07 June 2010

On Big Ten Expansion

This year's void from big college revenue sports action has been filled by talk of big ten expansion. We at carmodycourt are grateful for this great source of rumor fodder to help pass the time.

This is a great opportunity to apply some game theory principles to what we have seen play out. Some of the most enlightened thought on this topic has been provided by illini lawyer blogger frank the tank (great movie btw).

What ftt has seemed to hone in on is the big ten and its influencing factors and decision drivers. This led to the astute observation that tejas and nd are the big fish. Where ftt has been somewhat less focused upon are the why's and the who elses.

The biggest question in our mind when the news first broke wasn't which schools would be added but rather why announce expansion intentions at all? To do so would seemingly give up the value of secret negotiations.

The a nouncement told us one of two things about the big ten's goals for expansion.

1. Primary target is nd.

Secret negotiations and/or nd-specific negotiations in the past failed to lure the domers. Public announcement sets major conference reallignments in motion which could help push nd in. Most interesting rumor that supports this is the big east telling nd to leave in order to protect itself from getting decimated by big ten expansion east.


2. Expansion was never about just going to 12.

This is not necessarily true as nd is possibly big tens only objective, but this is very likely about going to 14+ teams. It's easy to hold confidential conversations with one party. It's impossible to do so when speaking with more than one other party, particularly here since decisions to reallignments are likely to be interdependent of others decisions. No use keeping cat in bag here.