Big Ten expansion
It's everybody's favorite non-pollutionary, anti-institutionary, pro-confectionary conference conundrum...
I've got a real good question for you:
If money is the driving force behind Big Ten expansion, and academics are the official sticking point, and the Big Ten Network makes this conference so attractive that almost any team would be in for joining, who is really a potential expansion candidate now?
This Has All Been Chewed Before
Gum chewing's fine when it's once in a while
It stops you from smoking and brightens your smile
But it's repulsive, revolting, and wrong
Chewing and chewing all day long
I realize I'm not exactly the first person to start talking about Big Ten Expansion. But this isn't just any old stick of gum: this gum has an entire meal in it. You probably won't learn anything new here, but you'll get some information to back up what we already know.
This diary is a look at current FBS (formerly Division I-A) teams that might be considered for Big Ten Expansion, and others that might fit the academic profile, even if there's no way they would join the Big Ten.
When expansion to 12 or 14 teams was the modus operandi, this blog reviewed the leading candidates. However, with even 24 teams having been mentioned by NCAA people (by which I mean "Just Tom Osborne"), the field has grown.
The question: are there that many schools out there that fit the conference's academic profile, or at least close enough the Big Ten can continue to claim itself the most academic FBS conference?
In reality, there is a clear cutoff: does the school match the criteria to join the American Association of Universities?* and the Big Ten's own little version of that, the CIC. There are currently 63 members, but I would imagine a Big Ten addition not already part of the AAU would be able to join, if it matches the academic criteria. Therefore, the lower bound of AAU membership is the functional lower bound of Big Ten expansion consideration.
To find out who has a golden ticket, follow me, overjoyed, enraptured, entranced. Are we ready? Yes, good. In we go.
* If not, MaizeAndBlueWahoo is going to neg me.
Per Peter King's Tweet and this article
Sounds like expansion is almost complete (I guess I don't really believe it). Mizzou supposedly has already said they are leaving. Supposedly joining is Nebraska, Syracuse, Pitt, and Rutgers.
If true, damn you ND and Freakbass.
Here's another beauty. In response to a question about Big Ten expansion;
"Anybody that comes up with a plan that says Michigan shouldn't play Ohio State should be institutionalized. That's one I can probably carve out and say, 'that's a deal stopper.'"
Man, I really like this guy.
I must confess that I don’t read EVERY post on MGOBLOG (obviously my priorities are screwed up), My apologies if someone has thrown out this idea before.
First to restate the obvious, the general feeling is that expanding the B10 for expansion’s sake alone is as distasteful as a 96 team NCAA hoops tournament. Expansion should significantly expand the Big 10’s TV market AND enhance the Big 10’s overall national image. The two best targets to accomplish these goals are Texas and ND. Texas would seem to be the more desirable but also the more difficult target. ND is playing coy. So how does the B10 lever ND into the fold? Notre Dame will likely only come in if they see some sort of major realignment that will affect their long-term outlook. We can do that by quietly suggesting to ND that Big 10 members will not renew their contracts to play ND if they don’t play ball. So right now that is only 3 games, but if the Big 10 first takes Pitt then… (here comes the new idea) Boston College two more of ND’s frequent football opponents, ND is now looking at the possibility of a bleak scheduling future.
BC is academically a good fit and has a fine football tradition, better than any Big East team. They can bring the Boston TV market and maybe most of New England. They have been part of the ACC for a relatively short period of time and are geographically separated from the rest of their conference, so they probably wouldn’t feel any great angst about leaving for greener pastures. They certainly have more football tradition than either Rutgers or Syracuse and likely bring along a bigger TV audience.
Assuming ND then folds and a 16 team super conference is in the cards we could then expand westward with either UT & TAMU, Mizzou/Kansas or Mizzou/Nebraska.
An interesting question is whether the addition of Notre Dame would help bring Texas into the fold. Alternatively, the Big Ten could go with an eastern theme and add Rutgers and Syracuse, but I would personally prefer going west for the final 2.
|Michigan||Ohio St.||Penn St.||Iowa|
|MSU||Moby Dick||BE 1 (Pitt?)||Wisconsin|
|B12 2 (Mizzou?)||Illinois||BE 2 (RU/Cuse?)||Minnesota|
|Indiana||Northwestern||Purdue||B12 1 (Neb?)|
In here I'm assuming that we will poach at least 2 Big XII and 2 Big East teams. Moby Dick may be ND, Texas, or any other random school.
I attempted to preserve as many rivalries with the divisions as I could, while at the same time balancing geography and football prestige. The Fry/Osborne division is the only one I feel solidly about, the other 3 can flex around a bit to find the best fit.
To go along with the divisions, I decided to include 2 protected games for each team, much like the Big Ten's current format, to preserve up to 2 big rivalries/develop new ones. Without complete knowledge of rivalries of all teams, I tried my best.
