Doom, Doom, Beat Drums In The Big 12 Deep

Submitted by Brian on June 7th, 2010 at 5:00 PM

Death_star1 Blogs With Balls picked a surprisingly inconvenient time to happen. A weekend in early June should be the most boring, torpid time of the year for a college football (/basketball/hockey/baseball) blog, but over the weekend Michigan dealt with a scary injury to one of their players, an assistant coach departing, and all hell breaking loose when it comes to college football expansion.

I dumped about a thousand words worth of up-to-date speculation, opinion, and head-shaking at The Sporting Blog, but here's an addendum directed at Michigan's place in all this:

Is this good or bad?

Probably good? I owe Frank The Tank an apology for considering his Texas Death Star scenarios a law-addled fever dream: guy was on the money. Now that the fate of the Big 12 is seriously in play, Texas can shake loose and the Big Ten can swoop in and claim the Longhorns and associated Big 12 teams to create a superconference worthy of the name. I still think 16 team conferences are stupid pretty much without exception, but a 16 team superconference formed by adding a few Big East schools and Big 12 North refugees goes beyond that into the realm of depressing.

The Pac-10's main advantage when it comes to wooing Austin is also its main disadvantage: the Pac-10 does not have a CIC-type organization and is (evidently) not as hung up on the possibility of admitting the Oklahoma teams. In short, they do not have a "Tech problem." The Big Ten has a Tech problem because the wide-ranging institutional cooperation on the academic side has seen Penn State and Texas go from approximately equal centers of research to Penn State peering down at Texas from atop a $200 million dollar pile of Big Ten money.

Is Notre Dame seriously in play?

Eh… probably not. Big 12 disintegration leaves the Big East intact and removes much of ND's motivation to join a conference.

Do you have a wild guess to how this works out?

Absolutely not, but I think Texas prefers the Big 10 to the Pac 10 and it will be a fight between UT and the Texas legislature's insistence on tying Baylor and Tech around the Longhorns' necks. If Texas wins that fight the end result is probably the addition of Nebraska, Missouri, Texas, A&M, and then a wildcard team the league would prefer was Notre Dame but probably won't be.

I wonder how the triumvirate of hate schools (Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota) look at this. They'd probably be put in the Big 12 division (otherwise you have to break them up) and would have their worlds more rearranged than anyone else.



June 7th, 2010 at 5:08 PM ^ how many moves ahead they're looking. You're right that if Michigan takes four Big XII teams, there is no immediate pressure on the Irish, because the Big East will be intact, for now.

But if the Big Ten creates a sixteen-team monster conference, there could be pressure on other conferences to do the same, which could eventually lead to the Big East's demise. When you have only eight football schools, as the Big East does, the loss of even one is Game Over.


June 7th, 2010 at 6:03 PM ^

Don't forget the fact that 16 teams likely means 9-10 conference games and ND might be out of the OOC schedule for teams like MSU and Purdue who will struggle to make .500 each year and Michigan and OSU who will be competing for whatever spot is coveted to get into the post season.

Essentially, not joining the Big10 cuts 3 games of their schedule out and they will need to fill those. If the Pac10 does the same, they are now looking to fill half their schedule with teams they never play.


June 8th, 2010 at 10:55 AM ^

I doubt we'll see a 10-game schedule, possibly not even 9 (although I think a number of the scenarios we've seen on the boards have considered one). A 16-team conference can use an 8-game schedule and only miss half a division every two years.

But even if that were the case, I can almost guarantee Purdue isn't going to drop Notre Dame from its out-of-conference schedule. That's one weekend every two years Purdue is guaranteed to fill Ross-Ade, and that's not a sure bet the rest of the season. Besides, in the past when Purdue's football fortunes have fallen, there has never been a question as to whether or not the rivalry would continue. I wouldn't expect that to change if the Boilers have to replace Oregon and Toledo with Nebraska and Missouri.

