Monday, May 5, 2014

East Bound and Down...

"East bound and down loaded up and truckin'. We're gonna do what they say can't be done." 
- Jerry Reed, Smokey and the Bandit.

The Big Ten conference has once again made their move to make their brand an even larger one than it is now.  The announcement today further cements Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany's vision for where he wants this conference to be. 

The Big Ten and Big East conferences will start a basketball season tip off challenge, starting in 2015 running through 2020, that will allow more exposure to east coast viewership and ultimately east coast money. 

The marriage between the Big East and Big Ten coupled with the continued success of the ACC/Big Ten challenge means the Big Ten is venturing into markets it previously wasn't as successful.  Everyone ultimately wants to be on top of the world and be part of the New York market. 

This opens up numerous opportunities not only for the expansion of the Big Ten Network but each school should see rewards in recruiting.  The more your team is viewed on TV or in person the better you can market your style of play and possibly landing talent from places you may not have been as successful. 

I see this as a win in every way for the Big Ten.  The Big East as well.  The addition of Rutgers and Maryland, from a regional standpoint, was vital to have some Big Ten representation in the east coast. 

From a basketball standpoint it is a slam dunk.  The trouble with early season schedules is there are less and less marquee match ups that the casual fan wants to watch.  The higher profile opponents and having it billed as a conference versus conference battle makes the interest level more appealing. 

I would prefer to see an early season game like Illinois versus Georgetown rather than a cupcake city one like Illinois versus Southwest Texas State.  The more games early in the season that can have a positive impact potentially on Selection Sunday the better.     

Mr. Delany has a good head on his shoulders and is making a great choice with this one. 

The one issue I do have with the attempt to invade the east coast market is the possible move of the Big Ten tournament in the future from past sites in Chicago and Indianapolis to Washington, D.C. 

It makes sense due to having Maryland in the fold but for the rest of the conference's traveling fans it is going to be a nightmare.  I hope it doesn't basically forget about them while working on obtaining the east coast fans.  You want to remember your current members while courting those new to your brand.  It is a fine line they must walk but I have faith in Jim Delany.  He has a clear vision for where he wants the Big Ten to be in the future.

He has a long way to go and hopefully not a short time to get there.  Or stay there. 

He is east bound and we will watch this old bandit run!


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