Big Ten Expansion: Grid Of Judgment

Submitted by Brian on December 15th, 2009 at 3:57 PM

The Crimson Quarry has an excellent post running down candidates in detail that sections of this post are derived from.

The Fringe

Schools that have been brought up at one time or another but are not worth a fuller discussion for various reasons.

Schools that would say no

Texas. Blame those Texas newspaper articles describing UT's flirtation with the Big Ten after the SWC exploded, but Texas comes up whenever this topic does. Despite the travel involved the Big Ten would do that in a heartbeat; Texas is a fantastic school that opens up copious television markets and is a national power in both football and basketball.

Texas would not, though. They are the master and commander of an entire conference with weak revenue sharing relative to the Big Ten. They have longstanding rivalries with virtually everyone in the Big 12 South. And their nationally competitive baseball program would be badly hurt by joining what's basically a mid-major conference.

Nebraska. Massive football tradition and geographically somewhat feasible but there's no way the Cornhuskers would give up a 100 years of rivalries for the Big Ten. Have no links to anyone in the conference.

Notre Dame. If the Big Ten is doing this when Notre Dame's NBC contract has six years to run, the Irish are not in the mix.

Schools that don't offer enough

Iowa State. Why on earth would anyone want Iowa State in their conference? No TV market and no success in either major sport. If Iowa doesn't want them, and I'm sure they don't, why would anyone else?

West Virginia. Tier III institution would probably get rejected by the presidents. Good programs in football and basketball but brings zero recruiting base and zero television market. If the only considerations were on-field performance they'd be the obvious #1 choice but all their peripherals are poor.

Cincinnati. Legitimate traditional basketball power (two national titles in the 60s to go with the Huggins era) and nouveau riche football school, but probably destined for a major drop with Brian Kelly out the door. Academically, a non-starter: it's a tier III commuter school.

Louisville. Geographically and athletically plausible but a tier III institution.

Prime Candidates

Rutgers. Hypothetically brings New Jersey and New York markets into play, except few really care about Rutgers when they're not good and they've rarely been good. Very rarely. Basketball program a nonentity; football was a nationwide punchline until the arrival of Greg Schiano, at which point they've had one standout year and a bunch of middling ones that end in nondescript bowl games.


Missouri. Geographically adjacent and has longstanding, if on-and-off, rivalry with Illinois. Good, not great, state school that would be the worst-ranked school in the league but not by much, especially after a post-CIC bump. Brings a new, large TV market into play. Also brings Don Draper with it.

Negatives: neither football or basketball is the sort of program that brings any wow factor, though the football program is a solid and developing one under Gary Pinkel. And Mizzou has been in the Big 8/12 since its inception. Fevered rivalry with Kansas and the sort of non-rivalry with Nebraska that saw Mizzou on the end of dozens of heinous beatings to the point where if Pinkel hadn't run up the score in the final year of Callahan he would have taken he would have taken heat for it.

Would Mizzou go? I mentioned them on the radio yesterday, at which point someone who grew up in the area called in to cast doubt on the possibility the Tigers would even consider leaving the Big 12. He certainly knows better than I do. On the other hand, some Mizzou folks have started a pro-Big Ten blog and the Rock M Nation thread discussing BHGP's discussion of a potential move is split down the middle. The local paper's Mizzou beatwriter, however, is adamant:

RT @Kevin_Baum What's your take on mizzou's chances of joining the big 10? ... To quote Dean Wormer, Zero Point Zero

I don't know. I expect that Mizzou would at least flirt with the Big Ten in an effort to get the Big 12's revenue sharing increased.

Pitt_mediumPitt. Obvious natural rivalry with Penn State that makes the Nittany Lions less of an odd duck in the league both geographically and culturally. Brings another TV market, though Pittsburgh is an area that already gets the BTN. Rich tradition in football and has been intermittently decent over the last decade; basketball program has recently built itself into a national power but has little in the way of history.

Scholastically Pitt would be an average Big Ten team, which is very strong relative to other serious candidates. And there's no question whether they would jump or not: Pitt would kill to get in the Big Ten. They'd get to play Penn State, they'd get a ton more football revenue, the basketball would be fine, and they could play WVU out of conference.

Negatives: they play in a sterile NFL stadium that's usually half-empty, though a Big Ten fan with road-trip inclinations could view that as a positive. And adding Mizzou or Syracuse or whatever puts another state in the BTN footprint; Pittsburgh doesn't. And you could see this hurting Big Ten schools' Pittsburgh-area recruiting. Now players in the area can pick between the Big Ten or staying close to home; in the future they can have both.

