"(I) think about 'The Lion King,' Simba gets hit over the head and (he's told) 'the past can hurt,' " Harbaugh said Monday afternoon. "'You can either run from it or embrace it and learn from it.'
I've been looking at the expansion scenario and all the different scenarios of 12, 14, 16, and all of the different candidates, and I just wanted to put my two cents in;
My first thought is that I have no desire to obtain any big east team at all. None of them will bring a powerful football program to add a perenial strength to the conference, and I have concerns about any of them adding any value to the TV markets. I lived in New England for three years (and by New England I mean all of New England Boston, Connecticut, and Rhode Island) and college football is not anywhere on the map. They don't follow it, don't care about it, and adding some local team will do nothing to sway them. I feel the same is true for the NY market, as I believe there are probably more Michigan and Penn State fans than any Rutgers fans.
My second thought is that 16 is too big. I've seen a lot of talk about 4 pods and whatnot, but I am big on rivalries and the mini rivalries that occur from two teams who happen to play some close or controversial games and want to have a chance at retribution. A 16 team super conference seemd to large to keep these types of rivalries and help create new ones.
So with that said, I move west for three teams to make a 14 team conference. And I feel the best 3 for the big ten would be Nebraska, Missouri, and Notre Dame. This allows for an easy geographical split with east and west conferences of 7 teams with 2 cross division games every year. The Divisions would be as follows;
East: Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue, Indiana, and Notre Dame
West: Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, Nebraska, and Missouri
This keeps the majority of the rivalries in-tact, and allows for some cross division games and makes sense geographically to help create new rivalries. Michigan and Ohio State would still play the last game of the year in the division, with the winner (Michigan) playing in the championship game, and the loser not having to worry about an extra loss keeping them out of the BCS.
There are two major complaints that I can see in my conference.
1. What the hell, are you an idiot, where's Texas?
2. Notre Dame is playing coy, thinking its fine for them to roll stag to this dance.
So, my response is as follows; Texas seems like a dream to any conference, with golden ticket like money, academics in-line, and it puts the big ten in some prime recruiting ground. The problem is, I feel like there is way to much baggage. Texas is used to getting its way and getting special treatment, and that just ain't gonna fly in the big ten. The other baggage is the texas schools that might be forced in as well, and I don't want the Big Ten to have to make concessions like adding schools that don't make sense to land the big fish.
The ND problem I really don't have an answer for. They make sense geographically, they are the team that I think could get us that NY market, they play 3 teams already, but we have no real leg to stand on to make them go. My only hope would be that we mae our move for Neb and MS, Pac-10 makes their 16 team conference and ND sees the writing on the wall and caves in.
Alright, I just had to get my thoughts out, and I needed the proper forum to do so, as noone I know in the non-virtual world cares or thinks about this stuff as much as I do. My hope is that fellow Mgobloggers can stomach the long read and my reasoning, and provide their feedback.