Just as Notre Dame was creeping its way back into Big Ten expansion talks (again), Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith officially fueled his ambiguous fire of a Notre Dame addition to the Big Ten
“We’re done with it [expansion],” Smith said in an interview with The Lantern, OSU’s student newspaper. “We’re finished. The only thing that would cause us to look at it further is if someone contacted us. So, we’re not going to go out and say we’re thinking about expansion.”
Something tells us Smith might reconsider if that “someone” was Notre Dame and/or Texas. College football’s first drive-by conference realignment didn’t exactly pin the Irish into a corner like the Big Ten had hoped and Texas decided to remain in the Big 12 for a big ‘ole freakin’ amount of money.
Smith shouldn’t give his hopes up. If there are two programs in college football who feel they can do what they want, when they want and how they want, it’s Notre Dame and Texas.
It’s no coincidence, then, that Texas and Notre Dame have big, exclusive television contracts. The importance of those contracts to program profitability can’t be stressed enough.
“As television changes, and all the mediums change for communication, the conferences have to shift in order to maximize revenue opportunities off of them,” Smith pointed out. “When you get down to it, it’s about more inventory, more games, so that you can provide the television carrier with more product.”
It’s likely that any school interested in the Big Ten would have to pass the conference’s profitability test (a la the Big Ten Network).
“It’s [the Big Ten Network] highly profitable, beyond what we thought at this particular time. We knew it was going to be successful,” said Smith. “But with that growth you have to sit back and say, ‘OK, how do we continue that growth? What things can we add to it?'”