Big Ten And PAC-12 Return To Play...And Here's Why


Big Ten Championship - Ohio State v Wisconsin

"This decision to play has nothing to do with money.That was never discussed as a consideration."

That is the comment from Oregon president Michael Schill after the Pac 12 voted to return to play.

Before we get back to what Schill said, remember these numbers: $383 million and $288 million

Schill is probably telling the truth. There was probably no moment on the zoom call when someone asked about how much money they were still going to make from their TV deals. That's because any money they make off those media deals is better than what they would have made if the Pac 12 did not play. And those figures were likely already known because someone emailed the amount to those presidents before they all got on a call to vote on whether to play or not play.

But the conference would have made some of that money if they played in the spring or even if they started in January, So why now?

We know why now. The "why now" is because everyone else is playing. Optics is a word we are using more of lately when it comes to the pandemic world we are living in. And as the Big Ten and Pac 12 watched the ACC, Big XII, American and other leagues begin the season, they did see teams pause practices, postpone or cancel games but games were played. The media and fans focused on those games and suddenly the two leagues connected at the hip saw the sport was moving forward without them. And as the calendar moved closer to the start of the SEC, the look of not playing grew larger.

The Big Ten and Pac 12 could have stood firm and stated the same medical reasons that led to the decision to not play in the fall are the same reasons they are not changing their position.

But the optics came into play. So the moment the Big Ten gave you medical reasons that it was suddenly ok to play, despite the testing they proudly boasted was available weeks before the vote to return took place, the Pac 12 gave you all of their data why the world was safer to start playing as well.

Look, I have stated for months that there is nothing wrong in trying to do something safely with the virus still in our lives. And yes, the availability of testing more frequently with quicker results are a factor for all in playing. But most of the medical data being used by the Big Ten and Pac 12 as to why they can play now was available to the ACC, Big XII, SEC and American weeks ago.

Which leads us back to those figures of $383 million(Big Ten) and $288 million(Pac 12). The two figures represent the total amount of money the Big Ten and Pac 12 would make when you combine their media rights packages and College Football Playoff payout. Each Power 5 league makes $66 million on the playoff plus an additional $6 million if a member of their league plays in the playoff. 

Those figures will likely be less because both leagues are not playing full seasons but both raced to get started so they could participate in the playoff and get that money as well. Don't kid yourself. Rutgers didn't vote to return to play because Ryan Day thinks his Buckeyes can win the national title. They voted to play because their athletic department is beyond bleeding money. They need any dollars available.

So while it looks good in well written press releases with quotes from medical professionals and a commissioner on a zoom call explaining that it's about the kids. It has been and will be about the money. And the moment everyone else started playing, the optics(there's that word again) made the decision to play for the Big Ten and Pac 12 an easy one. They just had to write the narrative to make it appear like it wasn't about the money...

Final thought: Armadillos have four babies at a time and are all the same sex


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