Report: USC and UCLA are planning to leave for the Big Ten as early as 2024

BaseballJones

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Totally agree with this. Another factor is that the fans of these "big time" programs enjoy watching their teams blow out the Vanderbilts of the world every year. They'd rather go 10-1 with a bunch of games that are over before they start against Utah State, Lousiana-Monroe and Austin Peay (to pick three games from Alabama's schedule this fall) than have 11 actually competitive games that could result in a 5-6 season every now and then. The coaches and athletic directors probably love it even more.
I also agree. I don't see the appeal for a school that normally goes 10-2 and goes to a major bowl every year now having to fight to go 6-6 in a mega conference. Yes they'll still would be "better" than an AAC team that goes 9-3, but guys want to win games. And of course, if there was just one mega conference of all the elite programs, and they only played each other, SOMEONE would only be able to win like 1-2 games in any given year, even if they'd actually be one of the top 25 programs in the country. Boy would THAT suck.
 

coremiller

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Isn't the appeal simply more money? Presumably the TV deal for a super conference would be much, much larger than the current deals.
 

cannonball 1729

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Isn't the appeal simply more money? Presumably the TV deal for a super conference would be much, much larger than the current deals.
It is, but if a team starts winning two games a year, their alumni money might start to dry up. Rich alumni may stop buying fancy luxury boxes...which makes it much harder for the president of the college to come track them down and hit them up for donations. There's a reason that the homecoming opponent is generally an FCS team that's paid $500,000 for the honor of losing - bringing in the alumni and getting them plastered in a festive environment is a much easier way to get them to open the checkbook than, say, cold-calling them at their dinner hour and asking them for money.
 

cornwalls@6

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So maybe more realistically, it shakes out to 3 mega conferences: BIG 10, SEC, and some merger of the PAC 12 and the Big12. With lesser programs like UMASS and UCONN seriously considering whether or not to bother with football. Or form some also ran conference. In a 3 conference world, Notre Dame may be able remain viable as an independent. Though my theory is they head to the BIG 10 as soon as their current deal with NBC expires after the 2025 season.
 

canderson

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I hope it happens just cause Charlottesville isn’t a horrible drive and we have family there so I could see my Longhorns multilevel times a year.
 

coremiller

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It is, but if a team starts winning two games a year, their alumni money might start to dry up. Rich alumni may stop buying fancy luxury boxes...which makes it much harder for the president of the college to come track them down and hit them up for donations. There's a reason that the homecoming opponent is generally an FCS team that's paid $500,000 for the honor of losing - bringing in the alumni and getting them plastered in a festive environment is a much easier way to get them to open the checkbook than, say, cold-calling them at their dinner hour and asking them for money.
Sure, but if the current TV deals max out at ~$40-50 million per school, and a megaconference deal could double or triple that, it's going to be hard for anyone to say no. It takes a lot of alumni donations every year to make up that lost revenue.
 

dirtynine

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I also agree. I don't see the appeal for a school that normally goes 10-2 and goes to a major bowl every year now having to fight to go 6-6 in a mega conference. Yes they'll still would be "better" than an AAC team that goes 9-3, but guys want to win games.
This exactly - and to put a finer point on it, it’s also about how long your season can look legendary. Iowa started last year 6-0 and had alums revved up about a glorious, championship-caliber season. That kind of excitement is necessary for programs outside the perennial top 5 that are always contenders. It happens with Notre Dame every year - if they’re undefeated through week 5 or 6, they’re probably ranked in the top 3 and getting lots of “is this the year?” press. It’s how and when you stack the wins as much as how many you end up with. In a super conference, those amazing early-season records that keep fan bases dreaming and recruits intrigued and boosters donating will never happen. Iowa finished last season 10-4, a strong season by any measure, but if they had started 0-2 and then finished on a 10-2 run it wouldn’t have been worth as much to the program.
 

cannonball 1729

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Sure, but if the current TV deals max out at ~$40-50 million per school, and a megaconference deal could double or triple that, it's going to be hard for anyone to say no. It takes a lot of alumni donations every year to make up that lost revenue.
It's certainly a lot of money, but for the type of schools we're talking about, it's not necessarily life-altering. Just to pick UCLA (since they're in the thread title), the school pulled in $611 million in donations last year. I don't know how much UCLA makes in ticket sales, but that's I'm sure that's not trivial either - Clemson is the one I know offhand (because I live in SC), and they average about $25 million in ticket sales alone.