I'm not as familiar with Michigan State's attendance, but I wouldn't be surprised if they kept ND on the schedule for the same reason.


June 8th, 2010 at 9:00 PM ^

You may want to check your math. If you're assuming two divisions of 8, an 8-game schedule means you play one team from the other division each year. Reducing Minnesota from 6 games per 8 years to 1 is a hell of a change.

(As for ND: Last I saw, MSU's attendance post-JLS has been back to constant sellouts. And with the decade of Directional Michigan on the schedule already, Notre Dame non-con would only leave one spot per year. I don't think that would cause MSU to drop ND, but it might.)


June 9th, 2010 at 1:36 AM ^

In my head I was working out 5 within the division and 3 outside, but that's of course a 12-team conference and not a 16-team conference. (Not that it couldn't work that way, but it would be kind of odd to skip teams in both divisions.)

I suspect there is probably a point past which conference games hurt more than help the conference. (Weaker teams don't get even weaker teams to limp toward .500 and a bowl bid, stronger teams get in-conference weaker teams that don't do anything for their BCS chances.) A 10-game schedule doesn't cover enough of the conference anyway ... maybe a 9-game schedule where you play 5 within your division and 4 outside it (think of four-team pods with two pods per division, you always play the teams in your pod and rotate the two in-division in the other pod and the four in the opposite division). That's still a mess.


June 7th, 2010 at 5:09 PM ^

If you cut out Missouri as a team the Big Ten is targeting (as Missouri delivers very little to the Big Ten), then the Big Ten would have two spots left to work with, if they so chose. They could use these spots to threaten Notre Dame with the possibility of taking away two Big East teams, thus taking away Notre Dame's home for sports other than football, if Notre Dame doesn't decide to join the Big Ten. This threat could conceivably lead Notre Dame to join the Big Ten, especially with the added carrot of being in a conference with their Big Ten rivals and the three Big 12 transplants (Texas, Texas A&M, and Nebraska), and possibly a Big East school (Syracuse or Pitt or something not that hopefully isn't Rutgers) thus keeping their schedule geographically diverse.


June 7th, 2010 at 6:10 PM ^

They also have a good basketball program. I think a lot of people don't consider the fact that joining the Big10 will get them much more revenue, which leads to better facilities, both of which lead to better recruits. Joining the Big10 could be the catalyst to push Missouri into being a very good football team. The same thing goes with every other good team we are considering.


June 7th, 2010 at 5:53 PM ^

I disagree about Missouri bringing little.  Missouri brings the Kansas City and St. Louis markets, the entire state of Missouri and some cable systems in southern Illinois. These markets are bigger than most in the Pac 10.  If Texas does not come, it will most likely be Nebraska, Missouri, Notre Dame, Rutgers, and Syracuse.  Pitt brings less than just about anyone in my humble opinion.


June 7th, 2010 at 5:20 PM ^

OU is not a top-tier academic/research institution, which the Big Ten has said repeatedly is non-negotiable in any expansion discussion.

If Texas joins the Big Ten, I suspect they will maintain their long-standing rivalry with the Sooners as a non-conference game. After all, before the Big XII was formed, Texas and OU were in separate conferences, and that did not get in the way of them playing every year.


June 7th, 2010 at 5:17 PM ^

UT will want their own network and the Big Ten will never allow it. The "Pac-16" will give them that ability. Therefore I can easily see UT and 5 other Big XII teams going off to the Pac-16.

The Big Ten most likely get Mizzou, Nebraska, and a Big East team hopefully not named Rutgers. (would rather have ND, but they're still living in 1948)

The other 4 Big XII teams + Boise State will form the new Mountain West Conference.


June 8th, 2010 at 10:48 AM ^

rather than wasting millions of dollars and many months clearing the same paths that the Big Ten and SEC have (and if you'll recall, particularly in the Big Ten's case, there was a significant amount of clearing to do), they will follow the trail that has already been created.

