Realignment always the right move?

December, 6, 2012
12/06/12
11:20
AM ET
When schools decide they are going to jump from one conference to another, how much do they really know about their financial future? Are they destined to make more money?

I've been told by many insiders that it's not as much as we believe. That realignment moves are done more on pressure and fear of being left behind than having hard data that the new direction is the right one.

Missouri was the only school that actually produced a document with financial projections that publicly demonstrated the fruits of leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. But a deep dive into the numbers clearly demonstrated that the positive spin was done in a vacuum that couldn't be projected without knowing the other shifts in the recent past and future in the college landscape. Missouri couldn't have known, for example, how much more it really could have made when the new SEC TV deals with ESPN and CBS were in their negotiating infancy. And Missouri couldn't have known how much more it would make in the SEC without knowing how many teams would remain in the Big 12.

With this in mind, I asked Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who was speaking on a panel at the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum on Thursday morning, how many numbers he provided Maryland and Rutgers and how much those schools provided him in order to make the decision on whether the shift made sense.

"They probably don't know a whole lot of numbers about where they were," Delany said. "I don't know your numbers and you don't know any of my personal numbers. I don't know everyone's numbers. You try to understand and use your experience. I didn't ask for anyone's permission from CBS or ESPN or BTN. I called Chase Carey [president of NewsCorp, parent company of Fox Sports and partner in the Big Ten Network] after it was done and said, 'Chase, we did it.' He had just done his deal with the Yankees. I called up [ESPN president] John Skipper. I couldn't reach him. We didn't ask for permission; it wasn't directed as any obligation to anybody. We think this is the right long-range approach for the Big Ten with full awareness that it's not a layup. It's a challenging marketplace. It's different because we're now clearly in two different regions in the country."

So there you have it. Are these realignment moves made after both sides review definitive projections made on dense Excel documents? Of course not. The way things are going, it's lucky if anything is even on a napkin.

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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