Syracuse. Geographically somewhat awkward; football program has totally imploded since Paul Pasqualoni fell off. On the other hand, an excellent school (almost exactly on par with Pitt) with a powerhouse basketball program. Their location is a blessing and a curse: it's far away but also makes the Big Ten considerably more important in New York (state, not City).

Syracuse might like it in the Big East enough to shoot down an overture, though. They're decidedly more eastern than a lot of Big East schools.


Grid! Grid of judgment!

A legend: teams are graded on a 3 point scale, where 0 is uncatchable a factor so poor it disqualifies the program in question, 1 is is an active detriment, 2 is "meh", and 3 is a positive. The "average" column does not include "willingness," since it's an attempt to judge the attractiveness of the teams only.

"Other sports" rankings derived from Director's Cup standings.

School Willingness Academics FB BB Other Loc Market Footprint Avg.
Texas 0 3 3 3 3 1 3 3 2.7
Nebraska 0 1 3 1 2 1 1 1 1.4
Notre Dame 0 3 3 2 3 3 3 3 2.9
Maryland 1 2 1 3 3 1 2 2 2.0
Iowa State 3 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 0.7
West Virginia 3 0 3 3 2 3 0 1 1.7
Cincinnati 3 0 2 3 1 3 1 1 1.6
Louisville 3 0 1 3 2 3 2 3 2.0
Rutgers 3 2 1 1 1 1 3 3 1.7
Syracuse 2 3 1 3 1 1 2 2 1.9
Pitt 3 3 2 3 1 3 2 2 2.3
Missouri 1 1 2 1 3 3 3 3 2.3

Your winners amongst the even distantly feasible: Pitt and Missouri, and Missouri is only distantly feasible. Both are clearly poor options relative to Notre Dame, but that ain't happening. Your projected 12th Big Ten school: Pitt.



December 15th, 2009 at 7:00 PM ^

Here's my perspective from NJ. There is only one potential advantage, but many more likely pitfalls.

People from outside the region do not realize this, but Rutgers is a mediocre school on the decline. Just because it has a name and it was started a long time ago doesn't mean they're a good school. They only became the state's school after running out of money in the 40s. Since then, there's been a terminal decline. Just look at their rankings. They would be average at best compared to Big Ten schools. The graduate programs at Big Ten schools are markedly better than Rutgers. The school has a disloyal alumni base that does not contribute money. State support has declined and is not going to increase in a meaningful way anytime soon, what with the 8 billion dollar revenue shortfall in the state. Unlike Michigan, which prepared for declining state support starting with the Shapiro administration (they wisely concluded state support would fall as early and adjusted accordingly), and made up the gap with a loyal alumni base contributing money to the school, along with private donations, Rutgers is too middling to get any private support and their alumni base is disloyal. Therefore, there are academic concerns with Rutgers. No one realizes this, but it's a distinct possibility. A lot of midwestern students on campus wonder why there are so many NJ kids on campus. Well, I just explained it to you.

The only possible advantage with Rutgers is the media market. Rutgers is recognized locally and their games are generally available on local networks. Their image has improved after Schiano and more residents are following them. This seems to be permanent judging from all the Rutgers R decals I see on the roads nowadays, the mediocre seasons notwithstanding. However, the presence is not nearly as large or as loyal to really capture the entire NYC media market, though they might capture some of the Philadelphia media market (there's a strange place in Jersey called South Jersey, which comprise of Philadelphia's eastern suburbs and Atlantic City). A switch to the B10 probably would increase interest, if only to see how they do. The NYC market is very pro sports oriented but that could change if Michigan, Penn State, Northwestern and Rutgers, all with large alumni bases in the area, start becoming more common on tv.

One other problem is geography. Can you imagine the Rutgers-Iowa games? Talk about a culture clash!


December 16th, 2009 at 12:58 PM ^

We don't need Pittsburgh because they don't have their own stadium and their market is already covered by Penn State. The rest of the Midwest is solidly Big 10 territory, so I say push East to Rutgers and lock up the largest media market in the United States. The other option could be a westward expansion to Nebraska since Missouri and Iowa State don't have the name recognition of the black shirts.
The arguments about travel and culture shock are moronic. Tucson is a billion miles, culturally and geographically, from Seattle but that hasn't hurt the Pac-10 one bit.


December 16th, 2009 at 1:10 PM ^

and have lived in NJ or very near (read: Philly or NYC) for 99% of my life, outside of my time at Michigan.

