Holy Crap: Big Ten Expansion For Serious

Submitted by Brian on December 15th, 2009 at 2:23 PM

I got a couple requests in the inbox for a take on Big Ten expansion after Barry Alvarez made a comment the other day about the Big Ten adding that elusive twelfth team. On the assumption that Alvarez was just making an idle statement and expansion was a distant possibility at best, I was going to dig up the post I made two years ago detailing pros and cons of various candidate schools and leave it at that.

But it appears that Alvarez was not just idly speculating:

It has been 19 years since the Big Ten expanded to 11 teams, and it appears the conference is ready to seriously explore moving to an even dozen.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was expected to release a statement later Tuesday to say the conference is ready to consider the addition of a 12th team.

That would be in about half an hour. It's time to update the above list, which I am in the process of doing right now.


West Texas Blue

December 15th, 2009 at 2:28 PM ^

I'm hoping otherwise, FA. This league needs a 12th team and a championship game unless the league decides to implement a schedule where a team plays the other 10 members in the league, which will never happen because of cupcakes, need for certain number of home games, etc..

Smitty D

December 15th, 2009 at 2:31 PM ^

West Fuckin' Virginia

PROs: Darling of the moment with Rich Rodriguez staying, and if he turns down 'Bama's millions he's probably in for the long haul. Will have a good, if sleazy, basketball team with Huggins around.

"Rich in for the long haul" lol Funny how MUCH things change in 3 years

MMB 82

December 15th, 2009 at 2:36 PM ^

what would they name the conference? It would be really difficult to keep using Big Ten, nor would it really make any sense. MidWest Conference? Central Conference?

Wolverine In Exile

December 15th, 2009 at 2:38 PM ^

Maybe this is the new programming the BTN was going to use to fill up its winter slots

"This year, on Big Ten Network, come watch as 4 high performing academic institutions vie for inclusion into the most prestigous college conference in the country... welcome to


Simon Cowell: "I'm sorry Pitt but your mascot is atrocious! I mean look at it! Is it a panther? A tabby cat? What in the bloody hell is it?"

Randy Jackson: "Word up Dawg.... you know, Boeheim, you're my dawg right? But you gotta bring more flava to the outfit, you dig? How about something with sequins and a possible fringe on the sleeve? WOOF WOOF WOOF"

Jim Delaney: "Um, yes, can you recite to me your graduation rates and percentage of student athletes to tenured professors?"

Simon: "Jim, are you daft? You're talking to the Chancellor of Mizzouri on national TELEVISION! Are you taking Paula's meds? I just don't think you're taking this seriously at all!"


December 15th, 2009 at 2:40 PM ^

How about instead of stealing just their Basketball and Football coach, we steal the whole school!...er from the Big East.

In all seriousness: Pitt is the most logical for all the reasons that have been already discussed on the boards.


December 15th, 2009 at 2:41 PM ^

Will the conference finally change the name?

Or will it still be the Big Ten? And if so, how will it incorporate a 12 into the logo like it incorporated an 11 before?


December 15th, 2009 at 2:52 PM ^

We have very little to be happy about sportswise around here, and now Barry Alvarez and Jim Delaney are going to ruin the Michigan - Ohio State tradition by making it NOT the last and biggest game of the year. This would SUCK!


December 15th, 2009 at 3:00 PM ^

I think we can get the Big Ten officials to ignore the benefits (increased revenue from a title game, larger footprint, etc) in favor of a game that has only lived up to it's billing once in the last several years.


December 15th, 2009 at 5:59 PM ^

Lincoln is not a bad city as cities in the middle of nowhere go, and the stadium is terrific. But....how big is their TV market? Have you ever driven through Nebraska? Nebraska makes Iowa seem palatable. I have lived my life under the mistaken assumption that when I drive from Ann Arbor to Colorado, God put Nebraska in the way to make you appreciate the majesty of the Rockies more than you would otherwise do so.

Then, there is the issue of academics. The academic ranking of Nebraska is far below any other school in the Big Ten.


December 15th, 2009 at 3:49 PM ^

Florida-FSU and Auburn-Alabama still work.

The Big Ten HAS TO do this. And, really, the 12th team HAS TO be Notre Dame. Even if it comes down to a boycott or an act of Congress, as ridiculous as that sounds. It just makes too much sense.

All BCS conferences should expand to 12 or 14 teams. The remaining schools and conferences get relegated to the FCS, with a chance to "move up" to the FBS every few years (not unlike soccer in the UK). You cannot put together a playoff in a league with 122 teams. It is impossible. Half of those 122 have absolutely no chance of competing, anyway.