Texas may want its own network but falls far, far short of having enough material to make it financially viable, particularly if they're a member of a conference that isn't going to be eager to let them ship their games to another network. The Pac-10 isn't going to do that any more than the Big 10 would.

It's much more profitable for Texas to hop on board the Big 16 money train and take a slice of that pie than to try to bake their own and sell them. They don't have to worry about getting people in the Midwest to pay to add Texas Television ... we've already got BTN. (Why would they care about us? Big Ten country is kind of a big audience as it is.)

Blue Durham

June 7th, 2010 at 5:21 PM ^

Decide to do the Virginia thing and try to save Iwoa State from the abyss and try to pressure the University of Iowa into supporting Iowa State over the other schools?

UVa was practically solely responsible for Va. Tech's admittance into the ACC. Is this at all possible here with Iowa?

Blue Durham

June 7th, 2010 at 5:39 PM ^

other schools. Coalitions can be built; I don't think UVa was a lone voice promoting Va Tech over Syracuse. But the schools wanting expansion with BC and Miami probably needed their vote (IIRC, Duke and, I think UNC were against any expansion).

Thus, for this to be possible, there would have to be a few other schools that are either aginst expansion in general, or against certain schools. I don't know if this is unanymous within the Big Ten.


June 7th, 2010 at 7:29 PM ^

I don't think, and I could be wrong about this entirely, that the Hawkeyes have much love for the Cyclones.  I lived in Iowa one summer, and it seemed to me that the alumni of the two schools don't care about each other at all except for during football games.  Ames and Iowa City are just too different...


June 7th, 2010 at 7:32 PM ^

I like Iowa's football pride and tradition, and even admire KF a bit, but I would be totally content if Iowa itself didn't exist.  Nothing there but corn and pig farms.

Then again, I guess we have to get our corn-fed bacon from somewhere...


June 7th, 2010 at 5:32 PM ^

I'm taking this from somebody at Frank the Tank's site or Burnt Orange Nation. I forget where exactly I saw it but it's somebody else's point that I'm parroting. Anyways...

Virginia was able to force Virginia Tech in because UNC and Duke were adamantly opposed to any and all expansion scenarios and three no votes killed any ACC offer. Thus, Virginia was able to block Syracuse's offer and force the ACC to take VT instead.

So, Iowa's power is solely dependent on other Big Ten schools' resistance to expansion. If that number plus Iowa is great enough to kill any offer, Iowa State has life. Judging by the lack of any rumors about this, though, I'm guessing it's not the case.


June 7th, 2010 at 5:24 PM ^

I disagree that the Big East stays intact as it is.  Once the B10 and PAC 10 expand there is no way that the other BCS conferences stay the way they are today.  And that means that either the SEC absorbs some of the ACC which in turn absorbs the better Big East teams, or something unforeseen today.  As the weakest conference, there is no way it stays intact IMO.


June 7th, 2010 at 5:53 PM ^

And realizing that there is ZERO BASIS IN REALITY FOR THIS!

SEC grabs Miami, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Clemson.  Boosts its basketball profile without expanding its footprint (no new states, absorbs all current in state major rivals of SEC schools)

Remaining ACC teams merge with Big East (NC State, Wake, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Maryland, Boston College, UNC, Duke in one division, Syracuse, UConn, Pitt, Rutgers, South Florida, Louisville, and Cincinnati) (actually, swap BC and South Florida for logistics in this) and you have a pretty interesting looking conference for football (basketball would be a psychotic 24 team monster.)


June 7th, 2010 at 6:39 PM ^

If the SEC grabs those teams, and then the remaining ACC merges with the Big East (both of which I think would be likely in this scenario), it raises a really interesting question...what happens to the Big East in other sports? There would be eight teams that wouldn't join the ACC/Big East superconference in football because they don't field a division-I football team, but what about for the other sports? Would the teams that don't have a division-1 football team be left in the Big East and still compete against each other, or would they have to find new homes? 