What I would like are some facts. Your opinion is OK, but facts would be nice.

Being a guy from NJ, I also realize that Rutgers is no Michigan, but it is better than schools like Mizzou/ Syracuse, Cincinnati... That is who the competition is here, not Michigan/ Northwestern.


December 16th, 2009 at 5:18 PM ^

You can do the comparisons yourself. Even more helpful is past US News issues, which will show a continued decline from the 1980s to the present. I couldn't find a listing online, but if you go to a local library or something, you can find the issues.

You can find the budget numbers here:

Here is also an article about changes at Michigan starting with the Shapiro administration:…

As for their presence in NJ, there's no way to quantify that other than to say that they're on ESPN more now (along with SNY, though they share that with UConn and Syracuse).


December 15th, 2009 at 7:07 PM ^

Wow, you're fortunate enough to live in that alternate universe in which laser fusion was perfected in the late 1970s, yielding limitless power for the entire globe. I envy you. In our universe, unfortunately, telling an AD that travel costs are irrelevant will get you a hearty laugh or a cold, WTF-is-wrong-with-you stare.


December 15th, 2009 at 7:31 PM ^

I wonder why Nebraska would be less willing to move than Mizzou. I'd say they're equal, at least. Maybe a little more. The most heated rivalry between the two schools is Missouri-Kansas. Nebraska has traditional matchups, sure, but they don't get to play OU every year any more, and I think they would leave behind their annual clash with Iowa State for the right deal.


December 15th, 2009 at 7:33 PM ^

I realize that endowments don't necessarily have anything to do with athletic dept finances, but FWIW Pitt's endowment of $2.334 billion is larger than every school in the Big Ten with the exception of Michigan and Northwestern.


December 15th, 2009 at 7:50 PM ^

What college sports fans tend to disregard is that conference relationships extend beyond the playing field to a wide range of formal and informal academic and institutional ties, and the people who are high up in university hierarchies may have completely different viewpoints about abandoning those ties and relationships than rabid fans, especially if they go back a century or more. Posting board denizens and bloggers who are agitating for their school to move to a more juicy conference for purely athletic reasons have zero influence on the decision.

What makes Pitt (and the other Big East teams) comparatively ripe for the plucking is the fact that the Big East is by far the youngest conference with the shallowest legacy of traditions, having been formed in 1991. This partially explains why there's been so much moving in and out of the conference. Pitt was an independent until it joined the BEast, so it doesn't have the longstanding ties to conference members that most schools in other BCS conferences have.


December 15th, 2009 at 8:54 PM ^

Would a Pitt or Mizzou entry into the big ten be able to make the same impact that Penn St. made when they entered? 12 teams is the right move and we all have known it for a long time, but expansion should only be considered if there is a legitimate team which could improve the Big Ten. Football is the main moneymaker for most schools in the big ten so why go with a team with a low/mediocre ceiling in an area which is either not improving our recruiting base (Missouri) or already covered (Pitt)? In the end an addition is better than staying with an 11 team conference with no championship game.


December 16th, 2009 at 4:01 PM ^

is any lower than all but Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. Mizzou was dreadful for all of the 80s and most of the 90s, but we were one of the top programs in the country in the 40s and 60s and in the 70s were a program that knocked off some big-time programs (winning @ND and @Nebraska in '78, giving '76 USC their only loss (46-25 @USC), giving '75 Alabama their only loss (in Birmingham), it's just that we'd lose to 5-win teams after beating top-10 teams.

Missouri is in the midst of a long rebuilding process, but it's foolish to think that they aren't in better shape than Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota, Indiana and Purdue, at least (and, we would have beaten Michigan the last few years). As far as basketball goes, don't confuse the lack of national championships/final fours with being a poor program. Are we a legendary program? No, but throughout the 80s and 90s we had regular high rankings and won quite a few Big 8 titles (against the likes of Kansas and Oklahoma).


December 15th, 2009 at 8:46 PM ^

I've heard that ever since the Big 8 became the Big 12 Nebraska's been talking to B10 officials about talking to them if they decided to expand. Indeed, I spoke to a Nebraska alum (and athletic department contributor) today and he said he's heard Nebraska is VERY interested.

Also I agree with the post that Maryland might be a possibility. The university feels its academics are better than its reputation and some alums feel that affiliating with the B10 might help. Also don't forget that Maryland used to play PSU every year, the state is contiguouse to B10 territory, and the DC/Baltimore market is one of the biggest in the country.


