This guy is making a bit much of cincy and louisville but interesting anyway.
Obviously, the Big East has been sliced and gutted. But the predictable result is that either the ACC or the Big XII will be the next sacrifice to ESPN and the bundled-cable-channel profit God. It’s one or the other.
You’re looking at a gargantuan economic war, and it has NOTHING to do with geography, academics, historic rivalries or even viable sports programs (see: Maryland to the Big). It has to do with television package subscribers, whether they are actually watching the games or not—all that matters is that they are monthly subscribers paying monthly bills.
Make no mistake about it: ESPN will do everything in their power to reduce its cost-to-profit equation. Five power conferences are NOT an option. If they have their long-term way, four power conferences will be optimal. And three of those spots are already spoken for in the SEC, the Big and the Pac. So every program in the Big XII and the ACC needs to realize that now that they’ve slaughtered the Big East, they’ll be coming for the next smallest chicken in the barnyard.
That means you’re locked in a standoff, and it’s probably a first-best-move-wins scenario. The other three are just standing back and waiting to see where the final chips fall before they devour the loser.
You have to increase your subscription footprint to remain in a viable position. The service academies will NOT provide that. Nor will moves into territories where you already have subscribers (even if they’re just your hater rivals tuning in to watch you lose), or forays into outlying standouts.
Louisville and Cincinnati are an established bloc, with a built-in rivalry in a regional television market neither conference has tapped. While neither by itself presents a top 10 television market, the aggregate is pretty formidable in the Ohio River valley, bringing several million I-75 viewers into any viewership fold. Cincinnati’s facilities suck, but Louisville’s are world class. Both are capable of fielding top-20 teams in both revenue sports every single year. Better yet, both have ongoing rivalries with SEC teams that they can actually beat.
While these may be two small pieces of the large pie, together they represent the straw that will break one camel’s back or the other.
They also present reasonable travel partners for Notre Dame (which will not go all-in until the Mayans are proved right) and West Virginia (which now sits on a very tenuous, irate island). Geographic location also makes them feasible members in all but the PAC. The addition of both to the ACC or the Big XII leaves the opponent looking at service academies and second-tier programs in the race to 16 and survival in the coming super-conference era.
Both conferences have to worry about treason. FSU and Clemson are not happy with the dilution of football in the ACC, and Texas and OU can smell the happy-grass on the PAC side if they’re allowed to keep their television revenues.
It’s this simple:
UL + UC + UConn/USF—> ACC = FB+2(BB+2) ~ Tex + OU—> Pac-12 = Big XII is dead.
UL + UC + Boise/BYU—> Big XII = FB+3.5(BB+2) ~ FSU + Clem—> Big XII / SEC = ACC is dead.
The way I see it, all other cards now on the table, the Ohio River market subscriptions are the last chips to fall. UofL and UC may be one dollar chips on the poker table, but they may also be the chips that determine who’s all in and who is bust.
If you’re looking out for your own program, you need to decide if you want to stand pat in your own conference, or risk the turmoil and bottom-suck of moving to another.
Or you could just go get UConn. ESPN offices in Bristol Connecticut believe that’s in your best interest.