As we all know, the B1G is an athletic conference and an academic association, which just happens to have their own network. Based on the wealth and prestige of the B1G, it may be the holy grail of all conferences for any FBS institution of higher learning east of the Rockies. There is another perk that comes with joining the B1G: Membership to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC). Consider that that the B1G might generate ~$40 Million or so per school per year when the new TV contracts are signed, while at the University of Wisconsin alone, academic research pulls in a bit short of $1 Billion per year. The CIC is the academic arm of the B1G and is not just a prestigious club, like the AAU. There are tangible research benefits to be had from CIC membership.
As commish of this amalgamation, Mr. Delany is looking to boost the dollars coming into his conference and increase the prestige of the association, as well as stoke his massive ego as the "king" of conference hill. Thus, the driving factors in expanding the B1G beyond 14 members are, in no particular order:
A. Academic Standing which can be measured by AAU membership.
B. National Brand (called the "it factor")
C. Market Size
Academic Standing is hard to quantify, but efforts have been made in this area. This post will cite the US News and World Report Rankings as a benchmark. This is not to say that the USN&WR Rankings are accurate or the only source, but we will go with it here. For reference, here are the USN&WR Rankings and state populations (Source: 2010 US Census) of the present membership of the B1G:
Northwestern 12 12,830,632 (shared with U of Illinois)
Michigan 29 9,883,640 (shared with Michigan St.)
Wisconsin 41 5,686,986
Illinois 46 12,830,632 (shared with Northwestern)
Penn State 46 12,702,379
Ohio State 56 11,536,504
Maryland 58 5,773,552
Purdue 65 6,483,802 (shared with U of Indiana)
Minnesota 68 5,303,925
Rutgers 68 8,791,894
Iowa 72 3,046,355
Michigan State 72 9,883,640 (shared with U of Michigan)
Indiana 83 6,483,802 (shared with Purdue)
Nebraska 101 1,826,341
So for academics, the average B1G school has a USN&WR Ranking of ~58 and all schools other than Nebraska are AAU members. The B1G Footprint can draw on a population of 83,866,010 or roughly 6 Million people per school.
I think Delany has several targets in mind, namely:
Virginia: AAU Member and a USN&WR Ranking of 24 and a population of 8,001,024
North Carolina: AAU Member and a USN&WR Ranking of 30 and a population of 9,535,483
These two are almost no brainers to add. UNC may present a "tag along" issue in that they would only join if Duke came along for the ride. Here are Duke's Numbers:
Duke University: AAU Member and a USN&WR Ranking of 8 and a population of 9,535,483, shared with UNC. Awesome academics and a national brand in Basketball. Would become the B1G's "Northwestern University of the South", and I think NU would not mind having another private school join the fold.
Delany takes all three and is at 17. The next target is easy, and needs no discussion:
Georgia Tech: AAU Member and a USN&WR Ranking of 36 and a population of 9,687,653
So we sit at 18. A good number, but not enough to satiate Mr. Delany's appetite. He wants to get into Florida and its huge population of 18,801,310 which would be the largest state population in the inflated B1G, but this presents a bit of a conundrum. Florida State and Miami University would be there for the taking as the ACC crashes and burns with the SEC poaching a couple of schools (North Carolina State and Virginia Tech, for the sake of argument).
There may be another option. Could Delany entice the U. of Florida to leave the SEC to join the expanded B1G? The dollars would be there to match, if not exceed what the SEC could offer, and there is the attraction of B1G academic prestige. Would this be enough to pull Florida out of the SEC? Florida may demand that the U. of Georgia "tag along".
Here are the specifics on the candidates:
University of Miami: NOT an AAU Member and a USN&WR Ranking of 44
Florida State: NOT an AAU Member and a USN&WR Ranking of 97
University of Florida: AAU Member and a USN&WR Ranking of 54
University of Georgia: NOT an AAU Member and a USN&WR Ranking of 63
Is the U. of Florida the biggest draw in the sunshine state? Debatable, but I think so. Any way you crack the Florida nut, you are going to have to take a non-AAU school. I would guess Delany makes the effort. Georgia is no slouch academically, but would also require two schools in Georgia. Not ideal, but if you are Delany, you do it!
The ACC is now in shambles, and the SEC and Big 12 plunder the left overs.
So here we stand at 20 schools. Is Delany done yet? Not quite. There is still the 600 pound gorilla in the room. Notre Dame.
