Unless you have better sources, thats not the conclusion ive come to. Everything ive seen shows espn having a 2.25 billion$ contract with the sec that pays 150 million a year and gives espn primary rights. Espn has a 1 billion$ contract with the B1G that pays 100 million a year for secondary rights.
ESPN's current B1G contract is for $1.14B over 6 years, or $190M per year....well north of what they pay annually for the SEC. $190M per year isn't chump change and you certainly don't invest that kind of money in something only to turn around and shit on the biggest brand. You can't play on both sides of the fence and say ESPN cares about TV contracts(and ratings) when talking about the SEC, and then ignore the huge short term investment they have in the B1G. You talk about marriage and side pieces....I agree, ESPN is married to the SEC, but they certainly don't want their #1 side piece(the B1G/OSU) to get fat and ugly. It's possible to be married to your wife, and also be in love with your side piece.
Look, I don't really disagree that ESPN has a bigger financial stake in the SEC or that there isn't any bias at play in terms of how they talk about the SEC. What I'm saying is that 1) SOMETIMES, it gets exaggerated and used as an excuse to make sense of things we don't like(ie, SEC bias is why we didn't make the playoffs the last two years ignoring the two blowout losses to bad teams) and 2) if any teams is immune to the bias it would be OSU seeing how much money ESPN has invested in the league. You mentioned in your post they want a return on their SEC investment, but you act like they don't expect the same from their investment in the B1G.