THE BIG 20 CONFERENCE
Comprising two "sub-conferences":
The Traditional Ten ............................. The Super Ten (to make them feel special and all)
Michigan Notre Dame
Ohio State Pitt
MSU Penn State
Indiana Kansas State
Iowa Iowa State
Big Ten could get those other eight teams in a week. First invite Mizzou and Iowa State, who say yes before you finish asking the question. That kills the BIg 12, and Kansas and Kansas State jump at the invite, cash-throwing alums and all. Then invite Pitt, which compels subsequent invitees Rutgers and Syracuse to say yes. That's 19 teams. Goodbye Big East, hello Notre Dame. Twenty and done.
How to schedule now? With a few radical wrinkles, I think it all works -- and eliminates all current bones of contention:
1. Each "sub-conference" plays 8 games against other teams in their sub-conference. As now.
2. Rather than add one additional (9th) conference game as is being discussed now, instead add TWO, for 10 total. To allow for balanced, if infrequent, full conference play. Thus:
• RIVALRY GAME: Each team in one sub-conference will pair up and play annually against a team in the other. Just as in same-line pairings above, with M-ND, OSU-Pitt, MSU-PSU, etc. I guessed on a few, but tried to match up traditional dog with traditional dog, power with power, academicians with academicians, rivals with rivals. Some are naturals (eg, M-ND, Iowa-Iowa St, Illinois-Mizzou).
• ROTATING GAME: Play the other 9 teams in the opposite sub-conference in home-and-homes over 18 years. Don't want to wait every 18 years to see Nebraska visit your stadium? Fine. Then the Big 20 Conference suggests you....
3. Teams can schedule a conference opponent but as a NON-CONFERENCE game. Schedule such a game any time you want, but NOT have it count as a conference game.
This format gives each Big 20 team 8 sub-conference games, 1 opposite-subconference annual rivalry game, and 1 random opposite-conference game per season. Ten total. With only two other non-conference games to slot, Big 20 teams can play Alabamas if they like, or Alabama A&Ms. Or Western and Eastern Michigan but no need anymore for Northern Michigan. Or Delaware State. Or any other I-AA team. Additionally, the "non-conference conference game" option is there, too, if that's more attractive than two MAC teams, etc.
Of course, the sub-conference champions play in the Big 20 title game on the first Saturday in December wherever the hell Delaney wants to play it.
But M-OSU can still play the third Saturday in November because it still means very much to win what is no longer a division of six teams, but a sub-conference comprising the same 10 teams the Big Ten had from the early '50s to 1992.
RESULT? EVERYONE'S HAPPY:
-- Big Ten conference rules the universe, Delaney's wettest dream.
-- Speaking of which, Big Ten traditionalists have a Million Man Circle-Jerk.
-- Big Ten Network eclipses Al Jazeera as most picked-up station on the world's cable systems.
-- Raiding of and resultant destruction of the Big East forces ND's hand and compels them to round out the 20 teams. Texas goes west to Pac 16, or whatever, but Big Ten still holds the most power with TV execs, now and forever more.
-- ***All current Big Ten concerns, re divisions and rivalries, go straight out the window. Seeya. Because the old Big Ten in essence returns, pre-PSU even.
-- Worries of the unbalanced 9-game conference schedule go poof, too.
-- Even MSU and PSU will be happy: MSU because the Land Grant Trophy lives, baby, and PSU because Rutgers goes back on its schedule annually. Happy Valley becomes even happier.
-- Even works for basketball, competitively-balanced speaking. And what a conference for hoops.
What am I missing here?