December 15th, 2009 at 9:11 PM ^

Nobody would give a crap if most of the schools mentioned joined the Big10 because they offer no juice in terms of college football history or new/exciting rivalries. That is why for me only ND and Pitt would work (a Missouri/Illinois rivalry is too big a yawner to anyone outside of those states).

I also think the divisions need to be crafted to preserve the key rivalries in the conference. The alignment I would like to see is:

Division 1: Michigan, MSU, OSU, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin

Division 2: Illinois, Northwestern, Indiana, Purdue, PSU, Pitt/ND

Adding Notre Dame would really be ideal. They would be a perfect match as the premier team in their division along with Penn State, and would have nice rivalry possibilities with the Indiana and Illinois schools (since ND is so big in Chicago). Pitt would at least put another rivalry game in their division while making Pennsylvania a 100% Big10 state (better in my opinion than adding teams in Massachusetts, New York or the South with no ties to the conference). Division 1 would be a little stronger than Division 2 in my mind, but I think they would still be more balanced than the Big12 has been in recent years.


December 16th, 2009 at 12:21 AM ^

To me, Iowa and Wisconsin don't really have any advantage over schools like Illinois and Purdue other than the fact that they have had better coaches in the last couple of decades (and it isn't like those schools have had no success like a Vanderbilt or Iowa State). It also isn't like MSU is ever going to get into the championship game.

While I agree those divisions would be unbalanced (at least now) I think the set-up is more even than what we see when some donkey team from the Big12 North gets steamrolled by OU or Texas just about every year. I would rather keep the rivalry games and give the divisions some identity (which I think this would provide) rather than try to get them perfectly balanced (considering the programs' strength could change dramatically in just a few years).

Also, it does look a hell of a lot better with Notre Dame.


December 16th, 2009 at 1:11 AM ^

Just with PSU getting a lot more chances to play in them, and thus win them. I see Iowa as having 2 eras, with maybe a 3rd coming (or the 2nd continuing?) where they could be the best of the rest, and while Wisconsin historically is just about Northwestern, I think they've had such a run of prolonged excellence that they can just be considered to be a good program now, and it would take some major upheaval for them to go back to the pits again.

Purdue has had some ok times, but I don't know any that have reached the heights that Iowa or Wisconsin has (i.e. regular Rose Bowls). And Illinois, while having had good teams, hasn't really had a good "program" since Red Grange.

And no, I don't expect MSU to come out of that division, like, EVER. They should REALLY hate it. (Minney more, maybe, but really, do they even have aspirations up there anymore?). But MSU had the facilities and abilities to be more of a regular pain in the ass than just about anybody else in Division 2.

I mean, if we're going to bastardize it all to hell, I'd rather WE be the ones who are set to go play for the championship every year. :-)

But really, it's not like I have any great answers. I've acknowledged elsewhere it's mostly a clusterfuck and really only works particularly well with Notre Dame.


December 16th, 2009 at 1:36 AM ^

Of course, it can differ greatly if you're going to lock in one game (where necessary) with the opposite division to help balance things out. That way you can continue your traditional rivalries, but still balance the divisions. Which I think is more important, because those cross games WILL be played, but probably don't affect the outcome of the division winners as much as the division games. Because while the division offered keeps all current rivalries, but for the ever so important Northwestern Wisconsin cross state line battle, It cuts off traditional non-conference rivalries...ND vs. the Michigan teams. So, while you could still get Michigan to play ND, and OSU to play PSU, it might have little effect on the division race. And MSU probably can't cross play ND AND PSU.

So, just to put my money where my mouth is, something like this might be more equitable:

Bo Division: Michigan, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, MSU, Purdue, Indiana.

Woody Division: OSU, PSU, Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota.

(And yes, they should be named that. The rest of the conference won't like it. Fuck 'em.)

There you have your 4 big powers split...current traditional match-ups of OSU-PSU, and ND/M live on. You have the Indiana teams together. ND-MSU. (And I think, with basketball, it shouldn't be that hard in football to get a Wisky-MSU rivalry going). Iowa-Minn, Illinois teams, still together. The only one that's particularly hurt is Wisconsin-Minnesota (as well as the aforementioned HUGE game between U-W and NW).

But if you do one (where needed) for sure cross division match up, it fixes most of that. M-OSU, PSU-ND (a rekindling of a former old series that helps even out the games played), get Wisconsin and Minnesota playing again, and if anyone else feels like they NEED to play someone else, throw it in. And if not, well, scheduling wise that's hardly that different a break than the lesser teams currently get by not having their rivalry games be against the top teams in the conference.

