finally be over. And we have the ACC, the unlikeliest of all organizations to thank.

For three years, teams have crisscrossed the nation, swapping conferences like t-shirts and jeans. Some joined leagues only to never even play one game in their new landing spot. Above all, traditions vanished and fans were marginalized all in the name of the almighty dollar.

But what seemed like a never-ending journey that would send college football into oblivion is nearing its final hour. On Monday, the ACC announced a landmark media rights deal that all 15 member schools – yes, the ACC now has 15 teams – are set to agree on.

The Grant of Rights will prevent fellow conferences from pilfering ACC schools because, in essence, it gives a team no value if it leaves. If a school decides to go elsewhere, it relinquishes its media rights. As we know, that is the No. 1 moneymaker in college athletics.

The deal coincides with the ACC’s current TV deal with ESPN, which expires after the 2026-27 season. What was once a $17 million deal for each school could rise to more than $20 million due to Notre Dame’s inclusion and the impending ACC Network.

In theory, an ACC member could still abandon the league. The costs, though, would be astronomical, making a measly exit fee seem like pocket change. All told, it could be a multi-hundred million-dollar mistake. 

Recent rumors have centered on Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Georgia Tech all being targeted by the Big Ten. With the ACC now being protected, significant moves by the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC are likely done.

Since the feeding frenzy began in the summer of 2010, there has been virtually non-stop speculation about which team would the next to leap from one major conference to another. Now comes the first agreement to forcefully put the speculation on the backburner – at least for the next 15 years.

“This announcement further highlights the continued solidarity and commitment by our member institutions,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “The Council of Presidents has shown tremendous leadership in insuring the ACC is extremely well positioned with unlimited potential.”

The Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 have similar deals in place. If the Big Ten wants to expand further to 16 teams, the American Athletic Conference – formerly the Big East – is likely to be the source.

Jim Delany is holding pocket deuces."The ACC did what?"

Two members of the new league that attract most of the gossip are Connecticut and Cincinnati. But neither is likely to be the 15th and 16th schools for the Big Ten, and the Big 12 has indicated it is happy with 10 teams. UConn and Cincinnati have not hidden their desire to be welcomed into the ACC, but the feeling does not appear to be mutual. The Bearcats went as far as to send a Christmas card to ACC headquarters. All they got in return was coal in their stocking.

Part of the ACC’s deal includes the forfeiture of revenue for all home games, even after a team leaves the conference. This is the second stiff penalty the conference has put in place in the past year. A $20 million exit fee was increased substantially to $50 million, though it didn’t stop Maryland from joining the mass exodus and accept an invitation from the Big Ten.

Maryland is now in the midst of a lawsuit with the ACC regarding the exit fee. Not surprisingly, the Terrapins don’t believe they should have to pay the full $50 million, while the conference office thinks otherwise.

So three years hence who, if anyone, are the winners? Athletic department coffers are certainly more full, and fledgling programs at Maryland, Rutgers, Missouri and Louisville have unquestionably reaped the rewards. It has all been at the expense of fans and 100 years of tradition.

With the Big Ten reportedly shedding the Leaders and Legends Divisions for East and West, Ohio State will play Maryland and Rutgers every season. The Buckeyes will have prolonged hiatuses from the likes of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. Think about that long and hard. Teams that Ohio State has played for the better part of a century will only venture to Ohio Stadium once or twice a decade.

Just because there’s money to be made doesn’t mean you have to chase it, especially when the cons far outweigh the pros. It’s not as if the Big Ten or its member schools are hurting for an influx of cash. Keep in mind each school receives about $25 million alone from the Big Ten Network. 

The addition of Nebraska was tolerable. The Cornhuskers have a rich football history, classic stadium, rabid fan base and are located in a cosmopolitan city. Nebraska also brought along several high-profile non-revenue sports, including women’s basketball.

Fans of Big Ten schools were excited to play the Cornhuskers and travel to Lincoln. A lengthy chapter of college football history books has been written there. The same can be said for Piscataway, N.J., which played host to the first college football game ever, in 1869 during the Grant Administration.

