After around two decades of speculation and proposals, Penn State will be announcing today that it’s adding a Division I hockey program.  Now, as someone that attended Illinois, which only has a club hockey team, I have a fairly rudimentary understanding the hierarchy of college hockey that’s a bit different than the worlds of football and basketball.  (Note that the woman that cuts my hair lived in Grand Forks up until a couple of years ago, so I do at least have a monthly discussion about North Dakota hockey.)  Still, this is an important story from a Big Ten and national perspective since Penn State’s new program is going to have massive implications on the hockey world, and by extension, the overall athletic programs of a whole slew of universities.

Make no mistake about it: there WILL be a Big Ten hockey conference.  There is no “if” here.  A large contingent of college hockey fans want nothing to do with the concept and are trying to talk themselves into thinking that Penn State will simply be satisfied in joining the CCHA or that Minnesota politicians will intervene a la Texas pols with the Big 12, but that’s just wishful thinking on their part.  We can talk all day about North Dakota’s and Denver’s rivalries with Minnesota and Wisconsin in the WCHA and how the smaller Michigan-based schools financially depend upon getting annual visits from Michigan and Michigan State every year, yet it will be of no use because (a) Penn State wouldn’t be adding a very expensive sport if it didn’t have assurances that a Big Ten hockey league (and the TV opportunities and ticket sales that come with it) would come to fruition and (b) pretty much all of the powers that be in the Big Ten except for maybe Minnesota wants the league to form BADLY.  Last year, the Big Ten actually had discussions with Miami, Bowling Green and Western Michigan about becoming hockey-only affiliate members.  Think about that for a second: considering how much we concentrated on how only elite and financially viable football programs could justify Big Ten expansion in that sport, Jim Delany and company have been so interested in forming a hockey league that they were considering to add MAC schools in order to make it happen.  That’s a pretty clear indication of the Big Ten’s modus operandi with respect to hockey.  I’m sorry WCHA and CCHA partisans – the loyalties of all of these schools are to the Big Ten first and foremost.

The Big Ten Network is certainly an important factor in the Big Ten’s desire to form a hockey conference sooner than later.  Unlike Big Ten-sponsored sports, the television rights for hockey games are controlled by the various hockey conferences (in terms of relevance to the Big Ten, the CCHA and WCHA) and individual schools can negotiate their own TV packages.  This is a pretty good deal for a school like Minnesota, which is the dominant school in a hockey-crazed market and where the Gophers have a lucrative deal with Fox Sports Net North, but it hasn’t been great for the availability of hockey games on the Big Ten Network.  (I’m going to talk about Minnesota a lot in this post since that’s the Big Ten school where hockey is arguably the most important while having very strong WCHA rivalries.)  Hockey is the clear #3 TV college sport in Big Ten markets after football and basketball, yet the lack of control over hockey TV rights means that there’s only a smattering of games on the network every year.  By forming the Big Ten hockey conference, all of those TV rights would be under control of the Big Ten and the conference can place more games on the Big Ten Network and even sell more widely distributed packages to outlets like ESPN.

Hockey is fairly valuable programming for the Big Ten Network.  Unlike baseball as of now, the hockey programs in the Big Ten are national powers and have fan bases that generate revenue and TV eyeballs in solid amounts.  Hockey games will almost certainly fill Friday prime time slots every week (when football and basketball games in the Big Ten are never played, anyway) and fill out an array of Saturday and possibly even Sunday time slots.  Also, in terms of subscriber revenue, hockey is going to provide more leverage for the BTN to garner higher rates in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan from cable providers in the future.

(EDIT: In addition, and maybe most importantly, hockey is critical for the Big Ten Network in terms of building its online platform.  While all conference football and men’s basketball games are shown on television, most hockey games will likely end up streamed over the web, so that sport will become the primary driver for the BTN’s online content.  College hockey is actually a great vehicle for selling online streaming packages because it has a “sizable niche” audience – small enough where it doesn’t make financial sense to put every single game on TV, but large and passionate enough that the BTN can still make money selling those non-TV games online.)

Is hockey power Minnesota going to like giving up its local TV deals and WCHA rivalries?  Probably not, but the Gophers are going to get ZERO slack when their football program, which just suffered an embarrassing loss to South Dakota, is making literally tens of millions of dollars per year off of the backs of Ohio State and Penn State.  A school like Penn State risked a whole lot of local TV opportunities for football which dwarf regional hockey deals in order to support the Big Ten Network, so the expectation is the very least that Minnesota could do is allow the Big Ten leverage the one sport where the Gophers have a legit marquee team.

Now, the long-term hope is that a Big Ten hockey conference could spur other schools with high-level club programs such as Illinois and Indiana to create Division I programs, as well.  In fact, the Gopher hockey beat writer of the Star Tribune pointed out that Illinois in particular is being named as a potential hockey school.  As someone that loved going to club hockey games in Champaign (although I’m pretty sure the rink was constructed at some point right before the downfall of the Roman Empire), the prospect of an Illini varsity hockey program is spectacular.  Granted, it will be difficult enough to raise enough money for new facilities and enough scholarships to satisfy both the hockey team itself and additional women’s sports in order to comply with Title IX, but having a Big Ten hockey conference in place was the only way that adding hockey could even conceivably be an option for Illinois.  Neither Illinois nor any other Big Ten school is going to lay out all of that money so that it can play a bunch of games against the Ferris States of the world – they all need Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota to come to town annually to make it worthwhile.

The flipside is the potential fallout in the WCHA and CCHA when the Big Ten teams leave.  Dave Starman of USCHO has a better evaluation of the possible domino effect than I could ever put together, so be sure to check him out.  (The one caveat is he’s still holding out the possibility of Penn State joining the CCHA, which I see as a futile discussion.)  Can a school such as Lake Superior State survive without home dates from the Big Ten schools in the CCHA?  Could this be a preview of Notre Dame’s ultimate intentions for other sports, where it has a choice of staying the Midwest-based CCHA, head west to the WCHA, maybe head out to Hockey East to give it an East Coast presence, or create a entirely new conference altogether?  (How about a conference headed up by Notre Dame, Boston College, North Dakota and Denver?  That would be an extremely strong contender to the Big Ten.)  The possibilities are as endless as all of the permutations put together of BCS conference alignments in the blogosphere over this past year.

Still, the ultimate upshot is that college hockey is going to get a massive boost in exposure when the Big Ten forms its league and elevates the sport across its TV platforms.  Kudos to Penn State for taking a leap into Division I hockey that is going to open up opportunities for Illinois and other Big Ten schools.

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111)

(Image from You Hoser)

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Comments
  1. Sportsman24 says:

    This is terrific news for the Big Ten. It would be amazing if most/all of the BT universities added hockey. I do feel for those that may get the short end, but you get make an omelette w/o breaking a few eggs.

    Next up… BT Lacrosse & (nationally) relevant BT Baseball!!

    Like

  2. Carl says:

    We are …

    Like

  3. duffman says:

    frank,

    nice pic from the great white north eh! So Hosehead and I were sharing some Cheezies and Freezies while trying not to look like a total hoser while discussing this whole realignment thing. So I put on my thinking toque about this whole hockey thing and the Big 10. Then it hits me that the university of toronto could go back in the mix for the expansion thing! I know, Beauty eh!

    Like

  4. greg says:

    Hawks are #7 in hockey!

    I’m leaving this morn for Tucson to attend Iowa at Arizona. Hopefully we can survive with a win.

    Frank, excellent Strange Brew pic.

    Like

  5. gregenstein says:

    Frank,

    Do you know if there is a minimum requirement to have a conference in hockey such as the 8-team minimum that exists for football?

    Like

    • gregenstein says:

      BTW, thanks for the Strange Brew pic. In the end, we are all fleshy-headed mutants.

      Like

    • @gregenstein – Yes, the minimum is 6, which is why the addition of Penn State is a big deal. There are 5 Big Ten schools that play hockey right now, so having Penn State as a 6th school is what will allow the Big Ten to form its own hockey league.

      Like

  6. Vincent says:

    How many Big Ten institutions currently field a men’s lacrosse program? I know Ohio State and Penn State do, but I’m not sure of any others.

    Were Maryland and Rutgers to join the Big Ten, you would have four teams in the league for lacrosse — which may not be enough under Big Ten guidelines (although the ACC only has four lacrosse-playing members). Might a school such as Michigan, which has a club lacrosse program, be persuaded to upgrade to intercollegiate status? Lacrosse would be a good complement to baseball on the BTN spring schedule.

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    • @Vincent – Only OSU and PSU have men’s lacrosse as of now.

      Like

    • Hank says:

      Michigan plays club Lacrosse but has been very successful. They just won their third concecutive national title (MCLA) and have won their conference (CCLA) 10 of the last 12 years. There has been interest in stepping up to the NCAA and alumni funding is apparently available. From what I’ve heard the main impediment is finding offsets for Title IX purposes.

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      • MIRuss says:

        @ Hank,

        That’s exactly right. We have a former LaCrosse Player from Michigan that frequents our tailgate and complained about Title IX and how it actually discriminates more against men than the omission of women…But I really don’t want to get into all that…

        Like

    • mushroomgod says:

      Adding women’s lacrosse teams may be a cheaper Title 7 alternative for some schools than adding a women’s ice hockey team……

      Like

  7. Vincent says:

    I should also mention that I enjoy college hockey; when I lived near Princeton, I regularly went to Tiger games at Baker Rink (a charming old venue). It’s a wonderful game, and were I a Maryland alum with tens of millions to donate, I’d give it to the university pn the condition it start a hockey program and play in Cole Field House (whose floor is large enough to accommodate hockey; it now has artificial turf over it for intramural soccer and the like, but such a historic venue deserves better — much better).

    Like

  8. zeek says:

    It’s hard to understate the importance to the BTN of this announcement. Especially for advertising… Past years average 10 hockey games televised and 20 streamed, and some of those were probably not between Big Ten teams solely.

    Just think about how much you could do with 60 Big Ten games (between 2 Big Ten teams) and then another 50 or so games including 1 Big Ten home team and a non-conference opponent.

    And that’s just with 6 Big Ten hockey teams. That’s a gigantic pile of inventory compared to what the Big Ten has now, at least 3 time as much.

    Adding Illinois and Indiana (the latter of which is discussing rebuilding their basketball arena and could go dual-purpose hockey-basketball) would be huge.

    The inventory would probably double again in value and size. That’s just massive in scope for a network that needs programming on Fridays.

    And this is all about advertising rates. You’d be able to make a lot of money off advertising which is what the Big Ten Network needs in the football offseason.

    Silverman has been talking lately about how they’re working on getting advertising stronger in the football offseason.

    Penn State just made that immensely easier.

    Like

    • zeek says:

      And with a BTHC, you might be able to get ESPN to buy a package of your best games a la football, and set up a premier national package, since it’d feature the national brands in college hockey. There’s just so much you can do when you bring the media rights of the schools together…

      Like

    • stp147 says:

      I think the other thing to keep in mind is that the BTN has what they call “flight packs” at each school (starting this year, last year they had 6 roving units) which are mobile HD production units that can be hooked up live to the BTN studio in Chicago without the need for a satellite truck (via the internet). They also have the ability to call games and do live production from the studio in Chicago. Hockey is a relatively easy sport to produce, similar to volleyball, due to the limited camera angle needs. They have a program with the schools where the events can be produced by the students called StudentU using this equipment or they can hire professional camera operators. All these things put together allow for the network to be able to produce a lot of events very economically and significantly increase inventory and exposure to the sport. With the rollout of the new school and conference streaming packages it increases the value as well, although I think a lot would go to TV just with more tape delay broadcasts (live on streaming). As a Penn State alum I am extremely excited for the possibilities.

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  9. Alan from Baton Rouge says:

    I’ve never been to a NHL game, but have seen a couple minor league ECHL games when Baton Rouge had the Kingfish, and my nephew plays on a youth hockey team in Atlanta. While I was in Atlanta for the LSU/UNC game, I saw him get an assist and score a goal in a 6-2 loss. Other than Olympic hockey and the movie “Miracle”, that’s about the extent of my exposure to hockey.

    While enjoying, but not really understanding, the few games I’ve attended and getting fired up for the USA Olympic hockey on TV, its always been my understanding that of the four major sports, hockey has the hardest time translating the game experience to TV. That’s why its on VERSUS. When FOX had the NHL, I think they tried some experimentation to make for better TV, but nationwide, but the NHL has never gotten very good ratings.

    Frank, my question to you is if NHL hockey doesn’t translate to TV very well, should the BTN and FOX really expend a lot of resources on televising live college hockey, when they could probably get better ratings for a re-run of the 07 Ohio St./Michigan football game?

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    • GoBigEd says:

      In regard to television, it has always surprised me that the NHL doesn’t use more behind the net camera angles.

      It’s much easier to follow the puck, and watching offenses develop from that angle is really fun.

      Like

    • M says:

      Live events of almost anything get better ratings than almost anything else. Hockey has a big following in the great white north and would be a great draw on the order of basketball in Minnesota and probably Wisconsin and Michigan.

      The NHL is on Versus because their leaders are incompetent at most things.

      Like

      • jj says:

        NHL is easily the most incompetent org. Easily.

        When Fox put that glowing puck on tv, I almost died. It was like watching Tron or something.

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    • Hank says:

      Alan

      the NHL’s problem in translating to tv is only in regard to a national tv contract. the fan base is very regionalized and NHL hockey does very well on the regional sports networks in area with a strong fanbase. College hockey is VERY popular in New England and the Upper Mid West. The Big Ten is a pay network on my cable system in Connecticut. I haven’t gotten it because most Michigan football games wind up on ESPN but if I could get a regular supply of Michigan hockey I would definitely subscribe. And I am certain I’m not alone. Hockey would definitely be worthwhile for the BTN.

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    • @Alan – True about the NHL’s problems, which I’ve actually written about before, although I think that a lot of that comes from the push of expansion to the Sun Belt while moving teams out of markets that actually care about hockey in the North and Canada. No league has stomped on its core fan base more than the NHL. It’s ridiculous to me that the NHL is fighting so hard to keep a moribound franchise in Phoenix (even turning AWAY tons of money from the founder of Blackberry on the condition that the team move to a Canadian market) while places like Winnipeg, Hartford and even the main US hockey hotbed of Minneapolis lost their teams so easily. I recall early on when the realignment discussion was just starting that one our posters (I can’t remember who right now) made a very astute observation that the Big Ten should avoid falling into the trap of the NHL, which went after large markets just for the sake of large markets without taking into account fan intensity. It was a great point – the NHL’s experience of moving into large markets that didn’t care about hockey was a bad one and it ought to make any Big Ten fan skeptical of moving into a market with tepid interest in college sports no matter how large it might be on paper. The dangers of overexpansion in sheer numbers is also a warning sign from the NHL, as you risk diluting fan interest.

      As for the BTN and Big Ten hockey itself, it’s a niche sport but within certain markets of the Big Ten (specifically Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan), there is definitely enough interest to justify televising the games as evidenced by the fact that the schools in those markets have their own cable TV deals for hockey. While hockey may never get football or basketball ratings, it is definitely head and shoulders above all other sports as a TV draw in the Big Ten region. Also, as I noted, it’s really the ideal sport for the Big Ten Network to leverage to build out its online platform since it’s the main non-football/basketball sport that has a critical mass of demand within the Big Ten markets.

      I think the rise of HDTV can help out hockey a lot – practically, the wider screen and clearer picture makes everything easier to follow compared to standard definition and aesthetically, the game simply looks great in high definition. Now, whether the NHL can take advantage of that on a national level remains to be seen. (I wouldn’t pin my hopes on Gary Bettman.) It makes complete sense for the Big Ten to use the sport more prominently on the BTN as a draw within its own conference footprint, though.

      Like

      • jj says:

        move the raggy dogs back to Winterpeg!

        Like

      • bullet says:

        And while pursuing markets, they passed on Houston who did very well in WHA in favor of places like Nashville and Columbus. Rockets owner wanted a hockey team.

        Like

        • jj says:

          dallas worked out well for the nhl. i thought that was odd too.

          Like

          • Hopkins Horn says:

            (1) The Stars, from nearly Day One, did an excellent job of building the grass roots hockey community in DFW. There are now youth leagues everywhere.

            (2) As horrendous an owner as Tom Hicks was in Baseball, he was nearly the perfect owner in hockey, at least until his money troubles caught up with him in recent years. He opened up his checkbook and got out of the way, with the exception of pushing for the signing of the player who scored the Cup-clinching goal.

            (3) Dallas, in general, is a very good sports market. Among Sun Belt cities, it’s essentially the anti-Atlanta.

            Like

        • loki_the_bubba says:

          The Houston Aeros should have been one of the teams the NHL took from the WHA.

          Like

    • Richard says:

      The NHL is run by a bunch of doofuses. The NHL on TV in Buffalo gets something like 25 times (no, that’s not a misprint) the ratings that they get in Phoenix, and minor league hockey featuring provincial towns in Canada probably gets better ratings than NHL games in the sun belt, yet they insist on putting teams where nobody cares about ice hockey growing up instead of where it’s frozen 3-5 months out of the year.

      Like

    • duffman says:

      alan,

      On the pro and semi pro level I do not like watching baseball or hockey on TV. For some reason they are sports I just like to watch live. College sports are slightly different for me because they have a different feel. I also find myself watching college sports outside of MCF and MCBB because as you get older it can be friends of your kids, grandkids, etc that are involved or playing. I have joked that nothing changes you dislike for a team faster than when a kid or grandkid starts going there. Not sure how this translates to college hockey on tv, but I suspect I am not the only one out there that this applies to.

      Like

    • PSUGuy says:

      I disagree heartily…hockey translates extremely well to tv. In fact, the game is almost exactly the same (viewing wise) as basketball. How tv friendly is that sport?

      The problem for hockey has always been two-fold:

      1) As you even admitted…you don’t know the game. With it being so fast and fluid the non-typical watcher finds it hard to know what exactly is happening. Whether you’re watching on tv or live.

      2) The typical way a casual fan gets into a sport when they don’t actually know the sport is to follow the “ball”. By doing so they eventually learn the rules, but more importantly don’t miss the action while they are doing so. Historically, combining older, lower resolution tv’s with a tiny puck that moves fast and changes direction often meant the casual fan simply couldn’t do this.

      Thing is the wide-spread use of hig def, large screen tv’s has made this problem much less of one. In fact, as an avid hockey and football fan I can honestly say that I will watch the “average” (ie “not my team”) hockey game in high def more often and longer than a similar football broadcast.