Twisted Martini

June 7th, 2010 at 5:40 PM ^

They looked screw, blued and tattooed no matter how you slice this thing.  Have fun hanging out in the boys bathroom with a pair of stolen underpants and the likes of Iowa State and K-State.



June 7th, 2010 at 7:39 PM ^

If all this superconference talk comes to fruition, one of the premier college basketball programs in the country is going to find itself in a 'mid-major' conference.  The two options I see for the Big 12 North teams left behind (Iowa St, Kstate, Kansas and possible Colorado) is join either the Mountain West or Conference USA.


June 7th, 2010 at 5:55 PM ^

It made sense to me.  That triad is the only group of three where each is the permanent rival of the other school, each of the games is a trophy game, and it's on a rotating basis for last game of the season honors (with the other getting two years off)


June 7th, 2010 at 6:00 PM ^

Why do we assume that Notre Dame is out of the equation?  The Notre Dame AD, Jack Swarbrick, spent 4 hours at the Big 10 meeting this weekend.  Why would he do that if Notre Dame wasn't strongly considering joining?


June 7th, 2010 at 10:42 PM ^

You have no need to attack me, I was responding to Brian's comment in the original post:

"Is Notre Dame seriously in play?

Eh… probably not."

I have read almost every post on this site regarding expansion and there are a lot of posters that don't believe Notre Dame is likely to join the Big 10.  I think there's a better than 50/50 chance they will.  It's certainly more likely than Texas.


June 9th, 2010 at 1:50 AM ^

I think Texas is much more likely to join than Notre Dame, if for no other reason than that ND has repeatedly said "We don't need no stinkin' Big 10".

Texas is a fit in several ways that ND is not (state school, public school, oriented toward similar types of research, not involved in a half-ass conference relationship) and brings a few things that ND does not (access to the fifth- and tenth-largest television markets and to a new geographic area, plus the ability to bring more teams than if ND joined alone, thus providing more events for the BTN and more money for schools as a whole).

Notre Dame already has their own television deal. Texas can't even get all their games on television: their home game against Louisiana-Monroe was only available on pay-per-view, and their game at Wyoming was on Versus. All of Northwestern's home games were televised, and the one road game that wasn't widely available was on ESPN GamePlan and the website formerly known as I am sure DeLoss Dodds is aware of that.

Texas, like Notre Dame, can pretty much decide where it would like to go (and would most likely be welcomed). I think that unlike ND, they would prefer to land here.


June 7th, 2010 at 6:05 PM ^

Mizzou: The BTN is already in KC and STL, and we'd rather not take anybody else from the B12 besides Nebraska.

OU: PAC10 really doesn't want OkST and TT, so the "Texas and Hooterville 5" thing never happens. OU and OkST are better candidates to join the SEC.

PAC10+: Gets fed-up with the Texas State Legislature and makes offers to Colo and Utah.

Texas: Stays right where they are. We really don't want them, we are just using them to get what we want.

SEC: Adds 1-3 ACC teams in addition to OU/OkST.

Big Ten+: Takes Maryland, Vandy, and Neb. Stops there.

ACC: Takes enough Big East teams to get back to at least 12. Sayanora BE.

NDp: Fail. Die. Rot.


June 7th, 2010 at 7:14 PM ^

I don't care if we go to 20 teams.  Just keep the name "Big 10" to honor the originals (and no Rutgers dammit).  

If we do go to 16 teams (without ND) then I think the SEC will follow suit quickly and gut the ACC which will turn to gut the BE, and ND will look smug and stupid.

I hate the domers and after reading their pompous board postings I would rather have CO than them in a heartbeat.

turd ferguson

June 7th, 2010 at 7:30 PM ^

how about the big 10 invites the entire pac 10 for a super conference. in fact, we'll call the division with the big 10 teams the "big 10" and the division with the pac 10 teams the "pac 10." then, at the very end of the season, maybe on january 1st, we'll have the winners play in a conference championship game. maybe call it the "rose bowl" or something. then the other conferences can arrange similar mergers and conference championship games. maybe call them things like the "orange bowl" or, i don't know, the "sugar bowl." then, after all of the conference championships games are over, we'll have the top two teams play each other for the national championship.

or we could just do a plus-one.