But the excitement among Big Ten fans, save for getting to travel to Washington and New York, is nearly nonexistent when the addition of Maryland and Rutgers is discussed. The schools bring little to the conference, other than the ability to ink a $150 million TV deal.

Even Maryland basketball, the school’s flagship program, has struggled most of the past decade, dating to a national championship in 2002. Rutgers’ football has seen a resurgence, but the Scarlet Knights are a non-factor in the national title picture.

Not to mention, the 18-game conference basketball schedule just become more clustered with a 14-team conference.

Oh, how could I forget? The Big Ten Network gains excellent programming. Who’s up for Big Ten Icons: Juan Dixon?

Get your popcorn ready.


Comments Show All Comments

kdizzleduzit's picture

As much as I  love to see the Big Ten thrive with additions of new schools, you are absolutely right. The addition of Maryland and Rutgers brings nothing to the table for us college football/basketball fans. I now get to watch OSU play Maryland one more Saturday per year than I prefer

CC's picture

I'm in the minority but I love playing MD and RU.  I live in MD and work in NJ.  I will be at either when the Bucks come to town.

German Buckeye's picture

Really? A down vote? 

dan_isaacs's picture

I won't have to drive as far to see a game.  And for that, I am happy.

Dan Isaacs

BucksfanXC's picture

I don't think this Grant of Rights deal is as big of a roadblock as people think. Nothing is stopping the B1G from saying, "well since you can't have media rights, we'll just give you $10million a year until you can." The B1G has the money to do this, of course from the media rights they have, but it's a round about way of still giving new teams media money.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

cplunk's picture

You are absolutely right- it is a roadblock, not an end-of-the-road marker.
Contracts are all capable of being renegotiated as the views of various parties change. In no way does the ACC schools signing a GOR indicate that any school leaving will do so without it's media rights- it simply indicates that the ACC INTENDS that any school leaving will do without its media rights AT THIS POINT IN TIME.
The game now becomes more complicated for certain. Previously all the B1G had to do was woe individual schools. Now the B1G, if still interested in expansion, has to woo a sufficient number of ACC schools to represent a majority within the conference that can enact new agreements superseding the GOR. 
Effectively this means that any future poaching of the ACC is likely to be with the cooperation of poaching from the SEC and/or B12. If the B1G convinced four schools to want to move (ND, FSU, UVA and Ga Tech for argument's sake) and the SEC convinced four schools to move (NC State, VA Tech, UNC and Duke for argument's sake) then the GOR will be history shortly therafter as those eight simply manhandle through new agreements within the ACC, then move.
Interestingly, I think this actually makes a B1G play for Vanderbilt and Missouri much more of a possibility. I think the B1G and SEC now have a choice to make- do they work together to pilfer the ACC, remain static as they are, or nibble around the edges of each other's territory  by going after one another?

DonkeyPunchAnnArbor's picture

I think the idea is that teams are no longer appealing to the B1G, not that they can't afford to leave.  Sure we could maybe bring GT on board, and pay their $10M a year they lose from TV revenue.  But I believe the rights to broadcasting their home games would remain with the ACC.  Therefore, those games would never be on TV, thus not increasing the TV market of the B1G, and removing any value they would have had to the B1G until 2028 after their deal with ESPN ends.

"Michigan and "huge mistake" are synonymous"
-Mark Titus

cplunk's picture

Nah, their rights only remain with the ACC IF the GOR stands. There are numerous ways around it, and it is unclear if it would hold up in court.
My point is just that a GOR is not anywhere near as ironclad as people think. It's just a contract; which is where legal questions begin, not where they end.

Buckeyeneer's picture

I said this on a post yesterday, but the real concern is that they signed the deal at all. If they were willing to sign it when all they had to do was wait for the MD/ACC lawsuit to get settled and then punch their ticket on the B1G/SEC money train, doesn't seem like they are interested in leaving very much.
I mean, why make it harder on yourself to leave?

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

CC's picture

If the Big 12 has a similar deal in place how did exodus happen?  Pre-deal?

popeurban's picture

Yes, the exodus was pre-deal.