      Like

      • duffman says:

        PSUGuy,

        you actually make a good point about Hi Def. As one gets older I notice I have to get closer and closer to the set to watch the “crawl” and I have not gotten around to getting a new TV because except for sports, I rarely watch it anymore. I am still a fan of the live game because of the interaction with the folks sitting around you, but I have a feeling over time the dynamics of the live experience will continue to change. I am amazed to see all the texting at games, and people not watching the games. Home TV’s as you said as well, have also gotten huge! It makes sense that you would be correct in better visuals making it easier to follow at home.

        Like

      • Bobestes says:

        Watching hockey on tv is like watching a shark attack. It is mildly entertaining even if you can’t tell what in the hell is going on.

        Like

  10. GoBigEd says:

    Hockey is VERY popular in Nebraska, and the Nebraska-Omaha team has had some success. What are the chances that the Huskers add a D-1 program?

    What about a WOMENS hockey team?

    Like

    • zeek says:

      It’s always about money, just as it is for Illinois and Indiana which are among the more talked about would-be entrants. You have to have a stadium of at least 5,000/6,000 to consider it and then a nice $10M fund that can seed scholarships.

      If Indiana builds a dual-purpose arena for basketball-hockey, we could see it there I guess because they wouldn’t need to burn $75M on a hockey arena.

      As for women’s, you don’t have to offer it at D-1 level, I think Penn State is raising equestrian to balance out the scholarship implications.

      Like

      • Scott C says:

        It is all about the money. Sadly, I don’t see it happening anytime soon. At least not until Nebraska becomes full partners in the BTN. I believe Osbourne said that the new arena being built wouldn’t have a large enough floor hockey. If that’s the case they’d have to use the Ice Box which is on the Nebraska State Fair Grounds (now the future site of the Innovation Campus).

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_Box_(arena)

        I would love for my alma mater to get a team. Hockey a great sport and would help me get through the winter until baseball season starts up again.

        Like

    • jj says:

      I don’t know how this works. Could the team be moved to Lincoln on paper and stil play in Omaha? There’s seven teams.

      Like

    • Richard says:

      I could see the Big10 adding UNO as a hockey-only member; it’s made easier by hockey being the only DivI sport at UNO.

      Like

      • Alan from Baton Rouge says:

        Sorry, Richard. The University of New Orleans (UNO) Privateers does not field a hockey team. In fact, in light of budget cuts to higher education by Louisiana’s Ivy League/Rhodes Scholar wonderboy of a governor, UNO is dropping down from the Sunbelt Conference to D-III.

        But by convincing UNO to add hockey and join the Big Ten, maybe that plays into Delaney’s “Sunbelt” plan.

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    • StuMondo says:

      Last season (2009-2010) the UNO Mavericks averaged higher attendance than the University of Nebraska Men’s Basketball team.

      Granted, the Men’s Hoops team was 2-14 in conference, so there’s little incentive to go. But the UNO Hockey team went up in direct competition with Husker football for at least two games. So you could make the argument that both hindrances cancel each other out.

      Like

  11. jcfreder says:

    I was a huge UW hockey fan as an undergrad (late 90s), and overall I think this is a great idea. Hockey fans are a slightly different breed (maybe even more tradition-minded that college football fans, and I think many prefer the idea that college hockey flies under the radar a bit), and they WILL intially be upset about “cashing in” and losing the rivalries with some of the smaller schools. Ultimately, though, I have to think that bringing in B10 schools on a more regular basis will assuage any problems in the transition. Plus, you’ve still got non-conference games to get in those games against North Dakota or Miami if you want.

    Most importantly, I do not think the B10 schools should care about how the Lake Superiors of the world feel about it. The B10 is the B10, and the only reason NOT to have a B10 hockey conference is because there weren’t enough teams. Its ridiculous that the WCHA and CCHA B10 teams aren’t playing each other more often.

    Finally, I have to say I missed the story about bringing in MAC schools as B10-only members. That would have been a huge desperation move. I’d be in favor of bring in Notre Dame as hockey only, to get a foothold with them, but no need to bring in anybody else.

    Like

    • mushroomgod says:

      If the BT schools don’t want to totally screw the smaller schools, they can still agree to home and home series with them……

      As for adding the MAC schools, I don’t really see it as a problem…..a 6 team league isn’t much of a league…..now adding ND or not….THAT’S an interesting issue…..

      Like

      • zeek says:

        This problem is way overblown. Right now they play much bigger conference schedules than a BTHC would have.

        Doing just 5 sets of 2 home-homes would mean 20 of the 34 games would be BTHC games. Your other 14 would be available for home-home or whatever with WCHA and CCHA opponents…

        Like

      • jj says:

        I think the MAC shools just lost their chance to get in. ND maybe still could come. Maybe.

        Like

        • jj says:

          6 is plenty. that’s what the nhl started with.

          Like

          • Adam says:

            Actually, the NHL started with 4 teams, only 1 (or 2, depending on how you count Toronto’s status) is still in the league. The league had as many as 10 teams (split into American and Canadian Divisions) through most of the 1920s, and it took the economic pressures of Depression and War to push them down to 6 teams by the 1942-43 season — where it remained for 25 years. When the league expanded to 12 teams in 1967 it split into 2 divisions, and to give the weak expansion teams a boost, the “Expansion Six” were all placed in one division (the so-called “Western Division”), and the “Original Six” were played in the other (the so-called “Eastern Division”; so-called because they were not very geographic). This guaranteed that an expansion team would make the Stanley Cup Finals. The Finals were not competitive, though, so the NHL started its journey of increasingly complicated and inscrutable playoff formats with the 1970-71 season, with a weird set of East/West crossovers.

            Like

          • jj says:

            HOLY CRAP! I’ve missed you! Welome Back. You owe me $5.

            Like

      • Bobestes says:

        Re: MAC schools, it seems as if a Big Ten junior relationship is forming where the MAC supplies sacrificial lambs for football and actual conference members for hockey. Net result, they get some of the halo effect from the BTN in money and prestige.

        Like

  12. GoBigEd says:

    Hockey is VERY popular in Nebraska, and the Nebraska-Omaha program has been pretty successful. What are the odds of the Huskers adding a division 1 team?

    What about WOMENS hockey?

    Like

  13. mushroomgod says:

    Frank–At the risk of inflating your ego beyond all proportion…..that was a damn good analysis.

    Very interesting to me that Miami, BG, and WMU were approached by the BT about hockey, but ND was not. A bit of hard ball there, no doubt.

    As far as IU adding hockey, I doubt it very much. IU can’t get its baseball and softball complex built due to lack of funds. There is no adequate hockey facility, plus title 7 means you’d have to add female ice hockey (lacrosse?) as well. I would think you’re talking a minimum $20M investment, and that’s just if you improve an existing facility….and I don’t know that there is an existing improveable facility on campus–the IU club team plays in a city facility.

    I checked with RU fans on their board about RU hockey. It’s a club sport there as well, with no facility. There is interest, but there may not be the $.

    Like

    • zeek says:

      Isn’t IU looking into a new basketball arena? Couldn’t you just go dual-purpose for much cheaper than a separate $75M facility?

      As for the scholarship fund, I’ve heard estimates of $10M thrown around as being adequate seed money; someone put a call to Mark Cuban…

      Like

    • mushroomgod says:

      One other thing about the IU situation–even if you DID spend a bunch of $ and time to get a D1 program going, could you ever really be competitive against the natural hockey schools of Minn, Wis, Minn? If you’re the AD, you’d have to look long and hard at it…………..

      Like

      • zeek says:

        Yeah, for Indiana especially this will be a prime consideration.

        Illinois and Penn State have the resources and have shown they do well enough at the club level to be able to put together strong programs.

        Indiana competitively would concern anyone; there’s no point in starting a hockey team if it’s going to be ranked #8 in the Big Ten every year etc.

        Like

        • mushroomgod says:

          Indiana is the most southern school geographically and culturally……..

          I wonder why no PU hockey talk? They’re a couple hours north of IU and closer to the hockey hotbed of Chicago……….

          Like

          • duffman says:

            shroom,

            as Indiana is still a basketball state my guess is what IU or PU wants will face resistance in the sport as it overlaps basketball, and would require the support of the high schools, junior high schools, and grade schools to get involved. Football and Baseball do not compete in the winter, and the feeder cost for soccer is much less than the feeder cost for hockey at the youth level. drive anywhere in the state and you see basketball hoops, then compare that to how many kids in the state already play hockey?

            Like

          • mushroomgod says:

            Duff- I agree….don’t really see it happening unless some sugar daddy comes along with $30M or so………that said, one thing about hockey is that the fans you DO have are very finatics….so if you can get enough interest to get a base of 1500-2000 fans you might be able to make a go of it….but again, you’d need serious seed $, and I don’t know that’d come from.

            Will be interesting to see what interest IS generated, if any, when the BTHC gets going………

            Like

          • FLP_NDRox says:

            AFAIK, there’s only 4 places in Indiana where hockey is played: Indy, Ft. Wayne, NWI, and Culver. There’s no real grassroots in Indiana, and the expense is prohibitive. No, *football* is considered cost prohibitive, so hockey is a cost non-starter.

            Considering that I was the only kid at my high school in the early 90s that could explain icing makes me kinda surprised that IU is even considering making the jump from club to what would be the best hockey conference west of the Alleghenies (w/ all due respect to the WCHA).

            Like

        • StvInIL says:

          I mentioned this on the other blog. I am not a Hugh Hockey fan. I will watch Olympic Hockey and NHL Playoff Hockey. From time to time I maybe watch 10 or 15 minutes of the Blackhawks while switching channels. That’s. That said, I did watch two live event , I believe they were live, Hockey games on the big ten network last year. If the BTN could spur interest in guys with my type of interest they can build something as I do enjoy the BTN. There is Interest at Illinois and I believe NU has a club team as well.
          A)I really have my doubts though about the willingness of Illinois tax payers to pay for a new collegiate hockey rink.
          B) While the assembly hall is an older venue and can be replaced with a dual purpose venue, it’s still quite serviceable I believe. I don’t believe that there is a maddening outcry to replace it right now.
          C) NU might be able to get some fan support in this area for a hockey team. I do not believe they will be building a venue any time soon. The cost is probably too big an issue. But who knows, a big ten hockey league might spur that on.

          Like

          • zeek says:

            Until we get Northwestern’s football attendance back to 40k+, I don’t think Northwestern should take the eye off the ball.

            All this hockey talk is nice, but football has to come first.

            If we get to a situation where we can expand the horizons, that’d be nice.

            But this next decade needs to be about putting together a big string of 6+ win seasons, getting to bowls every year if possible, maybe winning a few, and getting attendance up to 40,000.

            Until we do that, I don’t think Northwestern has the resources to really be looking elsewhere, unless we have some big hockey fan rich alum somewhere who wants to put forward $80-90M…

            Like

    • FLP_NDRox says:

      In point of fact, the michiganhockey.net article also mentioned talks between the Big Ten and ND re hockey.

      Like

      • zeek says:

        If the money is right, I think ND could join as a hockey member in the future.

        It all depends though on whether a network like NBC or ABC/ESPN would be willing to pay for a BTHC package of games, or whether there is a bigger TV presence that could be secured for college hockey.

        Otherwise there’s not really any point, since the CCHA could survive the loss of Michigan/Michigan State/Ohio State as long as it has ND along with Miami and the rest.

        Like

        • FLP_NDRox says:

          I doubt the problem is on ND’s end, especially once PSU gives the official announcement they’re moving up.

          The big three enrollment, attendance, and interest-wise in the CCHA are the Big Ten schools. If they are leaving, the CCHA is in big trouble. IIRC, the WCHA is a much stronger and tougher conference than the CCHA. Plus, unlike the CCHA, the WCHA will still have much of its upper echelon teams still in the conference. Aside from Miami, and the occasional random team that might get hot every year, there’s not much left in the CCHA. Plus, ND has to worry about filling that new rink, and I doubt the UAF, LSSU, or the FSU series will get that done.

          I’d be quite surprised if the Big Ten made a hockey-only offer that ND wouldn’t accept.

          Like

    • @jj – God bless the Hanson brothers. That scene makes me tear up from laughing every single time.

      Like

      • Hopkins Horn says:

        Second best sports movie ever.

        Like

        • jj says:

          You’re begging the question Horn.

          Is it “Air Bud”?

          Like

          • Pariahwulfen says:

            nah, it’s got to be Major League

            Like

          • @Pariahwulfen – “You may run like Mays, but you hit like shit.”

            Personally, Major League tops my list of favorite sports movies.

            Like

          • Hopkins Horn says:

            Well, I was going to go with Rocky, but now that you mention it…

            Like

          • loki_the_bubba says:

            Caddyshack wins

            Like

          • @loki_the_bubba – Can’t argue with that, although I’m also partial to this golf movie:

            http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7muaj_happy-gilmore-bob-barker-beat-down_fun

            Like

          • duffman says:

            I gotta go with loki

            a) the doodie scene

            b) the murray / chase scene

            hard to beat, the rest of the movie is just gravy!

            Like

          • duffman says:

            for baseball I have to go with the one you can say one word, and everybody know what movie you are talking about.

            Lollygaggers!

            😉

            Like

          • jj says:

            yeah, it’s got to be rocky. every time i watch it i get all jacked up and punch the shit out of my chattles.

            seriously though, its probably the best.

            maybe jaws? sport fishing at its best.

            Like

          • loki_the_bubba says:

            If we go for drama, nothing beats On The Waterfront.

            Like

          • Sportsman24 says:

            Contenders for the bezt sports movie…
            * Major League
            * Eight Men Out
            * The Natural
            * The Waterboy
            * The Program
            * Caddyshack
            * Happy Gilmore
            * Bull Durham
            * Rocky
            * Miracle
            * Mystery, Alaska
            * Baseketball ; )
            * Hoosiers
            * Glory Road (?)

            What are some others?

            Like

          • Raging Bull is definitely high art. I think Friday Night Lights was excellent, too. Can we call Jerry Maguire a sports movie?

            Like

          • The Bill Simmons school will also insist upon including Teen Wolf in this category.

            Like

          • duffman says:

            Frank,

            between the way agents have changed the game, I would say so

            the one where the guy and the girl are playing basketball for U$C?

            blue chips
            seabiscuit
            bang the drum slowly
            love of the game
            raging bull
            chariots of fire
            gladiator
            brians song
            breaking away (another shameless IU plug to got with hoosiers)
            damn yankees
            when we were kings
            college
            the great white hope

            Like

          • When We Were Kings is one of my favorite documentaries – just spectacular footage of the Rumble in the Jungle with Ali in peak trash talking form. I’m also of the age where the only George Foreman that I’ve ever known is the charismatic teddy bear-like character that sells grills, so it was jarring to see how brooding, anti-social and completely uncomfortable in front of the media he was back in younger days.

            Speaking of Shaq’s turn in Blue Chips, I’m surprised that we haven’t seen any votes for Kazaam yet. Shocking.

            Like

          • M says:

            I’m particular to Dodgeball.

            Lance Armstrong: Quit? You know, once I was thinking of quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung and testicular cancer all at the same time. But with the love and support of my friends and family, I got back on the bike and won the Tour de France five times in a row. But I’m sure you have a good reason to quit. So what are you dying of that’s keeping you from the finals?
            Peter La Fleur: Right now it feels a little bit like… shame.
            Lance Armstrong: Well, I guess if a person never quit when the going got tough, they wouldn’t have anything to regret for the rest of their life. Well good luck to you Peter. I’m sure this decision won’t haunt you forever.

            Like

          • jj says:

            these 3 are on a different level

            rocky
            raging bull
            brian’s song
            nacho libre

            anyone seen the documentary bigger faster stronger – that was awesome

            also king of kong, which is about competitive donkey kong, seriously a good a movie.

            Like

          • bullet says:

            For golf, don’t forget Tin Cup.

            Actually Ray and Coach Reggie have a lot in common.

            Like

      • Sportsman24 says:

        @duff,
        I knew you’d jump on Hoosiers. : )

        @Frank,
        “You had me at hello!”

        What about “The Ringer”?
        “Hi! I’m Glenn.”

        Like

        • Alan from Baton Rouge says:

          “Everybody’s All American” starring Dennis Quaid, John Goodman Timothy Hutton, and Jessica Lange was filmed at LSU during the fall of 86 – my junior year. They filmed scenes all over campus and during one of the games, they asked students to dress up in 50s gear for crowd scenes. Quaid and Goodman hit the college bars just about every night. Quaid, and I (and all the other patrons at Fred’s) did shots one night. Goodman even married a LSU co-ed he met while filming the movie. The movie flopped at the box office, but its still a pretty good show.

          Like

  14. Randy says:

    I would love to see Illinois hockey become a varsity sport as part of a conference league. That would be awesome. (East Side still sucks) Could this be the impetus for the “Olympic Sports Stadium” Ole Coach Guenther has dreamed of? I have heard for some time about wanting to build a stadium/arena for 5,000-7,000 seats to host Wrestling and Hockey and when Disney on Ice comes to town.

    Makes sense to me. Too bad they are trying to spend a quarter billion dollars to renovate assembly hall. That money could build a state of the art Hoops stadium and an Olympic arena (The Bonnie Blair Olympic Stadium has a nice ring to it).

    Like

  15. Richard says:

    I think you’ll see Minn, Wiscy, MSU, Michigan, OSU, and PSU first start as a 6 team league (meaning plenty of nonconf dates to play the smaller schools). I can see Illinois adding down the road as well. After that, maybe UNO could be added (as it’s in the UN family; it helps that hockey is the only DivI sport at UNO). I don’t see NU, IU, PU, and Iowa adding hockey, though; they have some of the smallest athletic department budgets in the conference, and I don’t think the fan interest would be enough to justify the cost of starting a new program at NU and IU. In any case, as a new program in a conference full of traditional hockey powers, what’s the incentive in starting a program (and how many fans would you draw) when you have little chance of making the playoffs and will be fighting to stay out of last place in the conference every year?

    So at 8 teams, the Big10 could play 28 conference games, or as a sop to Minnesota, it could play 20 conference games, leaving a lot of room for games against the smaller schools. To play 20 games, the conference would split in to east (PSU, MSU, Michigan, and OSU) and west (Minny, Wiscy, Illinois, UNO), playing 4 games against intradivision rivals and 2 games against teams in the other division.

    Like

    • jcfreder says:

      I can’t wait for the realignment show where UW gets put in a hockey division with Ill, OSU and PSU. 🙂

      As far as Illinois or other B10 teams adding hockey, I would think the financial aspect would be reasons #1, #2, and #3 not to do it. I’m not actually sure the competitiveness angle is all its cracked up to be. If the other schools of the WCHA can compete with Minny and UW (and many would be surprised at how the Gophers and Badgers do NOT dominate the conference), then I think Illinois could attract plenty of hockey talent.

