Who will fall on the sword at Iowa?11/21/2012
So this pal, a University of Iowa alum who used to live in Maryland, comes up to me Saturday night after I text him the latest conference realignment buzz.
“Cool,” he says. “But what’s in it for the Terps?”
Money, basically. And lots of it. For the Big Ten, chasing the University of Maryland makes perfect sense; big-time college athletics are a television-rights game now, and roping in the Terrapins gives you footholds, potentially, in two massive markets: Washington, D.C. (No. 8, nationally, according to the Nielsens) and Baltimore (No. 27). The Big Ten’s other expected expansion target, Rutgers, gives you an excuse to foist the Big Ten Network upon New York City (No. 1), even though the Knights are largely buried in a pro town where the headlines are dominated by the Yankees, Giants, Jets, Knicks, Nets and Mets.
And here’s the kicker: There are reportedly 15 million television households in New York, Philly, Baltimore and D.C. A broadcasting executive recently told Sports Illustrated that if the Big Ten Network could reach basic cable in those markets, the league could rake in as much as $200 million annually, with a per-school payout eventually reaching between $30-35 million per year. Maryland, which features an athletic department that’s roughly $5 million in the red, is slated to take in $17 million per year through the ACC’s current television deal. At present, the Big Ten is expected to pay out close to $25 million per school. It’s a cash grab, plain and simple. Which is why, if you’re the Terps, it’s probably worth the risk.
THE BIG 8:
Ranking the best eight teams in the Big 12 and Big Ten, one through eight …
TEAM (RECORD) / UP NEXT
1. Kansas State (10-1) / Bye (vs. Texas, Dec. 1)
2. Oklahoma (8-2) / vs. Oklahoma State
3. Ohio State (11-0) / vs. Michigan
4. Nebraska (9-2) / vs. Iowa
5. Texas (8-2) / vs. TCU
6. Oklahoma State (7-3) / vs. Oklahoma
7. Michigan (8-3) / vs. Ohio State
8. Wisconsin (7-4) / vs. Penn State
ONE MAN’S RUNNING HEISMAN BALLOT:
1.Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Three picks against Baylor? What seemed like a sure thing is now a toss-up, which means Klein, like his team, probably needs a big game against Texas on Dec. 1 to win back some of that national love.
2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Threw for 267 yards and ran for 110 more vs. Sam Houston State. And you know what? Nobody cares. He beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The dude’s coming to New York.
3. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame: And if the Irish can get to 12-0, he’s coming, too.
SET YOUR TIVO:
The games you won’t want to miss …
1.Michigan at Ohio State, ABC, Noon: Urban vs. Brady, Part I. Big Blue has lost five straight in Columbus, and Ohio State’s averaged 40.3 points over the last three meetings.
2. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, ESPN, 2:30 p.m.: The Pokes have lost their last four trips to Norman by 33 points on average.
3. Notre Dame at USC, ABC, 7 p.m.: Right now, it feels as if the worst thing to be is No. 1 in the BCS. But if there’s anything going for the Irish, it’s the fact that Trojans QB Matt Barkley is out with a separated shoulder.
THIS WEEK’S COACH ON THE HOT SEAT: KIRK FERENTZ, IOWA
First, the title. It’s awful. The “Heroes Game” doesn’t evoke the feelings of nobility, bravery, sacrifice, honor, pride or community spirit; the “Heroes Game” sounds like something 26-year-old nerds play in their mother’s basement. Of course, the Hawkeyes don’t help the gravitas, either, having clinched their first losing regular season since 2000 and evoking memories of the dark days when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and Frank Lauterbur and Bob Commings called the shots in Iowa City. Even if this Iowa team would somehow stay within two touchdowns of Nebraska, someone on Melrose Avenue is going to be asked to fall on the sword once the smoke clears. But if it isn’t Ferentz — and that contract says he’s untouchable unless Gary Barta scores a winning Powerball ticket — then who? CVSean Keeler is a columnist/blogger with FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports. In 2011, the Iowa native was named one of the Top 10 sports columnists in the nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors. You can read him at FoxSportsKansasCity.com and at FoxSportsMidwest.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@seankeeler) and through his Tumblr blog: seankeeler.tumblr.com.