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.