I'm sure any school woulld be intrigued by the prospect of a mega-conference, but it's not a no-brainer that they would jump.
 

GoJeff!

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It's certainly a lot of money, but for the type of schools we're talking about, it's not necessarily life-altering. Just to pick UCLA (since they're in the thread title), the school pulled in $611 million in donations last year. I don't know how much UCLA makes in ticket sales, but that's I'm sure that's not trivial either - Clemson is the one I know offhand (because I live in SC), and they average about $25 million in ticket sales alone.

I'm sure any school woulld be intrigued by the prospect of a mega-conference, but it's not a no-brainer that they would jump.
Isn't UCLA an outlier on donations though? The first list I googled had them 4th in the entire country, among schools that generally are not football powerhouses (although USC is also high). How much does it drop off for a more typical football-focused school?
 

cannonball 1729

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Isn't UCLA an outlier on donations though? The first list I googled had them 4th in the entire country, among schools that generally are not football powerhouses (although USC is also high). How much does it drop off for a more typical football-focused school?
Possibly. Though I suspect many of the teams that will be in a mega-conference will likely be outliers. But (pulling a few from mauf's list above), a quick Google shows that Alabama, Clemson, and Notre Dame are in the $200-$250 million range, Penn State and Michigan are around $400 million, and FSU is just south of $50 million.

So it probably depends what type of football powerhouse we're talking about. If we're talking about B1G-type schools, they may not be as interested - their revenues are such that an additional $50 million would be awesome but not transformative and may not worth the downstream headaches. A school like FSU would probably jump at the opportunity. But if it's just southern schools jumping at it, well, the SEC already exists.
 

Awesome Fossum

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I'm sure any school woulld be intrigued by the prospect of a mega-conference, but it's not a no-brainer that they would jump.
I'm sure many schools would prefer the status quo to the mega conference, but that's not the choice they're facing. They have to decide between playing at the top level of college football or not. As much as donors might hate going 4-8 in a Super League, they'll hate going 10-2 in the ruins of a now-second tier conference even more.

The ACC may be safe for another decade with their grant of rights, but I don't think anyone says no when the time comes. And when the ACC falls, I think that might be it for Notre Dame as well. It will be interesting to see how long Notre Dame's next television deal will run for.
 

Awesome Fossum

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I don’t see UVA leaving without VA tech and I don’t see UNC leaving with neither Nc state nor Duke.
UVA doesn't care about Virginia Tech, certainly not enough to sacrifice its long term future. State legislators pressured UVA to pressure the ACC to include them back in the 2000s, but that was a different world for both college football and Virginia state politics. Even if UVA wanted to take VT, they wouldn't have the leverage in this situation.

I'm less familiar with the dynamics of the NC schools, but I think the same logic holds. They may not be thrilled about it, but they'll do what's best for their school when the time comes.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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Pat Forde of SI says people involved with some of those schools were sending him amusing messages about the Braden Keith tweet. Nobody well connected is buying this reporting.
 

cgori

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Isn't UCLA an outlier on donations though? The first list I googled had them 4th in the entire country, among schools that generally are not football powerhouses (although USC is also high). How much does it drop off for a more typical football-focused school?
Just as other data points - Oregon raised $867M in 2021 and Stanford raised $1.1B in 2018-19 (probably an outlier year, but I couldn't find something for '20 or '21 yet).
 

GoJeff!

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Just as other data points - Oregon raised $867M in 2021 and Stanford raised $1.1B in 2018-19 (probably an outlier year, but I couldn't find something for '20 or '21 yet).
Stanford is generally #2 in fundraising, so that doesn't surprise me. Oregon in 2021 had a campaign that received hundreds of millions from Phil Knight, so it too is a little out of the ordinary.

