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 had.
The university 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 Virginia.
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 Virginia.
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 choice academically.
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 member.
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 historic rivalries.
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 something.
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.
Part 1 of 3, 10 games and 10 players to watch, as well as a brief recruiting synopsis.
5 Best Out of Conference Games:
5.) Arizona at Iowa, Sept. 19
A Pac-Ten Big Ten game with teams that could have maxed out last year and with both teams' stars (Arizona's Tuitama and Iowa's Greene) gone. Still if either team is to have another big year, a win here would do wonders. Stoops saved his job last year... sort of, and Ferentz has good security so there is more pressure on UA.
4.) Illinois vs. Missouri (St. Louis), Sept. 5
Illinois will face a moderately tough test at least their defense will. Gabbert should step into the quarterback job for the Tigers so it will be interesting to see how the Illini’s defense can hold up against a pass happy Big 12 team. Budding rivalry potential will be seen here too.
3.) California at Minnesota, Sept. 19
Minnesota shows of the new stadium nationally for the first time (they do play Air Force the week previous at home though). California brings in electric runner Jahvid Best and improving bowl team. Minnesota also brings in an improving bowl team. Also, this game could be a great measuring stick for the Big Ten and Pac-Ten.
2.) Notre Dame at Michigan, Sept. 12
The two most historic teams have been... well not up to standard. Obviously both teams will be there eventually. The question lies which team will get there first. It will be interesting if Tate’s Army (or Denard’s) will be able to run past an experienced defense bolstered by Manti Te’o, and if Clausen and co. can beat up on a young Michigan defense. Good doubleheader with the next game.
1.) USC at Ohio State, Sept. 12
Last year’s game brought me more glee than Christmas (maybe not but if it was a team other then USC it probably would), watching Tressel and his clowns look on as the Trojans ran roughshod over them was priceless. Will it be the same this year on a drunken night in Columbus? Eh… probably. Still the Buckeyes have a chance if the Trojan’s turn out to not have a quarterback, which in all probability they would. Still I admire them for scheduling them even if it means humiliation. Herbstreit will be fun to listen to as usual. More incoherent thought says that watching USC play far, far away from L.A. could give the Buckeyes an advantage.
5 Best In-Conference Games
5.) Michigan at Illinois, Oct. 31
Halloween night in Champaign brings two teams with potential this year, who struggled last year, into a somewhat revenge game (this is a theme) for the U of M defense who got run over, around, and past, on homecoming this year. Illinois looks to be a sleeper this year and there definitely will be fireworks (unless the Wolverines don’t put them up… but they probably will).
4.) Minnesota at Iowa, Nov. 21
Two darkhorses will face off on the last game of the year… at Iowa, which is a tough place for anyone to win…, except Iowa. A series of improbabilities could mean this game wins the Big Ten; it will probably have title implications one way or the other. It will be interesting to see if these teams pull out of the muck and emerge near the top, but this game looks good even if they don’t. This is all predicated on if another 55-0 game doesn't happen. I think Minnesota will be pissed that they got demolished in this rivalry game last year. Another revenge game.
3.) Ohio State at Penn State, Nov. 7
This game determined the Big Ten champion last year and this year might not be different. This will be another 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust game in the Big Ten and we’ll see if Pryor can win in a hostile environment and put the team on his shoulders. If he cannot, you can bet that the Wolverines will be licking their chops for his visit two weeks later.
2.) Iowa at Penn State, Sept. 26
A huge revenge game for Penn State, Iowa may have protected them from getting beat down by Florida or Oklahoma, but they sure don’t see it that way. Iowa may be forced to pass if they cannot find an heir to Shonn Greene and if Penn State really does noot have a secondary or a pass rush. Iowa’s defense may win this one on the road, but Penn State will be aiming to decapitate, maim, etc. so there is not certainty either way.
