Reading the tea leaves on Big Ten hockey
The BCI crew took note of Penn State adding hockey and how it will impact BC. Their fear is that the money generated by Big Ten hockey via the Big Ten Network would give those six schools a huge advantage over traditional power conferences like the Hockey East. I actually think Big Ten Hockey helps BC. Let me explain:
-- The Big Ten is not done expanding. Despite the relative calm now that they've added Nebraska, I don't believe the Big Ten is done expanding. The Big XII is still in a precarious position as is the Big East and the Big Ten is in the catbird seat because of their TV money. When the next conference shuffle comes, the Big Ten will be influencing much of who goes where.
-- If hockey becomes a focus of the Big Ten Network, hockey programs will be needed too. Football will always drive the conversation and the network's revenue. Basketball is next. But hockey could become a lucrative staple of the cable network. So in looking for expansion candidates, you will be hard to pressed to find someone who does all three better than BC. What candidate, other than Notre Dame, would offer the Big Ten those three elements?
-- BC is still a better TV play than most schools out there.
Our ratings are strong on a local level and on a national level (for a non traditional power). The Big Ten has little market presence in New England or on New England cable systems (as a premium channel). BC would help on that front.
Now, I don't think the Big Ten officials are huddled in Chicago thinking "how can we get BC to defect?." They would never add us as a stand alone 13th team. But the hockey factor makes us that much more attractive as a school that might join with one or three other universities.
Despite our comfort in the ACC and being a founding member of Hockey East, BC would certainly entertain the idea. I know Father Leahy and Gene D dread the idea of going through another conference shuffle, but they also fear the idea of BC being part of a leftover conference. Money is important to the school but so is association. If we can have a financially stable conference and still be associated with Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia, etc, I think BC would gladly stay put. But if BC is left in a conference with the Big East retreads, the school wouldn't think twice about joining the Big Ten.