Now, that of course is completely dependent on whether you think it's better or worse that OSU-M wouldn't play for the Big Ten Championship, ever, vs. the risk that they play two weeks in a row. To me, the former, while not the end of the world, is kinda sad. The latter, which some people object to (and it does have problems...particularly if one has locked up the division BEFORE the game, well, how much effort do they need to put into it when they'll play again a week or two later?), to me seems that it would add tons of hype and excitement. A REMATCH. Playing twice a season. Who else does that, back to back? ESPN would be jizzing all over us for 2 or 3 straight weeks. It would be crazy. And probably creating a lot of bitching too. (While it may suck, and be imperfect if you win one and lose one, ask the NY Giants if they think they're not really Super Bowl Champs because they lost the first game 4 weeks earlier to New England...even though their record was a lot worse. Damn, playoffs have equity problems too....).

But the biggest M-OSU game ever was the one never played...if they had gotten that rematch in 2006, for ALL the marbles. Since we know now THAT'S never going to happen...(if it didn't happen then, when could it?), this might be second best.

witless chum

December 16th, 2009 at 9:59 AM ^

"And no, I don't expect MSU to come out of that division, like, EVER. They should REALLY hate it."

I'd say that playing for a Big Tenwelve title without beating M, Wiscy, Iowa and OSU would feel a little odd. (For the record last time MSU beat that list was 1987) If we're not competing for the title, we're not competing for the title. I don't think the mechanics of that are very important to me. Maybe Big 12 North fans of recent years think they're competing for titles, but most everyone correctly thinks Oklahoma-Texas is for the Big 12 title.

Blue Durham

December 15th, 2009 at 9:14 PM ^

Obviously, Notre Dame is perfect in so many ways, academically, geographically, rivalries, etc.

If not Notre Dame, I would prefer Univ. of Chicago over all those mentioned. Academics, geography, and rivalries (yeah, a little stale, but still existent), all there. Granted, they may not have much of an athletic department, but the Big Ten can help with that. I prefer them much, much more than Pitt or any of the other, really, mediocre at best, options.

And IME, the only reason for inviting Pitt (or the lesser options) into the conference (for all sports!!!) is for 1 game the entire year, and that is for a game that would rarely ever even involve Pitt.

And since Pitt does nothing else for the conference, I think that is a pretty lousy reason.


December 15th, 2009 at 9:55 PM ^

The discussion is particularly fascinating for me because I am a recent Michigan alumna, who is now in grad school at Pitt.
I don't know a lot of details about the sports here, I haven't been here that long, but from what I can tell the students here really love their rivalries. Pitt-West Virginia is huge (Backyard Brawl, anyone?) and Pitt-Cincinnati is pretty big too. I know the Big East is a relatively young conference, but it's not like they don't have any traditions or rivalries here.
Another interesting thing is the Pitt-PSU dynamic. It was historically a HUGE rivalry, but ended about 10 years ago and the teams currently don't play one another. I don't know any solid facts, just what people talk about, but 'word' has it that JoPa (or maybe just PSU athletics) has insisted on an unbalanced visiting rotation, so that Penn State would host two out of every three matches between the teams. I guess Pitt thinks this is unfair (who wouldn't?) and has refused to do so, which is partly why they haven't renewed their agreement to play each other.
If JoPa is supposedly one of the Big Ten coaches most pushing for a new Big Ten team, what would he say about Pitt? I'm not sure it would be anything good, but that's just speculation.
Any thoughts?
Personally, I'm just interested to see this unfold. I haven't had a problem cheering for Pitt in most games, partially because (outside of basketball) they don't really seem to play any Big Ten teams, so I don't have to root against my home conference. It'll be interesting to see if that changes anytime soon.


December 15th, 2009 at 9:56 PM ^

to think that there as already been a lot of work done behind the scenes/closed doors internally by the big ten in terms of expansion.

I think it seems kind of odd that they would start talking publicly about this without having already had a good amount of discussions internally. It wouldn't surprise if they already have a couple schools targeted and if they haven't already made intial inquires to those schools about their interest in joining the big ten.

p.s. - I would love nebraska joining. It would obviously be a nice get for football as well as baseball. But could you imagine the dominoe effect it would have on the big 12?!?! The Big 10 would be taking easily the most visible team out of the Big 12 north when it comes to football. It'd be real interesting to see what the big 12 did should nebraska leave.