1.) Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 21
Ah, this game might be the indicator if Michigan’s fan base can get loud and provide a real top-notch home field advantage. All the factors are there: Baby Buckeyes, traitorous Justin Boren, and a losing streak bordering on unbelievable. If the stadium can be loud, it will be for this game. Tate’s or Denard’s (the starter should emerge by then) prowess will be vital in this game as the Wolverine offense looks better than the Buckeyes’ defense on paper. Ohio State-Michigan, last game of the year, 12:00 ABC, this is college football.
Players to Watch
10.) Daniel Dufrene, Sr. RB Illinois
He is poised for a big year, if and only if he can get the ball in Zook’s offense. Dufrene had slightly less than six yards per carry, so a 1000 yard season is viable… with a fair amount of attempts.
9.) Navarro Bowman, So. LB Penn State
He led the Nittany Lions in tackles last year and will help anchor an inexperienced defense with senior Sean Lee. The game winning forced fumble against Ohio State was indeed memorable. Bowman is also poised for a breakout year.
EDIT: His probation was extended until 2010 for admitted marijuana use. http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/news?slug=ap-pennst-bowman&prov=ap...
8.) Adam Weber, Jr. QB Minnesota
A good year for Minnesota last year, but Weber is facing heat from MarQueis Gray at the QB spot. Statistically an average year last year, but he needs to step up big time to give Minnesota any realistic championship shot.
7.) Mike Kafka, Sr. QB Northwestern
Kafka replaces up and down longtime starter C.J. Bachér, but by all means looked the part of a star when he rushed for 217 yards and passed for 143 filling in for Bachér at Minnesota. Northwestern may slide a tad, but Kafka could make a name for himself.
6.) John Clay, So. RB Wisconsin
Clay surprisingly beat out P.J. Hill for the most rushing yards on the Big Ten’s most run heavy team. With another year of an unsettled QB spot, look for the Badgers to rely heavily on Clay.
5.) Ricki Stanzi, Jr. QB Iowa
This guy did not play pretty last year but he was efficient (134 passer rating) and got the job done. Without Greene he will need to do more in his second year as a starter. It can be noted that Iowa has notoriously poor WRs historically, this year will be similar.
4.) Isaiah “Juice” Williams, Sr. QB Illinois
Ever since the upset Homecoming win at Michigan State as a Freshman, Juice has been the man at Illinois. He could return Illinois to another Rose Bowl this year with his steadily growing numbers and hopefully not play USC.
3.) Sean Lee, Sr. LB Penn State
A Pre-Season All-America last year, Lee tore an ACL and thus is back for a 5th year in State College. Anchoring a young defense, this guy is a leader for the Defensive POY and Comeback POY in the Big Ten.
2.) Terrelle Pryor, So. QB Ohio State
Highly rated out of high school, he managed the game last year but was definitely not great (5-13). He is relied upon not heavily, but extremely heavily this year as the Buckeyes do not have another QB option as well as a young offense with unproven skill position players.
1.) Michigan QB (not Sheridan), Fr. QB Michigan
Be it Tate Forcier or Denard Robinson or even both, this position will clearly determine if the Wolverine Renaissance is upon us. Seriously, if they do well, Michigan could pull an upset or two. If not… well… it might be a year or two. They will definitely be one of the main storylines to watch nationally.
Recruiting Rankings (Rivals)
|Rank||Team||5 Stars||4 Stars||Total Prospects||Top Prospect|
|1||Ohio State||2||15||25||LB Dorian Bell|
|2||Michigan||1||13||22||DT Will Campbell|
|3||Michigan State||0||10||23||RB Edwin Baker|
|4||Penn State||0||7||27||WR Justin Brown|
|5||Illinois||0||7||23||DE Michael Buchanan|
|6||Minnesota||0||3||20||WR Hayo Carpenter|
|7||Wisconsin||0||5||21||WR Kraig Appleton|
|8||Northwestern||0||1||18||OL Patrick Ward|
|9||Indiana||0||0||19||DB Lawrence Barnett|
|10||Iowa||0||2||19||WR Keenan Davis|
|11||Purdue||0||1||20||RB Al-Terek McBurse|
Yesterday, as I watched Michigan's awful performance against Michigan State, I wondered about who is Michigan's worst rival, Ohio State or Michigan State.
