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Spring 2021 Scheduling: Make Money

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Let’s generate some revenues!

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-San Jose Practice Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve established the layout of each sport’s potential spring schedule. Great! Barry’s still broke. Let’s figure out a way to maximize how much of that sweet, sweet moolah by selling tickets, treats and television deals. According to the 2019 NCAA financial report, you are not surprised where Wisconsin Badgers Athletics generated the most revenue.

Revenue By Sport and Source

Source Sport Revenue
Source Sport Revenue
Tickets Football $24,016,186.00
Tickets Men's Hoops $5,905,832.00
Tickets Women's Hoops $128,594.00
Tickets Men's Hockey $2,385,794.00
Tickets Volleyball $519,472.00
Tickets Women's Hockey $184,497.00
Tickets Wrestling $64,828.00
Media Football $45,666,622.00
Media Men's Hoops $9,770,782.00
Media Men's Hockey $541,459.00
Media Volleyball $135,365.00
Gameday Football $5,349,765.00
Gameday Men's Hoops $2,239,277.00
Gameday Women's Hoops $265,154.00
Gameday Men's Hockey $1,518,847.00
Gameday Volleyball $387,413.00
Gameday Women's Hockey $235,041.00
Gameday Wrestling $44,626.00
It’s football. Always has been.

Yeah, football.

Football’s going to be the north star that’ll guide the rest of our decisions. Ramping up for a mid-February to March schedule with six games allows a semblance of a real division champion while leaving enough time to recover for a 2021 schedule.

But now, let me selfishly address one of the biggest issues I have with the Big 10. You don’t understand a mainstay of open mic nights: the bringer. At some places, in order to get on stage you need to bring a couple people. They are the extra drink orders that help the business make more money.

Now, the Big 10 is in a situation where every place needs to make more money. I’ve been to nine of the 14 football stadiums in the Big 10, and you know what? Most of those cities are worth a weekend visit to watch a football game. You know what I would absolutely love to do when I’m in place like Iowa City or West Lafayette to watch my team play? Watch my team play more! If we’re going to make money on football, let’s have that be our “bringer” so away fans go see basketball, volleyball or hockey as well.

I know what you’re thinking: not every single team relies on the away team to sell tickets. For example, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State don’t have the capacity of the Kohl Center. Those three teams sell out their smaller arenas. The Badgers could use a little help. What are the football games we can use to fill some other venues?

Big Ten Open Seat Night

Division Away Home With
Division Away Home With
West Minnesota Illinois Volleyball
West Purdue Illinois Volleyball
West Nebraska Iowa Volleyball
West Minnesota Wisconsin Hockey
East Michigan Ohio State Hockey
West Wisconsin Iowa Basketball
West Iowa Minnesota Basketball
West Northwestern Minnesota Basketball
West Purdue Minnesota Basketball
West Illinois Northwestern Basketball
West Nebraska Northwestern Basketball
West Wisconsin Northwestern Basketball
East Indiana Ohio State Basketball
East Maryland Penn State Basketball
East Michigan State Penn State Basketball
East Ohio State Penn State Basketball

This list focuses on the games with bigger potential based on the football schedule - and also is not feasible unless we stick all of Minnesota, Penn State and Northwestern’s home games before the Big 10 tournament. But you have to try.

Which brings me to the next item on the scheduling agenda. Football media rights dwarf all other income streams, and football ticket revenue dwarfs everything that isn’t football media rights. By moving football to March, we’re competing against March Madness. (Again, knock on wood.) There is a way around that, though.

The conference can conveniently schedule a bye during the glorious opening weekend of March Madness. It’s very convenient that in our six-game schedule, we can break it into two three-game chunks that occur on either side of the Round of 32. Except, crap - with seven teams playing six games, one team needs to be left out each week already. On second thought:

The conference can conveniently schedule a “boy, bye” during the glorious opening weekend of March Madness. The CBS network has the rights to the NCAA Men’s Tournament. ESPN has the NCAA Women’s tournament. That leaves FOX, the Big 10’s partner in BTN crime with nothing but a pocketful of wishes to schedule. What if they had a slate of football games to chose from instead? Also, those games are Northwestern @ Iowa, Illinois @ Nebraska, Purdue @ Minnesota, Indiana @ Ohio State, Michigan State @ Maryland, and Michigan @ Rutgers.

Put one of those match-ups in your network prime time slot and smoke it.

Finally, how do we use the rest of our TV networks to squeeze every last cent out of our hastily renegotiated media rights deal? It’s not that complicated. Really, we just need to move the Saturday men’s basketball games during the couple weeks of college football before tournament play. Volleyball’s media rights aren’t worth replacing slots we can use on BTN for men’s basketball.

But in my quest for maximizing profit and leaving a path of destruction so complete I’m putting Michigan State @ Maryland on a prime-time FOX slot, I’m reminded that Wisconsin Public Television used to show Badger hockey games. So, for those three weeks we put the six-time national champion Wisconsin men’s hockey team on public broadcasting to free up space for Northwestern - Purdue basketball on Friday night. No more half measures: volleyball, women’s hockey and basketball can join the PBS as well. As long as they aren’t scheduled against Badgers football, we’re raking in all the sweet not-for-profit broadcasting rights we can get our paws on.

Because I’m not in the media business. I’m in the empire business.