      Finally, with regard to adding non-B10 teams, I don’t see any reason to do so. If anything, keeping more non-conf games by having a smaller conference helps placate the rest of the college hockey world by keeping the games such as UW-St Cloud St, etc. That said, I don’t know the full deal with Neb-Omaha and how they fit in with Huskers, but I doubt it makes sense to add them. I wouldn’t be in favor of adding Wisconsin-Milwaukee if it had a hockey team, for instance.

      Like

      • Richard says:

        Well, UNO has a hockey team and UNL doesn’t, so that’s one way there’s a difference.

        Like

        • jcfreder says:

          Yeah, but who cares that UNO has a hockey team – how does that fit into the B10? The question would be whether UNO somehow fits in as some sort of replacement for a UNL hockey team, and I don’t see why that’s the case. They’re separate universities, right? I don’t see how it would make sense to add Illinois-Chicago (if they had a team) just to carry the banner of the Illinois system, for instance.

          Like

      • StvInIL says:

        “Gophers and Badgers do NOT dominate the conference), then I think Illinois could attract plenty of hockey talent.”
        I think that in the case of football and basketball there is enough talent to go around even if you don’t get it all from your home state. Hockey though is different situation. I think the talent level is higher in the upper Midwest but overall there is little of it to go around. Hockey turns out to be a kinda elite sport. While kids can play soccer and baseball within their own community, Hockey parents have to be some hearty traveling folk to support a youth in hockey. At least here in Northern Illinois this is what I have noticed.

        Like

        • Richard says:

          I think it depends on locale. In places like Chicagoland, metro NYC, and New England, hockey does seem to be an elite sport. In places like Minnesota and N. Dakota (and most of Canada), where it’s frozen 5 months out of the year, I think every boy plays.

          In any case, geography is a concern, but I still expect Illinois to get better talent than Bemidji St., for instance.

          Like

          • larry_boy_44 says:

            I don’t think that location matters as much as you think it does… Look at it this way:

            if you have the choice between Bemidji State or Central Michigan or Illinois, and you know that Illinois has, say, 10 games that are going to be nationally televised on either the Big Ten Network or NBC, where do you go?

            I don’t see how you choose anything other than the Big Ten Network…

            If the Big Ten gets a hockey conference, and they televise a ton of hockey games (even just a game or two on Friday night + 1-2 games on Saturday), how would that not shift the “power” in College Hockey to the Big Ten in a massive way? One group of 6 teams has 2-4 games on National Television between them every week, every other team has none… I live in Wisconsin and I don’t even think the Frozen Four get on television around here (and Wisconsin’s hockey team is really good)…

            Any Big Ten team that forms a hockey team and joins the Big Ten Conference for Hockey (read: all of them) will become a powerful team compared to, at minimum, every team outside of the Big Ten… I just don’t see how recruits are going to pick a small college with no tv deal over the Big Ten school with national tv deals on a consistent enough basis for that not to be true…

            and that isn’t even taking into account that the five big ten schools that already have hockey are pretty good…

            Like

          • Richard says:

            I was talking about how participation at the grassroots level varies by locale. In any case, I agree that UofI hockey would outrecruit Bemidji St. even though northern Minnesota is much more of a hotbed (icebed?) of grassroots hockey than anywhere in Illinois.

            As for the other schools starting up hockey programs, I still don’t see the Indiana schools doing it as the hockey fans simply don’t exist there. Iowa might. Something might be worked out between UNL and UNO. NU might start a program if it thinks enough Minnesotans, Wisconsinites, and Michiganders in Chicagoland would watch their home schools play NU.

            Like

  16. Pezlion says:

    Just to add to things. There’s a knowledgeable Penn State poster who said there’s more to this than just the BTN. Apparently NBC is very interested in latching on to college hockey. According to this poster, there have been a lot of talks between NBC and both individual Big Ten schools, as well as the conference. There may be some NBC funds involved in helping a team or two develop an arena to make a D-I hockey jump, and the network apparently wants a college hockey game of the week broadcast on Saturday through the winter to go with its NHL game of the week on Sunday.

    Who knows where this will go, but as I said, this poster is pretty connected in State College.

    Like

    • jcfreder says:

      Hey, I’d love to see B10 hockey on NBC but that just seems like such a stretch.

      Like

    • Vincent says:

      Maryland’s new AD comes from West Point, which has a Division I program.

      Like

    • zeek says:

      Yeah, I alluded to that a little above, and Frank did as well.

      These would be marquee matchups (the 60 Big Ten games featuring 2 Big Ten teams); you could sell a package of the first 2 picks every week for 10 weeks and put those games on NBC or ESPN or wherever. The rest of the games could go to the BTN/streams…

      I’m sure a network would pay for the two marquee games each week to fill up a national broadcast. This makes way too much sense to ignore.

      Like

      • jcfreder says:

        It seems like NHL ratings are low enough. Who’s going to tune in for say, a Michigan St-Minnesota hockey game, in order to justify a national broadcast?

        Like

        • zeek says:

          Well, if they go for it, it’d have to make sense financially.

          I mean, I was just speculating on the actual details. If ESPN2 is the best you could get to buy the marquee game of the week, that’s where you go.

          If ESPN, that’s where you go. If NBC, then obviously you take that.

          That’s up for the networks to decide if they want to pay for it…

          If none of them do, put them all on BTN/streams…

          Like

        • Richard says:

          MSU-Minnesota hockey likely would get ratings as good or better than NHL hockey. Since there are fewer games in a season, they mean more and at most, you’ll get a chance to see MSU play Minnesota only 2 weekends each year. I wouldn’t be surprised if MSU-Minnesota gets ratings as good as Red Wings-Wild on the local cable network right now.

          Like

    • jj says:

      God Help Us All.

      If there is anyone worse than Fox at doing NHL, NBC is a close second.

      Pierre is a total pin-head that has no idea what he is talking about.

      Someone was talking about how many D1 teams were in MN. I think it is 4 and there are at least 6 in MI. I had never really added it up, but between the 2 states, that is about 10% of the total programs. Kind of an eye-opener. That doesn’t include the other minor professional leagues for which these schools compete for players.

      Like

    • bullet says:

      As much as network ratings are shrinking, niche markets start to make more and more sense on TV and certainly on cable. Of course, niche means significantly lower $ than college fb.

      Like

      • Pezlion says:

        I could easily see someone like NBC ponying up $5 million per year for a 12 week Big Ten game of the week type thing. And I’d bet that its Saturday afternoon ratings would approach its Sunday NHL ratings.

        Like

    • SideshowBob says:

      Just to clarify, per that poster (who is not me), NBC being involved is more like Comcast (who are taking over NBC) being involved. And games wouldn’t end up on NBC but actually on Versus as a compliment to their NHL coverage. And Versus certainly could use the additional live sports.

      Like

  17. loki_the_bubba says:

    When I was at Notre Dame last month I walked by a new hockey arena under construction. Coincidence or omen…

    Like

    • FLP_NDRox says:

      Coincidence?

      Folks at ND have been working on getting ground broke on that rink for at least 15yrs. The condemnation of the some of the temporary seats at the JACC, where the team now plays, and some additional donations have finally made it a priority at that AD’s office, from what I’ve heard.

      A CCHA without UM, MSU, and tOSU is very bad for Irish hockey. Not only do we lose those valuable series we’ll need to sell out that new rink consistently, but it will leave ND in a conference with MAC schools and schools where hockey is the only Div I sport. It will be worse than the Catholic Big East conference we’ve speculated about.

      My big question that cannot be answered here is if the lack of a competitive hockey conference matter at all in the NDAD.

      Like

      • zeek says:

        I don’t think it particularly matters simply because hockey is such a unique beast.

        There might be an opportunity for a new conference with ND and BC along with some of the rest of the schools as a basis.

        I don’t really think this changes any of the calculus though for ND because hockey is such a weird sport in terms of affiliations, etc.

        Like

      • jj says:

        i think that it would. i really do. maybe i’m alone. but i do think it matters. i also kind of belive that the b10 and nd have a gentlemen’s agreement to look at the merger issue again in 2-3 years.

        Like

        • BuckeyeBeau says:

          hmm… gotta disagree JJ. The way ND has been aggressively scheduling its football for the next decade, I can only conclude that ND sees no future with the B10.

          Like

          • jj says:

            Yeah. I dunno. I really kind of hope they stay independent actually.

            I like the B10 where it is right now, though I’m game for discussing other things. I would still add Torono right this minute as an all but football member. Our degrees would all instantly increase in value.

            Like

  18. MIRuss says:

    Frank,

    Why is splitting the CCHA/WCHA necessary? Read John U. Bacon’s Book “Blue Ice” and you’ll see the importance of the CCHA over the years. I don’t know that much about the WCHA, but I’m sure they have a bunch of history as well.

    Let’s think about this: The Bigger the Conference, as in Football….The BETTER!

    Too Big to Fail!!! That needs to be the Mantra!

    So, in that vein, why not just have two Big 10 divisions, that are the CCHA and the WCHA?

    WCHA:
    Wisky
    Minn
    Denver
    St. Cloud State
    Minnensota Duluth
    Colorado College
    Minn State (Isn’t this the old Hayden Fox Shool?)
    Alaska Anchorage
    Michigan Tech

    CCHA:
    Michigan
    OSU
    Notre Dame
    MSU
    Illinois Chicago
    Alaska
    Bowling Green
    Ferris State
    Northern
    Western
    Lake State

    Now – This league gets two automatic bids to the Frozen 4. In addition, it gets two as many at large bids as it can muster based on record/points.

    I don’t know why this wouldn’t work and why those schools that already have deals, as you stated with Minnesota, would reject the notion of getting additional revenue from the BTN if their addition in fact increases viewership. OR is the Big Ten too greedy and simply doesn’t want to share that much of the pie?

    Thinking ahead of myself, you’ll still have games against those teams from the CCHA/WCHA and at home, the Big 10 owns the content, right? So, now, they can keep the revenue and pay the lesser schools appearance fees?

    Is The Big 10 is becoming Texas?

    Like

    • jcfreder says:

      I don’t see the comparisons to Texas. The only reason we haven’t always had a B10 hockey conference is because there weren’t enough teams. The WCHA and CCHA are marriages of convenience that are no longer necessary if we have 6 B10 hockey programs. Wisconsin or Minnesota doesn’t owe the Alaska-Anchoridges of the world anything. On the other hand, they should do what’s possible to help out a fledgling PSU program. The other B10 teams are family, North Dakota is not.

      Like

      • zeek says:

        And, who’s going to pay to advertise for these games?

        If I’m a network paying for a package of games (first two picks each Friday or whatever), I would want as many Big Ten games as possible. I would want a BTHC that puts together the TV property matchups, etc.

        Like

    • Jay says:

      This is an idea I can get behind. Adding the WCHA and CCHA programs as hockey-only Big Ten members preserves the integrity of those important rivalries (and might even make the Big Ten Network more viable in some new markets, like Denver) while giving the conference the content it wants. Good thinking!

      Like

      • Richard says:

        No way that would happen. If the Big10 wouldn’t bend for ND, do you think it would bend for St. Cloud?

        Nor should it. Why dilute essense of the conference (and rights fee)?

        Like

        • zeek says:

          And uh, who would own the TV rights?…

          I mean the problem with a BTHC with non-Big Ten teams is that we’re not giving up stakes in the BTN…

          Like

      • Jay says:

        Actually, come to think of it I don’t know if I’d invite the entire WCHA and CCHA to a Big Ten hockey conference. However, you almost need to try and get the best of the lot in as hockey-only members. I’d go for something like this:

        Big Ten West:
        Minnesota
        Wisconsin
        North Dakota
        Denver
        Colorado College
        Minnesota Duluth

        Big Ten East:
        Michigan
        Michigan State
        Ohio State
        Penn State
        Notre Dame
        Miami

        It seems a shame at first to skip over St. Cloud, but they’re basically an overachieving junior college. I’m not really sure the CCHA has much to offer beyond the schools already in the Big Ten for other sports, but I like the idea of taking a few of their more promising programs in order to have a 12-team league.

        The teams would play their divisional opponents four times a season (a weekend at each other’s arena) and have a weekend series against all six teams from the other half of the conference, alternating home and away each year. Then you’d have the top four teams in each division play each other in the playoffs and a weekend championship series between the final four in St. Paul or Detroit every year.

        That would be excellent.

        Like

        • FLP_NDRox says:

          Come on, this is Frank the Tank’s house. Here’s where we think *big*.

          Raid the ECAC!

          Forget the long roadtrips to Colorado and the population adverse Great Plains. Give Penn State natural eastern rivals. Expand the footprint in New York. RPI, St. Lawrence, Union, Clarkson, and Colgate are in upstate NY. Princeton is in NJ.

          Div I hockey isn’t big enough for a MAC-type conference. Leaving some of the natural powers in the WCHA keeps it a viable conference. An ECAC raid would provide openings for CCHA schools to get a soft landing when it dies.

          And let’s not forget the fun of making the Ivy league squirm by taking their conference-mates.

          Full disclosure: I don’t know if this is viable, or desirable, so I’m throwing it out there to see.

          Like

          • Jay says:

            None of those programs really spark much interest to me. The only Eastern teams that make the top 10 for average attendance in NCAA hockey are New Hampshire and BC, and they barely made it. Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota average near or well above 10,000 a game. The two Colorado schools get six or seven thousand a night. The smaller Minnesota schools in the WCHA get from four to six.

            Many of those small Eastern schools you brought up get about 1,500 to 2,000 a game and certainly wouldn’t regularly be competitive with the big Midwestern programs. I’m not sure what kind of television ratings college hockey gets out East, but I’d be pretty surprised if it’s anything like the Upper Midwest.

            Oh, and Minneapolis to Denver is about 700 miles. It’s over 1,000 miles to Upstate New York. Penn State is an upstart here, as a conference member and certainly as a hockey program. I wouldn’t make any concessions for them just because they’re on the extreme Eastern edge of the conference footprint.

            Attendance figures – http://web1.ncaa.org/web_files/stats/m_icehockey_rb/2009/MIH%20attendance.pdf

            Like

          • Richard says:

            Jay, it’s all moot. You must’ve missed out on all the discussions when it seemed ND may be considered for expansion. There’s no way the Big10 will add any hockey-only members now when they weren’t willing to add ND in all sports but football. Alliances? Annual rivalries? Even TV pacts? Sure, but remember that there’s an academic component to the Big10. Don’t worry, the Gophers would still play plenty of non-conf games against their old rivals.

            Like

  19. zeek says:

    Well, it’s already done if Curley did say this:

    http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2010/09/17/penn_state_to_add_division_i_h.aspx

    Big Ten conference play will begin in the 2014-15 season, Curley said.

    Like

  20. m (Ag) says:

    As someone who’s never really watched non-Olympic hockey, I’d be far more likely to stop for awhile on a Big Ten Hockey game than a game between two regional schools. Branding matters.

    If this is truly profitable to the Big Ten, could they eventually require that all 12 schools use BTN money to add programs of their own?

    Like

    • Richard says:

      People still have to watch the games. Maybe enough folks from Wisconsin, Minny, and Michigan in Chicagoland watch college hockey to make it worthwhile at NU. Iowa may add a program. IU or PU would add the state of Indiana, but hockey’s just not as big a deal there (compared to basketball). I don’t see UNL adding hockey as UNO already has hockey.

      Like

    • zeek says:

      Your first paragraph is pretty much why a BTHC is a done deal.

      As for the second, it’s doubtful, I mean the BTN money is equal regardless of appearances or whatever, same as for all the TV contracts. The goal of getting more content up is to increase advertising rates in the football offseason and subscriber fees, etc.

      But other schools will join in as hockey becomes a money making sport if they can make it work. The obvious example is Illinois, which is the most likely of the remaining 6 to be able to put together D-1 hockey.

      No one’s going to force Northwestern to put up a 6,000 arena that won’t be filled though…

      I’m sure they’d try to encourage it though or help them get people to sponsor it if possible (major network willing to buy package of marquee games, etc.).

      Each of the schools is going to have to make it work from the perspective of an $80M arena (or dual purpose arena with basketball) as well as a $10-20M seed fund for scholarships.

      If the BTN grows big enough, fast enough, that could substantially help, but that’s not an easy assumption to make.

      Like

      • SideshowBob says:

        I would think that rights fees are only paid out to the schools participating in a sport. So, for hockey, if only 6 schools participate in a BTHC, those 6 will share any rights fees paid by the BTN or Versus. Obviously, the profits generated by the BTN – some of which would come from Hockey broadcasts – would be shared among all 12 schools.

        Like

      • Jay says:

        Why would Northwestern need to build an arena. They’re in Chicagoland. That town’s got plenty of rinks. And it’s not like the Wildcats fill any venues for any sports as it is.

        Of course, Title IX makes adding programs like hockey very difficult as is. I’m not really in favor of any Big Ten schools trying to force it when it’s not likely to be a profitable sport for them. You’re not going to get people in Iowa City or Indiana consistently selling out their arena like fans in the Upper Midwest and Michigan always have. Either keep it at six teams so Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc., can keep a full non-conference schedule against schools like North Dakota that will always put quality teams on the ice, fill their buildings and draw eyeballs to TV broadcasts or invite those teams to a Big Ten hockey conference. We don’t need crappy bottom-feeding programs at places like Purdue basically losing money and wasting spots on the schedule. Might as well keep playing Mankato, Bemidji and the like in order to keep money in the state and guarantee the players’ families can keep going to a bunch of the games.

        Like

  21. Adam says:

    A question I’ve had for a long time, even before this hockey thing cropped up, although it’s relevant to hockey: why aren’t the football overflow channels used during the offseason? If you used those football overflow channels, it’d give the league much more scheduling flexibility for basketball even if this BTHC never gets off the ground, and if you added hockey, it adds that much more flexibility for showing hockey and basketball games.

    Just wondering what the deal is. On my cable, there are 4 overflow channels for football reserved, and they just sit dormant all year except for in-season. If the cable operator has made those available, what other costs are associated with using them?

    Like

    • stp147 says:

      The football overflow channels are only available during the Saturdays during the college football season due to the lack of conflicts at that time. There is a finite amount of bandwidth so they are only actually “on” while a game is being broadcast.

      Like

      • Adam says:

        I am not in television (I’m just a caveman), so I don’t totally understand what you mean. What conflicts don’t exist during football season but do during the offseason, such that the bandwidth is available during football season but not during basketball season?

        I guess I thought the biggest obstacle to a channel being available was jawboning the cable operators into making room for it, because there’s only a finite number of channel numbers that are available. But at least on my cable, there are 4 numbers that are tied up for the overflow channels year-round, which I guess I thought was the biggest hurdle.