GOSUBUcks's picture

I think people will learn to like the conference layout the way it is now. Things change and it doesn't do much to look at the negatives. To me, we are bringing in two schools with just under 40,000 students, academic standards mirroring most of the other BIG schools and the large fanbases that follow. Athletically they may struggle at first to adjust but I bet I don't see people showing any regret about this move in 5 years.

AJW_16's picture

Sorry to say that I don't share your optimism. The only way I was going to be excited about potential B1G expansion was with the addition of a name-brand school (like ND). There seems to be a lot of hope surrounding Rutgers, who has largely failed to distinguish themselves in the mediocre Big East. Maryland is very meh. I don't know; give me playing Wisconsin and other traditional Big10 schools.

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

Riggins's picture

The Buckeyes will have prolonged hiatuses from the likes of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.

With 9 conference games, you'll play 6 in division and 3 from the other division. That means you'll face teams from the other side on average every other year.  There's no ironclad rule that says you have to play a home-and-home series in back-to-back years for each opponent.
So, let's say Ohio State plays the following schedule outside of their division.
2014: @Wisconsin, vs Iowa, @Illinois
2015: vs Nebraska, vs Northwestern, @Minnesota
2016: @Purdue, (You've now played through the entire West division.  Then it resets with opposite venues) vs Wisconsin, @Iowa
2017: vs Illinois, @Nebraska, @Northwestern (Get the picture?)
So for a 2014 freshman recruit, by the time he plays his last game as a senior in 2017 (barring redshirt), the only possible combination that he hasn't been a witness to is a home game vs Minnesota.  Not so bad.

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

And Purdue. 

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

Riggins's picture

Can you blame me for forgetting the school from West Lafayette?

Deshaun's picture

"There's no ironclad rule that says you have to play a home-and-home series in back-to-back years for each opponent."

This line is dead on. It would be a mistake to schedule back-to-back crossover series. A conference where teams go 4 consecutive seasons without playing fall into the trap of creating two separate divisions who happen to come together for a conference championship rather than a truly unified conference. There is a way to rotate crossover matchups such that no matchup is absent more than 2 consecutive seasons and every team will play at every stadium at least once every 6 years. That takes into account the protected Indiana-Purdue crossover.

PlanningBuck12's picture

This really would make more sense I feel. Besides keeping certain rivalries intact each year this makes sense. I will be sad to see the IlliBuck Trophy be something of once every so many years. But it could be one of those crossover games that is kept each year. Similar to the Purdue- IU game. Just a thought. But the way you broke it down was great. 


"Anything easy ain't worth a damn" - Woody Hayes

SilverBulletNYC's picture

I love that we got Rutgers and Maryland...but I live in NYC so I'm biased. I'm fine with rarely playing Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. I do hope, however, that we play Wisconsin on a yearly basis.

The South will NOT rise again!

Riggins's picture

I think you have to include Penn State and Nebraska in the "realignment profile".  Most conferences 20 years ago had a max of 10 members. The SEC has went from 10 to 14 with South Carolina, Arkansas, Texas A&M, and Missouri.  South Carolina was dog crap 20 years ago and look at them now.  I don't see any reason why Rutgers or Maryland couldn't make a similar jump.  I think the B1G's 4 expansion teams can stack up very well against the SEC's 4 over the next 20 years. The Pac 8 has expanded to the Pac 12 with Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah. That's a much bigger risk than what the B1G has done.
I also think Rutgers will be fielding a competitive team within 5 years or so.  They'll have a much easier time convincing some of that in-state talent to stay home with the jump in conference profile.

Dougger's picture

I have to agree with the last point because I want to see more of this really badly:

Judge Ito pointing at the camera after a game winner, and the house we were at going pedal to the metal my freshman year... good times. Bring em back Rutgers!!

