Purdue Boilermakers

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 30: Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman pose with the Big Ten mascots and Natioanls mascot Screech before the game between the Washington Nationals and the Colorado Rockies at Nationals Park on June 30, 2014 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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Big Ten reportedly set to cash in again

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The other Big Ten sports broadcast rights shoe is reportedly ready to drop, and it is full of cash for the oldest major conference.

Sports Business Daily reported Monday morning ESPN has agreed to pay $190 million per year for six years to continue broadcasting Big Ten football and basketball games.

Of course that figure gets more impressive when we recall it is for only roughly half of the conference’s games. The other half already went to Fox Sports for a reported $240 million per year, and CBS is expected to retain some basketball games for $10 million per year.

Then of course there are still the rights owned by the Big Ten Network.

How does it all add up?

SBJ offers some perspective:

The $2.64 billion deals with Fox, ESPN and CBS average $440 million per year and nearly triple the amount ESPN and CBS had been paying for the same programming. ESPN signed a 10-year deal worth $100 million annually in 2006 — a payout that increased to $150 million this year due to the addition of Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers to the conference. CBS paid an average of around $6 million for its current basketball-only deal.

Also of note: Fox managed to secure the first choice of which weeks it will get first choice of games, meaning the network could pluck away the storied Ohio State-Michigan game that traditionally takes place in late November as the season finale.

That game has been fixture on ESPN/ABC for decades.

Previously, ESPN generally had first pick of games with the Big Ten Network taking what was left.

Ohio State draftees to sign contracts worth in excess of $110 million

Urban Meyer
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Forget about going shirtless at a satellite camp or a sleepover or climbing up a tree or any of the like; this is what you call a recruiting pitch.

During the course of the three-day NFL draft, a dozen former Ohio State Buckeyes were drafted.  While OSU failed to break its own record for most picks in a single draft, the 12 selections in the first four rounds were the most ever.

And, not surprisingly, those players are going to get paid.

According to PennLive.com‘s David Jones, those players will sign contracts that could be worth a total of $120 million.  Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch has the number pegged slightly lower at $111,462,707.  Either way, that’s a lot of cash — and a lot dollar signs for Urban Meyer to flout in front of potential recruits.

Of course, not all of that money is guaranteed, although the guaranteed dollars involved aren’t too shabby either.  From the Dispatch:

Just the signing bonuses alone, which range from Bosa’s projected $17,017,226 to Jones’ $383,393, have an expected total of $60,526,660. Unless a player does something to cause his contract to be voided, signing bonuses are theirs to keep.

Regardless of how you spin it, former Buckeyes did quite well financially the last couple of days.  And, as Jones alludes to when it comes to James Franklin and Penn State specifically and the Big Ten in general, Meyer and the Buckeyes are in an entirely different zip code than the rest of the conference — a fact that will no doubt come up on the vast expanses of the recruiting trail.

The good news for Franklin and Penn State: They had three of those 11. The bad news for them and everyone else in the league: Urban Meyer is probably preparing a recruiting flyer right now with a 9-figure dollar amount printed in big bold numbers.

Big Ten spring attendance by the numbers

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 18:  A general view of  Ohio Stadium as more than 99,000 fans packed in to watch the annual Ohio State Spring Game on April 18, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
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The SEC may have led the pack when it comes to spring game attendance, but the Big Ten was once again a strong draw this spring with its usual heavy-hitters continuing to set the pace for the conference. Highlighted by a record-setting turnout for the Ohio State spring game, the Big Ten finished in a firm second place in cumulative spring game attendance with a total of 376,049 fans attending spring games in the Big Ten this year.

Big Ten Spring Attendance By School

Here is how the Big Ten schools compared to each other in the spring game attendance figures.

  1. Ohio State – 100,189
  2. Nebraska – 72,992
  3. Penn State – 65,000
  4. Michigan State – 51,000
  5. Michigan – 35,000
  6. Iowa – 18,460
  7. Rutgers – 14,177
  8. Wisconsin – 9,181
  9. Purdue – 5,050
  10. Illinois – 5,000

Note: No attendance figures were made available for Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota and Northwestern.

What Meyer Wants, Meyer Gets

Ohio State set the national spring game attendance record a year ago coming off a national championship with 99,391 fans. Despite the lack of championship this spring to defend, head coach Urban Meyer raised the bar and claimed he wanted to see 100,000 fans at the spring game in Columbus. He got his wish with a new record crowd of 100,189 fans this spring. What’s next for Meyer? Well, there are still a few seats left to fill. Will Meyer hope to push that number even higher next spring?

Biggest Increase, Biggest Drop

In the spring following an undefeated regular season and appearance in the Big Ten championship game and the Rose Bowl, Iowa boasted the largest increase in spring game attendance this season, both in total fans and percentage. To be fair, Iowa did not have much to compete against with its 2015 spring attendance number. A year ago Iowa recorded an estimated 8,000 fans for the spring game. That was up over 10,000 with a much more official-sounding 18,460 fans this spring.

Most of the other Big Ten spring numbers were within close distance compared to 2015, either increasing or decreasing by no more than a couple thousand fans for the most part. While Iowa had the most noticeable increase in spring attendance, the Michigan Wolverines saw the most significant drop. Last year Michigan broke the typical spring game mold in Ann Arbor by turning in a crowd of 60,000 for the first spring game under Jim Harbaugh. This year that total dropped to 35,000. The biggest reason for that drop can likely be contributed to the schedule. Last year’s spring game was played on a Saturday afternoon. This year’s game was given a Friday night billing, which may have led some Wolverine faithful to pass. Michigan has not typically been a huge spring draw, but it will be interesting to see what changes, if any, are made to the scheduling of next year’s spring game.