        Like

        • @Adam – I understand your confusion, as what stp147 said has been explained to me before yet I still don’t quite get why such overflow channels are available for football but not for basketball. I have a hard time believing that it’s really a bandwith issue at this point (an April evening where MLB, NBA and NHL are all playing at the same time with their league pass packages would seem to create a massive bandwith issue, but I’ve never heard of that being a problem) and it’s more likely to be a contractual issue as to what cable carriers are willing to clear out extra channels for.

          Like

          • Adam says:

            What I find extra baffling is that my overflow channels are cleared year-round, even though they’re only used for 25% of it.

            Like

          • @Adam – Yes, it’s the same with me on DirecTV – there’s a whole slew of BTN overflow channels cleared out.

            Like

          • Adam says:

            And I’m not even on DirecTV! Just regular ol’ cable. Nor are my overflow channels off in some remote portion of the channel lineup to save room in the high-traffic area for something else. My cable goes basically from 2-100, and the overflow channels are in the 80s.

            Like

          • stp147 says:

            @Frank – I can speak more to the DirecTV side (since that’s what I have). It’s been explained to me that since the non-conference basketball season happens during the week when there are NHL, NBA and other college games on ESPN FC that the available transponder space on the DirecTV satellites is utilized. I did a quick look at the schedule and the NHL has between 6 and 12 games on Fri/Sat and the NBA can have roughly the same number. A lot of those games have home/away coverage which can mean as much as double the amount of games (FS Pittsburgh covers every Penguins game not nationally televised for example). ESPN FC has another 3-5 games/night and the conference schedule is purposely scheduled to not need overflow channels. The only issue is the non conference games. Contractually DirecTV, DishNetwork and U-Verse have only made overflows available during the 13 football Saturdays. Depending on demand/ratings this could be good for the network in future negotiations or for the streaming service. I think the network has a goal to produce ~500 events this year.

            Like

          • Craig says:

            Keep in mind that on DirecTV, at least, a lot of the overflow channels don’t actually have dedicated bandwidth. They’re part of a pool with other overflow channels and various PPV/single sport packages. Just because a channel is in the channel guide doesn’t mean that D* has the wherewithal to actually put content on it at any given moment.

            I know that before their new satellite went live, DirecTV was tapped out for bandwidth. Since then, they’ve added a number of nationwide HD channels, so I don’t know how much (if any) spare capacity they have now.

            Like

  22. Cliff's Notes says:

    Great Post Frank. This is tremendous news, and an even better pic to start the post.

    I think the formation of a BTHC certainly raises the profile of hockey at each Big Ten school, and if the TV rights are set up properly, could also raise the profile of college hockey in general. Long Term, this might counter the “damage” that would be done to the CCHA and the WCHA.

    Having an identifiable destination for a Game of The Week (or two) for College Hockey, with a small group of elite brand-name programs, will absolutely allow the BTHC to carve it’s niche. Or putting all of the games on Friday/Saturday nights on the Big Ten Network
    (or their overflow channels) makes it much easier for an average Big Ten football fan to find their hockey team and perhaps get interested and involved.

    And I think the Big Ten schools can still respect their former conference-mates pretty well, too. There is plenty of room to add “marquee games” without going overboard. Each of these teams still wants to make the national playoffs, and there will be some teams left out if they play a predominantly in-conference schedule.

    Looking at Michigan’s schedule and comparing it to a hypothetical Big Ten schedule could add a better mix of marquee opponents while still playing some existing nearby rivals. This year Michigan will play 36 regular season games in a 28/8 split of in- and non-conference. As mentioned earlier, a BTHC would probably see a 20/16 split (play everybody in conference 4 times).

    I’m looking at Michigan since it’s pretty well assumed that the WCHA is in better shape than the CCHA. UM, MSU, and OSU are actually pretty interchangeable, too.

    So how would this change Michigan’s schedule?

    Michigan would add three games each against Wisconsin and Minnesota, and four games against Penn State. They would lose 4 games against Alaska, 2 of the 4 against Ferris, and four non-conference opponents in Mercyhurst, New Hampshire, and 2 against Nebraska-Omaha. Seems like a win for me. That’s adding 10 games that could be shown on TV nationally and draw interest from two large fanbases (although I’m sure New Hampshire has it’s fans, too), and also, these games would generate much more interest for the home crowds, too. Depending on how you rank the current Michigan opponents, I see it as going from about 14 big games a year to 20 (MSU, OSU, Wisc, Minn, ND, Miami, and maybe more when Penn State grows up).

    I threw Alaska under the bus. Sorry. But otherwise, Michigan could still play every other long term CCHA rival twice as a non-conference game. UM can still play in the GLI (long-standing Christmas tournament at The Joe), and still play 2 games vs Ferris, LSSU, Northern, Western, BGSU, ND, and Miami. The first four are in-state rivals that UM and MSU (and perhaps even OSU) would likely want to continue to play. And the other three make sense, too. BGSU is a little more than an hour away. ND and Miami also have nice hockey history with Michigan, and are now national powers. And the ND brand-name would draw interest, too.

    I’m assuming Michigan State would be nearly identical with Michigan. Ohio State may not want to travel into Michigan as often, but I’m sure they would keep playing Miami and BGSU. Playing ND makes sense for them, and the occasional game against Ferris or Western isn’t so bad. Travel to LSSU or Northern might not be as enjoyable, though.

    The CCHA TV package falls apart, as does the CCHA Championship weekend. And the prestige of the Conference certainly takes a hit. And the remaining CCHA teams will lose (over a decade) a handful of marquee games vs UM, MSU, and OSU on those few years when they would have played four times instead of two. But there’s no reason that ND or Miami couldn’t still make The Frozen Four, or more or less play their existing schedule.

    Wisconsin and Minnesota would have to make a few more cuts, as they need to add 14 new games, not 10. But as has been mentioned, the remaining WCHA teams will be strong enough.

    Like

    • Richard says:

      The Big10 may not be allowed to throw Alaska under the bus. Remember that the 2 Alaska schools were split up so that no conference had the undue burden of traveling to Alaska. As the new 800 pound gorilla, the Big10 may accept playing the Alaska schools a bunch out of conference to foster goodwill with the CCHA and WCHA (to offset the illwill), one which they’re weakening severely, and one which they’re still weakening.

      Like

      • @Richard – I could see that compromise happening. Traveling to the Alaska schools allows hockey programs to add 2 extra games to their regular season schedules (similar to how football teams get an extra game if they travel to Hawaii), so that blunts the financial blow a little bit.

        Like

        • Craig says:

          That’s not exactly right. The way it actually works is, games played in Alaska or Hawai`i against a team from that state are exempt. I don’t think there’s a cap on how many games you can exempt; the Alaskas themselves being subject to the 34-game limit (and playing an out-of-conference series against each other) limits the ability of anybody to do anything silly.

          So, I don’t think that they’d necessarily want to do it, but I think an Integer team could do a two-weekend swing through The Alaska Formerly Known As Fairbanks and UAA and get four exempt games.

          Like

      • Cliff's Notes says:

        Richard,

        Good point.

        I don’t have a link, but I recall that when the Alaska schools were added about 15 years ago, that the state of Alaska kicks some travel money towards the conference schools to support the visits. Otherwise, the CCHA and WCHA might not have accepted the difficult logistics and travel costs to get to Alaska.

        Also, it might not be every year that each school plays them. I think it’s fair to say that A LOT of the past rivalries can be respected in non-conference games, but the Big Ten schools certainly will have some rivalries changed.

        And if you are fostering goodwill with the CCHA and WCHA, would schools like Ferris St, Northern Michigan, or St Cloud St rather have the Big Ten schools visit their campuses, or Alaska’s campuses? If it can only be one, I’ll be curious to see where the self-interest choices are made.

        Like

        • Richard says:

          Well, you don’t get extra games for going to Ferris St. The visits to Alaska are essentially free games for a rich league like the BTHC.

          Like

  23. Todd says:

    Why is the Penn State hockey team called the Icers and not the Nittany Lions? Is it the club thing?

    Like

  24. Adam says:

    FWIW, I’ve always been under the impression that Bettman is somewhat unfairly savaged for what is perceived as the NHL’s team location issues. Winnipeg and Quebec moved because there was real concern at that time that any Canadian franchises (other than Toronto and Montreal) could remain financially viable; it had to do with money coming in in Canadian dollars but being paid to the players in American dollars. The league even set up some kind of a help-the-Canadian-teams-stay-afloat fund, I think. Now, I believe they are (as a group) very healthy. To blame Bettman for the Jets moving to Phoenix is not, in my opinion, totally fair.

    Additionally, there was a moment in the mid-90s (right after when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup) that the NHL was perceived as the league that had something the NBA lacked. Jordan had retired, and the NHL played a fast-paced, fairly violent game, with players that (so the marketing people thought) would appeal to your upper-middle-class-and-up consumers who buy game tickets. The conventional wisdom was that northern/Midwestern snowbirds/permanent retirees/émigrés would be a license to print money for northern sports in the Sun Belt (recall, for example, that this was the exact thinking that prevailed when the Bidwell family moved the Cardinals to Arizona in 1994).

    Obviously almost all of this thinking was wrong — but I think it was something that needed to be tried. If they hadn’t, people would be dumping on the NHL for not having the guts to experiment and spread their brand/footprint etc. etc. instead of the current narrative of hating on Bettman because he did.

    Although I agree that it makes no sense to cling to the Phoenix market now that that has flopped.

    Like

    • Hopkins Horn says:

      Adam, that thinking wasn’t necessarily wrong. It’s just that the NHL, in the very season following the momentum-building Rangers Cup victory, had an extremely damaging work stoppage which wiped out the first half of the season which followed.

      Like

      • Adam says:

        I guess I was thinking more along the lines of this notion that northerners who moved to the Sun Belt would drive interest in Sun Belt teams. It hasn’t worked with the Cardinals, it hasn’t worked with the Diamondbacks, it hasn’t worked with the Marlins, it hasn’t worked with the Rays, it hasn’t worked with most of the various NHL experiments (Dallas being a notable exception).

        Like

    • jj says:

      On the list of worst people at their jobs of all time, it goes something like this:

      1. Detroit Lions Management
      2. City of Detroit Government
      3. Barry Melrose
      4. Gary B

      Like

      • Cliff's Notes says:

        You can move City of Detroit Government up to #1. Historically. It is absolutely sickening what has gone on in the city over a long period of time, and how things have been run.

        That being said, there are very positive steps being taken to fight corruption and inefficiency. Google the names of Robert Bobb and Kym Worthy for a couple of people fighting the good fight, and who have made progress.

        Also, while I personally think Dave Bing is in over his head a little bit, the guy has a genuine heart, is busting his ass, and trying to make things better. He’s a fresh voice, but he has some incredibly hard challenges and choices ahead of him. I hope he’s given the chance to make some changes.

        Like

  25. Ag1 says:

    Is there any truth to the rumour from Rivals Chip Brown that UT Austin is considering the option to buy the Dallas Stars and the American Airlines Center in Dallas and joining the Big 10 Hockey League? I heard that there is real potential here, if and only if, the Big 10 can pony up a strong enough TV contract offer.

    Sources say that Texas is at the center of the hockey conference realignment talks once again!

    Like

  26. […] on the Big Ten Division-palooza post, while the college hockey discussion should be under the Big Ten Expansion Hits the Ice post from earlier today.  Have a great […]

    Like

  27. John Powderly says:

    Love the pic! “Take off, you hoser!”

    Like

  28. stp147 says:

    Frank – Since Penn State will be independent when they start playing Div I they retain their own TV rights, correct? Could this possibly be a pilot/trial period for the BTN to cover the games if PSU athletics entered into a deal with the BTN to have their games produced?

    Like

    • zeek says:

      Don’t the individual schools control their hockey rights in this situation since they’re affiliated with different conferences? Namely, they each have their own local deals with the WCHA or CCHA or an independent Penn State as it were.

      The Big Ten only has rights assigned to it by the schools for sports that the Big Ten sponsors.

      So, right now the Big Ten currently puts up 10 games on BTN and 20 on stream, and those are probably deals they have to provide content with the individual schools as a part of the CCHA/WCHA and their own local deals, etc.

      If there is a Big Ten hockey conference, then they’d presumably assign their rights to the Big Ten for hockey.

      Then the Big Ten would be able to package all of the Big Ten hockey home games (60 conference and 50 or so non-conference home games for a 6 school BTHC) into either a situation where they sell a package of top games (first pick each Friday) to a national network/cable channel or they put them all on BTN and streams.

      I’d imagine that Penn State will cut local deals in Pennsylvania and possibly have some put on the BTN…

      A BTHC just makes things a lot easier like putting together good matchups for TV as well as controlling the rights.

      Like

      • Cliff's Notes says:

        zeek,

        I had heard somewhere that the CCHA controls TV rights, and the CCHA commish somewhat ticked off the BTN by not turning over all the rights to them. Now, the big ten schools are the ones that draw the ratings, so he may have been able to make a stand, but it will ultimately be short-lived.

        Like

  29. zeek says:


    “I repeat, there is NOT a Big Ten Hockey Conference on the horizon…”

    Priceless…

    Like

  30. Craig Z says:

    There could be a Big Ten-ACC Challenge-type matchup with the CCHA or WCHA each year to help keep some of those rivalries going.

    Like

  31. psu4life says:

    A Big Ten hockey conference will be the biggest and best thing thing to happen to ncaa hockey and united states hockey in general in a long time. Ncaa hockey has seen a large talent drain in recent years to canadians junior leagues. The biggest reason has been the level of competition has traditionally been better. But by consolidating the four traditional powers with Ohio State and Penn State, the competition within the conference will be raised significantly. You add in the television coverage on the BTN, prospects will be more likely to stay home in the US just to allow family and friends to watch them on tv and increase their exposure. The better the prospects, the better the product. The better the product, the more prospects will want to be part of it. The small schools will be hurt initially, but the talent level will increase league wide as the exposure will be greater than before. Look at college football. Back in the day, there were a few national powers. These schools absorbed most of the talent in the nation. Talented players never got the chance to play sitting on the bench. Scholarships limits and increased television exposure made it possible for Boise State and TCU to produce good teams and nfl talent. The same will happen to hockey eventually. The United States has become the second best nation in regards to hockey talent in the world. This might actually help close the gap on Canada. As a hockey fan, I am pretty stoked.

    Like

  32. Rod M says:

    And you think Northwestern is up to the task as well? Seems like a long shot, though recall a hockey club existing once upon a time. What are you hearing from the grapevine?

    Like

    • M says:

      Northwestern is not adding a hockey team. If someone wants to donate that kind of cash to the NU athletics department, it will go to stadium improvements.

      Like

      • zeek says:

        Yeah pretty much. Northwestern is going to focus on football and basketball attendance.

        If they could ever get football attendance consistently over 40k, then they could consider other sports or whatever, but right now that’s way too much of a luxury.

        Unless Northwestern is hiding someone who wants to give a huge chunk of money to start a hockey team, it isn’t happening any time soon.

        Like

        • @zeek – The amount of the donation to start up the Penn State hockey program is definitely a massive eye opener. Note that this is the single largest donation in the entire history of the school (whether for academics or athletics). Between the new ice arena and scholarships, the initial expenditures are going to push close to $100 million. That basically means that any school that wants to add hockey is going to need a billionaire sugar daddy alum to throw down a whole bunch of cash for it to be even possible.

          Like

          • zeek says:

            Yeah, I was shocked at the amount required to build it from the ground up entirely.

            It would be interesting to see whether a school like Nebraska could do it at a much cheaper rate though since their new basketball arena will be able to serve as a hockey arena (according to some articles on it).

            But even if you negate around $30-40M or so of cost by having an easily modified arena, you still need a lot of seed money for scholarship endowment and the rest, around $40-60M.

            It just isn’t feasible for any of the schools right now unless a big donor is willing to step up and foot such massive start up costs.

            Also, Penn State discussed this with the donor for a few years, and he finally managed to free up a lot of money due to his business sale.

            Just how many schools have hockey mad billionaires liquidating assets in the near future?…

            Nebraska will at least have the arena part taken care of, but they’re going to need someone willing to put up the rest of the funds.

            Illinois would need the full $100M I assume…

            Let’s not even go to Indiana, Iowa, Northwestern, or Purdue. None of those 4 sounds like they’d be able to do this right now or any time in the near future given that they have much smaller athletic budgets.

            Like

          • Richard says:

            Only way NU can start a hockey program is if they play offsite, at the Allstate Arena or something (the old barn where we play basketball had a dirt floor in to the 70’s–old photos of games at Welsh-Ryan showed a haze of dust above the players playing on the temporary court put on th dirt floor–so Welsh-Ryan’s likely out of the question). Still, I’m not sure NU can draw enough people to justify the cost (startup + rent + staff + scholarships). The Chicago Wolves draw about 8K/game; that’s probably the very best NU can hope for, and to acheive that, a lot of Minn, UW, MSU, Michigan, and maybe ND (maybe UofI) hockey fans in the Chicagoland area would have to come out to watch when their teams visit.

            I also just don’t see UNL starting a hockey program when UNO has it as their main sport. It’s more likely that UNL tries to finagle UNO in to the Big10 hockey conference.

            Like

          • zeek says:

            I don’t get why Omaha’s team would affect UNL’s?

            I mean fanbase-wise, a potential UNL team wouldn’t really have any affect on ticket sales etc.

            There’s really only one major reason to having a BTHC and that’s the possibility of leveraging the games as TV properties. I don’t know if UN-Omaha can do that better than UNL itself. Maybe it can, maybe it can’t.

            We’ll have to wait and see how it shakes out, but UNL did leave themselves some sort of a possibility since the new basketball arena can fit a hockey rink in, so there is a modification possibility…

            With Penn State now in, I don’t think we’d see non-Big Ten members, although there is the possibility of ND since ND has value as a TV property and could enhance the value of the league in terms of advertising rates for games etc. if people watch…

            Like

          • Richard says:

            Why do you think UNL starting a hockey team wouldn’t have an effect on UNO hockey ticket sales? You do realize that Lincoln and Omaha are only an hour apart, right? I wouldn’t be surprised if there are plenty of people who current attend both UNL football and UNO hockey games.

            Like

          • zeek says:

            Because that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

            Hockey attendance at UNO is what 7000-8000?

            How much of that would be lost if UNL fielded a team? I have no idea, but I’d guess that’d be something to measure before doing anything.

            I really don’t think it’s that big an issue, football attendance is like 85,000…

            It all depends on how many of the 7000-8000 that go to UNO games comes out of Lincoln or people who’d prefer to go to UNL hockey games if it was D-1.

