Be Wary of Conference Expansion

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With the conclusion of spring practice, we have reached the dead period.
There are no football and basketball games to cover, discuss or analyze.
Recruiting will pick up later this summer, but Tech’s two major sports won’t
compete in an actual game for quite some time. That doesn’t mean we can’t find
things to talk about.

This is the time of year where I wish my baseball team was good (my poor
Braves would probably lose to the Orioles right now). There’s not much to do
except wait and guess. It’s the same thing every year at this time. We’re
guessing how many games the Hokies are going to win this year, and we’re
guessing which recruits will commit to Tech this summer and how many
scholarships the coaching staff will use on this class.

Fortunately today’s money-centered landscape of college athletics has given
us some things to talk about, for the time being.

Tournament Expansion and Conference Realignment

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament expanded to 68 teams earlier in the
month, much lower than the 96 teams that a lot of people expected. Unfortunately
it was a month too late for the Hokies, but … oh, well. I doubt they’ll have
much of a problem making it in next year.

This expansion isn’t going to affect the NCAA tournament much, as there will
just be three more play-in games, but it will put three more bubble teams in the

That’s not the big news. The big news is the new TV contract. ESPN did not
win the bidding war as expected. Instead, the tournament will be divided between
CBS Sports and Turner Sports. Every game of the tournament will be available on
live television on a national level. No more being forced to watch Duke
dismantle a #16 seed when a much better matchup between, say, Oklahoma State and
Louisville is on at the same time. What a concept.

Four different stations will carry the tournament. CBS, TBS, TNT and Tru TV
(which was born as Court TV and is primarily reality television … I think)
will carry the games live. The cost? A $10.8 billion deal that lasts 14 years.
That’s an average of $771 million a year, up from the $545 million average from
the last contract, which the NCAA opted out of early. Apparently they didn’t
need to expand to 96 teams to make a lot more money.