Big Ten expansion Q&A

Will the conference stop at 14 with Rutgers?

The Big Ten knew what it was getting by adding Penn State — a dominant football program. Same with Nebraska.

Now expansion is all about demographics, population shift, TV sets, inventory and subscriber fees.

Which are all fancy ways of saying money.

Asked about Maryland football, which is 6-17 since the 2011 season, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said the league can't limit itself to adding pigskin powers like Penn State and Nebraska.

"If that's the litmus test," he said, "then there wouldn't be a lot of expansion around the country."

Here are more questions to examine …

Will the league stop at 14 after adding Rutgers?

At this point, the Big Ten might not stop before world domination. "In order to be relevant, competitive and to move forward in the 21st century," Delany said, "you need a 21st-century paradigm … It's not your father's Big Ten."

So who could be next? How about North Carolina, Delany's alma mater? What about Florida State? It's so-so academically and not a member of the Association of American Universities, as preferred by Big Ten honchos. Well, Nebraska lost its AAU status and Notre Dame, a previous Big Ten target, is not a member of the club.

As Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon put it: "10 was a good number; 12 was a good number; 14 will be a good number."

And if the fit is right, "maybe 16 would be the right number."

What's the problem with getting so large?

Rivalries die. Teams start playing each other infrequently. Schedules become inherently unfair.

Delany used to say Big Ten teams want to "play each other more, not less."

Now? "It's not the world you necessarily want," he said, "it's the world you live in."

Actually it's the world he is creating. Delany has pushed for a nine-game conference schedule in football, but athletic directors and coaches have pushed back.

How will adding Maryland and Rutgers make Big Ten schools richer?

More teams means more games, aka inventory. That helps BTN, which will try to land on expanded basic in the beefy New York/New Jersey (7.4 million TV households) and Washington D.C./Baltimore (3.4 million) markets. Philadelphia (3.0) also would be a nice add.

But outside of D.C./Baltimore, it will be an uphill fight. The Big Ten sparred with Comcast before the cable operator agreed to carry BTN. And that was in the football-mad Midwest.

Last week News Corp., the parent company of BTN partner Fox, purchased a minority stake in the YES Network, a New York-based sports channel that broadcasts Yankees and Nets games. So …

Delany called it a "pure, unadulterated coincidence" with the pending addition of Rutgers, which craves attention from New Yorkers.

The bottom line is that News Corp. could try to bundle BTN with YES to get BTN distributed in New York. BTN already contributes about $6 million a year to each Big Ten school, and analysts estimate that with Maryland and Rutgers, the Big Ten could see a $100 million-plus per year boost in subscriber fees.

The Big Ten's deal with ABC/ESPN, worth $100 million a year, goes through 2016-17.

Delany is more than a little excited to hit the negotiating table.

Speaking of money …

Yes, that is why Maryland said yes to leaving the ACC. Even if it has to cough up that $50 million exit fee, university President Wallace Loh said, "we have assured the (financial) future of Maryland athletics for decades to come."

What about Legends and Leaders?

Delany said that nothing has been determined. But ESPN reported that Loh told the school's board of regents that Maryland and Rutgers will be Leaders, pushing Illinois to the Legends Division.

Or maybe Big Ten officials will use this opportunity to call a mulligan and go with the revolutionary "East" and "West" for its divisions.

CHICAGO