            Like

          • Richard says:

            I don’t think it’s a negligible number. Add in the fact that hockey is the only DivI sport at UNO (so it likely funds the rest of their athletics department) and startup costs for hockey are pretty high, and there’d be a lot of pressure not to start hockey at UNL; rather admit UNO to the Big10 hockey conference if anything.

            Like

          • Vincent says:

            If Maryland ever gets hockey, UnderArmour would likely have something to do with it.

            Like

          • zeek says:

            Richard I agree with you.

            I think they’d study whether the area can support a 5000-6000 ticket UNL D-1 team, while also making sure the ticket prices aren’t devalued at UNO and attendance doesn’t take a hit. If those two factors are small effects, we could possibly see it. If not, it probably won’t happen because they wouldn’t want to destroy UNO’s athletic department.

            Like

          • Richard says:

            IMHO, I think Iowa starting a hockey program is more likely. They’re close to the hockey hotbed of Minnesota, and there aren’t that many entertainment options in Eastern Iowa.

            Like

          • Sportsman24 says:

            @Richard,
            As an Iowa fan, I hope you’re right. I’d love Hawkeye Hockey!

            @All/Anyone,
            With the BTN and it’s increasing profits, is it possible/probable that the BT members start offering more sports, such as Hockey. Lacrosse, etc? Then, the BT (Conference) could sponsor those sports. Could the BT become all-encompassing?

            Like

          • mnfanstc says:

            As a Minn fan, I’d love to see Iowa develop a hockey program… it’d be one more sporting opportunity to play our “friends” to the south.

            Regarding schools adding sports… that’d be up to the money… To my knowledge, Minnesota has 21 varsity collegiate sports. From 08′, overall athletics budget was just under $80 million–I believe that the U is required to show a balanced sheet at the end of the year… so $80 mil = 0 in the end. I know Minn spends the least of the Big 10 schools on football (<$10 mil) (product reveals this, BTW). Not sure how overall expenditures look. I do know that hockey (like football) is high overhead…lots of gear, lots of training, lots of wounded warriors to heal. Also know that at Minn, local revenues are football 1, men's bb 2, men's hockey 3… These three pay for the other 18… though men's wrestling and baseball are likely self supporting or close.

            The likelihood of adding other teams at Minnesota seems to me highly unlikely considering that earlier this decade they were considering dropping a couple of sports. I suppose it depends on a university's and their alumni's priorities.

            Like

          • Richard says:

            There are few sports that actually make money for any school. Football, basketball, hockey in some places, baseball (generally small) in some places, some women’s sports in a handful of schools (gymnastics at Utah, women’s BB at Tennessee, etc.), though a few more women’s sports programs may breakeven. Maybe a few more sports are breakeven or small money-makers in various regions (wrestling in various school in and around Iowa; women’s volleyball in Nebraska; some soccer programs). The most popular lacrosse programs are only around breakeven; it would definitely be a money-loser anywhere in the Midwest. Other than hockey, the only other sports that I can see become even small money makers are baseball, women’s volleyball, or women’s volleyball, and none of them really move the needle.

            Like

          • Cliff's Notes says:

            FYI.

            Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor only seats 6,637.

            Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing seats 6,470.

            So you don’t need a huge building.

            Other schools have gone with off-campus buildings before, especially at start-up. So if Northwestern really wanted one, they could.

            The problem is that they would be competing for fans not only with the Chicago Wolves and other minor league hockey, but also with the NU basketball team. My experience with UM and MSU is that students are only season ticket holders for one of the other, not both. The hockey fans are a distinct, separate crowd from the basketball fans. And with NU having a smaller student body, it just might be tough to get the desired momentum.

            Like

          • StvInIL says:

            Yes, we have talked about how Pro Sports cities impact colleg e attendance. But How would this affect NU in Evanston. Probably won’t affect the champion Blackhawk’s much but would it not hurt the wolves who are a now established minor league franchise in the Chicago land area?

            Like

        • @StvInIL – The Wolves serve a sizable niche within the Chicago market – relatively inexpensive entertainment that’s very easily accessible for suburban families. The Kane County Cougars and Schaumburg Flyers serve the same purpose for minor league baseball.

          I don’t think Northwestern, if it were to ever start a hockey program (which I think is extremely unlikely) can really depend upon that demographic for attendance. It would need to get student support first and foremost and then try to get alums or others with a direct connection to the school on top of that. As others have noted, Northwestern has enough issues trying to do this with a pretty good football program and an alleged basketball program, so the prospects of Northwestern hockey are not very good.

          Like

          • zeek says:

            Frank, one of the posters on Northwestern’s rivals site (not the one spreading all the rumors) directly asked Bienen (our former president), and he said “never.”

            It just won’t work from a fanbase perspective.

            If you run a hockey program it has to be revenue generating or at least revenue/cost neutral.

            Northwestern will never have that, since it has to really work to keep attendance passable in football and basketball.

            Adding hockey would just add a revenue drain, even if you had an alum with $100M to spend, since the program would lose money every year due to a lack of ticket sales.

            Like

  33. mnfanstc says:

    Great post Frank. As a hockey die-hard this whole Big 10 hockey conference thing will take some time for a Minnesota fan like me to digest and accept.

    On paper, my upfront feel is that it would do more harm than good.
    The WCHA has been around since 1959. There are some very good longstanding rivalries here (outside of the great Minn/Wisc rivalry). I know less about the other D-1 hockey conferences, but decided to do a little research. The other one with Big 10 schools (Mich/tOSU/MSU), the CCHA, was founded in 1971. Between these two D-1 men’s hockey conferences, they own 47 of the national championships since the NCAA officially sanctioned in 1948.

    Digging deeper, I found that of the 30 titles the WCHA owns, 5 belong to Minn, 6 to Wisc. Of the 17 the CCHA owns, 9 belong to Mich, 3 belong to MSU. Sooo… of the 47 of those 2 conferences, 23 (almost HALF) belong to these 4 Big Ten schools… pretty damn impressive.

    After the research, I can see where a Big Ten hockey conference could raise the profile of NCAA D-1 hockey. BUT… the Big Ten PTB had better be careful, so not to break the golden goose. If you destroy, or significantly devalue these other long-standing rivalries you WILL weaken these other conferences, which I believe have benefitted from large, high profile Big Ten schools. (Try getting a WCHA Final Five ticket–especially when played @ the Xcel Energy Center in St Paul).

    If overall competitiveness suffers, the overall product becomes devalued. It is true that these respective Big Ten schools don’t necessarily dominate their hockey conference year in/year out, but there presence, and the passion that these schools and fans have for these sports raise the overall value.

    The smaller schools will suffer if they are shut out from the marquee match-ups they depend on. Sorry, but I care more about the small university near my backyard, more than I do a large university in a state 800 miles away with a $88 million donor… If the Big Ten is NOT careful, they will destroy college hockey by cutting it’s heart out.

    College hockey is pure… The NHL is NOT… If ya go after the money, the game will suffer…

    Like

    • Adam says:

      Personally, I think Big Ten hockey has the potential to completely revolutionize the nature of college hockey. Yes, it’s possible that it will hurt or even kill off (in the long term) hockey at some smaller schools (say, Lake Superior State, or the Alaskas). The flip side of that, though, is that I think it has the potential to elevate ice hockey to being something closer to a “staple,” the kind of sport that any self-respecting major northern university’s athletic department would offer.

      Like

      • jj says:

        Lake State will not be killed off by anything. it’s a tiny school, but a good program.

        Like

        • Cliff's Notes says:

          For a lot of these tiny schools, the hockey program is THE thing on campus. They compete at D-1 in hockey, but much lower levels in basketball and (if at all) football. The bigger worry might be at the medium-sized schools, like when Illinois-Chicago or Kent State lost their programs.

          Like

          • StvInIL says:

            Just a Note, UIC was always a struggling program but they did compete. Their program dies at the hands of the aspirations of the Basketball program. There is only so much money to go around.

            Like

      • Jay says:

        I think it’s quite a reach to ever think NCAA hockey will become much more than what it has been in the past when it comes to player development and on-ice quality. Even if more Americans play at a high level now than ever did in the past, the fact of the matter is that the best players in the world will always come out of Canada.

        In addition to that, with the end of the Cold War, the NHL gained access to infinitely more European talent than it ever had before. Sure, more and more of those Europeans are electing to stay at home and play in the KHL, but the NHL will take the best, make them most comfortable, pay them consistently and give them the best stage to perform on.

        Due to the nature of the sport, hockey players are able to become highly-paid professionals much earlier than their counterparts in football (the only sport left that really requires its athletes to develop in a college or minor-league setting for three or four years into adulthood).

        Even with increased exposure for collegiate hockey in the United States, there will be a lot of guys who don’t want the distraction, hassle or other elements of life that come along with making most likely a four-year commitment to a university. Especially when they could just start playing in the Canadian Hockey League when they’re 16 and start their career path then.

        There are plenty of perks to playing major junior hockey instead of in the NCAA. Most importantly, the style (and quality) of play is much more comparable to professional hockey, and since the main focus is the sport, CHL players are more likely to be properly prepared for a potential career in the NHL. There is probably more exposure to pro scouts for junior players than NCAA athletes as well. Finally, depending on the team, the arenas are fuller than the typical college venue, there is more media coverage than those teams would receive and the team is a bigger deal in comparison to other sports in the market.

        Perhaps a Big Ten hockey conference could lead to a slight bump in the sport’s popularity and quality, but I wouldn’t expect to see it become the main feeder to the NHL anytime soon.

        Like

    • fifthangell says:

      From 1951 until 1981 both UM and MSU were members of the WCHA:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Collegiate_Hockey_Association

      Like

  34. Jay says:

    As a Gopher, I don’t like the sound of this. The only Big Ten school whose hockey team we care about is Wisconsin, and there are long, established rivalries with North Dakota, Denver, St. Cloud and Duluth. With only six teams, the Big Ten would technically be able to form a hockey conference but I just don’t think that’s enough teams to make it work competitively. Although, I suppose that would allow Minnesota and Wisconsin to continue playing their old WCHA foes and the Michigan schools to continue playing their local rivals out of conference.

    Like

    • Adam says:

      I think that’s the idea. A 6-team Big Ten hockey league would only play a 20-game league schedule. The CCHA and WCHA both play 28-game league schedules. That roughly doubles the number of non-conference games everybody has to keep scheduling the old league foes.

      Like

  35. WhiskeyBadger says:

    If the BTHC goes after hockey-only members, why not NoDak (The Real ND)? ND fans are rabid, and that would add North and South Dakota, and probably Montana to our viewership map for the BTN. Plus, they’re a hell of a team. Thugs, but with NCs. Just look at a map with all our current states, and those states highlighted and imagine making a presentation with that as a BT official.

    Like

    • FLP_NDRox says:

      Notre Dame founded 1842
      University of North Dakota founded 1883

      I doubt the Big Ten wants to step into the Ralph Engelstad/Fighting Souix controversy. Nor do I think they want to see another school in conference stomping on tOSU and PSU on a consistent basis.

      Like

      • WhiskeyBadger says:

        When you are discussing college hockey, ND is North Dakota. 7 NCs, 18 FFs. Notre Dame has no titles, and made its first tourney in 2004. That’s all I was saying. I’m not referring to founding dates, etc.

        I can see what you mean with RE and the Sioux controversy, but Miami, while no NoDak (happy?), would beat OSU and PSU rather consistently as well. I doubt that quality is a concern. Especially when you add all the money I would imagine ND could bring in.

        Miami, BG, and WMU add nothing to the footprint/ add no dollars. Miami is quality, but do we need some others to beat up on? Do they just believe 6 would be too small? Why would that group be considered?

        Like

        • FLP_NDRox says:

          Well, with PSU, I think it all becomes moot. However, I think the idea was to help out their longtime MAC opponents in potential a tough spot if the CCHA loses their Big Ten teams. And it doen’t hurt that they would be easier opponents than the Big Ten schools. Remember, Miami’s success has been very recent (like ND’s actually). I think an 8 team Big Ten/MAC league has a better shot of being a three bid league than a six team BTHC.

          Like

        • Craig says:

          Wrong on the college hockey nomenclature. ND is Notre Dame, UND is North Dakota.

          Like

  36. Hodgepodge says:

    Per OSU AD, it looks like further Big Ten expansion is tabled for now:

    http://www.thelantern.com/sports/smith-osu-michigan-rivalry-faces-uncertain-future-past-12-1.1607700

    Quote:
    It seems that the growth will not occur through further conference expansion.

    “We’re finished (with expansion),” Smith said. “The only thing that would cause us to look at it further is if someone contacted us.”

    Smith acknowledged that few Big Ten representatives have closed the door to further expansion.

    “The reason most of us say it’s not done is because we think there are some schools that are going to try to talk to some conferences. But we’re not actively out looking at expansion,” Smith said.

    “After our October meetings, that’s going to be the last we talk about it.”

    Like

    • greg says:

      This is fantastic news!

      p.s. Hawkeyes special teams stink. But that will be corrected.

      Like

      • Hodgepodge says:

        OSU’s special teams are worse, and I have no expectations that they will improve this year.

        Like

        • mnfanstc says:

          Sorry guys, the Gopher’s special teams are more giving than your teams… They love the gift of giving, giving up touchdowns and the ball…

          Like

          • Hodgepodge says:

            In three games so far, OSU has had a FG blocked and returned for a TD, had a kickoff returned against them for a TD, and had a punt returned against them for a TD. They’ve also gotten a punt block but not, stunningly, returned for a TD.

            Currently, the OSU special teams have allowed more points than the defense has.

            Like

  37. FLP_NDRox says:

    Does this mean it’s now over? I read that to mean that they aren’t going to discuss expansion again unless Texas or the Irish pick up the phone. Or is that just the tinfoil hat being too tight?

    Like

    • Hank says:

      I think it does.

      Its fun to speculate about grandiose expansion scenarios but I think the conference is generally relatively conservative and having added a championship game and gone to a division structure thats a lot of change. So for the next several years at least the focus will be on integrating Nebraska and ironing out issues with scheduling and the divisions and such. Unless of course Notre Dame picks up the phone. After that integration period they may reconsider.

      Like

      • ccrider55 says:

        I’m not so sure. If you were looking to expand with only one would Nebraska have been the one that would have been vetted enough, been at the head of the list, in order to jump as soon as Neb said it was time? How does this fill the supposed need to do something in the east for PSU? Or was that just speculation too? Don’t get me wrong. I love the addition of Nebraska but I don’t buy that it was the end game over all other “properties” that seem to possibly be in play. “Smith acknowledged that few Big Ten representatives have closed the door to further expansion.” Perhaps Smith’s view is that his school is fine if they stop, not sure that view is shared by all.

        Like

        • Hank says:

          Nebraska was the one of the brand names that was available. Would the Big Ten have preferred Notre Dame to Nebraska as a 12th member? No offense to our future Cornhusker overlords but given our history with ND probablt yes. But Notre Dame is not available and Texas was a flirtation so Nebraska was a very good third option to get to 12 and get the divisional and Championship game process underway NOW.

          And none of what Smith said or how I’m interperting it is implying expansion is permanently over. But I suspect unless someone else pushes the process we are content to play this hand for 5 years to work out the bugs and then reassess. Thats what expansion is over for now means I think.

          Like

        • Richard says:

          I stated many months ago that if the Big10 expanded to only 1, it would be ND, Texas, or UNL.

          Right now, there’s no great urgency by the Big10 to add anyone.

          He did say “if someone contacts us”, which may be a subtle hint to certain ACC schools, but it looks like the Big10 won’t raid the ACC unless there’s discontent in that conference (it doesn’t want to look like the bad guy).

          Like

          • zeek says:

            That’s my take on it.

            This is a signal to anyone who’d be interested to contact us.

            Right now, the Big Ten has only really been contacted by Big East or Big 12 schools.

            I’d bet that Delany would make a move to 14 if the right ACC schools contacted him.

            Like

    • Bamatab says:

      I don’t think the possibility is over yet. I think thay he may be just trying to divert attention away from expansion for now (they don’t want expansion candidates to betalked about in the media because of what happened with the Pac 16). He can probably say (with some shadow of truth) that the Big Ten won’t be actively out looking because preliminary contact has already been made to all of the prospective schools. Now they just have to weigh the pros and cons of each team and decide if they would be a good fit. Do I think expansion 100% happens, no. But I do think that there will be further examination done on the possible candidates which could lead to further expansion.

      Like

    • M says:

      Too tight, or not tight enough? Clearly, the comment means that they are trying to lure everyone into a false sense of security, only to later invite the University of Toronto and move the Nebraska-Omaha hockey program to Georgia Tech.

      Seriously, you haven’t believed any statement from any Big Ten/ND/Big East/Gary Patterson official. Why this one?

      Like

  38. Vincent says:

    A lot of unhappy folk in New Brunswick and College Park.

    Like

    • zeek says:

      Well, I don’t know why College Park folks would be upset.

      He said, “The only thing that would cause us to look at it further is if someone contacted us.”

      We know for a fact that Rutgers did contact the Big Ten over the past few years.

      I highly doubt Maryland made any contact. Yow was all gung-ho pro-ACC and no one at Maryland seemed eager to go anywhere.

      It means the onus is on a school that Delany would want, would have to contact him…

      Like

      • ccrider55 says:

        He said, “The only thing that would cause us to look at it further is if someone contacted us.”

        Could this be considered a request, or notice that contact will now being taken and not filed away forever?

        Like

        • zeek says:

          It’s a signal that the Big Ten is willing to wait until a school that’s worth expanding for contacts us.

          Obviously, ND satisfies that requirement, but I think some ACC schools do as well.

          Like

      • aps says:

        Smith is just an AD. How much about expansion does he know, only God knows. I expect that only Delaney and some of the college presidents knows what is going on as far as what schools they are looking at. AD’s are on a need to know basis. And they don’t run this conference, the Presidents do through Delaney.

        Delaney has said in the past that they are first concerned about integrating Nebraska into the Big Ten and then looking at further expansion. From what he has indicated it wont be until December at the earliest.

        I don’t believe they are done with expansion. Will it be this year or next, don’t know. But I do believe they will expand. And I do believe it will be driven by academics and demographics. Plus they have time because of when the contract comes up for renewal.

        They already have 4 of the top 10 programs of all time. They also have two other top tier programs in Iowa and Wisconsin. What they need is not more top ranked programs. They need further expansion of the Big Ten foot print which means demographics. And they want schools that meet their academic requirements.

        Thus I believe they still are looking east and south east. They want to accommodate Penn State with east coast partners as well as expand the Big Ten foot print.