I like football

buckeyepastor's picture

I'm hopeful about the prospects of Rutgers joining.   When I lived on Long Island, local soccer and lacrosse was a bigger deal than college football.  It's possible that the reputation and gravitas of OSU and TTUN playing out that way will get that area paying attention to college football.   I'm skeptical, but if it happens, would be a really big deal.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

Bucksfan's picture

I just don't see how this is legally viable at all.  They're essentially saying that a school forfeits the rights to its likeness if it changes conferences, even if that university's original conference is a sinking ship.  It is preventing universities from looking out for their own interests, which often change with time and are legally justified.  I do not believe the states in which these universities reside have approved that their flagship universities be allowed to forfeit their rights away to an interstate entity, particularly with the public schools.  Overall, this is a preposterous notion and it's not going to hold up.

cplunk's picture

I suspect it won't hold up in court.
It is similar to an employee signing an agreement upon being hired that s/he won't go work for a competitor in the industry for a given number of years after leaving the company. These are signed all the time, but they almost never hold up in court.

Buckeyeneer's picture

True, but the problem is is that the B1G has one already so by proving that another conference's GOR is worthless, they in effect make their own worthless.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

cronimi's picture

Actually, employment-based non-competes are routinely upheld by the courts (outside of California), so long as the non-compete is reasonable as to geography, duration and scope. I don't think a GOR is analogous to a non-compete, but enforceable non-competes are signed and enforced every day (again, outside of California, where they are unenforceable regardless of the reasonableness of their terms).

cplunk's picture

Ah, my experience with employment non-competes is mostly California. Perhaps a bad comparison on my part.

4thandinches's picture

It just amazes me how quick teams like FSU, Miami, etc. were so quick to sign this deal. Do they believe the ACC is that strong and has a definite future? 

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 


I'm sure they have faith the new ACC Network is going to be a huge financial windfall for them all. They also likely see this as the one thing that'll save the ACC or at least stop the bleeding. It was clearly evident the B1G and SEC were going to try to rip them apart.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

GOSUBUcks's picture

I don't see the fanbases of these schools allowing this network to be successful. I'm calling it a bust

Doc's picture

Maryland and Rutgers do nothing for me.  Brasky was at least a good fit.  These two Melvins aren't moving the needle.  It is a little sad knowing Wisky, Iowa and even Illi won't be regular foes on the gridiron.  But the East coast dweebs will be.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

GOSUBUcks's picture

Everyone wants instant results from these moves. Sorry but you just won't get them from Rutgers and Maryland. In 5 years these schools will be fully integrated and all these conversations about it won't even be afterthoughts at that point.

PhillyBuckeye27's picture

I lived in Boston for 7 yrs and have been in Philly (or Filthy as some people rightfully call it) the last 6 and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the I-95 corridor from DC to Bawstan could CARE LESS about college sports.  This is a pro sports section of the world - and nothing is going to change that.  I would've preferred to play Iowa, Illinois and the other traditional teams then add MD or RU to the conference.
Of course I will get to see my Bucks play a lot more often but the thought of going to Piscattaway excites me nada.  I was at a MD fball game a couple yrs ago and there MAY have been 20K in the stands - and the majority were cheering Clemson. 

It will be interesting to see how this  all ends - but at a high level, the Big Ten (or whatever we call ourselves) got better at Mens Soccer and Lacrosse - and not much else......

Jack Fu's picture

Just from a scan of the thread, it appears that the only people commenting that they like the additions of Maryland and Rutgers are east-coast-based OSU fans who figure they will get to see the Bucks a little more often. I think it's safe to say that those fans, while certainly expressing a valid viewpoint, make up a pretty tiny percentage of OSU fans. Obviously, count me on the side of people who view playing traditional rivals like Iowa and Illinois less often, so that we can instead play Maryland and Freaking Rutgers, all so that the conference could gamble on the continued viability of bundled cable pricing, when each passing day brings both more outcry over how unfair that system is, as well as more alternatives to it ... let's just say I view it as a net negative. As MGoBlog said yesterday, the ad wizards who think this is a good idea also thought "'Leaders' and 'Legends'" was a good idea.