The Other Usual Power Players

Ohio State aside, it was yet another solid spring showing from the fans in Lincoln, Nebraska and State College, Pennsylvania. Nebraska and Penn State have always typically been strong spring game draws on a regular basis, and neither disappointed again this season. Nebraska once again eclipsed the 70,000-fan mark with 72,992 showing up. Penn State brought in another 60,000+ crowd with an estimated 65,000.

Michigan State is starting to become one of the stronger spring draws as well. The Spartans set a new school record with 51,000 coming out to East Lansing on Saturday. With that, Michigan State pushed past their rivals from Ann Arbor, which surely will bring a smile to the face of Mark Dantonio.

Quick Hits

  • Illinois got off to a late start with spring practices due to a late coaching change. No formal spring game was open to fans, but 5,000 Illini faithful got a chance to see Lovie Smith in action as the new head coach during an open practice.
  • Like LSU in the SEC, the fact that Wisconsin only brings in just fewer than 10,000 for its spring game amazes me. Wisconsin fans love the Badgers and make for a great crowd, but for whatever reason there is not much emphasis on the spring game.
  • Maryland has not recorded a spring game attendance either of the past two spring games, but Rutgers has once again welcomed about 15,000 fans for its spring game for the second straight spring.

You can view my database of spring game attendance in this Google doc. It is updated periodically as information becomes available or confirmed.

Mo’ money, no problem? Big Ten closing in on media rights bonanza

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Associated Press
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For those who lament the amount of money made by universities while the student-athletes that drive the sports, particularly football, receive “nothing,” you can commence your kvetching.  Again.

With its current first-tier media rights deal set to expire next year, the Big Ten, it was reported last month, had begun the process of accepting offers from various networks for the next round.  And, according to the Sports Business Daily, it’s set to toss a sizable amount of money into the conference membership’s coffers.

From the website:

Fox is close to signing a deal that gives it half of the Big Ten’s available media rights package, according to several sources. Deal terms still are flexible – both in terms of money and rights. However, the two sides have agreed on basic terms that will give Fox the rights to around 25 football games and 50 basketball games that it will carry on both the broadcast channel and FS1 starting in the fall of ’17. The deal runs six years and could cost Fox as much as $250M per year, depending on the amount of rights the Big Ten conference puts in its second package.

To put that into perspective, the Big Ten’s current deal with ESPN that expires in the spring of next year was worth $1 billion over the course of 10 years; that $100 million annual average would be blown away by FOX Sports‘ $250 million a year average — and that’s just for half of the deal.

For further perspective…

Again, this deal would be for half of the conference’s football inventory over the next six years, with SBD reporting that “ESPN will be one of several TV networks engaged for the second half of the Big Ten’s package, along with the usual suspects of CBS, NBC and Turner.”

Vanderbilt and Purdue announce home-and-home; Commodores also add Georgia State

Vanderbilt fans cheer in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game between Vanderbilt and Georgia on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt upset Georgia 31-27. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
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This has been a busy week for scheduling news, which is always a nice way to pass the time. The folks at Vanderbilt have been busy and today announced a pair of new home-and-home scheduling arrangements with Purdue and Georgia State.

Purdue and Vanderbilt will play a Big Ten vs. SEC contest in West Lafayette on September 7, 2019, but the Boilermakers will not make a return trip to Nashville for another decade. Vanderbilt is scheduled to host Purdue on September 8, 2029. The two schools have not faced each other since 1942. Vanderbilt owns a 2-0 record in the series, barring any unforeseen bowl matchups between the…. oh, who are we kidding?

The scheduling agreement between the two schools will satisfy each school’s power conference scheduling requirement in their respective conferences. Both the Big Ten and SEC will be forcing their members to schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent or power conference equivalent (Notre Dame, BYU). Purdue and Vanderbilt are often the subject of power conference scheduling requirement jokes, but who knows what kind of powerhouses they eventually be in 2029.

Vanderbilt’s power conference scheduling requirement is satisfied in 2016 (at Georgia Tech), 2017 (Kansas State), 2019 (at Purdue), 2020 (at Kansas State), 2021 (Stanford), 2022 (Wake Forest), 2023 (at Wake Forest), 2024 (at Stanford), 2025 (Stanford), and 2027 (at Stanford) and 2029 (Purdue). It must still fill the requirement in 2018 and 2026.

Purdue’s power conference scheduling commitment in the Big Ten is satisfied in 2017 (Louisville in Indianapolis, at Missouri), 2018 (Missouri, Boston College), 2020 (Notre Dame, at Boston College), 2021 (at Notre Dame), 2023 (at Virginia Tech), 2024 (Notre Dame), 2025 (at Notre Dame), 2026 (Wake Forest, Notre Dame on neutral field) and 2027 (at Wake Forest). It must still fill the requirement 2019 and 2022.

Vanderbilt’s agreement with Georgia State is noteworthy in that it will send an SEC team to the home field of a Sun Belt Conference member. This, of course, is a rare arrangement in a land where it is typical of Sun Belt programs taking a trip to an SEC stadium for a nice payday. Georgia State will host Vanderbilt in Atlanta on September 28, 2024. Vanderbilt will host the Panthers on September 20 2025. The two programs have yet to face each other.