Cross Divisional Protected Games
|Michigan||Ohio St||Ohio St||Michigan|
|Michigan||Minnesota||Ohio St||Penn St|
|MSU||Penn St.||Moby Dick||Purdue|
|MSU||Northwestern||Moby Dick||B 12 1|
|B 12 2||Illinois||Illinois||B 12 2|
|B 12 2||B 12 1||Illinois||Indiana|
|Penn St||Ohio St||Iowa||Penn St.|
|BE 1||Minnesota||Wisconsin||BE 2|
|BE 2||B 12 1||Minnesota||BE 1|
|Purdue||Indiana||B12 1||B12 2|
|Purdue||Moby Dick||B12 1||BE 2|
The 3 Divisional games and 2 protected matchups should ideally be played in the first 5 weeks of conference play.* Then we move onto:
Weeks 6-7 are a semi-randomized* draw. Each team will play 1 home and 1 away game. I call this a semi-randomized draw because there are rules. You cannot play
- Anybody you played in weeks 1-5
- Anybody you played in weeks 6-7 of randomized draw from the last year
- Anybody you played in the conference weeks 8-9 last year
At the end of Week 7, we lock into seeding for mini-playoffs in weeks 8-9
The conference splits in 2 for weeks 8 and 9. The top half of the conference is put into 2 divisions, seeded by conference record, H2H matchups, point differentials, and et cetera. These two divisions would play 1v4, 2v3, then winners vs.winners and losers vs. losers. The two winners that would emerge would then play for the Mega Ultra Super Explosion Conference Championship Game (Sponsored by State Farm)
The other bracket, tentatively named I can Has Bowl? Will follow much the same format, only all of these teams will be pretty much battling it out for the last few bowl berths available in conference. If scheduling trends continue with MACrifice type games, most of these teams can get to 6-6 if they win out. They're jostling for position, much like any teams that lose any of the games in the championship bracket. Keep in mind this new conference would probably send at least 2, and as many as 4 teams to the BCS every year.
As a final note, if 2 lower seeded teams have the same record, the conference can decide to flip them to give a better (IE, non divisional or teams that have not played this year) matchup
To illustrate this, I'll provide an example season
After 7 weeks of conference play, the standings are**:
|Michigan (6-1)||Ohio St. (7-0)||Penn St. (5-2)||Iowa (6-1)|
|MSU (3-4)||Moby Dick (4-3)||BE 1 (Pitt?) (4-3)||Wisconsin (6-1)|
|B12 2 (Mizzou?) (5-2)||Illinois (4-3)||BE 2 (RU/Cuse?) (0-7)||Minnesota (0-7)|
|Indiana (0-7)||Northwestern (2-5)||Purdue (2-5)||B12 1 (Neb?) (2-5)|
Which would lead to this type of week 8-9 seeding
|Seeds||Champion 1||Champion 2||I can has bowl?||I can has bowl?|
|1||Ohio St. (7-0)||Iowa (6-1)||Illinois (4-3)||MSU (3-4)|
|2||Wisconsin (6-1)||Michigan (6-1)||Northwestern (2-5)||Purdue (2-5)|
|3||B12 2 (Mizzou?) (5-2)||Penn St. (5-2)||B12 1 (Neb?) (2-5)||Indiana (0-7)|
|4||BE 1 (Pitt?) (4-3)||Illinois (4-3)||Minnesota (0-7)||BE 2 (RU/Cuse?) (0-7)|
Winner of Champion 1 v Champion 2 would compete in the Mega Ultra Super Explosion Conference Championship Game (Sponsored by State Farm)
And to be clear: All lower seeds have home field advantage throughout weeks 8-9. Conference Championship held at neutral site NFL stadium.
So there you have it. Let's lauch into Pro-Con
- Pretty much everybody can keep traditional rivals, either through divisional lineups or protected matchups. The only exception will be if Moby Dick turns out to be Notre Dame. In which case, to hell with Notre Dame, you shouldn't have made us make a 16 team conference. You'll get nothing and like it.
- In the end, you play with your skill level. Even if your Division and rivals all had down years AND your random seeds turned out to be bad, you will still be forced to win 3 games against quality opponents to win the Big Ten.
- You are guaranteed to see at least 2, hopefully 3-4 new teams a year due to the randomization in weeks 6-7. This should see you cycle through the conference every 4 years or so, not ideal, but hopefully it'll all work out.
- It makes my head hurt: Yeah, it makes my head hurt too
- Divisions are fairly static: Yep, I guess we could make a provision that realignment can happen every X amount of years, assuming this conference survives.
- Some teams may be screwed out of position due to the 8/9 cutoff: Yeah, but were we really expecting them to win the championship anyways? They should have won more games in weeks 1-7.
- The losers bracket sucks: You suck. That and 3-6 of those teams are angling for bowls, everybody else gets to play for pride and a chance to screw somebody out of a bowl.
- Some teams will invariably play each other twice in a season. This is not necessarily good or bad. In the championship bracket, it's a shot at redemption! In the losers bracket... it's a shot at redemption.
Feel free to let me know. I don't care about the hyphenations, but I suppose everything else is fair game.
*Truly random schedule generation would lead to weird results like playing Ohio State 3x
**This may or may not make sense with Divisions/rivalry matchups. I don't care. The total wins and losses add up correctly, and that's all I really care about to illustrate an example
Adam over at ESPN gets some quotes from coaches... Paterno Fitzgerald... nothing earth shattering.