Buckeyeneer's picture

The only other good thing I see about this is that Jersey/MD/DC are good recruiting grounds and this poaching may have stopped the ACC from making a move on Penn State. If the ACC had succeeded in stealing a tent pole program like PSU away, suddenly the ACC looks pretty stable and a much better conference overall.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

PhillyBuckeye27's picture

You hit the nail on the head - getting MD and RU solidifies PSU staying in the league.  Funny thing is the MD kids would still rather go to PSU vs. playing at MD.....or is that sad?  Can't tell

PhillyBuckeye27's picture

I am excited to see our Bucks play (and frankly destroy) both RU and MD on an annual basis.  The simple fact that we are even putting MD or RU football in the same sentence as ANY Big Ten school is a joke.  Their football teams have traditionally been god awful and will continue to be so - but hey, I get to see two wins annually and will be able to sleep in my own bed for at least one of those weekends.
NJ may call itself the garden state but has anyone ever been to North Jersey?  MD actually could have a decent fball environment but PSU has made a living poaching kids from MD so that likely won't change (hell, we have gotten some really good ones from NJ in the past as well).....bottom line is money rules college fball and this is simply a money grab.  Both schools, while solid academically, bring little else to the table.  I will watch cause I love our Bucks but I really won't give a hoot about either MD or RU.....

Deshaun's picture

What we won is a matter of perspective based self-perception. Specifically, asking ourselves the question, "Who do we want the Big Ten to be?" I would like the Big Ten to be the dominant academic and athletic conference in the country. Despite Maryland's football struggles the past 2 seasons, this is an institution with academics comparable to OSU (25 graduate programs, over $400M annually in academic research, #58 rated school in US News, #28 ranked school in ARWU) and solid athletics (top 30 annually in Learfield Directors Cup, basketball in NCAA tournament 14 of past 20 seasons, and a decent football program which traditionally goes through cycles on the level of Colorado, Arizona State, and Oklahoma State). Maryland's football program has been ranked after 4 seasons since 2001, won at least 8 games 6 times from 2001-2010, and has a surprisingly strong recruiting base in DC/Baltimore/Northern Virginia. Maryland is a solid addition.

Rutgers is still an AAU member, but has a lower academic profile (#68 by US News, lower research spending than every Big Ten school but Iowa, and less prestigious graduate programs than every Big Ten school but Nebraska). Rutgers, unfortunately, also has one of the worst athletic programs in the country. The most telling stat to illuminate the difference between Rutgers and the Big Ten is the Learfield Directors Cup, where OSU scores a median 1,060.03 points over the past 4 seasons, followed by Penn State (973.40) and TTUN (970.63). Iowa is last in the Big Ten at 478.15, ranked #46 of all schools with FBS football. Rutgers scores 170.50 (ranked #80). That's not a typo. That's lower than Akron, Kent, Army, Hawaii, and Fresno State. Rutgers' Men's Basketball average RPI over the past decade is about #150, comparable to Penn State and has average gameday attendance of about 5,500. Rutgers also has one of the worst traditions in college football, similar to an Indiana. Sure, they've had a number of 8-9 win seasons against a schedule even Bill Snyder would laugh at. But, it still only has a 47.51% winning percentage in the BCS era, has only finished one season ranked since 1976, only marginally moves the needle in it's home state, and has only once even shared a conference title in a much weaker Big East.

Back to who we want to be. The Big Ten is currently one of the best academic conferences in the country. It is one of the best, but not necessarily THE best athletic conference in the country. Adding some combination of Virginia, North Carolina (both more attractive then Maryland or Rutgers), or Georgia Tech assures two things: 1) the Big Ten will be one of the last 4 power conferences standing, and 2) the Big Ten will never be the #1 conference. To me, unless a move is a step toward that end, why make it? The new ACC Grant of Rights does nothing to impact the Big Ten's ability to be the dominant academic and athletic conference in the country.

Hovenaut's picture

The chess game continues.

I'm stoked at the Buckeyes coming to MD, where I now live. Adding the Terps and Rutgers were solid adds to media solidification, nothing more.