December 15th, 2009 at 10:29 PM ^

The best option is addition by subtraction. This occurs in 3 parts: 1 - Drop Northwestern 2 - Implement full round robin conference schedule and 3- As the post-Thanksgiving wall has been breached, go full bore and schedule conference games through the first Saturday in December.

This proposal will realize most of the aims of adding a 12th member without adding a less than desirable member soley to have a conference championship or implementing a divisional structure which will lead to wildly unbalanced strength of schedules among B10 teams.


December 16th, 2009 at 1:20 AM ^

From a football perspective, since PSU joined the only teams that have won or shared multiple Big 10 titles are: UM, OSU, PSU, Northwestern, Iowa and Wisconsin. MSU, Minnesota and Indiana haven't won any. Illinois and Purdue have won/shared one each.

Northwestern is obviously a liability when it comes to basketball but they have some pretty solid women's athletic teams. And for a conference that likes to pride itself on the quality of academics, dropping one of the top academic schools in your league would seem a bit odd.

Simi Maquoketa

December 15th, 2009 at 10:38 PM ^

Nebraska's "100 years of rivalries" look like this (through 2008):

Vs Kansas....86-18-3
Vs Kansas State...75-15-3
vs Mizzou.....58-33-3
vs Colorado....46-18-2
vs Oklahoma St....36-5-1
Vs Iowa State...83-14-2

The RIVALRY (that a lot of guys on this board told me that really wasn't a rivalry because Oklahoma didn't think so)

vs Oklahoma....37-44-3

BUT...they don't play Oklahoma every year.

I'm sorry, but dismissing Nebraska based on some "rivalry" thing is not really a tangible reason. They have NO rivals in the Big 12/Old Big 8.

I mean, how many of our fan base think of MSU as a "rival"--and base that on our record against them?

I hope the Big Ten steps outside the box here. Of COURSE JoePa wants Pitt--it benefits Penn State and no one else in the Big Ten. And it hurts Pitt if the Big Ten makes that a protected rivalry because Penn State will wallop them 8 out of 10.

I know Pitt was good this year--and it might appear they are on their way up. But really, they are finally working their way up--in the Big East. Think about it.


December 16th, 2009 at 3:44 PM ^

On January 1, 1979, the all-time series was 32-27-3. It is, historically, a heated, well played rivalry. It's just that Mizzou sucked for 25 years while Nebraska became a top-5 program for much of that time. Nebraska has rivals in the Big 8, the have teams they hate, they DEFINITELY have teams that hate them.

It's just that they don't claim a rival because they believe they're above every team other than Oklahoma.... who doesn't hate them nearly as much as they hate Texas.

As a Missouri alum, I would be fine with a move to the B10 for several reasons, but athletically, I'd much rather see a situation where the old Big 8 stays together and we wrest control of the conference away from UT and A&M. However, I am one of those who believe that athletics is not the primary reason for a university to exist, and if something is obviously better for your school's academics, you simply have to do it.

For the record, Mizzou has been an AAU member since 1908.


December 15th, 2009 at 11:54 PM ^

I do believe that Dr. Tom Osborne was hesitant to join the Big XII because of the overwhelming influence that the Texas schools (in particulary, UT-Austin) would have on the conference direction and decision making. I wonder if that might have influence on directions that the Cornhusker's athletic department might go, now that Osborne is the A.D.


December 16th, 2009 at 12:07 AM ^

A second reason to consider a realistic possibility of Nebraska's acceptance is the threat of Missouri leaving the Big XII. The control of that conference by Texas is a huge problem for Nebraska. It seems that if Missouri were to leave for the Big Ten, the Big XII would respond by inviting either Arkansas (an old SWC school) or TCU (an old SWC school). Either one would make the conference more southern-centric, the threat of which could easily spur the folks in the Nebraska Athletic Department to become proactive to the Big Ten's advances.


December 16th, 2009 at 12:21 AM ^

I've been wrapping my head around the idea of a new team with all this talk...and finally, I come to that I'm uninspired by any of the real candidates. I'd rather get Cinncy and up their program, academically and athletically, just to spite OSU, than take any of the others. A move is only a good idea if it adds something to your conference. And I'm not sure it does. Yeah, there's money to be made...but that much more if you're cutting down on your second team going to a BCS game, or GASP cutting down the chances of a team making THE BCS game?!?! Add that to what you subtract, the nice, neat, traditional scheduling and rivalries you have, and I'm not sure it's a positive on the ledger.