I am precluding this by mentioning that football is the most important, basketball is great, but still just a distraction from football's dead period. Also, we can leave out Notre Dame and Minnesota, the fact that Notre Dame is non-conference, Minnesota has been owned by Michigan recently, and the fact that game is not even played annually.
Call it whatever you want, heresy, channeling Gary Moeller perhaps, but I believe Michigan State is Michigan's worst rival. Maybe I say that because I live in Grand Rapids, west side of the state, where there are almost two State fans per Michigan fans, and not many of those Michigan fans really care. Or perhaps, in light of State's win in football this past year, or the debacle last night, I have a newfound passion for hating MSU this year. Also, there are not really too many Ohio State fans, that I see at least, I do not really know of any that live around here. They might live in southeast Michigan or in the Toledo area where the rivalry is seemingly most heated, but I am not really aware that many Ohio State fans exist in most of the state of Michigan.
I think that the Michigan-Ohio State bloodbath (not that I've had much experience with the rivalry) really is a tremendous rivalry, but to be honest, I believe that it is a rivalry that is based loosely on mutual respect, or at least acknowledgement for the other's program. I did actually just say that. Michigan is a better program by far, more class, dignity, intelligence, etc. but I have to say that Ohio State is a decent program. Also, I think that the Ohio State rivalry is by far the best rivalry in the state of Ohio, with Michigan fans and Ohio State fans going at it constantly. However, in the state of Michigan, particularly in West, North, and Central Michigan, even around Ann Arbor, Michigan State is a bigger rival, not by much more than the Buckeyes, but still more. The Michigan-Michigan State rivalry is based purely on the inferiority complex set on MSU by Michigan (which is not without merit, frankly it's true). Michigan State hates Michigan so passionately that it is really amazing. Michigan however, feels that State is just another win, and never gives them any credit for anything; and Michigan State takes that as an insult which only adds to the rivalry. Add to the inferiority complex the annual recruiting battles (especially in Detroit, which Michigan typically wins), the success of michigan now and in the past, and the fact that Michigan State rally does not compare with Michigan in respects to tradition, talent, history, or even fan base. Also, I could say that Michigan-Ohio State is fueled by the ESPN, SI, etc. hype on the rivalry, which is really just an excuse to fill their telecast, magazine, web site, whatever. That really just adds to the perception that Michigan-Ohio State is a bigger rivalry than Michigan-Michigan State, it is still an excellent rivalry, but I'd finally give kudos to Michigan State for once and call them a bigger rival. ESPN in particular hypes rivalries way too much, and I've heard it a few times during the North Carolina-Duke game by Dickie V, how that fits in I do not know. Rivalries are a huge thing, but they are mainly a product of the fans which goes down to the players, coaches etc. but not a national thing, moreover a localized one.
Maybe I say this because I am incredulous that State won this past year, or that they chanted Go Green, Go White, (Can't Read, Can't Write) after winning said game, followed up with a "little sister" chant, at the Big House. Or, maybe I held on to hope that Michigan would upset them last night. Maybe it was recent frustration in most of the recruiting battles in-state as of late (except William Campbell, yes...), or perhaps that I am outnumbered by State fans here in GR. I guess that most of what I am saying is a matter of present circumstance, or maybe I haven't experienced the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry for real. (Note: I have gone to the past four or five Ohio State games at home, and go to almost every home game, so I have seen the fervor in person.)
I guess what I've tried to say is that, at least right now, and around here, Michigan State is a bigger rival than Ohio State. Not by much, but still a little bigger ( at the very least, around the same).
Agree? Disagree? A matter of opinion?
(I am bracing myself for the explosion, so try not to be too vicious here, I am a fellow Michigan diehard, so insults are really not too appropriate).
Go Blue, little brother.