ESPN’s Greg McElroy on college conference expansion: The Big Ten is ‘far more likely to expand right now’
The Big Ten might be set to expand in the not-too-distant future, this according to ESPN’s Greg McElroy. The conference, which added Maryland and Rutgers in 2014 and is set to add two more programs next year, might be aggressive in the open market according to the former NFL quarterback.
The Big Ten, which will welcome UCLA and USC next year, has been on the front foot in the past few years in expanding the conference. The moves, calculated to tap into media markets, has worked in that the Big Ten now has the most lucrative rights deal in college sports.
This gives the Big Ten and its member institutions an arsenal of resources with which to compete within the Power Five.
For McElroy, a former Alabama quarterback who spent four years in the NFL, the Big Ten has no plans to stop growing. The now ESPN analyst and college football insider said as much this week in ‘Always College Football.’
“I don’t have a sense that the SEC is really mobilizing to expand. The Big Ten, however, would be very open to expanding,” McElroy said on ESPN.
“But the place that they would be most open to would be in the state of Florida. That would be advantageous to NBC that’d be advantageous to FOX, and that would also be advantageous to CBS – those are the three media rights holders for the Big Ten. So that’s something to keep an eye on the big 10 I think is far more likely to expand right now.
“The SEC? Not so much. They will kind of see exactly how this all plays out and what these ACC schools ultimately decide to do.”
The nugget from McElroy about Florida is interesting. With several large television markets, headlined by Miami, a push into Florida could make sense for the Big Ten. Adding North Carolina and Virginia would make sense as well for the Big Ten, giving them an impressive geographic footprint.
A footprint that would make sense for the Big Ten for their next media rights deal.
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The ACC met this week in Florida to discuss their future with conference expansion at the center of the discussion.
Due to a media deal that is now antiquated in scope and size, the ACC is set to fall far behind in terms of the rest of the Power Five (at the very least, the Big Ten and SEC will dwarf the ACC’s current package). Could this lead the ACC to fall apart as programs leave to find better deals?
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McElroy thinks so, citing the ‘Magnificent Seven’ (Clemson, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia and Virginia Tech) “will be out of the ACC.”
If that happens, it would seem that the Big Ten, at least according to McElroy, could be set to swoop in and cherrypick the top ACC programs.
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