        Like

        • Vincent says:

          I have to believe that Maryland officials are discreetly putting their de facto</i? application package together, and will have it ready for the right people in the Big Ten this spring, so as not to deflect undue attention now during football or basketball season. (Their nightmare is seeing some of the hoops-obsessed yahoos in College Park cause enough stink to shoot this down.) The same process might also be underway at Rutgers.

          Like

          • Michael in Indy says:

            If Maryland made a move, I would be shocked. Obviously the Big Ten is an alluring league to ANY school ANYWHERE in the country, but Maryland isn’t at all in an unfavorable situation.

            It was one thing when Nebraska and Colorado left the Big 12, who left a decent league, academically, for outstanding leagues. But, as the Missouri governor might put it, there aren’t any Oklahoma States or Texas Techs in the ACC that would make Maryland anything less than proud to associate with.

            Besides, unlike the Big East and Big 12, there’s little reason to believe the ACC’s future won’t be bright. It’s a fast-growing region of the country that, compared to the Big Ten region, is getting richer, too. Washington, Boston, RDU, Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami–these are places where highly educated people are moving in big numbers. As for on-the-field play, Miami & FSU will eventually return to prominence just like Texas & Oklahoma did after their 10+ year run of mediocrity, and when that happens, TV revenue will go way up.

            In the meantime, Maryland will just have to settle for the its share of the ACC’s $155 million a year from ESPN. It’ll be tough, especially since they’ll have to deal with schools it’s been doing business with for as much as 90 years without ever having the kind of in-conference problems that Nebraska had.

            Like

          • Michael in Indy says:

            Rutgers would be different. They have little to lose by leaving the Big East and everything to gain by joining the Big Ten.

            Like

          • Vincent says:

            Maryland may not be in an unfavorable situation compared to Rutgers, but while the ACC is a fine conference, if you can join the Big Ten, it’s a considerable step up — in academics, research and particularly in football, the financial engine that drives the collegiate athletics bus. ACC football excites few in the Washington/Baltimore area; Big Ten football would not only fill Byrd Stadium, but likely lead to its enlargement.

            Like

  39. Hank says:

    One thought re the talk of a Big Ten Hockey conference and possible alternatives. What about the BTN just acting like a stand alone network and negotiating broadcast rights with the CCHA and WCHA? I was thinking about this in response to the posts suggesting just turning the two conferences into divisions of the Big Ten. This accomplishes the same thing without opening the issue of affiliating schools with the academic side of the Big Ten that wouldn’t make the cut otherwise. It enhances the marketability of the network in a much broader footprint. And it ensures the viability of the smaller schools who have been so integral to college hockey and maintains their rivalries.

    As an adjunct to this you can create a de facto Big Ten chanpionship by utilizing the current conference games and arranging non conference play to fill in the gaps.

    Like

    • @Hank – The BTN has been trying to do this for a long time, but they haven’t had as much success getting those rights from the CCHA and WCHA as they’d like. The CCHA and WCHA have turned out to be very hesitant in handing over many rights to the Big Ten members’ games since those happen to be the most valuable. Now, will they be willing to bend on those rights now that they might face the Big Ten teams leaving altogether? Possibly, but the train has left the station, so to speak. The Big Ten would rather have total control, Penn State isn’t spending $100 million to start up a hockey program to be in a conference with Ferris State, and if the Big Ten didn’t care about sending schools like Kansas and Missouri to the Mountain West by possibly destroying the Big 12, it likely isn’t going to worry about the smaller hockey schools.

      Like

      • Hank says:

        sadly I see you’re point Frank. Its to bad since it could be a win win for both. I would think the WCHA and CCHA would be more ammenable as the alternate of losing the Big Ten schools is now a real possibility. And as to Penn State, in a six team Big Ten conference they are going to wind up playing a lot of Ferris State and friends regardless. A hybrid solution with a de facto Big Ten championship cohabiting within the existing two conferences would see them playing pretty much the same mix they would wind up playing in a stand alone Big Ten. And I like the potential for expanding the network footprint by giving them something additional to sell.

        Like

        • Josh says:

          The problem with this is that the Big Ten is going to want a championship tournament in St. Paul, Milwaukee, Detroit or Pittsburgh and that tournament is going to have to be scheduled at the same time as the WCHA and CCHA tournaments.

          As a Badger hockey fan (I grew up in Madison but went to Iowa. I still cheer for the Badgers in hockey.) the only school in the WCHA I’d really miss is North Dakota. Sure, CC and Denver are fun to play, but I’d rather play Michigan and Michigan State.

          Like

          • FLP_NDRox says:

            Why not Chicago as a BTHC tournament host? It’s the largest city, centrally located, and doesn’t have a hometown team.

            I would guess that the CCHA tournament without UM and MSU would not be held at Joe Louis. I would suspect they would move it to Grand Rapids (longtime NCAA tourney site), Ft. Wayne (recent NCAA tourney site, centrally located) or some other smaller city. The WCHA might look west to Grand Forks or Denver along with St. Paul?

            Like

          • Josh says:

            Why not Chicago for the Big Ten Hockey Tournament? Because I’m assuming that this decision is going to be made by the six schools that actually play hockey and I don’t think any of them want to turn down the money in their home state to give the money to the State of Illinois.

            The universities that play hockey are going to want to keep that money in state.

            Like

          • Richard says:

            I’m quite sure the schools would be more concerned with maximizing the revenue they can collect and fairness issues than whatever benefit the host city would get (which would be a blip, in any case). This isn’t exactly the Olympics or World Cup or even the Super Bowl that we’re talking about here.

            Like

          • Josh says:

            Fairness? Neither the WCHA or CCHA have felt the need to put the conference tournament in Chicago or any other “neutral site.” I don’t know why those same schools would feel the need to do so now.

            As far as putting it in a central location, Milwaukee is 90 miles to the north and just as central. And it’s a city that actually cares about college hockey.

            It makes no sense to put a BTHC championship in Chicago when St. Paul, Milwaukee or Detroit could host just as easily and are cities that actually care about college hockey. If the NCAA thought you could sell college hockey in Chicago, they would have held a frozen four there, instead of places like Albany, Buffalo and Anaheim. (OK, I don’t get that Anaheim one either, other than the area offered a sweet deal.) But the point is if the Frozen Four has never gone to Chicago, why would the BTHC?

            Like

          • Richard says:

            I’d be a little shocked if there were no college hockey fans in Chicago, considering that tons of grads from all Big10 schools (besides PSU) end up here.

            Like

        • Jay says:

          And there’s the added benefit for the Nascently Lions that in a CCHA they wouldn’t necessarily be in dead last place every single season. A six-team Big Ten hockey conference? Forget about it!

          Like

      • zeek says:

        I agree with Frank; it’s way easier for the Big Ten to just make a BTHC and control all non-conference home game TV rights and Big Ten conference game TV rights.

        That’s the only way to make it really easy and not have to split the advertising revenue with anyone else (other than the 6 non-hockey schools).

        Like

  40. mitleg says:

    I am a UW alum and long time hockey fan. This picture is somewhat mixed for me. On the one hand losing games against North Dakota and Denver is not appealing. On the other hand BTN could be a real advantage for UW hockey. The Badgers pull quite a few recruits out of places like Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. If they are able to tell the parents they can catch some to the games on Cable then it gives them an advantage over Denver and North Dakota. It is a tough situation. Ultimately, I don’t think they have a choice. I think that they will have to make the move.

    Like

  41. FLP_NDRox says:

    There’s only two things I can think of that will stop the formation of BTHC:

    1. Political pressure from the smaller schools in Minnesota, MSU, and UM, to not leave them high and dry.

    2. Wisconsin, Minnesota, UM, and MSU worrying about their playoff spots.

    I don’t see 1 being a factor. The strength of the rest of the WCHA gets Minnesota off the hook. I doubt NMU, FSU, LSSU, and WMU can stop UM and MSU from doing what they want. Then again, Minn. is the most vocal Big Ten team *against* the BTHC…

    The real question is if #2 is an issue.

    Remember, Hockey only has 16 playoff slots. Five Conference Champs get autobids. The remaining 11 are split between the four big time conference with the RPI being a very big deal.

    A BTHC adds another automatic qualifier and leaves 10 bids for five conferences. UM, MSU, Wisconsin, and Minnesota are used to going to the dance. tOSU would like to, and to paraphrase Frank, PSU didn’t just drop $100mil to be a also-ran. Most plans have a 6 team league playing every other squad 4 times.

    As my father is so fond of complaining, “the Big Ten beats up on the Big Ten”. It will be impossible for the BTHC to be more than a two bid league due to the RPI and small tournament size. Minnesota, UM, MSU, and Wisconsin will be hard pressed to make the NCAAs 5 times a decade since they’ll be fighting each other for those slots, and the schedule won’t offer near the number of breaks they have now. tOSU will probably spend years under .500 and who knows when PSU will get their first league win.

    Will that be enough to stop a BTHC? Well, we know that UW and tOSU are for, and MN is against already. The question may just end up being based on UM’s desire to stay in the CCHA with PSU added vs. the additional BTN $$$ for Friday and Saturday games.

    Like

    • zeek says:

      This is all up to Michigan and Michigan State because if they join the UW/OSU/PSU faction in favor of a BTHC, there’s no way Minnesota can resist alone.

      I think Michigan/Michigan State can be talked into the value of having all the conference games and non-conference home games on the BTN.

      If previous talks got to the point of considering ND to go to 6 or 3 others (Miami etc.) to get to 8, I have to think it’s a done deal if Penn State spends the $88M. This thing has gotten so close to getting off the ground during the past 10 years, that I think PSU is enough to melt away the barriers.

      They have to be guaranteed the money matchups, and when you add them to the UW/OSU faction, I don’t see how Minnesota pulls everyone else to themselves.

      I don’t think competitive balance is going to be an issue, although you bring up some goods points as to why it should be. They’re all expecting to put together 20 conference games and then 14 non-conference games. I’d imagine the 14 non-conference games will be against mostly weaker opponents.

      And there’s the consideration of what happens if other conferences reorganize to get smaller to get more autobids…

      Like

      • zeek says:

        Still, this seems to have always been an issue of just figuring out the right way to set up a BTHC, and Penn State makes it easy since you don’t need non-Big Ten teams… in the past that’s probably been a big sticking point with the non-hockey schools as well as possibly with traditionalists at Michigan, etc.

        And there’s always been a question of how do you pay ND or Miami or whoever if they join a BTHC and the games are on BTN. It’s way easier to not have to deal with calculating the value of those rights.

        Like

      • FLP_NDRox says:

        I think there’s a hope that college hockey will reorganize into smaller, more geographically tight conferences that will prove to be more resilient.

        I’m just not sure if there’s enough programs to make that a reality.

        It’s funny, we were talking about the rise of the superconference in Football for months. Now we’re talking about hockey, a sport where the “superconferences” already rule.

        From a BTHC POV, I’m not sure if the autobids matter for them. I think they’ll be a two bid league under any system.

        Like

      • Jay says:

        How would the Big Ten force Minnesota to join if it does not want to? What are they going to do, kick us out of the conference? Perhaps the financial benefits of a Big Ten hockey conference could convince unanimous acceptance of the proposal, but I don’t see why the U would just fold because five other schools choose to go along. I don’t think hockey is anywhere near as important to any of the other conference members as it is to Minnesota, financially, culturally and competitively from the AD’s office down to the student body. It would be a lot easier for the Michigan schools – and certainly Ohio State – to jump ship.

        Like

        • Hank says:

          @Jay

          I’m sorry if this is going to sound harsh but how much has Minnesota profited from the Big Ten’s football powers? And how much will they profit from the coming changes? And the football powers have given up things to enhance those changes. Michigan and Ohio State have risked their long rivalry by going to seperate divisions and Wisconsin has sacrificed rivalries by going East. They’ve kicked into the pot.

          I’m not insensitive to the existing rivalries in the WCHA and CCHA and would love to see them remain viable. But before Minnesota starts talking about not being forced to join a BTHC they might consider how much they have benefited from other areas of the conference. Look for ways to make it work for everyone.

          Like

          • Jay says:

            I’m not sure Minnesota profits much at the gate from the football powers. When I went there, nobody went to the games! (Ha-ha)

            Anyway, I’m not really so sure anyone’s given much up at all due to the recent changes, especially not the big time football schools. The Gophers and Hoosiers of the conference probably aren’t going to sniff that football championship game anytime soon (if ever). Nobody’s drooling about the prospects of televising annual Minnesota-Nebraska tilts.

            Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan will earn big bucks, further strengthen their brands, enhance their chances to reach the BCS, improve recruiting and more as they play in more high-profile games and compete for Big Ten titles on the field in December.

            Arguably, Big Ten expansion may improve a school like Minnesota’s finances from athletics, but I doubt it will do much to help any of the university’s teams be much more competitive. It’s not like Minnesota’s athletic department’s been strapped for cash.

            Due to climate, demographics and other factors beyond a program’s control, it’s not feasible for a Minnesota to be a football power. Likewise, hockey’s kinda important.

            Like

          • Richard says:

            I don’t think he’s talking about competitiveness, but finances. Minnesota football isn’t the reason ABC/ESPN is paying the Big10 $100M a year, yet they share that pie equally with Michigan, OSU, and PSU. Hockey may matter a lot to the Gophers, but they’re not going to be able to get away with being selfish when they’ve been receiving welfare for so long.

            Like

        • BuckeyeBeau says:

          Although the B10 tries to do everything via consensus, the Conference is ultimately run by the votes of the pres/chanc.

          I think this is a Conference-wide decision and therefore is a vote of eleven even if only six members have Div I hockey. So, who else is voting with Minny? My sense is that the most influential Presidents are those at: MI, tOSU, Wis and PSU. All four want the BTHL. They’re influential enough to get six more votes. Looks like 10 to 1 to me.

          Thus, no need to kick Minny out if they don’t want a BTHL. Just out-vote them.

          And just to be clear, Minny aint never leaving the B10 voluntarily no matter how important hockey is. Remember this is not a vote by the ADs or the coaches.

          Like

  42. Sportsman24 says:

    I had asked this question before, but I didn’t get the response I was looking for, so I’ll try it another way…

    With the additional revenue that each BT member is getting, is it possible that other BT members may add hockey, say 5, 10, 15 years down the line? If we’re just scratching the surface on the revenues from the BTN, then isn’t it possible that 2-3 more BT members add the sport. Especially if it becomes a revenue-generating (or at least revenue-neutral) sport due in large part to the BTN.

    The most likely candidates would be Iowa (no other D-I hockey in the state), Illinois & maybe one of IU or PU (as Idk if IN can support 2-3 hockey teams w/ ND already having it).
    NU & UNL seem unlikely candidates, for reasons previously mentioned.

    In short, what do you all think the chances are of a BTHC w/ more than six teams? And why? Thank you, in advance.

    Like

    • zeek says:

      There are two fundamental questions that determine whether a program will be able to get off the ground.

      1) Can the school handle the startup costs (4000-6000 seating arena for $40M+, a $20M endowment for scholarships, etc.)

      2) Will the program be self-sustainable and revenue generating like football and basketball?

      The problem for most schools is both, although we haven’t focused on the second issue. You should focus on the second issue to determine whether it’s even worth considering the first.

      A combination of both issues means it’s unlikely to happen for Northwestern, Purdue, and Indiana (although there’s rumblings about Indiana), which simply put have smaller athletic budgets than most of the other schools in the conference.

      Illinois is the one school that is most likely to be able to create a self-sustaining program that would solve the second issue. The question for them is whether they could handle the startup costs to move to D-1. UNL and Iowa might be able to handle the second issue, but the first is likely to be prohibitive.

      Thus, your pool is small. Illinois is the only school that looks like a slam dunk if a BTHC is formed and proves to be so profitable that it is easy to move.

      But they’d still have to be able to handle the startup costs.

      A lot of the startup costs can be negated by creating a dual-purpose arena, which may be in the future for Indiana, but for UNL there’s conflicting reports as to whether their basketball arena can fit a skating rink inside (some news reports say yes, Osborne? said no).

      I’d say it is most likely that we only see the 6 BTHC teams this decade. Illinois and the rest don’t seem anywhere near able to really consider moving, and we have to keep in mind that Penn State has tried to move up to D-1 for like 20-30 years or so. They managed to find a hockey mad billionaire liquidating his assets, who was able to push them over the hump with a gigantic donation.

      The reason why it will take a while is that Illinois (I focus on them since they’re closest to moving up if anyone is) and the rest will want to be sure that a BTHC is a success and that Ohio State and Penn State can put together stronger programs comparable to the Big 4 (Minnesota/Wisconsin/Michigan/Michigan State).

      If it ends up so profitable for Ohio State and Penn State, I think we could see Illinois make a move, but that would not be before 2015-2020 at the earliest. They’d really want to be sure that a BTHC works, and we’re not likely to know for a while if not years after such an entity is born.

      This decade we likely see a 6 team BTHC. Possibly in the 2020s, Illinois considers a move upward if something happens for them on the startup costs. The same is probably true of Iowa, maybe UNL or Indiana (if they do a dual-purpose arena). Northwestern is unlikely to ever contemplate such a move, and Purdue is probably not likely to either…

      Also, the value of the TV rights is likely to be somewhere in the $1-2M range per school based on advertising, etc. While that is a substantial amount for a hockey program, it’s not anywhere near enough to create programs…

      Like

      • PSUGuy says:

        Also, do not forget the impact of adding a hockey team will have on Title IX.

        A collegiate hockey team will probably have ~50 players. Just WAGing it, but most will probably be scholarship.
        That means an equal number of women’s sports scholarships must be given out.

        A program on the bubble like Neb, Illi, or Purdue must not only contend with what zeek said, but also find room in the budget for the women’s side of the fence.

        The question then becomes not “is hockey profitable/nuetral” but “is hockey+other sports profitable/nuetral”.

        Like

      • jj says:

        I’d like to see these “big 4” games though. I’m excited about this.

        They could just do a home and home with the other 5 schools and schedule all the other as non-conf. That’s plenty. It will be sweet!

        Like

      • Richard says:

        Good post, Zeek. I think Illinois and Iowa are the only possible additions in the future. _Maybe_ UNO, if UNL can use their influence to get them in. I don’t think college hockey is a sustainable venture anywhere in basketball-mad Indiana.

        I really don’t see the Big10 hockey conference expanding beyond 8-9 teams ever (unless the Big10 expands again).

        Like

  43. Jason says:

    I’d like to see a Big Ten Hockey Conference become reality, now if we can just get a Lacrosse league and I’ll then be happy :).