Here are some numbers from the financial statements. Maybe I am reading these wrong, but the fundraising amounts seem to be a lot lower than at the top schools:

Ohio State: $272 million
Penn State: $224 million
Alabama: $64 million
Oklahoma: $74 million

$100 to $150MM per year from a super conference seems like it would be very significant for any of these.
 

Mooch

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Pat Forde of SI says people involved with some of those schools were sending him amusing messages about the Braden Keith tweet. Nobody well connected is buying this reporting.
That’s because it’s utter fiction. Well, at least the part about ESPN: That ACC TV deal is widely regarded as a steal in the rights space. There’s no way they want to get out of that sweetheart agreement. It’s a cash cow.
 

Mugsy's Jock

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I hate the Super-Conferences for football, but not nearly as much as I worry for basketball.

In football, it’s fairly certain that the teams in the ultimate Big10 and SEC will deserve most of the slots in a BCS tournament. Oregon, Clemson and Norte Dame, I’m assuming, find their way into those conferences eventually. The two things that suck are a.) you lose a ton of meaningful in season rivalries, and b.) the Wake Forests and Cincinattis lose their occasional Cinderella shot to at least play in a significant bowl game. No good coach will stay at a non-Power 2 conference, and they’ll be shunned by top recruits.

In hoops, however, this is scary. I expect the Power 2 will use its influence to reduce valuable ontra-conference games and NCAA tourney slots for meaningful conferences like the Big East and the ACC, which, I guess, are now going to have to merge after the cream of the ACC are skimmed off to the SEC eventually. And even worse for mid majors and the occasionally successful tourney Cinderellas). The Power 2 will get the best TV deals, the most money, and the best coaches and recruits — much more so than currently where there are a ton of non Power teams with a chance to be championship contenders.
 

j-man

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I hate the Super-Conferences for football, but not nearly as much as I worry for basketball.

In football, it’s fairly certain that the teams in the ultimate Big10 and SEC will deserve most of the slots in a BCS tournament. Oregon, Clemson and Norte Dame, I’m assuming, find their way into those conferences eventually. The two things that suck are a.) you lose a ton of meaningful in season rivalries, and b.) the Wake Forests and Cincinattis lose their occasional Cinderella shot to at least play in a significant bowl game. No good coach will stay at a non-Power 2 conference, and they’ll be shunned by top recruits.

In hoops, however, this is scary. I expect the Power 2 will use its influence to reduce valuable ontra-conference games and NCAA tourney slots for meaningful conferences like the Big East and the ACC, which, I guess, are now going to have to merge after the cream of the ACC are skimmed off to the SEC eventually. And even worse for mid majors and the occasionally successful tourney Cinderellas). The Power 2 will get the best TV deals, the most money, and the best coaches and recruits — much more so than currently where there are a ton of non Power teams with a chance to be championship contenders.
u are right i worry about march madness and that the sec bigten do their own march madness and that it
 

Awesome Fossum

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The SEC and Big 10 are building football super conferences. I'm sure they will throw their ever increasing weight around within the current system, but they're not positioning themselves to break away from the NCAA for basketball.
 

Humphrey

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Best for all concerned is that football breaks off from everything else; although I don't know what has to occur for that to be legal (Title 9 and all that).
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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Best for all concerned is that football breaks off from everything else; although I don't know what has to occur for that to be legal (Title 9 and all that).
There are already collegiate sports that exist outside of the NCAA, such as men's rowing and squash, so there have to be some existing models of how this could work. And there are also single NCAA sports that have their own conference systems that are largely separate from the more well known conferences, notably hockey.

I think the challenge would be how to get from here to there. Does the mega-SEC decide to kick out the non-football sports? Is there some groundswell from the non-football sports to leave the mega conference? Does basketball matter enough that it stays while lesser sports leave? Who would end up where, especially without TV money providing the push to make difficult decisions happen? Would a rump PAC 12 take the non-football USC/UCLA sports back? Is it one set of conferences for baseball, another for soccer, and so on?

