At the core of the drive for college conferences to expand to 16 teams (or, in the case of the most absurd Pac-10 / Big 12 rumors, as many as 22) is the idea that the megaconferences that emerge will make enough money to serve caviar at presidents' meetings and build new conference headquarters made entirely of 24-carat gold.
Eh, maybe not, according to CNBC -- a channel that kind of specializes in those sorts of things.
For example, reporter Darren Rovell says, any Big Ten invitee has to be able to bring along $20 million a year just for the league to break even.
How many teams can do that? Notre Dame. Maybe Nebraska. Rutgers, if you think that gets you the New York and Philly market. I personally don't think it does.
The Pac-10 is in the same boat. What would Texas Tech add that Texas couldn't? Is Oklahoma State worth as much as Oklahoma? ...
"It doesn't make sense to add teams that don't have incremental revenue opportunities," said former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson, now a TV consultant.
Pilson's other concern -- being invited to Washington for a "frank and constructive" conversation with members of Congress -- isn't likely to be a deterrent for officials whose conferences are often more popular in their home districts than local representatives and senators.
But not making money -- that could stop things, because that's the entire reason that college leagues are considering expansion in the first place. (That, and the Big Ten's endless delusion that Notre Dame really wants to be part of the Big Ten and just doesn't realize it yet.)
So hold back on those predictions of IMMINENT, WORLD-ALTERING CHANGES TO COLLEGE FOOTBALL. If the money's not there, we might yet end up just shuffling a few teams around. That is, if conference commissioners stop and think before continuing the kind of one-upsmanship that they all might regret in a year or two.
(HT: Dr. Saturday)