    But nonetheless, when the BTHC comes to fruition, could the WCHA & CCHA really be hurt and in trouble? Maybe in some areas, but I think that the two conferences would be just fine down the road. It would give the teams in those conferences to be dominate and win many bids to the NCAA Tournaments. Although, the BTHC would probably become the SEC of college hockey, winning a crap-load of championships, and adding the prestigeness to the league, then we got ourselves the best and most prestigious league in college sports.

    Too, I would think with the Big Ten possibly entering into the college hockey business, it should help out WCHA & CCHA in terms of recognition from many who don’t follow college hockey as much, and with the Big Ten knowing on how to get TV deals, network companies would also like to have some deals with WCHA & CCHA, they don’t want to have just BTHC.

    Also, it should help out other schools that have hockey programs in Division 2 and/or 3 to be eligible to upgrade their program to Division 1, where they could be added to WCHA and CCHA. This way would grow the college hockey world and make it better.

    Like

    • FLP_NDRox says:

      The CCHA would definitely be in trouble. BGSU’s program has been on the chopping block for years. Hockey is very expensive, and I’d imagine that the smaller schools in the conference are relying on the attendance bumps from the Big Ten opponents to sell out their smaller rinks. There’s a reason why the CCHA didn’t pick up UAH last year.

      Considering almost all college hockey is played on Friday and Saturday nights, I’m not sure how big of a TV property it could ever be. IIRC, the CCHA has a deal with Fox Sports Detroit. I don’t know if any other outlet would be interested in a league deal. Versus might want national games on Friday or Saturday, maybe?

      The NCAA killed Div II hockey back in 1999, IIRC. Practically speaking, there’s not really a lot of schools left looking to make the jump to Div I in a very expensive Olympic sport. Especially since it most places it means an additional 18 women’s scholarships isn’t a revenue producer.

      Like

    • FLP_NDRox says:

      Oh, yeah, one more thing. The tournament only has 16 teams. If more teams fold, it’ll likely contract back to 12. With 6 Automatic bids (with a BTHC), you’re looking at 10 at-large bids in a 6 team tournament. Probably half of those will go to Eastern schools who will be less affected by the shake-up out west than the CCHA and the WCHA. Probably one of those At-larges will go to a second Big Ten team. That only leaves 4 slots for 16 teams. However if the tournament contracts, those same 16 squads will be left to fight for *two* slots.

      Bottom line: With the BTHC, there will be a lot fewer playoff opportunities for teams west of the Allegenies.

      Like

      • Jason says:

        I still don’t think it’ll create much of a devastation in college hockey. Take for example of college lacrosse.

        The Big East just had its inaugural season in college lacrosse, and the members in that conference were in other conferences beforehand. Did it hurt the other conferences because of that? From what I can see, it really didn’t. I think the same will apply to college hockey.

        Plus, there are just about as much college hockey teams in D1 compared to how many there are in D1 college lacrosse. Also, D1 college lacrosse has 10 conferences (where college hockey D1 has 5 conferences), including independents, although the highest number of teams in a conference is 7.

        With Penn State going into the college hockey business, it could encourage more schools (particularly in the north and east, and maybe the west) to start a hockey program, such as the Washington schools, Oregon schools, Colorado schools, etc. where WCHA and CCHA can add those schools into their conference.

        Overall, we may never know what the future will decide for college hockey, but we’ll just have to find out and see what happens.

        Like

        • FLP_NDRox says:

          Most everything I know about college LAX comes from cleaning up after those guys at the dining hall back in the day.

          That said, I’m not sure the comparison is apt. College LAX conferences are the same as their conferences in other sports with the exception of the ECAC. There are no non-Division I programs in Div I LAX. Also, there are a lot lower start up costs (grass is much cheaper than Ice) and a full 6 (read 12 with Title IX matching) scholarship difference.

          NCAA hockey is scheduled by weekend series. Having an odd number of teams in conference is a big headache. Also, there’s only one hockey independent left: Alabama-Huntsville. There are multiple independent teams in LAX, including the perennial power Johns Hopkins. UAH is no power. In fact, there’s widespread concern that the program will fold as an independent.

          I don’t even remember hearing of a Varsity LAX program folding. Unfortunately, Div. I hockey teams are cut more often than any hockey fan is comfortable with, and often due to Title IX compliance issues that are only an excuse for larger athletic budget issues. Issues that are exacerbated for schools with limited athletic budgets and football teams.

          Like

        • FLP_NDRox says:

          Here’s the CCHA without the Big Ten

          Notre Dame
          Miami of Ohio
          Western Michigan
          Bowling Green
          Northern Michigan
          Ferris State
          Lake Superior State
          Alaska-Fairbanks

          and possibly Alabama-Huntsville if BGSU folds

          Does that seem viable to you? OK, how bad does it look if BGSU gets cut because of budget issues? How are the small schools going to afford that trip to Alaska every year? The CCHA stretches across FIVE time zones. Is there a LAX program west of Colorado Springs?

          There’s a reason that college hockey fans OUTSIDE the Big Ten are worried. I hope some of you take a hard look at Minnesota’s concerns.

          Like

          • jcfreder says:

            A possible CCHA implosion, by itself, is not a good reason to stop the formation of a B10 hockey conference.
            I don’t see the evidence that college hockey in general will be hurt by this. You have:

            B10 – cool new superconference

            Hockey East – unchanged

            Atlantic Hockey – unchanged

            ECAC – unchanged

            WCHA – weakened, but still has powerful programs, and perhaps able to add CCHA teams such as Notre Dame and Miami.

            CCHA – perhaps mortally wounded. The viable programs will find other homes.

            Plus, remember that the B10 teams still have non-conference games to schedule (in fact, more of them than with the current setup). If OSU thinks its important to play Miami, they will.

            In short, is the goal here to protect the weakest CCHA teams? If so, why? Or is the argument that the WCHA is going to die if Minny and UW leave? I’m not sure I see the evidence for that. Even taking out the two B10 schools, the average attendance of the WCHA teams would lead every other conference (besides the B10).

            Like

          • FLP_NDRox says:

            Where will the CCHA teams go? Hockey East has no teams west of the Hudson. The ECAC is full. The AHA is both a major and full. The WCHA only has two slots available.

            The problem is that there’s really no good place for these schools to go. There’s no good reason for the WCHA, CCHA, and the AHA to split and reform into more regional conferences. Also, the Addition of Penn State makes an uneven number of teams in Div I, and there’s not a lot of Bye weeks in the schedules.

            The survival of the existing programs should be a goal of the hockey playing schools. They add interest, maintain schedule flexibility, and most importantly, add those extra four squads to the NCAA tournament. I don’t think we can afford to lose two many more school and maintain a sixteen team Dance. Heck, it wasn’t that long ago an entire conference (CHA) went belly-up.

            Unless you believe the small schools of the CCHA can survive as independents?

            Like

          • jcfreder says:

            You say the WCHA, CCHA and others have no good reason to realign, but the obvious good reason they’d have in a B10 world is to ensure the viability of the other college hockey teams – that’s good enough reason not to form a B10 in your view, right?

            Even if the other conferences don’t take on CCHA teams, if Atlantic Hockey can survive, why couldn’t a CCHA without Mich, MSU and OSU survive? It would still have stronger programs with higher attendances than Atlantic Hockey.

            The odd-number argument is such a small concern it shouldn’t matter. Each team has to take a bye week once a season? Can’t see that being a problem.

            And where are you getting the idea that the 16-team tournament is in danger? That seems like pure speculation, unless there’s some NCAA bylaw that you have not shared.

            Interestingly, its not like the CCHA is all about protecting struggling college hockey programs — didn’t they just tell Alabama-Huntsville to curl up and die?

            In the end, the B10 doesn’t need to justify creating a hockey conference — it’s a natural, organic move given the tight-knit nature of the B10. It’s not like this is a contrived move similar to the proposed ideas I’ve seen about ND, Texas, and USC forming an “all-independent” football conference that exists solely to make money.

            Like

          • Search the Web on Snap.com says:

            You know, the joke is I really don’t think the BTHC would be in such a high gear now if the existing conferences would have “played along” a little better.

            If they would have allowed the BTN to televise Big Ten home hockey the BTN would have gotten its progamming it so desires. Heck, they’d have made money if the conferences signed a contract that allowed any Big Ten team’s hockey games to be televised. And IMO, collegiate hockey as a whole would have improved.

            Instead of depending on highly regional sports programming the hockey conferences could have benefited from the nationwide exposure the BTN currently holds. Even if the BTHC came to fruition anyway (and really if the Big Ten got its cake in having college hockey on tv, but didn’t have to do anything new to get it, I really think that may have still been up in the air) at least they’d have some time to build a base to replace the teams they’d lost.

            Listen, I’m not saying “screw’em”, but the more I read into this situation the more it sounds like certain institutions really like the status quo and were extremely resistant to changing it (Minnesotta included).

            IMO, that was the wrong stance to take and the BTHC is what evolved from that stance.

            Like

          • FLP_NDRox says:

            The WCHA has no reason to consider dissolving. They still have UND, UD, and hockey schools in Minnesota. The AHA has no reason, since they are at 12 teams, and only AFA is west of PA.

            The non Big Ten schools draw an average of 1400-3300 for home games according to the link provided for the 2008 season by https://frankthetank.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/big-ten-expansion-hits-the-ice/#comment-85809 ; A lot more than most AHA schools, a lot less than most remaining WCHA schools. I can’t say it’s in the best interest of the WCHA to pick up more than 2 of the CCHA squads.

            Remember, to justify taking Bemidiji St., the WCHA had to poach UNO. Nobody’s hands are clean vis-a-vie UAH. It seems now that the denial was in part a response to BGSU’s precarious funding situation and in part due to hoping to pick up PSU as a 12th school.

            A shrinkage of the tournament is pure speculation, but I’ve read it elsewhere. It seems likely if more schools drop programs. Even with the addition of Penn State, over 27% of the schools make the tournament. I don’t think there’s a higher percentage anywhere in the NCAA. We haven’t had a 16 team tournament for a decade. I can easily see the NCAA stepping in and cutting four bids if the total number of schools dropped below 1998 levels.

            The Big Ten has no need to justify their decision to anyone to form the BTHC. All I’m saying is that it will be lousy for the non-Big Ten public schools in Michigan and Ohio (and to ND). I’m also saying that it will likely be lousy for the 6 Big Ten teams. Right now four Big Ten teams have a legitimate expectation to make it to the NCAAs. All five can set a realistic goal to get a home ice series in the conference tournaments. That’s not possible in BTHC.

            Frank said that PSU didn’t drop 88mil to be in a conference with Ferris State. I’d suspect that PSU *really* didn’t drop that kind of cash to have 1-17-2 league records for the next five years. There’s no way tOSU can fill 17500 seats going maybe .500 for a decade.

            There’s got to be a reason why the Ivy League has six other teams in their conference with them.

            Like

          • MAC Country says:

            I’m a graduate of BGSU. They just got a new coach from Miami. They are in the middle of a fundraising campaign to redo the Ice Arena. Seems like they are attempting to get back to being a national power. Like when we had Nelson Emerson and Rob Blake and Holzinger. They are spending millions to do it also….Speaking of BGSU, we have 7 football wins over BCS schools on the road since 2000. The Boise State Donkeys have one. Just thought that was interesting. Go Falcons !!!

            Like

      • Richard says:

        I simply don’t see a contraction in playoffs regardless of how many schools drop the sport (since it never happens in any NCAA playoff I know of). What is more likely to happen is that of the 16 slots, if half of the at-larges still go to Eastern schools, most of the ones in the west would go to Big10 schools, with the CCHA becoming a 1-bid league. Remember that the Big10 schools would still play plenty of non-conf games. If the Big10 can get 2/3rds of their basketball teams in to the dance while playing 2/3rds of their schedule interconference (remember that basketball relies heavily on RPI as well), there’s no reason why the Big10 wouldn’t be able to get 3-4 bids every year in hockey.

        Like

        • FLP_NDRox says:

          I don’t know of any other team sport that’s had as many programs dropped in the last two decades as Men’s Ice Hockey.

          Like

          • Richard says:

            I’m not saying there won’t be contraction in number of schools. I’m saying there’s no reason to think the NCAA playoffs would contract. Think about it, financially, 16 teams would still make sense so long as the big schools/schools that regularly make the postseason are in it, and those wouldn’t be the schools looking at dropping hockey.

            Like

          • FLP_NDRox says:

            That’s true, but I remember it being a big deal when they expanded to 16 teams in 2003ish.

            I’m not aware of any other sport in Div I where that high of a percentage of teams make the Dance. I don’t know if the tournament’s a moneymaker for the NCAA. Seemed like there were a lot of empty seats at Ford Field. Then again, I can’t fault your logic.

            Like

          • Adam says:

            It’s possible that college hockey is at a make-or-break point. In my opinion, it’s (effectively) been limping along for decades. In no other major or semi-major sport are knowledgeable fans pressured into taking this kind of holistic good-of-the-sport attitude about finding conference landing spots for schools and suffering anxiety over whether programs will get dropped. I’d rather try to normalize college hockey, even if it came at the risk of killing it off.

            I want to care about college hockey, but I don’t. My basic rule is that I am not going to follow a sport unless every game of my team is televised. Not most. Not almost all. I want them all on TV. A Big Ten hockey league on BTN gets us tantalizingly close to that (at least, for any team I’d be following).

            Like

  44. loki_the_bubba says:

    Well, I don’t follow college hockey, but I have questions. Do any other all-sport conferences have hockey? I’ve not heard of one. If the BTHC is a success, who else could possibly make a go of it?

    Like

    • FLP_NDRox says:

      No, there’s only 5 hockey conferences in Div. I.

      The only other Div I. conference I know of that has 6 hockey playing members is the Ivy League. Then again, I’m not real up on most of these northeastern and western teams non-Div. I./non-hockey programs.

      Like

    • zeek says:

      Well the problem is, only a handful of BCS schools have D-1 hockey programs.

      UConn, ND, and Boston College are pretty much it. Maybe you could include Air Force in that group, since the MWC isn’t too far off I guess…?

      Just think about that; only 9 BCS football powers have men’s ice hockey teams, of which 6 are from the Big Ten…

      There really isn’t going to be anything similar to a BTHC any time in the future because the sport of ice hockey is the main revenue sport at a lot of the schools which have programs and very few BCS schools have it.

      Unless you see the Pac-8 move all their schools up to D-1, there isn’t really any other situation where we would see anything remotely similar to a BTHC. Even if ND/BC/UConn joined in a conference and Syracuse added a men’s program (they have a women’s program), that would not look much different from the current CCHA or WCHA since they’d have to fill it out with the rest of the schools. You’d just be replacing Michigan/Michigan/Ohio State with BC/UConn/Syracuse…

      Like

      • loki_the_bubba says:

        I was not trying to imply D1A. The Ivy League is D1, so that’s one other that could form their own league. I’m not familiar enough with the other schools to know if they are D1AA or D1AAA.

        Like

        • FLP_NDRox says:

          Fine, I looked it up:

          1 A10- UMASS

          1 ACC – BC

          4 America East – BU, Maine, UNH, Vermont

          3 Big East – UCONN, Providence, ND

          1 CAA – Northeastern

          1 Empire-8 (Div3) – RIT

          4 GLI (DivII) – FSU, LSSU, NMU, MI tech

          2 Great NW (DivII) – UAF, UAA

          1 Great West – UND

          1 Gulf South (Div II) – Ala.-Huntsville

          *6* Ivy – Harvard, Yale, Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell, Princeton

          4 Liberty League (Div3) – Clarkson, RPI, St. Lawrence, Union

          1 MAAC – Canisius

          3 MAC – BGSU, Miami, WMU

          1 Mid Amer. (Div II) – UNO

          1 MWC – AFA

          3 NE10 (Div II) – Lowell, AIC, Bentley

          4 NEC – RMU, Sacred Heart, QU, Merrimack

          4 Northern Sun (Div II) – BSU, UMD, Mankato, St. Cloud St.

          3 Patriot – Army, HC, Colgate

          1 PSAC (Div II) – Mercyhurst

          1 SCAC (Div 3) – CO Col.

          1 Sun Belt – UD

          As you can see, no other conference has more than 4 hockey playing schools, and most of those are in Divisions II and III. America East could probably form one with its old members: Holy Cross, Northeastern, Canisius, and Colgate. I just don’t think they want to.

          Like

          • FLP_NDRox says:

            If my math is right:

            59 schools
            6 Division III for everything else
            16 Division II for everything else

            Just 35 Division I schools playing Division I hockey…and 12 of them in just two conferences. I don’t know what to say about that. No wonder there’s issues with conference strength.

            Like

    • StvInIL says:

      Even the MAC getting into the Act.
      I think a good discussion would be out of the whole MAC, which School/team if any (not Temple) could you see moveing up to a big boy confrence?

      Like

      • jj says:

        Indiana?

        Jusk kidding.

        The MAC basically sucks. I don’t see antthing very exciting out there for them.

        My guess is Temple and Forida Atlantic.

        Like

      • @StvInIL – Temple is really the only one that can realistically move up, and that would only happen if the Big East were to split. Outside of the Owls, the MAC might have the least desirable set of schools for the BCS conferences outside of the Sun Belt. Except for Buffalo (which has a microscopic fan base), they are all in markets that directly compete with the Big Ten. Miami and Ohio are probably two schools that look like they could be BCS schools on paper, but Ohio State is such a dominant force in the state along with Cincinnati having its own contingent that no one is going to want to add them

        I’m also having a hard time thinking of any schools that would want to join the MAC. Western Kentucky? Maybe some type of partial schedule arrangement with Army and Navy?

        Like

        • jj says:

          That’s why I think Fla Atlantic makes some sense. The Sunbelt is god-awful on many levels, the MAC is pretty horrible as well. Maybe there is something to putting the better ones together. FA & F. Inter make a decent pair. West Kent is ok too.

          Like

        • bullet says:

          MAC has been talking WKU for a while. They have an excellent bb program. For the MAC, dying to get regular 2nd bids, bb may matter. They’ve also been wanting Illinois St. from FCS. UMass could decide its better to be in FBS so they would be in position when the next shift happens-but they probably stay put unless BE calls. I can’t think of any other FCS schools the MAC would want. Not sure there are any other Sun Belt schools worth having, unless they just want a FL school for recruiting reasons. Maybe MTSU to go along with WKU.

          Like

        • StvInIL says:

          I was thinking Miami, OH. But I guess you have some good reasons why they may not get there.
          Like Texas I would really like to see the state of Illinois try to elevate one of the directional schools plus IL State. I know you graduate U of I Frank but I think maybe they get to much attention at the expense of one of these schools. There are out of state options but it’s a big deal not getting into the U of I and there should be another state option much like UM and MSU.