It seems like there's a lot of things that would make sense starting with a clean sheet of paper that will be difficult to get to from our current situation.
 
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Ale Xander

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It would be interesting (for me) to see if lacrosse and field hockey get expanded to more schools (looking at you, SEC, it’s time) with all this extra cash.
 

( . ) ( . ) and (_!_)

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There are a lot of folks putting out their own individual visions for where this will vs. should go. A lot of them are meh. But this is the best proposal I've seen.
https://www.goodbullhunting.com/2022/7/6/23193871/starting-from-scratch-on-conference-realignment-college-football-hypothetical

It obviously won't happen for a whole bunch of reasons but if I could waive a magic wand and rearrange college football it would end up looking something like this. What I like about this is that his three ground rules.....
  • All current “Power 5” teams must keep their seat at the table
  • All power conference teams from the same state must be in the same conference
  • All conference members must be located in contiguous states
..... protect things that I like about college football including traditional rivals in close proximitry to each other playing annually and there being a lot of good football to watch with some great football sprinkled in around it.
This draft isn't perfect and some great rivalry games are lost (Alabama/LSU, Alabama/Tennessee, basically all of Iowa's rivals) but we'd gain some great games back; Colorado/Nebraska, Pitt/West Virginia, Texas/Arkansas, etc...
I'd probably also move Minnesota to the Northeast and then to balance things out push Rutgers to the southeat, drop App State all together and pull Memphis in to the Central.
 

axx

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All current “Power 5” teams must keep their seat at the table
If TV markets aren't going to matter, then there's going to be schools that will be dropped. BC's the first that comes to mind.

All power conference teams from the same state must be in the same conference
I could see the opposite happening, if we are going to treat it like "Pro" sports where two teams in the same area are in different conferences.
 

OCST

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Sally Jenkins of Wash Post brings it with the fury of an Old Testament prophet:

View: https://twitter.com/sdrose/status/1546565936114569216?s=20&t=HVXqPYYXv29DIEzv-c1vFg


The current state of college football is this: Across the nation, paunchy, over-exalted ticket managers who title themselves athletic directors are racing in ungainly circles trying to find a padded, covering seat for their butts in a game of musical chairs. For years they cried that name, image and likeness payments to players would be a threat to the game’s tradition and uniqueness. It’s nothing compared with the destruction wrought by these administrative gluttons, with their combination of treachery and ineptitude, who would give away a century to grab a television minute.

The 100-year-old Rose Bowl is in danger of collapsing into one of those tumbled-down structures you see on the slopes of old Rome while the supposed business geniuses turn college football into something sickish that looks like three different tumors stuck together. They have arrived at a situation in which Stanford, TCU, Cincinnati and Central Florida could wind up clapped into the same distended conference, in which players must take red-eye flights home from games, just so said administrators can claim to be media honchos while covering years of overdrafts.
All of the people saying college football would lose the character that made it distinct if players were ever allowed NIL payments? They didn’t recognize that the real people leeching it of originality and distinctiveness were the ones sitting in the corner offices.


These functionaries would do any kind of business, no matter how unseemly, rather than do the most fundamental thing: balance sensible budgets in the name of academia. College athletics is supposed to be a break-even proposition, a nonprofit endeavor with education as its aim. Amateurism was never required for that. Simple integrity was. The right intention.

(snip)


The University of Georgia’s president at the time, Fred Davison, made clear why the big football schools were suing to strip the NCAA of regulatory control over TV rights: He wanted an end to “a tyranny of the majority to impose itself on the commercial enterprise.” Why should Georgia have to split airtime and media profits with a mass of smaller colleges? Even then, the ministers at the power schools were talking about forming a single “super conference” in which the peons would be brushed aside so the giants could compete solely against giants — and not have to profit-share with Rutgers or Hofstra or Vanderbilt. They have been trying to get to this consolidated-wealth point for decades.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2022/07/01/ucla-usc-big-ten-expansion/?itid=lk_interstitial_manual_19
In a dissent, Byron “Whizzer” White and William Rehnquist recognized this ulterior motive and where it led. White wrote that the court was “subjugating the NCAA’s educational goals” to “purely competitive commercialism.” And the end game would be total cannibalism. They were exactly right.
 

