According to The Washington Post, commissioner Jim Delany decided to make Maryland an offer it couldn’t refuse. The Terrapins aren’t turning profits. They’ve been trying to become nationally relevant and failed. Doing so has cost them a pretty penny.
As a result, Delany sweetened the pot and promised Maryland not only more money up front than the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, another new conference entry, but more than the Nebraska Cornhuskers were guaranteed upon their arrival. Keep in mind that the Huskers have been a member for going on two years now.
According to the Post’s report, Maryland will see $32 million in 2014-15 and $43 million upon renegotiation of the conference’s TV package in 2017.
It makes sense that Maryland president Wallace D. Loh would demand such a privilege. If his school is going to get sued by the ACC and he wants to switch conferences immediately, asking for an advance isn’t the worst idea. The new problem for Delany is returning the calls from Lincoln, NE.
The Cornhuskers weren’t supposed to reap the rewards of their conference switch for quite some time. That timeline may drastically change. While Rutgers may have to accept this move, it’s likely that Nebraska’s retiring athletic director Tom Osborne and chancellor Harvey Perlman, two men crucial in completing the school’s transition to the Big Ten, aren’t thrilled with the new development.
Business is business and Delany clearly sees that with dwindling attendance figures across several leagues, the future of college football revenue isn’t in seats, but eyeballs.
The conference has been working feverishly to ensure that the Big Ten Network is providing entertaining original content that all conference members can enjoy and has been doing a good job. Getting the markets that both the Terrapins and Scarlet Knights offer was a key element to their invitations. This allows the conference to reach out to fans who are carrying around tablets, smartphones and other ways of accessing Big Ten content.
Look for the Huskers’ brass to ask – if not demand – for their full slice of the pie to come far sooner than later. It’s unlikely that the Big Ten commissioner would make such a deal with Maryland while shrugging off Nebraska. Fans of the Cornhuskers will pump a large share of money into the conference year in and year out. To offend their school by putting East Coast markets and the two newcomers first is simply insulting. That’s why Delany won’t do it.
He may make some questionable decisions, but the man’s not stupid.
Brandon Cavanaugh is a college football columnist for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter: @eightlaces