Pitt? May make the most sense of any of them...but...why? Add a middling football team, and a B-Ball team (as if that even REALLY matters in the grand scheme of things) who's good, but never quite reached the greatness they may have been headed for before their coach jumped? It might make PSU feel all warm and fuzzy and loved, but does anyone anywhere in the country go.."wow, the Big Ten added Pitt!!"?

Missouri is all that and even more so. Not to mention the tradition they bring is as a well known cheater.

What we're all dancing around is that really, Notre Dame is the only perfect fit, the only one that adds big time athletic tradition, actually looks good academically, and fits in so many ways. We all want to say "to hell with Notre Dame"...but damn...who else is there, and what's worth not waiting 5 or 6 years to check in on them again? The problem is, the conference won't get the balls to say we're not playing you if you're not in the conference, so they get it both ways. If they had no imprint in the midwest, trust me, national recruiting or not, they'd start to feel the pinch.

While Texas would be an awesome addition, you might as well say "North Carolina" or "UCLA", for all it's likelihood. Really, if they're serious, really serious, and aren't going to kiss Notre Dame's ring again...they need to give the big recruiting job to Nebraska. More "midwest" than some of the more Southern or Western Big 12 schools, demographically not that much different than Iowa, and really, a team that would one of the all time traditions in football to the conference. And at least respectable in a number of other sports.

I'm not a Nebraska "fan" by any means. But if you can't make Notre Dame work, this is the only possible candidate that really adds anything worth changing up the conference wholesale for.


December 19th, 2009 at 12:44 AM ^

I would agree completely. But there's media coverage and hype that an in-state school would get, as well as strong bias that can harm a program. And more importantly, an in-state rival that can not only distract their attention, bur can do the get up to beat the team every third year and stink in the rest of their games that can affect the standings. Just like we have to deal with MSU.

Tim Waymen

December 16th, 2009 at 12:42 AM ^

What about Miami OH? Their roots run really deep in the Big 10, it's a pretty decent public school, and they're pretty much in Big 10 territory.

The only problem is that they would need years to turn things around, and one can only wonder why they've never been added, or why University of friggin' Toronto has come up before them. I'm sure someone here would have some idea regarding Miami's viability. Besides, Miami should act now before they get replaced by West Virginia as the Big 10's Cradle of Coaches. (kidding)

I do not want expansion though. Yeah it would be cool getting a new team in the Big Whatever It Will Be and having a conference title game in Chicago or Indianapolis, but I just don't want the conference to be divided in 2 and I want Mich-OSU to remain the last game of the regular season.


December 16th, 2009 at 9:16 AM ^

Is Miami a PhD granting institution? (Honest question, I don't know). I think that is an unspoken prerequisite among the presidents even if AAU membership isn't. It's at the doctoral level at which institutional cooperation makes the most sense, the CiC has lots of programs linking doctoral students from varying institutions.


December 16th, 2009 at 1:18 AM ^

Pitt would balance out PA as a natural rival for PSU. The only other team that the b10 could nab would be ISU, they have a good engineering school. I don't think the b12 would ever let Mizzou go!

The b10 should have these two divisions:

East Division:

West Division:

Every year we will be guaranteed a UM vs OSU game as well as a PSU vs Pitt, UM vs MSU and new rivalries of MSU vs PSU and PSU vs OSU. My only concern is that the East Division winner could be dominate over the years, much like the b12 south!


December 16th, 2009 at 4:08 AM ^

I've always thought that the best way to add to the Big Ten is by subtraction. I'm for ditching Northwestern and adding Pitt and West Virginia if the conference is to go to 12 schools.

Reasons Northwestern doesn't fit:
-- Only private school in the Big Ten
-- Enrollment 1/3 the size of the next smallest member, Iowa
-- May have the dumpiest facilities in the league, particularly in basketball
-- Long history of sucking in most every media-important sport; football has only been to maybe two Rose Bowls, and men's hoops has never been to the NCAAs at all

Quite honestly, the Wildcats could find themselves far more competitive, if not regularly winning championships, in the MAC. I see the academics as the only reason, and not an absolutely compelling one at that, to keep them around.


December 16th, 2009 at 9:12 AM ^

Yeah, that'll fly. If we're talking completely unrealistic plans, why not add Florida. And Alabama. And Oklahoma. And LSU. We can kick out Purdue, Indiana, Northwestern, Illinois, and Minnesota and completely obviate the need for a playoff and allow the athletic department to drive academic decision making like it does at those schools.


