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Golden Nugz - 05.06.10

Big Ten expansion is the talk all over the interwebs. Phil Miller of the Star Tribune did a piece on it yesterday that was solid and answered some questions that were discussed on TDG over the last couple weeks. OK, he didn't completely answer any questions but he he did talk about the revenue generated by the BTN.

"If you're dividing the pie more ways, the pie had better be bigger," Maturi said, and that's where the Big Ten Network comes in.

The network earns, by some published estimates, an average of 70 cents a month per household from cable TV customers in the eight Big Ten states, but only 10 cents outside that footprint, where the network is normally offered only as a sports-package extra. By adding a few more large population centers to its reach, and thus convincing cable operators to move the BTN to its basic lineup, the network stands to exponentially grow its revenues.

So we don't have any exact numbers of how much the BTN is generating and how much each school is receiving. But reading the tea leaves tells us that the current B10 schools are getting enough that they are willing to share and they recognize that adding more markets will likely increase their share. And obviously the financial boon of the BTN has been enough that it may even make more financial sense for Notre Dame to join the Big Ten rather than sit idly at an NBC independent.

The conference inquired about the Fighting Irish's interest in 1999, but was rebuffed. Some factors have changed since then, primarily the Irish's TV-income supremacy. When Notre Dame signed an exclusive contract with NBC in 1991, its fee dwarfed what other NCAA schools could earn. But under the five-year extension signed in 2008, the Irish make a reported $15 million a year -- far less than the $22 million that in-state neighbors Purdue and Indiana collect from the Big Ten.

This is an intriguing topic with so many great questions yet to be answered.

Will the Big Ten land Notre Dame? Still doubtful, but more realistic than ever before and really it looks like if it doesn't happen this time around it may never happen.

How many teams will they add? What was once thought to be one, now looks like three.

What will the division alignment be? This will be interesting and no matter how it gets done there will be a lot of disagreement over the final alignment I'm sure. But keeping traditional rivalries intact and trying to balance the power will be vital.

And of course, who will it be? Notre Dame, Nebraska and Pitt, in my opinion would be ideal. Or Nebraska, Pitt, Missouri. Or Rutgers, Syracuse and Missouri. Or whatever, it will be fun to see how it all shakes out.