mauf

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Funny that two of her three example of peons that are getting brushed aside are Rutgers and Vanderbilt.
Like most sports writers, Jenkins is out of her depth when talking about the business of sports. But I’d expect her at least to get the Rutgers and Vanderbilt part right — they are peons; they just got lucky somewhere along the way (Vandy a long time ago, Rutgers more recently) and ended up with a slice of the pie in a top-2 sports conference.

I disagree with her fundamental premise — there’s no particular virtue in a big-time athletic program breaking even instead of operating in the black. Whatever high-minded purpose may have once existed to justify college sports, it perished at the D-I level long ago — certainly for football and basketball, and I’d argue for everything else too. The only way a big-time football program advances the mission of a college or university is by generating revenue, and perhaps incidentally by contributing to a sense of community. Maximizing the haul therefore advances the school’s mission much better than making half-assed compromises for the sake of some long-lost ideal. I would argue that a P5 school that breaks even on athletics is spending too much on athletics, and should be reinvesting more money in the institution’s core mission.
 

Dan Murfman

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Of course Rutgers hasn't received their full share yet. And I'm sure there is some accounting gimmicks in play. But just saw this in that since joining the Big 10 the athletic department has been running operating deficits between 23 to 73 million a year. and has an outstanding debt of 265 million.

Even as Rutgers athletics continued to rack up annual operating deficits of $73 million — covered in part by taxpayers and student tuition revenue — athletics showed little restraint as it dropped millions on credit cards to pay for Broadway shows, trips to Disney, meals at destination Manhattan restaurants and other perks for its coaches, athletes and recruits, including a luau and beach yoga at sunset in Hawaii, a guided snorkeling tour in Puerto Rico, ax throwing in Texas, luxury hotels in Paris and London, and chilled lobster, seafood towers and Delmonico steaks back home in New Brunswick.
https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/watchdog/2022/07/07/rutgers-athletics-spends-big-builds-debt-big-ten-conference/65367819007/#:~:text=Even as Rutgers,in New Brunswick.
 

Awesome Fossum

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Whether it's been worthwhile for Rutgers to take a seat at the big boys table is separate from whether they're at the table. They're at the table.

To me, the irony with Jenkins is that she's spent years lobbing the familiar anti-NCAA arguments and is now pining for a pre-1984 world where the NCAA ruled with an iron fist and only eight games were on national television each week.
 

cornwalls@6

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Jenkins is really piling on the faux outrage in that column. Nothing about CFB re-alignment is a moral crisis. It’s not going to damage the academics of any of the institutions involved. It’s just going to make it less entertaining, in her eyes. As noted above, D1 CFB has been a big business for many decades. It’s primary value and purpose is making money for the universities involved. This is simply the latest iteration of that.
 

OCST

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Disagree. Coast to coast conferences with schools with zero in common are an atrocity. The historical strength of college football has been the grounding in the traditions of campuses, student bodies, alumni, conferences, rivalries. There’s nothing like being on campus on a nice fall day to see a game between two schools who have prayed each other for some little trophy since 1903 or whatever. UCLA vs Rutgers had zero juice and the product is going to suck.

yes I’m old man yelling at cloud but this really is heading toward “rural NFL” and that’s unnecessary, it destroys what’s best about the game, and it’s going to completely shred any pretense of amateurism (that’s a feature on my book so ok).
 

Ale Xander

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BC is way too low on all sports (66/69), it has premier women's lacrosse, field hockey and ice hockey (both m and w) programs. Baseball and women's soccer aren't awful. Yes volleyball, men's soccer, and men's basketball are pretty darn bad. I guess it gets a zero for not having men's lacrosse but that's a Title IX issue. It would be picked top 50 (not 62ish), particularly as the only Boston market P5 school.