With the ACC dismantled, they may finally see the handwriting on the wall and throw in the towel on football independence. ND would be the only Catholic school in the conference, and they may demand that Boston College come along with them. Fine, if that is what it takes. BC is a great school and adds a New England presence, but neither they nor ND are AAU members. I think that in Delany's fantasy world, they take both. As an added bonus, both ND and BC have great Hockey programs, which would take the B1G Hockey League to 8, which is the ideal number for such leagues. Don't want to debate College Hockey here, but it would be a plus. Here are the specifics on the two new Catholic members of the B1G:
Notre Dame: NOT an AAU Member and a USN&WR Ranking of 17 Population: Does not matter. National Brand.
Boston College: NOT an AAU Member and a USN&WR Ranking of 31 Population: 6,547,629
OK, so now we are at 22 members of the B1G. An OK number, but not quite ideal. Just a bit more fruit to pluck. The east coast is almost covered, but there would be a hole. The state of South Carolina (Population: 4,625,364). Here are the candidates:
Clemson: NOT an AAU Member and a USN&WR Ranking of 68
U. of South Carolina: NOT an AAU Member and a USN&WR Ranking of 115
Clemson is much higher on the USN&WR rankings and has great athletics. They get the nod. But now who would be number 24?
Here are some candidates:
Connecticut: NOT an AAU Member and a USN&WR Ranking of 63 Population: 3,574,097
U. of Missouri: AAU Member and a USN&WR Ranking of 97 Population: 5,988,927
U. of Kansas: AAU Member and a USN&WR Ranking of 106 Population: 2,853,118
All have issues. UConn is not an AAU member and Boston College has already sewed up New England. Kansas has the GOR and K-State tag along issues. That leaves Missouri, AAU member with a nice sized population. If Florida and Georgia leave the SEC, I think Missouri could overcome the bad taste of the Nebraska decision and join up.
OK, so now we have a 24 headed monster of a conference. 19 of 24 schools are AAU. Average USN&WR ranking drops from ~58 to 52ish. 18 State Footprint has a population of 147,053,400 increasing the average footprint population per school from 5.990 million to 6.127 million. The total Footprint Population does not even include New York State, and other states which are not home to B1G schools, but follow the B1G for FBS Football. Adding in those populations, you cover over HALF of the U.S. Population! Upcoming Television Deal would be in the Stratosphere. B1G Network payout makes Delany cry little green tears of joy. There are still details to work out though. How would you deal with a conference of this size? I have two proposals.
The first would be four "pods" of six schools each:
The Pods each would have at least a couple of strong schools at the top. They are somewhat balanced. I could see Michigan State slide from Pod 2 to Pod 1 in exchange for Northwestern to even things out, but any way you cut this, you are going to have to split either the Illinois or Michigan schools.
In the four pod solution, the top two rated schools would play in the B1G Championship Game, which could alternate between Indianapolis, Chicago, Charlotte and Atlanta, take your pick. After any schools are taken for the four school National Championship playoffs, the top rated school goes to the Rose Bowl, the next school would go to the Orange Bowl. With the ACC a smoldering wreck, the Orange Bowl settles on the second pick schools of the B1G and SEC. Each Pod member would play the other five members in the pod, and one school from each of the other three pods. Travel would not be outrageous.
Another option would be to make two separate, and almost independent conferences out to Pods 1 and 2, and pods 3 and 4. All schools would be members of the CIC, and Delany would be in charge of both conferences. All revenue (TV, BTN, Bowls...every last dime) would be shared equally between the 24 schools. There would be Championship Games between Pods 1 and 2 and between Pods 3 and 4. Rose Bowl gets choice of the Pods 1 and 2 conference, Orange Bowl gets choice of pods 3 and 4 conference. Of course, these choices would be made after any schools selected to play in the National Championship playoffs. Scheduling would include schools in your pod, as well as three from the other pod in your "conference". A game like Iowa vs. Maryland could be scheduled, but would be considered a non-conference game. You could even have a Bowl game which matches up a school from each of these independent conferences.
So I have laid this all out. Would this happen? Probably not. Here are some of the major issues I would foresee:
* Would the B1G take both North Carolina and Duke?
* Could the B1G snag any schools from the SEC?
* Would the B1G take both Georgia and Georgia Tech?
* Would the B1G take any schools other than Notre Dame who are not AAU Members?
Have I missed anything? Are there other schools which should be considered that I did not list?
This is truly a mind blowing scenario with huge potential benefits for all. Please kick this around and share your thoughts. No attacks please, I already know this is a far fetched plan. Please feel free to add to the benefits or describe other problems which I did not list. Have at it.