Big Ten expansion might have been unnecessary if an all-sport challenge series with the Pac-12 had been finalized, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Monday.
Late last season, the two conferences announced a scheduling agreement across the board in all sports beginning in 2017. The agreement obviously hinged on the revenue produced from football and basketball in the two 12-team leagues. However, a final contract could not be finalized because the Pac-12 plays nine conference games in football and the Big Ten plays eight.
The series would have been “an anecdote to expansion in a lot of ways”, Delany said during a Monday conference call to announce Maryland's entry into the Big Ten.
“We did the collaboration with the Pac-12 hoping to get some of the benefits of expansion without damage to anyone else,” Delany added.
The plan called for each school to play a non-conference game against the other conference beginning in five years. With only three non-conference games, playing a Big Ten team in one of those was seen as a competitive disadvantage by Pac-12 coaches. Plus, half the league plays only four of the nine conference games at home each year.
“It was disappointing,” Delany said. “In athletic terms, [it would have] broken out a real creative and ingenious way of supporting ourselves and others.”
During the call, Delany said the basketball conference schedule would have to expand the addition of at least one more school. That would explain a key reason for expansion. More conference games create more inventory for the Big Ten Network. More inventory means more ad sales.
Delany said he regretted impacting other conferences, but it is the way of the modern world. There is considerable concern about the Big East going forward if the Big Ten, as reported, also takes Rutgers.
“To be honest, there is an impact. And if you don't acknowledge the impact, you're not being straight. I wish it weren't the case,” he said. “I would also say that institutions pursue their own destiny.”
Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski told Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel, "I think the ACC is vulnerable right now. I'm concerned about our conference.”