I also think 1 would be Michigan or Texas, not tOsu (probably 4th after ND IMHO).
 
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Philip Jeff Frye

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How quaint that academics is one of their criteria.

I remember an article in The Sporting News back in the early 1980s about Columbia setting a record for consecutive losses by an NCAA division one football team. The writer deemed it necessary to point out that Columbia was a university that emphasized academics over athletics, as if that were something unusual.

Things have only gotten worse in the intervening 40 years.
 

Captaincoop

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BC is way too low on all sports (66/69), it has premier women's lacrosse, field hockey and ice hockey (both m and w) programs. Baseball and women's soccer aren't awful. Yes volleyball, men's soccer, and men's basketball are pretty darn bad. I guess it gets a zero for not having men's lacrosse but that's a Title IX issue. It would be picked top 50 (not 62ish), particularly as the only Boston market P5 school.

I also think 1 would be Michigan or Texas, not tOsu (probably 4th after ND IMHO).
BC is in the bottom 4 in the ACC in almost every sport, including some of the ones you mention as not being awful. They were the worst team in the ACC in Baseball this year, and finished 1-9 in Women's Soccer. Second-to-last in Softball (6-18). Part of a 3-way tie for 10th in Volleyball (6-12). Men's Basketball finished in 11th place and the poor remaining BC fans were ready to throw a parade. All-around bad.
 
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Ale Xander

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BC is in the bottom 4 in the ACC in almost every sport. It's bad.
It's flawed methodology

1st it uses just one year, I believe

2nd, sometimes 4th worst in ACC is good. i.e. field hockey, that fields, pun intended, 7 teams
https://theacc.com/standings.aspx?path=fhockey (4th worst in ACC)
https://www.ncaa.com/rankings/fieldhockey/d1/ncaa-field-hockey-rpi (14th best in the nation, in Fall 2021, and lost in NCAA Semis in 2019 (the last pre-covid year to #1 team - UNC, also an ACC team)
bceagles.com/sports/field-hockey/schedule/2019
 

Captaincoop

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It's flawed methodology

1st it uses just one year, I believe

2nd, sometimes 4th worst in ACC is good. i.e. field hockey
https://theacc.com/standings.aspx?path=fhockey (4th worst in ACC)
https://www.ncaa.com/rankings/fieldhockey/d1/ncaa-field-hockey-rpi (14th best in the nation, in Fall 2021, and lost to NCAA Semis in 2019 (the last pre-covid year to #1 team - UNC, also an ACC team)
bceagles.com/sports/field-hockey/schedule/2019
It's not perfect, but it's correctly ascertaining the fact that BC sucks at almost everything. Being 14th-best in the nation for a year in a regional sport like field hockey doesn't mean much in the grand scheme.

edit: and by the way, I am a BC alum...so I'm not hating on them just to hate on them. I wish BC committed to being competitive across the board instead of whatever they've been doing the last decade.
 
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Awesome Fossum

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It's all about football brand value -- can you drive viewership. Everything else are either dealbreakers (Big 10 and AAU schools) or tiebreakers (geographic/culture fit, market size, Stanford's academics, men's basketball, baseball for the SEC, maybe men's ice hockey for the Big 10).
 

Humphrey

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Regarding BC, at least in that ranking system, viewership trumps potential viewers and BC's pretty weak in that area. And Rutgers, in the NYC market, is even weaker.
 

dhappy42

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Regarding BC, at least in that ranking system, viewership trumps potential viewers and BC's pretty weak in that area. And Rutgers, in the NYC market, is even weaker.
Never understood the Rutgers, NY TV market thing. I’ve never heard any NYer care about watching Rutgers football.
 

mauf

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Never understood the Rutgers, NY TV market thing. I’ve never heard any NYer care about watching Rutgers football.
It mattered for a moment about ten years ago, when dedicated cable networks were expected to be a cash cow and having Rutgers meant every metro NYC cable system would have to pick up the Big Ten Network. Now we all have those networks (I get BTN and SECN in suburban Boston) and no one cares.