P-Rickles's picture

I don't mean to be a party pooper, but that NC by Maryland, along with the Buckeyes MNC in football, are the B1G's most recent championships in the respective sports...

Brandt can't watch, though, or he has to pay $100.

d1145fresh's picture

I think the only thing that matters is success. If Rutgers can return to a top-20 team year in and year out in football and Maryland can do the same in basketball then it is a good investment. They are going to bring larger markets to an area of the country that really doesn't have a strong college presence. I know the area is strong sports areas for pro teams but if you can make college football Saturday a big thing in Philly, D.C., New York etc. then it will be a big win. However, the teams have to be good in order for that to happen. 

PhillyBuckeye27's picture

College football will never be big in DC, Philly or NY.  You can get front row seating in any bar in those towns on Saturday - Sundays, now thats a different matter. 
Oh wait, Philly's college fball team is Temple - HA HA HA HA HA!  Ever been to Temple?  Word to the wise, don't bother!

d1145fresh's picture

I agree that college football isn't big right now in those cities but my question is if it isn't big because they don't like it or because there aren't any good teams locally to follow? I am of the opinion that if you give a reason for a bunch of young professionals to go to a bar on a Saturday to drink and eat wings while watching a team they have some rooting interest in that it will be a success. Will those areas ever be as college football oriented as Columbus, probably not but I still think it could work out so long as the teams are relevant. 

thatlillefty's picture

"The Bearcats went as far as to send a Christmas card to ACC headquarters."
Reminds me of the drunk texts would I send me ex after midnight, lmao.

nickma71's picture

If they never played Rutgers or Maryland aside from a bad season bowl game, I am fine with that.

Buckeyeneer's picture

Here's hoping Under Armor makes Maryland cool ala Oregon. Perhaps if Chip Kelly fails in the NFL MD can scoop him up and he could build Oregon on the east coast.
I understand this is a reach.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

German Buckeye's picture

Jim Delany = Pointy Haired Boss from Dilbert. 

FLAMikey's picture

-Just curious....by what standard is Lincoln a "cosmopolitan city", Kyle?

cronimi's picture

I was going to post the same question. Lincoln = cosmopolitan?? Heck, I wouldn't consider Omaha to be cosmopolitan, and it's a much bigger city.

rdubs's picture

What is kind of funny about all the current outrage is that there has been quite a bit of shifting throughout time.  There are many PSU fans that still don't feel comfortable in the B1G and wanted out.  The Big XII was a very young conference even prior to the recent realignment.  FSU was independent not that long ago.  Realignment will always be with us.  In fact as resentment towards the NCAA grows I could see another shift that includes a new governing body.

airborne082385's picture

I don't understand the disdain for Maryland.  They have a National Championship in 2002 in Basketball and another final four in 2001.  Anyone else watch them this year they just missed out on the tourney and beat Duke twice.  Additionally they are on the rise recruiting wise with Turgeon in a super rich area of talent.  They are a powerhouse in Men's Lacrosse as well as a women's Natl title in 2006 in Basketball.  What does NW, Iowa, etc bring us in Basketball same argument.  As for Rutgers I got nothing.  

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

I'm going to keep an open mind on the Rutgers/Maryland add.  I knew right when it happened that the move was more for money and to open the conference up to huge markets.  I do see Rutgers with a good football potential over the next decade and Maryland with more of a basketball background, so we'll see how they fit in over the next few years.  Hopefully it works out and they do develop some good rivalries with other B1G members. 
Go Bucks!!

darbnurb's picture

We could poach from the MAC and still cause a few teams to sweat (I'm looking at you Indiana schools.  Michigan might object too.)  Two MAC schools from Ohio have won nearly 1 out of 3 against B1G teams.  
Personally, I think it is time to contract back to 10 teams.  Who would you vote to leave?  Perhaps a regulation division within the conference like soccer?  The bottom four teams could be regulated to the MAC each year with the other 10 all playing each other.  After the season, the top 4 from the MAC would join the top 6 from the B1G for the next season.  
Would never happen, but would be really exciting and make the whole season worthwhile even for the lower tier teams.