ESPN's Bottom Line - Version 2.0

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

B1G Eastern Expansion

Now for part two of our look at the B1G's expansion I'd like to explore potential schools that Jim Delany would like to incorporate into the conference from the Southeastern US.  When you think B1G, think large market, and think AAU in the southeast there are a few Universities that Delany must have his eye on. 

Here is the list of AAU colleges in the Southeast.
  • University of Florida
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Virginia
  • Duke University
  • Emory University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Tulane University
  • Vanderbilt University
Those are very clearly some top academic institutions so we've met that requirement right off the bat.  You'll remember from the last article about this I mentioned that the three requirements were.

1.       Large TV market
2.       AAU status (top academic institution)
3.       Contiguous State from the existing B1G footprint

Now let's look at some of the top TV markets

RankDMATV Homes
1New York7,387,810
2Los Angeles5,569,780
5Dallas Ft. Worth2,571,310
6San Francisco2,506,510
21St. Louis1,253,920
22Portland, OR1,190,010
24Raleigh Durham1,143,420
28San Diego1,077,600
30Hartford, New Haven1,006,280

Finally we'll need to see what cities are also part of a contiguous footprint to the current Big Ten or will need to keep that in mind as we expand the conference.  So out of that list of TV markets let's see what schools are in or near the Top 30 DMAs that are also in the Southeast.  All of them make the list but Tulane in New Orleans, which was actually surprising to me.  However, here is the list of what size DMA each school sits in.  Some are lucky enough to straddle more than one and thus bump up their ranking.

SchoolDMAMillion Homes
Johns HopkinsWashington & Baltimore3.4
FloridaTampa & Orlando3.3
DukeRaleigh & Orlando2.3
VirginiaWashington  2.3
North CarolinaRaleigh & Charlotte2.3
Georgia TechAtlanta2.3
Vanderbilt Nashville1
TulaneNew OrleansNA

While it's hard to say Johns Hopkins really carries both Baltimore and Washington it is essentially in both DMAs.  However, so is the University of Maryland which the Big Ten just acquired so I doubt they'd be looking to sign another school in that market thus duplicating efforts and creating redundancy.  That's not the sign of a well run business.

Just by looking at that diagram it would make sense to say that Florida, Duke or UNC, Georgia Tech, and maybe Virginia would be the top choices for the Big Ten.  I say "maybe" Virginia only because Maryland already fills up a lot of the Washington market if they are successful so they wouldn't be nearly as major of a win as the other schools who are more alone in their markets.

There are rumors that UNC has been reluctant to leave the ACC.  However I’d suggest that if Delany can get Florida out of the SEC then he would be able to get UNC to leave the ACC, skip the SEC’s inevitable invite, and head right for the B1G too.  To me, Florida is the lynch pin.  Delany wants to go big and there aren't many bigger than Florida.  (Actually there are only three bigger, Texas, Ohio State, and Alabama).  So if Delany takes UNC and Florida that leaves two teams in the East.  For the sake of contiguity it looks like the additions of Virginia and Georgia Tech would lead the Big Ten right down the East Coast.  

People might say that Georgia Tech doesn't carry Atlanta but I feel like Delany views the B1G as somewhat of a Kingmaker.  Meaning that if he should bless Georgia Tech with an invite to the B1G, then with the uplift in competition, the big name teams rolling through, the increase in cash flows and potentially improved on- field product, then it’s only a matter of time until the ramblin’ wreck is the hottest ticket in town.  My guess is that he feels the same way about all of these acquisitions.  Rutgers might be a small draw (although it is the largest draw of all college teams) in the NYC market compared to Ohio State in Columbus but if you imagine an uptick of even a few percentage points, that is an enormous market to be captured.  I’d bank that Delany thinks just like I do in my belief that joining the B1G makes Rutgers even more competitive and that uptick in market share is extremely likely.  Watch out if they outperform expectations on the field and they can tap into both the #1 NYC and the #4 Philadelphia TV markets, that's 10.3 million homes!

By the process I've outlined above it stands to me that if the Big Ten should decide to expand it would look to UVA, UNC, Georgia Tech, and the University of Florida to become members.  Not a bad haul for just the first leg of the journey!  Just check out that Eastern Conference map at the top of the post!

Now that we have identified four potential Universities that move the B1G’s reach further into the Southeast per Mr. Gee’s comments, we have to look to the Midwest for the others. That's for next time though, so check out our next post in the series with a few more surprises.

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