December 16th, 2009 at 8:01 AM ^

At a event last year, I raised this issue to Bill M and he said he was interested in Canada for Big Ten expansion. The 2 AAU members from Canada are U of Toronto and McGill. Think about the Big Ten Network become the ESPN of Canada - it opens up an entire market.

Simi Maquoketa

December 16th, 2009 at 9:49 AM ^

If Bill Martin wants Canada in the Big Ten, it's probably time for him to go back home and play with his Lincoln Logs.

ALL of Canada means about 30 million people. And in case Bill Martin doesn't know this--Canada is a BIG piece of land.

Now granted, you get out of Ontario and Quebec and there's like 56 people in the rest of the country, but I'm not sure they even LIKE football (and this is a football decision. Period.)

Ad how the HELL would the U of Toronto recruit players? Yeah, they'd have a bitchin' hockey team, but man, their summer is about 12 minutes long--and then it gets cold--like they invented cold.

No, that's just not feasible. Let Toronto join the MAC.


December 16th, 2009 at 11:06 AM ^

This wouldn't be a play for all of Canada, but the Toronto media market, which nearly equals the population of Michigan (8 mil v. 10 mil). Football and love thereof is an unknown issue - it doesn't appear to be a focus now, but how much would that change if they joined the Big Ten and were playing American competition? Probably a lot, I'd guess.

Recruiting would be an issue, I think, so it would need to be addressed. As far as cold goes, Toronto is at the same latitude as Bay City- any temp difference comes from having a big-ass lake at your doorstep. By that logic, we'd have to kick Minnesota out- and they just inaugurated a brand-new open-air stadium.

The real question is, and here we agree: should it be the Big Ten, and not some conference the lesser like the MAC, to extend the invitation?


December 16th, 2009 at 11:42 AM ^

I think the University of Toronto would be an excellent addition - if we were talking about expansion in 10 or 20 years. The are a strong fit from the standpoint of academics, geography, additional (large) media market.

The problem is, well, the actual sports. Canadian college athletics generally are not competitive at an NCAA division I level, nor do they spend the money or have the facilities. It would be a huge commitment on Toronto's part to upgrade most (if not all) of their facilities and programs.


December 16th, 2009 at 10:59 AM ^

The Toronto media market encompasses nearly 8 million residents who are not currently served by a major conference allied with the United States. The Buffalo Bills, realizing that their media market sucks donkey balls (and needing money because of said sucky media market), has agreed to have Toronto host 4 home games a year. The Big Ten would get more bang for the buck by adding Toronto than any other move they could make, and they would get to show how 'progressive' and 'forward thinking' they are. It works geographically and somewhat culturally, and I think Canadians would be absolutely fired up about having their college football team (it would have to be University of Toronto, McGill is in Quebec and probably too far away; plus, we'd have to deal with Francophone Canadians, and no one wants that) playing 'good' American schools. They would turn out in droves, so much so that they'd probably have to play home games at the Rogers Centre instead of that high school field they currently play on. Recruiting might be an issue though.


December 16th, 2009 at 2:46 PM ^

Have any of you seen a Canadian university football game? Expanding to Canada won’t work and the fact that Toronto’s football isn’t even good in Ontario makes it less likely. Clearly, if this happened, they would play the American version but I wanted to point out some differences in the games.

1. If you miss a field goal but the ball goes out the back of the end zone, you get 1 point (the beloved Rouge)
2. 3 downs
3. Pass heavy attacks send 2-3 guys in motion simultaneously

When I went to school, there were no athletic scholarships (I heard this may have changed but am not sure) so really good athletes usually go to school in the US. You’d need a base to pay scholarships out of, I don't think the schools will dig into their existing coffers to create one and the concept of boosters is almost non-existent. The football skills left in Canada are a comparison, the CFL has top tier Canadian football players and 5th or 6th tier American ones.

And don’t assume Canadian universities have good hockey teams because the really good players go to the minors, the next tier play in the NCAA (Michigan fights other US schools for kids like Tambellini and Cogliano not Canadian ones).

We already get the BTN in Toronto. I’ll bet that half the time I’m the only person in Ontario watching it. ESPN owns a big chunk of our sports network (TSN) and on Saturday afternoons in the fall they show reruns of fishing, a show where they test drive cars (not cool ones, everyday cars like Toyotas and Fords) and Snowtrax (Canada’s most watched snow mobiling show...who knew?). No one goes to Argos games and they had to give away thousands of tickets when the Bills played the Jets here a few weeks ago.

With no money, no facilities, no players this would be more likely to swirl like a toilet than build like a snowball. There’d be a better result from getting a MAC or DII team.