June 7th, 2010 at 9:03 PM ^

And succeeding; but as inbred as these two Conferences have been, with similar missions, I'm almost kinda surprised they haven't considered it. It would certainly be a "conference" as powerful as any of the speculations. And they could tell the BCS we're playing our Rose Championship and you can take the winner for your playoff. Won't happen. But interesting idea.


June 7th, 2010 at 7:44 PM ^

As an alum of both Iowa and Michigan (and solidly a Hawkeye, sorry guys) I'd be pretty unhappy if Iowa-Michigan games stopped happening on a regular basis. The triumvate of hate is nice to keep, but it will definitely be different benchmarking our seasons against someone other than the Wolverines and the Buckeyes on a regular basis.

My take is that there's two big concerns:

1) Historic matchups with the heavyweights to the east will be replaced with less compelling new matchups to the west or south - less compelling to the fans and to the media. Iowa was on ABC Saturday night football twice last season (Penn State and Michigan) and on BTN prime time once (Michigan State).  I'm sure if there wasn't a November rule against it, Iowa @ Ohio St last year would have been prime time on ABC too. I don't think you could look at a potential western conference schedule and find 3-4 games that might have national interest if both teams were good. It's scary to think that in a good year, Iowa could find itself scraping for national exposure.

2) The west becomes the new Big12 North. As it stands, a Nebraska matchup would be an electric border rivalry with Iowa (both fan bases hate each other despite hardly ever playing). But lets be honest, Nebraska is not what it used to be and Missouri has never been a powerhouse. If the west doesn't develop a great team every year that can and does win the conference championship on a regular basis, then that marginalizes the division and that's *bad* for everyone in the conference.

I think the Big Ten is more likely to avoid the Big12 north situation [e: than the b12 was] -  one of Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa will probably produce a good team, but it's still a concern. None of these programs are currently a heavyweight nationally. 

burntorange wi…

June 7th, 2010 at 7:53 PM ^

how ur east/west conferences look?

i'm not sure how less compelling these match ups would be to the media. texas - ohio state was pretty hyped up a few years ago. the media would just hype up different rivalries. you said it yourself, nebraska and iowa fans already hate each other. im sure you all can find a new team to absolutely hate in your new conference(if it happens).

Frank Drebin

June 8th, 2010 at 8:31 AM ^

In Brian's ideal situation, where UT and A&M are allowed by the Texas state legislature, the divisions would most likely be the following:

West: UT, A&M, Nebraska, Mizzou, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois. I think the league would rather hype an Illinois v. Mizzou rivalry over one with Northwestern. You would also have to keep the UW v. Minny rivalry game in tact, and Iowa v. Neb would also be a rivalry game. This is a solid division with a hated rivalry game for every team, as well as potential for many other great matchups.

East: UM, MSU, OSU, PSU, ND, NU, IU, PU. The only team that is somewhat out of place here is Northwestern, but I think this is better than grouping them in the West. They can have an irrelevant rivalry with IU for the worst team in the B16.

I think that there are tons of high profile games in these divisions, and that when it all shakes out, there would be potential for great championship games as well as games outside of the division. I could see a team like Iowa playing big time, national games against Nebraska, UT, A&M, and Wisky to go against the argument above. The east has natural, hated rivalries that demand national attention regardless of realignment.


June 7th, 2010 at 7:56 PM ^

I'm guessing you're saying this assuming Texas doesn't come to the Big Ten.  Using Brian's possible Big 10 West (Texas, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Missou, Wisky, Iowa, Minny, wildcard), I'd say that's much stronger then the Big 12 north.

Nebraska is interesting.  They aren't what they used to be but they definitely seem to be on the right track under Pelini.  It'll be interesting to see what he is able to do with them down the road.