Sunday, May 03, 2009

Connected to the Dollars

James Burke is know for his late 1970's show called Connections in which he shows how unrelated events come together for something entirely new. Think about the multitude of different technologies that went into the first automobiles--just the marriage of refining oil into gasoline and metal casting for the modern internal combustion engine is a miracle.

Our story will start in fall of 1966 with the debut of both Star Trek showing how advance technology would change the world and Joe Paterno who would show how a guy from Brooklyn could change college football. James T. Kirk when facing a dilemma would consult either the very local Mr. Spook or the mechanical female voice of the computer. Captain Kirk would then ignore good sound advice, doing something rash, make out with a green (1960’s) space babe, and come out smelling like a rose. Coach Paterno has also been know to act rashly with a variety of smells as a result. Just this week Joe was quoted as saying, "I've tried to talk to the Big Ten people about, 'Let's get a 12th team -- Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt -- we could have a little bit of a playoff.'"

Spike TV started in 1983 as The Nashville Network, morphing into The National Network before becoming testosterone focused channel it is today. Other organizations evolve overtime in an attempt to stay relevant; the March of Dime now devoted to preventing birth defect began life with the task of curing polio repurposing itself to stay alive. The Big Ten and the Big Ten Network will need to keep evolving in the constantly changing environment of college sports.

This blog recognized early the potential power of the Big Ten Network and the change that this could bring to the college football landscape. While Joe was looking at the practical idea of a championship game, the more profitable plan would be to add the right team to the Big Ten to boost the dollars beyond what the SEC is currently raking in. Paterno looked to his past a rashly suggested three east coast teams two of which could add the populace New York City metro TV market to the BTN footprint (and the associated dollars). Mr. Spock would look at the numbers and look to push BTN national in one fell swoop by taking another run at adding Notre Dame to the Big Ten.

South Bend, the home to Studebaker (the late car maker) and Notre Dame is the final piece to our puzzle. Those that say, “Notre Dame will never join a conference.” might be the same that said, “GM will never file for bankruptcy.” With the NBC contract running out in 2015 and the range into at which schedules are made BTN might want to be looking that far into the future and make a rash Kirk like move. In one move BTN could transform itself and the college football landscape.

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