Welcome everyone to the Thursday editon of the Morning Hive feature. I’m still riding high from an evening that included a big announcement from the Big 10 and an Ohio State shooty hoops game against Northwestern that actually included some offense! Anyways, I’m sure you’re all either still trying to get caught up at work, or still on vacation, so I won’t take up any more of your time. Without further ado, here is your “Five for the Hive” Conference Partnership Edition.
Big 10 and Pac 12 Sitting in a Tree
Conference realignment may have been the sexier story, but what happened yesterday between the Big 10 and the Pac 12 could turn out to be equally if not more important. For those of you who haven’t heard, the two conferences entered into a scheduling partnership that will involve all sports. The headliner, of course, is football, and starting in 2017, each season every Big 10 team will play at least one Pac 12 team and vice versa. While this effectively puts an end to any expansion speculation surrounding the two conferences, it does open up a bevy of interesting possibilities.
One possibility that has been discussed is the use of “neutral” sites to host these inter-conference tilts. Personally, I’m torn on the idea. As neat as it might be to see Ohio State play in Soldier Field, I don’t like the idea of sacrificing one “true” home game per year. I think some sort of agreement where all of the Big 10 teams play at home one season and on the road the next is a better option.
Also discussed was the creation of another P12-B1G-exclusive bowl game that would be broadcast on the conferences’ independent networks. Should this happen, it would send a very strong message to the NCAA. Basically, it would show the organization that its strongest conferences don’t necessarily need the NCAA to make money or run athletic programs. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still a long way from abandoning the NCAA, but as the old cliché goes, “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.”
Not Just Football
As mentioned earlier, while football is the headliner, all sports will be involved in this partnership on some level. Expect some sort of pre-season “Big-10/ACC Challenge-ish” event in basketball. Another exciting possibility involves the Olympic sports. Jim Delaney and P12 chairman Larry Scott have discussed holding an event, possibly at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, featuring a competition between all of the B1G and P12 Olympians. That’s right. They may have figured out a way to monetize track and field. Somewhere Big East commissioner John Marinotto is cursing and kicking his can down the street.
Obviously, for this sort of scheduling to happen, there have to be sacrifices everywhere. We’re not absolutely sure what will be cut, but there are a few things that are likely on the chopping block. The first is the 9-game B1G conference slate. It was announced yesterday that the conference will stay at eight games to accommodate the B1G/P12 series. Another item that could be on the chopping block is the B1G/ACC challenge in basketball. Nothing has been ofically announced as of yet, but it stands to reason that the conference would shy away from having two “Challenge”-type preseason events. Personally, I would hate to see the challenge go, but sacrifices often must be made in the name of progress!
What it All Means
The first and most obvious benefit that this partnership will bring is money. As CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd tweeted yesterday, these conferences are just scratching the surface of what their networks could be worth. Imagine the benefit that having even a second-tier bowl game (Stanford vs. Michigan as conference #2’s for instance) available exclusively on the B1G and P12 networks. Add in marquee preseason basketball games and unique events in the non-revenue sports and ratings on the two conference networks are sure to spike. The best part about it all? The money will go to the conferences, and ESPN won’t see a dime. That means more money for the individual athletic departments and more money for the universities. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that any of that additional revenue will be used to pay off my student loans.
It also means that, as Bret Bielema would say, “It’s a great day to be a B1G fan.” We’re going get a lot of great, new programming and we won’t even have to sit through a Craig James broadcast to view it. It also means that Ohio State’s non-conference schedule is going to be must-see TV. Look ahead with me if you will to 2017. The Buckeyes’ will open the season playing North Carolina, Oklahoma, and the yet-to-be-named B1G/P12 challenge team. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see whatever “Junior/Senior Braxton Miller replacing Quarterback A” will do against that kind of schedule.
Exactly what this partnership will bring is still up in the air, but if yesterday’s announcement was any indication, we’re going to like it!
Aloha Means Hello AND Goodbye
In what can only be described as expected, but unfortunate news, Quarterback Taylor Graham has officially left the Ohio State football team and transferred to the University of Hawaii where he will play for new head coach Norm Chow. Graham isn’t your prototypical Urban Meyer-style dual-threat quarterback, and he spent this season firmly entrenched in the #4 quarterback position, so the decision was probably for the best. Now Graham will get the chance to play under a noted offensive guru in Chow who should be able to maximize his considerable talents. Oh, yeah, he’ll also get to live in Hawaii. I believe that’s what they call a win-win in the business world.
I’ll leave you with this: I know it’s a tough job market and there is an opening that I want to pass on to all of you. You just have to promise not to try too hard.