Notre Dame, Penn State and the ACC: Part I
Over at Frank the Tank’s blog, the great commentariat has been analyzing whether the Big 10 expansion to include Nebraska was sufficient. One of the topics being thrown around is whether Penn State would leave the Big 10 if it did not get a conference partner in the region, such as Rutgers. Needless to say, the ideas that Penn State would leave the Big 10 or that adding Rutgers to the Big 10 would improve the conference led to a vigorous response. However, the Confidential cannot help but wonder whether the Notre Dame addition to the ACC could help justify the addition of Penn State.
As a preliminary matter, the Confidential needs to begin by clearly stating that Penn State is not at all likely to leave the Big 10. How can it? Penn State gains on so many levels from its Big 10 membership that it would be difficult for any leader to recommend such a move. And, oh yeah, the money is pretty darn good too. How does a leader recommend a revenue cut in these tough economic times? Good luck with that. So we are delving into the borderline impossible here.
Of course, imagining a football conference with ND, Penn State, Pitt, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Syracuse, and BC in the North…wow. That sure would have to be the “football” move that schools like Florida State and Clemson would love, right? Penn State will be down for several years, but the school has the infrastructure to be immediately relevant again. Too much talent in Pennsylvania for Penn State to NOT be a great program. With a purely geographical split, play 7 division games, plus 2 crossovers… and now you are playing every school, every four years. It’s hard not to get excited by that. Increased attendance by having division games with regional appeal. Increased TV ratings with having more hated rivals on the schedule.
The Confidential questions whether the Grant of Rights is the reason why a Penn State a move to the ACC is impossible. As the Confidential understands it, the Grant of Rights means that the TV rights to Penn State’s home games belong to the Big 10 for many years. So, in theory, if Penn State left the Big 10 for the ACC, that Florida State @ Penn State game would be a featured game for the Big 10 Network that week. And Penn State would get none of that revenue. Of course, the Big 10 Network would never be foolish enough to pass up that game. You think Florida State fans would not have an interest in the Big 10 Network that weekend? Actually, Penn State going to the ACC would be a big boost for the Big 10 Network if that’s where all Penn State’s home games were televised for 20 years. Penn State fans would still get to see those home games on TV.
True, the ACC would lose the right to receive the TV revenue from Penn State home games until the Grant of Rights expired. HOWEVER, the ACC just reached a deal with Notre Dame that allows for 2-3 home games for ACC teams. And the thought process is that this will ADD value to the ACC contract. The Confidential cannot help but wonder… if 2-3 home games per year featuring Notre Dame adds value to the TV contract, wouldn’t 4-5 road games at ACC sites featuring Penn State add to the ACC contract too? From the ACC’s perspective the Grant of Rights is not any worse than the Notre Dame deal.
So the only real question is how to make it work for Penn State. If they are leaving the Big 10, they are losing their Big 10 revenue. Instead, they would be getting a partial share of the ACC TV revenue, which is far worse for them than a full share of the Big 10 revenue. Again, no university could ever accept that. Unless the ACC schools were willing to give Penn State a full share while awaiting the expiration of the Grant of Rights–which would still be quite a revenue shave for Penn State–it is simply impossible to fathom how Penn State could make such a move.
So the only way to make this work is for the ACC to do something truly radical.
In Part II of this article, the Confidential will explore whether there is a radical way for the ACC to finance the unrealistic, nearly impossible, and purely hypothetical addition of Penn State.