In the doldrums of the offseason, a lot of
interest was generated over the prospect of adding another team to the Big Ten.
Recently, the SEC and the Big XII have experienced success after picking apart
the old SWC, and the ACC raided the Big East for some of the top teams of the
conference. The Big Ten experienced more success after adding Penn State, and
the question was ultimately raised whether a new member would be wanted in the
conference, and whether or not this would help shore up the Big Ten's image and
if it would help the conference in the long run. Delany has said "no
thanks," but it seems that most coaches want the expansion.
What teams would there be is the critical
question pertaining to this discussion. A few basic parameters should be set:
The university must be in a BCS conference.
There are no teams in the region with the success that the western mid-majors
should be within reasonable geographic location.
This leaves the only candidates
(alphabetically): Boston College, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Louisville,
Maryland, Missouri, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, and West
We can eliminate Notre Dame because it has not
expressed desire to be in the Big Ten. It would be a lateral move for Missouri from
the Big XII (maybe even a step down) and they'd lose all of their history and
rivalries nonetheless (no, Illinois does not contribute.) We can eliminate
Iowa State because they historically have been a bottom-dweller in football and
basketball. Maryland can be eliminated as well for similar reasons to
Missouri. Boston College moved conferences just recently so a pretty nonsensical
situation. Cincinnati would not add a larger T.V. market, and this move is not
big enough move for the conference to make. Louisville is similar.
That leaves: Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse and West
This would be a great move for the conference
to make, it's a school with good academics, it brings in a good media market
for the T.V. network, they have a traditional rivalry with Penn State, and
they'd help the Big Ten in football and basketball prestige. Step up for them.
Also a pretty popular choice. it would give a
pipeline to the New York/New Jersey viewing area, it’s a big school, and the
school is up-and-coming in football. Basketball is another matter, but this
would be a huge move for them and the conference, as it would move them into
the big time.
A decent choice, they'd be an instant
credibility boost in basketball, and football would be... iffy. Big market,
good tradition compared to the nouveau riche Rutgers, and very similar to Pitt.
They'd also be rivals with Penn State should the move happen. It is a good
They'd be an instant rival with Michigan...
kind of. Not a phenomenal school or a very large one, but they've had success
lately on the playing field (thanks to Rodriguez). Basketball is fine, but the
media market would not be great.
Overall, I'd choose Pitt; the move is the best
for the school and the conference.
Financially, expansion would help the Big Ten
Network gain a much larger viewing area, generate more interest and revenue
with a conference championship game (Detroit and Indianapolis would be perfect
locations geographically, as well as top-notch stadiums.) The new team would
potentially bring in more revenue into the conference with bowl game appearances;
and the money would definitely help the conference. Really, there is not a
financial reason that would seriously inhibit the Big Ten from adding a twelfth
A major question arose over the divisional
setup or even if there shouldn't be any divisions and keep the current round
robin system that misses two teams per year and add another conference game. 9
conference games in a year has really hurt the PAC-10; the teams lose revenue
with the loss of a 1-AA (MAC, mid-major whatever) and a home game every two
years, replacing this with a conference road game (which makes it harder to
become bowl-eligible too.) A round-robin would not be the smartest idea; it
hasn't worked out well for most of the teams in the PAC-10 (who all have to
play USC every year) and it probably would not benefit anyone in the Big Ten
either, the middling to lower-echelon teams would possibly get another loss
making it harder to become bowl eligible, and the powers that be would lose
tons of revenue by playing a maximum of 7 games at home every other year.
No clear-cut conference divisional
alignment makes total sense if it is just a clear-cut round-robin. The major
rivalries in-state and out west cannot be kept this way. I’ve worked out the
solution and a geographical divisional alignment is easily produced (avoiding
the messy ACC.) The caveat is a SEC-type ‘permanent rival’ from the other
division so one team plays a team in the other division every year to uphold
It would look like:
Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio
State, Penn State, and Pittsburgh
Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern,
Purdue, and Wisconsin
The permanent rivals would be:
Indiana-Purdue (obviously), Michigan-Minnesota (Little Brown Jug), Ohio
State-Illinois (Illibuck), and Michigan State-Wisconsin, Penn Sate-Iowa, and
Pittsburgh-Northwestern (the final three may be rearranged).
A sample schedule for Michigan would be all
of their divisional teams (Indiana home, MSU away, OSU home, PSU away, and Pitt
home), Minnesota away, and Wisconsin at home and Northwestern away. The next
year would be the same but all of the games would be flipped home/away. Then
Wisconsin would be replaced with Purdue and Northwestern with Iowa or
EDIT: In response to those who seem to want Missouri for whatever reason, the division alignment would look something like this:
Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Purdue
Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Northwestern, and Wisconsin
Permanent rivals: Michigan-Minnesota, Ohio State-Illinois, Northwestern-Indiana, Penn State-Missouri, Michigan State-Wisconsin, and Purdue-Iowa.