suntimes
TOUGH 
Weather Updates

Big Ten expansion is all about television

Rutgers sophomore quarterback Gary Novcould have new home soBig Ten. | Al Behrman~AP

Rutgers and sophomore quarterback Gary Nova could have a new home soon in the Big Ten. | Al Behrman~AP

storyidforme: 40327482
tmspicid: 14883914
fileheaderid: 6788127

SUN-TIMES BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS

Nebraska needs to beat Iowa to wrap up title-game berth. ­Michigan needs to beat Ohio State in case the Huskers stumble. Michigan State (at Minnesota) and Purdue (vs. Indiana) need to win to go bowling.

LW

1. Ohio State (11-0) 1

2. Nebraska (9-2) 2

3. Michigan (8-3) 3

4. Northwestern (8-3) 5

5. Wisconsin (7-4) 4

6. Penn State (7-4) 6

7. Michigan State (5-6) 7

8. Minnesota (6-5) 8

9. Purdue (5-6) 9

10. Indiana (4-7) 10

11. Iowa (4-7) 11

12. Illinois (2-9) 12

Updated: December 20, 2012 6:28AM



With Black Friday just around the corner, the Walmart-ization of college athletics is stepping into high gear.

In another example of why public universities owning sports-television networks creates a slippery slope, the Big Ten reportedly is poised to announce that Maryland and Rutgers will be joining the conference.

That would bring the league to 14 schools — and allow the Big Ten Network to annex Lefty Driesell as one of the Big Ten’s greatest coaches.

Remember, this is all about television sets. Even if Maryland and Rutgers aren’t likely to turn Washington and New York into Big Ten hotbeds, they will turn on a lot of television sets and bring in cable-system subscriber fees. If Nebraska added value with its Great Plains demographics, imagine what the Terrapins and Scarlet Knights would mean on the densely populated East Coast.

Viewer numbers will come into play as the Big Ten negotiates a new media-rights package for its most attractive games in 2017, when its current ABC/ESPN deal expires.

The expansion announcement reportedly could come Monday, after an early-morning session in which the Maryland board of regents is expected to take up the matter, ESPN.com reported.

Although the ACC raised its exit fee to $50 million, Maryland might not have to pay that much, a source told the Sun-Times. The documents haven’t been signed for that recent change, so the exit fee would be negotiable.

If the Big Ten expands to 14 schools, a jump to 16 might not be far behind. The future of college athletics seems to lie in four super-conferences, with most speculation centering on the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Pac-12 as the survivors.

Get your Irish up

When the Duck mascot’s head blew off as he attempted to sky-dive Friday, we should have known that Oregon might be in for a fall.

This is why college football is so unique. And so dramatic.

On one crisp November evening, the whole championship picture was turned on its head.

Kansas State, which hardly had trailed all season, got punched in the mouth at Baylor in a 52-24 loss. Oregon, averaging 54 points per game, left 40 on the table in a 21-14 overtime loss to Stanford.

What it means is that, until the next time they tee it up, Notre Dame and Alabama are on a collision course for the national championship game Jan. 7 in Miami.

How the Irish compare stacked up against those teams, how they would have fared if they played in the SEC or Pac-12 doesn’t matter.

Notre Dame has played its hand perfectly to this point. With USC quarterback Matt Barkley (shoulder) out and the Trojans looking vulnerable after their loss to UCLA, ND’s trip to Los Angeles doesn’t look nearly as imposing as it once did.

But this is college football, where strange things can happen. Just ask Kansas State and Oregon.

Vols fire Dooley

Derek Dooley, who was 15-21 in three seasons, was fired Sunday by Tennessee. The Vols (4-7, 0-7 SEC) need to beat Kentucky on Saturday to avoid their first winless season in SEC play. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will coach the finale.

BCS bowl
projections

BCS: Notre Dame vs. Alabama

Rose: Nebraska vs. Stanford

Fiesta: Kansas State vs. Oregon

Sugar: Florida vs. Oklahoma

Orange: Florida State vs. ­Louisville

Big Ten bowl
projections

Capital One: Michigan vs. Georgia

Outback: Wisconsin vs. LSU

Gator: Northwestern vs. South Carolina

Buffalo Wild Wings: Michigan State vs. Oklahoma State

Meineke Car Care: Minnesota vs. Iowa State

Heart of Dallas: Purdue vs. Baylor



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.