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Big Ten Woes Masked, But Still Exist

Despite a lucrative cable deal, this article really underscores the long-term problems that the Big Ten is facing.

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Detroit is...well, it's not exactly the canary in the coal mine for the conference, because the city's problems are quite extreme. Still, like much of the Midwest, Detroit has lost population and the Big Ten potential viewers, not to mention recruits.

This is the very least of the city's issues, but Detroit high schools have provided brilliant talent over the decades, much of it to the Big Ten. With the collapse of the city and funding problems for schools, talent development has really stalled. With less people, there is less talent anyway.

Not Detroit's biggest worry, but a tough problem for the Big Ten and especially Michigan and Michigan State, which have both historically drawn from Detroit (John Beilein's peculiar and brilliant style requires him to search farther and wider, so it may not affect him as much as it might have a previous or future coach).

Recruiting is always cyclical, so don't put too much stock into this, but Michigan has just one kid from Detroit on the roster and just three natives overall.

And the Spartans? They have seven natives on the roster, two from Detroit.

Otherwise, their in-state recruits are from Okemos, Bay City, Eaton Rapids and Monroe.

The second demographic catastrophe, from Jim Delaney's point of view, was Notre Dame's move to the ACC.

There is no question that geographically and in terms of rivalries, the Irish are a perfect fit for the Big Ten. But when Notre Dame wanted in, back in the early part of the last century, the Big Ten didn't want the Irish. Since then, the Irish haven't been particularly interested in joining any conference for football, much less the Big Ten.

Still, the move to the ACC, and the commitment for five ACC games, means less lucrative games for the Big Ten, and not least of all Notre Dame-Michigan, a game with a lot of history and which is eagerly anticipated.

If Notre Dame ever does join a conference now, in football that is, it's likely to be the ACC.

Seen in those lights, poaching Maryland and almost always pathetic Rutgers, isn't just reactionary, it's about long-term survival. The majority of the nation's population already lives in the ACC footprint and that's only going to increase.

Delaney has played a weak hand with absolute brilliance; no one would deny that. But so did Peter Stuyvesant.

Faced with a burgeoning English population in neighboring colonies, the Director-General of New Amsterdam won concessions way out of proportion to his actual power. Still, the British overwhelmed him in the end and New Amsterdam became New York.

The Big Ten Network is a brilliant answer to the challenges the Big Ten faces, but disruption is a fact of life in an innovative technological age.  We told you guys years ago that the Big East couldn't survive as two conferences in one. We wouldn't necessarily count on cable TV surviving in its present form for much longer either. How the Big Ten reacts will be most interesting.