          Like

          • jj says:

            I get what you’re saying, but for the record, many folks (me included) affirmatively chose MSU over UM!

            That said, I did go to both schools. Just giving sme love for my Spartan bros.

            Like

          • StvInIL says:

            JJ MSU UM love? I did not know there were any. I know or have met a lot of alum from both in the Chicagoland area. MSU guys think UM have their noses up in their high @ss. Just an observation.

            Like

  45. Jay says:

    After some more thought, if the Big Ten does force the creation of its own hockey conference, that would further the case for adding one pair of teams that are Division I accross the board and would expand the footprint. Notre Dame, obviously, since they kind of have to join for any further expansion to make any sense now that we have 12 teams, and Boston College….

    BC and Notre Dame both have established football teams, and BC’s is currently mired in an awkward ACC configuration. They aren’t Midwestern, but I think the Big Ten is a better fit, and it’s not like there is a whole lot of FBS football in the Northeast. Plus, that gives Penn State a conference buddy out there.

    Both schools have decent hockey programs, especially Boston College’s. An eight team Big Ten featuring the current members plus these two would be very strong nationally and it would pack everyone’s arenas for every single conference game.

    Not only would this deliver the Boston market for the Big Ten Network, but could ND and BC together bring New York City over?

    Like

    • zeek says:

      Naw, ND/BC doesn’t really make sense. Obviously ND isn’t interested, but BC really doesn’t help move the dial anywhere other than somewhat in Boston, which is a pretty bad area for D-1 TV college sports in general.

      I think the next phase of expansion if it occurs would focus on NYC and D.C. and recruiting grounds as well as large public schools that add substantial enrollment. The two best that fit that are Maryland and Rutgers, but we’ll see what happens…

      Like

    • Richard says:

      Look, if basketball is barely a consideration when it comes to expansion, hockey won’t matter at all. Finances is the big thing, which means football is the 800 pound gorilla.

      Like

  46. Richard says:

    I’ve been thinking of what will happen to the Alaska schools if a Big10 hockey conference forms. The Big10 may take on the load of flying to Alaska from the WCHA and CCHA. So the Alaska schools would be independent, but the Big10 would guarantee each of them would play a Big10 school twice (6 home, 6 away) for a total of 12 games. They’d still have their Alaskan tournaments (each school hosting one), which gets them another 4 games. If they play each other 6 times, then they’d only have to arrange 2-for-1 deals with 6 schools to fill out the 12 remaining games (4 home, 8 away) for a total of 36 games.

    They’d have 15 home games each, but 20 games in Alaska. 14 games in the lower 48, so they may only have to fly south 5 times (3 Big10 weekends and 1 F-S-T-W-F-S weeklong slog that knocks out 6 games). The only question is, does it seem reasonable for a school to play another one 6 times in college hockey?

    One (small) advantage is that the Big10 could buy the TV rights to the home games of these Alaska schools for a nominal fee and get their games against Big10 schools on the BTN, which would get the BTN in to Alaska (granted, a tiny market).

    Like

    • Cliff's Notes says:

      Six games is a bit much, but UM and MSU have four regular season games, and there’s a decent chance that they end up playing each other in the GLI tournament at Christmas time, and again in the CCHA playoffs. And I don’t think the Alaska schools mind; compared to the alternative.

      Like

    • FLP_NDRox says:

      It does seem a bit like overkill. The thing Fairbanks and Anchorage have in their benefit is that there’s a “Hawaii” rule for them in Hockey. Plus, I don’t see the WCHA kicking out the Seawolves.

      Also, I think all College Hockey schedules are set up for weekend series, typically FRI-SAT, and occassionally SAT-SUN. Nobody will play them during a midweek. I don’t think they want to play five in a row, either. This ain’t the NHL.

      Like

      • Richard says:

        It doesn’t seem to be done much (if at all) in the west, but head over to the east coast, and you can find midweek non-conf games being played.

        6 games in 9 days would be, um, difficult, but flights to and from Alaska for a hockey team (which is twice the size of a basketball team) aren’t cheap, and playing midweek would mean 1 roundtrip instead of 3.

        Like

  47. Hank says:

    good blog article on hockey scenarios

    http://www.maizenbrew.com/2010/9/22/1703831/penn-state-hockey-and-its-effect

    favorite line
    The Big Ten and Notre Dame are to college sports what India and Pakistan are to Kashmir.

    Like

    • zeek says:

      I’m not so sure that’s true entirely.

      Yes, it applies to football and fit in terms of football.

      But the Big Ten did consider ND at some point as a hockey only 6th team to complete the BTHC, so it was considered…

      Like

    • FLP_NDRox says:

      “the, Irish with their new non-high school gym of an arena (and that’s being generous to their current digs), would need the BTHC a lot more than the other way around. Therefore, if I’m Jim Delaney, I enjoy watching Notre Dame keep the plastic on 2,500 of the 4,000 seats in its new arena while the Irish play a bunch of schools that nobody in its student body can find on a map, much less have an interest in.”

      Little *too* much truth in that statement, unfortunately. Kinda why I started posting again, here. Heck, at 1-2, I’m already looking forward to Hockey season.

      Like

  48. jcfreder says:

    I know everybody assumes that the smaller schools will take a bath financially if the BTHC becomes a reality, but is this true? Do these schools play in cavernous arenas that are completely sold out vs. Minnesota and Wisconsin but go empty the rest of the year? Take for instance, Michigan Tech. Their arena holds 4200. Lets say they average 2000 anyway. Even assuming they’d be guaranteed home dates against Minnesota AND Wisconsin under the current setup (which seems unlikely because there is not a true round-robin in the WCHA), we’re talking 2200 extra tickets times 4 games = 8800 tickets. Even assuming those tickets average $20, is this make-or-break money for a school playing a division I sport?

    Even if it is, my guess is that under a BTHC regime, Minny and UW would choose to play non-conference games at home as much as possible. It seems to me they’d still have to “buy” those home games like in basketball or football. So the revenue could still potentially be there for these smaller schools.

    Like

    • Richard says:

      Yeah, I was wondering about that. Unless getting the big boys drives season ticket sales (and that seems only slightly within the realm of plausibility; who buys season tickets to 18 games just to see 2-4 games a year?), the smaller schools shouldn’t suffer as much as people fear financially. Plus, as guarantees will be paid, I would think Michigan Tech, say, may actually make more from playing Wisconsin in the 15K Kohl Center than in their 4K arena. Again, if finances are a concern, we can take the Alaska schools off their ahnds.

      Like

  49. […] on the Big Ten Division-palooza post, while the college hockey discussion should be under the Big Ten Expansion Hits the Ice post.  Have a great […]

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  50. dtwphx says:

    I’m hoping that Michigan’s AD, Brandon, says that Michigan would like to continue playing an away game at Northern, LSSU, Ferris, WMU, and BGSU each season whether there is an BTHC or not.

    Michigan could use the positive PR in the parts of the state that these schools reside. Making this commitment would probably do more to help the small schools of the state than MSU’s “Celebrate the State” footballs series with EMU, WMU, and CMU where state will play an away game at each of the directional schools once this decade.

    It seems there could be some trading between sports as well.
    If a BTHC forms,
    Only play Western in hockey once at year, at Western.
    Get a basketball home game against Western in return. Do the same with BGSU.
    With a 12 game out of conference schedule you could have:
    (8 games) (h-h with Northern, LSSU, Ferris, MTU)
    (2 games) (away games at WMU, BGSU)
    (2 games) (h-h alternating years with ND and Miami)

    Like

    • Cliff's Notes says:

      Michigan and Michigan State will want to keep playing those schools out of loyalty, but probably more importantly, because of travel costs. BGSU, Western, and Ferris aren’t more than a couple of hours away, and you can do a home and home and not even worry about hotels. I think those schools are safe. LSSU, Northern, and Miami are 5-8 hour bus rides, but require a hotel. Maybe Niagara, Michigan Tech, or Robert Morris are reasonable bus rides, but just about anywhere else, you’re jumping on a plane.

      Like

  51. dtwphx says:

    If the BTHC forms, maybe each big team offers to play UAFairbanks in alaska for a 2 games without home games in return. These games could be the late game on the BTN. (6:30pm local, 10:30pm eastern)
    UAFairbanks could then be pushed from the CCHA, and UAH could be added.

    If the BTHC ever went to a 28 game conference schedule, this would be when I’d worry about the survival of some of the weaker CCHA teams. If the BTHC forms I will be hoping that they never expand to 8 teams, because that would mean the Ferris’ and BGSU’s of the world may not survive.

    Like

    • Adam says:

      On the flip side, if they go to a 28-game schedule, that means the BTHC is up to 8 members, which means that the loss of some programs has been offset by the addition of others, and at schools which are more likely to be able to support the sport over the long haul. That’s a net win for college hockey in my book.

      Like

  52. Richard says:

    I wonder if the Big10 teams would be satisfied with 19 home games. If so, they could promise each remaining CCHA school 2 home-and-homes, and each remaining WCHA school 1 or 2 home games a year.

    So for instance, Minnesota would have 5 home-and-homes with the other 4 Minnesota schools as well as NDakota. Wisconsin would have home-and-homes with the other 4 WCHA teams (MTech, UNO, & the 2 Colorado schools as well as NDakota.

    Michigan & MSU would play home-and-homes with the 4 other CCHA Michigan schools & ND. OSU & PSU would play home-and-homes with the 2 Ohio schools (BGSU & Miami) and also 3 away games a year at the 8 non-NDakota WCHA teams (so 3 of 4 years, they’d get 2 home games against a Big10 team as well).

    I’d also have the Big10 take on the cost of flying to play the Alaska schools (but they’d get 36 games a year). So 20 conference games + 5 WCHA/CCHA away games + 9 home games (almost all against WCHA/CCHA opponents) + 2 Alaska games = 36.

    Say they promise to do this for 4 years.

    Like

    • Hank says:

      one of the things the conference has at least played lip service to during the football exapnsion is not wanting to take actions that appear predatory towards other conferences. I think that attitude will more than translate to hockey since the schools in those conferences at risk are located in the same states as the Big Ten schools. The ultimate resolution will certainly be whats best for the Big Ten but once that is taken care of I’d be willing to bet they will take whatever steps they can to support the WCHA and CCHA schools.

      Like

  53. loki_the_bubba says:

    Sad news on the minor sports front. Cal cut men’s rugby program, the men’s and women’s gymnastics and women’s lacrosse teams…and BASEBALL!

    http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/baseball/news?slug=kr-caldropsbsb092810

    Like

    • bullet says:

      I guess its that Berkley mentality. Baseball can be a decent revenue generator and they have a lot of local talent-but you have to invest. Before Cal’s stadium got renovated it was really a disgrace. A number of the wooden benches were broken. It made Rice’s old wooden benches (great stadium, but w/o a cushion, you ended up w/splinters) look like Jerry World by comparison (I understand Rice has finally finished its upgrade to aluminum benches).

      Like

      • loki_the_bubba says:

        I know the aluminum is done on the lower level. I’m not certain both upper decks are done. While poking around to find out for sure I found this interesting analysis of Historic Rice Stadium: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/282408-fix-your-danged-stadium-already-no-3-rice-university

        Like

        • bullet says:

          I haven’t sat in the upper deck since UT last played at Rice Stadium. I really prefer Rice over Reliant. The sight lines are great. I haven’t been in any college or pro stadium that’s better. Even the end zone seats are good (even without any seats). Plus, you aren’t surrounded by a sea of concrete, and I used to be able to walk to the stadium. The guy is right about the concessions. Rice could do a lot more.

          I wonder if any of the colleges try to do what the pro teams have done lately on concessions. In recent years, I’ve been to UT, UGA and TN which all have huge stadiums, but are fairly unimaginative on concessions.

          Like

    • rich2 says:

      It is sad. In Women’s Gymnastics, Cal is also a top 20 program. It is a trend that will continue in public universities. It takes a few minutes of research to see where this trend is headed for the rest of this decade.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/opinion/19orszag.html?scp=6&sq=Peter%20Orszag&st=Search

      and then

      http://www.cnbc.com/id/39404684.

      My daughter is a gymnast at an ACC school who has long-time friends on the Cal team — there is a concern that the current members of the team will not even receive a “grandfather” scholarship to complete their education.

      Like

      • Richard says:

        However, they’d pay only in-state tuition regardless of where they’re from (unless they changed the rule, you can qualify as a California resident after spending your freshman year there).

        Like

        • rich2 says:

          The one-year rule will certainly help these girls. Still, anyone who received a scholarship offer from Cal would have received offers from many other schools. In the pecking order, if you received an offer from Cal, you probably also received an offer from Illinois and UNC, for example. Still — I agree that the in-state tuition policy will lessen the sting of this decision.

          Like

  54. Alan from Baton Rouge says:

    Its a very sad when when a flagship school in a major conference drops any sport, but BASEBALL at CAL!!??

    They need to find a way make baseball work in their budget.

    Like

    • bullet says:

      http://louisianatech.scout.com/2/1006365.html

      Really good, frank interview with Idaho AD. Talks about the issues facing schools on funding facility upgrades after starting by talking about the WAC/MWC faceoff and WAC expansion. Idaho was actually in danger of having its football facility condemned due to violations of safety and fire codes.

      Like

    • Richard says:

      Baseball should be able to breakeven, but it does need land, and there’s not a lot of real estate up there, plus it’s expensive. Selling the land the baseball field is on or putting a new building there instead of building land for it would net the university quite a few millions of dollars.

      Like

    • mnfanstc says:

      Alan, on a positive note, we here in Minnesota are currently campaigning/working on upgrade to historic Siebert Field on the campus. One more example of the U working on investment in facilities. 5 of last 10 Big Ten Championships… can you send us a couple more players to help us get past regionals in big tourney? Has been a while since Gopher’s won it all (’64).

      Like

    • m (Ag) says:

      You would think the promises of a boost from the Pac 12’s new upcoming TV contracts would let them hold off for a few years. Particularly with a new Pac 12 network coming up; baseball programming will be the big springtime draw.

      Like

  55. M says:

    I can’t believe no one has posted this yet, but the Big East is supposedly looking at TCU:

    http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/college/football/big_east_has_interest_in_tcu_6GTZTxC9I2fssdAib7x6KK

    Like

    • loki_the_bubba says:

      And Notre Dame has joined the BigTen:
      http://sportales.com/football/notre-dame-announces-it-will-join-big-10-in-2012/

      (not that I believe internet rumors)

      Like

    • m (Ag) says:

      Boy, Boise State joins the MWC and all the good programs can’t run away from the conference fast enough.

      Like

    • Vincent says:

      In the midst of ACC expansion in 2003, the Post reported the conference was going to 14 teams, adding Syracuse and Notre Dame in addition to Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech. So I’ll believe this when I see SU, Connecticut, West Virginia, etc. playing games in Fort Worth.

      Like

      • bullet says:

        The article did say there were looking at about a dozen teams, so I suspect the article is correct. Just that they are doing a routine review, not anything serious. The universe of potential members would only be about 2 dozen and that would include half the MAC and schools like UAB and Tulsa.

        Like

      • bullet says:

        There are a lot of articles out there. I have yet to see one that does anything other than quote the NY Post.

        So maybe Loki knows someone at the Houston Chronicle who will print that the SEC is considering Rice in order to get access to Texas recruiting and boost their poor academic reputation. Then we can all talk about how Rice is about to join the SEC as there will be dozens of articles-all quoting the Chronicle.

        Like

  56. Richard says:

    You know, this would never be considered, but if I was Big10 commish, I would want ND and another team (say, Miami) as “associate members”. They’d be full members in all sports except football. In football, they’d be independent but play 6 games against Big10 teams; maybe 1 against each other, and ND would still have 5 slots for USC, Navy, and whoever else in their “national” schedule.

    Financially, they’d be part of the Big10 TV package with equal payouts but they would not have ownership shares of the BTN.

    I was considering this because, when I thought of adding 2 other schools (Rutgers & Maryland), the loss of annual/frequent rivalry games and/or going to 9 conference games (which means cutting back home games for the Big 3 of Michigan, OSU, & PSU, who are now use to 7 or 8 home games each year) and/or unbalanced divisions would probably put the kibosh on adding those 2.

    For the Big10 Presidents to give up rivalry games or home games (and also to successfully penetrate NYC), you’d ND.

    Like

    • Hawkeye / Gator Boy says:

      Richard,

      I think that ND and Miami could very well be in play as Big Ten members or associate members in the near future. Earlier this year PURPLE Book Cat posted on the Northwestern Bulletin Board about JD’s strategy to add Texas and Notre Dame to the Big Ten as a pair. That posting was subsequently deleted at the request of the BT. The BT strategy didn’t work because of UT’s desire to stay in the B12 or go independent. (GO UCLA!).

      The strategy of adding two national brand names of ND and Miami may well be a strategic move for the BT.

      ND is becoming more irrelevant each year, even NBC has to be leery of televising ND’s weekly loses and the fact that the ND schedule is boring is also taking a toll. Once divisional play starts even ESPN stops talking about the Irish.

      Miami would enable the BT to get into a key recruiting ground. It will help each school in the BT to get down to Miami to play a game in October or November.

      I’m not sure either school currently has the votes to become a full member of the BT, but some type of associate membership for football would be a great idea to pursue.

      Like

      • Vincent says:

        Associate membership? If the Big Ten isn’t going to play that game for hockey, it sure as heck isn’t going to play it for football.

        Like

        • Richard says:

          Well, they were considering it for hockey (with MAC schools, no less). From a financial standpoint, I think it’s a win-win deal. In any case, if somehow ND ever changes its mind and agrees to full membership, the 14th team would also have to be a football draw/power. Otherwise, there’s no way to balance the divisions (2 of Michigan, PSU, PSU, UNL, & ND in one division, 3 in the other wouldn’t work well, especially since ND, Michigan, MSU, and PU would likely have to all be in one division together, meaning Wisconsin & Iowa would likely have to be in the same division as Nebraska).

          There aren’t that many teams that would make people sign up for season tickets out there even if you consider the whole country, excluding the heart of the SEC (Miami, FSU, Tennessee, Texas, & USC; that’s about it. Oh, and Oklahoma, but they won’t get in). I think Texas is out of the question, so realistically, prying away Miami may be the best route.

          Like

  57. loki_the_bubba says:

    I had heard that UT-San Antonio and Texas State were strong candidates for the WAC. I had not heard that the WAC was considering non-football members like Seattle University, the University of Denver (they’re a hockey school, right?), and Montana.

    http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/UTSA_Texas_State_leaving_for_WAC_appears_imminent_104034314.html

    Like

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