Delany has Big Ten brand stronger than ever

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has built the conference brand well.

There are three guarantees in life that can be consistently counted on: death, taxes and Jim Delany.

Never bet against the Big Ten's commissioner, for a plan is always in place. His moves are carefully thought, often bold and usually right.

Cash cows Maryland and Rutgers have set the Big Ten to roll in the dough. According to colleague Mike Carmin of the Lafayette Journal and Courier, the other 12 Big Ten schools are projected to take in $44.5 million annually off the conference's distribution plan.

Since the Big Ten Network launched in 2007, the revenue has continued to rise. It started at $18.8 million and reached $25.4 million last year. That number will be close to doubling with the new additions.

It stems from the very idea that Delany created—a television network devoted to the conference. This daring move has set a revolutionary model that others have followed, falling short of the success the Big Ten has seen.

The conference footprint has spread from Nebraska to New Jersey, spanning 1,300 miles. New York City and Washington D.C. are now considered Big Ten country. The Midwest's conference has moved east.

During times of instability for college athletics, Delany has put the Big Ten steady ground. No school would ever consider leaving it. But with this, Delany has taken advantage of other conference's falters. When the Big 12 was on the verge of crumbling, he poached Nebraska. As the Big East dissolved, he took over its ever-important turf.

Delany stole from the weak and made his entity so much stronger.

Remember how the Big Ten lacked a conference championship game? The addition of Nebraska brought the league to two poorly-named divisions (Delany isn't perfect) and added an exciting primetime date in Indianapolis.


Monday will bring the birth of another cash cow, the announcement of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, four days of basketball between the Big Ten and Big East. It will put the conference in the national spotlight and bring in even more revenue.

The concept is simple, creating exciting nonconference matchups and putting basketball fans in front of their televisions.

Everything from bowl partnerships to television designations work to make the brand stronger and more wealthy. Each decision is thought through with careful consideration, and they usually pay dividends.

Sure, Maryland and Rutgers have bad teams, and Julie Hermann is the human headache that won't stop talking. The competition factor isn't what drew Delany to these moves. It's all about the money, and there's a lot of it.

So, why write this column now—early May and months away from the start of fall camps? The offseason is boring for scribes, and the little innovations from Delany often bring large reward. The concepts are revolutionary, and that's what makes Delany the best at his job.

Just like death and taxes, Delany is a sure thing.

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