Excitement and angst reign supreme in the college hockey world after the announcement last Friday that Penn State will join Division I Mens and Womens Hockey starting Fall 2012.
As every press release states in one form or another, it is good that the sport is expanding, especially in a state that will be hosting two consecutive Mens Frozen Fours. The angst comes from the specter of the Big Ten Conference and their TV network.
With Penn State, the Big Ten has the minimum six teams in hockey to create their own conference with NCAA auto-bid tied to it. And further reports indicate that Indiana is not far behind to make it seven Big Ten Schools. With a new conference comes more TV exposure and more money for the Big Ten. But to what cost to the sport? The WCHA and CCHA have to be working behind the scenes to keep their Big Ten schools in their conferences. The marquee schools in each conference that are also Big Ten current members bring in the revenue, notoriety, and many national championships.
The biggest loser in this possible Big Ten split would be the CCHA. Without Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State, what is left? A burgeoning Miami program, a lot of hit or miss teams from season to season, and even worse playoff attendance at The Joe, if that is possible. On the other hand, the WCHA looks to be in fairly good shape with North Dakota, Denver, and the slew of well followed Minnesota teams keeping the excitement high and some money still flowing into the coffers for the Final Five.
The most likely decision to add Big Ten Hockey will be made based on money and TV. As far as the state of Division I hockey goes we look to the Big Ten to not shake up current conference alignments and integrate into the CCHA to help grow the sport nationally.
Bemidji State Strikes TV Deal
In a very interesting move, Bemidji State has teamed with Lakeland Public Television to broadcast 16 of their games this season. Then Lakeland teamed with public television to carry the games on the Minnesota Channel (2.3 in the Twin Cities) throughout Minnesota and into Wisconsin and North Dakota.
No monetary figures have been disclosed, but one cannot imagine that BSU makes much money on this deal. What the Beavers do get statewide exposure. Whereas Saint Cloud State, Minnesota State – Mankato, and Minnesota – Duluth receive regional exposure on TV at best and maybe just on campus TV in at least one of the campuses.
TV exposure has been a valuable asset to the Gophers keeping a strong hockey presence in a state of five Division I teams and now Bemidji may very well be on the way to being the secnd most watched team in the state.