December 15th, 2009 at 2:55 PM ^

in a 12th member school is that we DO NOT lower the academic bar that is currently set. That doesn't mean we have to *raise* the bar (e.g. Vanderbilt), it just means that we absolutely DO NOT lower the bar (e.g. Cincinnati).



December 15th, 2009 at 3:49 PM ^

A couple of generations of family members have attended Michigan. We are all football fanatics. However, while Michigan's football program was no small part of the decision making process when selecting colleges, the difference maker was the quality of the academics that U of M brought to the table.

There are a huge number of advantages to having a 12th school and a playoff game. It would increase TV markets, give additional exposure and practice and gasmes later in the season, make it easier to recruit, etc., etc.

However, I would not even consider a university which did not have academics at least as strong as mid-level Big Ten teams. Among the schools which seem possible fits, ND would be my first choice, followed by Pitt. Pitt's academics are ranked by US News ahead of Purdue, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana and MSU. Pittsburgh, in case you haven't been there lately, has become a decent city. They don't have their own stadium, but you could get about 70,000 fans into Heinz Field.

Here is the link to US News' public universities and their academic ranking:



December 15th, 2009 at 3:00 PM ^

Brian's analysis of West Virginia from the post 2 years ago:

"West Fuckin' Virginia

PROs: Darling of the moment with Rich Rodriguez staying, and if he turns down 'Bama's millions he's probably in for the long haul. Will have a good, if sleazy, basketball team with Huggins around.

CONs: Isn't WVU a really crap school? Huggins should be a net negative. Football program has strong flash-in-the-pan characteristics."


December 15th, 2009 at 3:03 PM ^

If the B10 goes to 12 teams, you have to imagine they'd move towards a championship game, right?

If so, that would mean that the B12, B10, SEC, ACC all have championship games. Would the Pac10 and Big East follow suit?


December 15th, 2009 at 4:43 PM ^

Addressing in reverse order: no way would the Big East be able to do it. Remember, you must have at least 12 teams to schedule a championship game.

And the Big East has 16.

We don't think of it that way in football season because they don't all play football (or they play in their own yard because they're special), but they do have 16 members. The schools that aren't full members are a) Notre Dame, b) I-AA schools who aren't in a position to move up, or c) not even close to DI football. So they can't have a championship game.

The Pac-10? Well, it might make sense for them to add a couple of teams (BYU and Utah? Nevada and UNLV? TCU and Boise State?), but I don't know if it would fit with how the conference is structured (academics, non-revenue sports, etc.). The one advantage they'd have is that they would be able to draw just about anyone they'd want, I'd guess.

Crime Reporter

December 15th, 2009 at 3:08 PM ^

I'm pretty sure I like it the way it is at present. Adding another team would make us the Big 12 part two, and this conference already gets enough shit because it can not count. They would have to change the name if this ever became reality.

Glen Rice 41

December 15th, 2009 at 3:11 PM ^

Cincinnati is a lot more attractive than they were 3 years ago. Mick Cronin has turned the basketball team into respectable again (a Top 25 ranking) and obviously football matters now. They are geographically close to most of the conference and provide a natural rival to Ohio State...believe me it's intense in the Nati and the OSU fans absolutely hate UC and their bUCkeye state shirts. Academics are probably on par with MSU and OSU. The school has some very highly regarded programs but the general education is kind of weak. Facilities are weak. Fifth Third Arena/Shoemaker Center is old and they haven't filled it in recent years and Nippert Stadium is old, crammed together, very fan unfriendly, and only holds 35,000. They do have plans to renovate it and add a practice bubble field. It's an interesting case.


December 15th, 2009 at 3:37 PM ^

Sorry, but Cinci is an academic backwater compared to every Big 10 school (yes, even lil' brother). U.S. News and World Report classifies them as "Tier 3." This means they rank beneath most (if not all) of the SEC and a few MAC schools. Aside: That report may not be perfect, but it probably doesn't miss by much.

This assumes that academic reputation should be the most important measure. I'd certainly lean that way.

By that measure, the only schools cited that make any sense are ND, Rutgers, Pitt, and Syracuse. Missouri, Iowa State, and (especially) Louisville don't make the cut.


December 15th, 2009 at 3:13 PM ^

I've always liked the "Big Ten" as a name- even though we do have 11 teams as we all know.

If we add a 12th, what about the Great Lakes Conference?

That's decent- or we can just keep the name.

All I know is that we better get two separate divisions and a Championship game out of this.


December 15th, 2009 at 3:14 PM ^

if it's not ND, and it probably won't be, it has to be Pitt.

No one else makes a whole lot of sense... either due to geography or not being good enough.

Also, I like keeping the Big Ten name, or Midwest (or Midwestern) Conference.


December 15th, 2009 at 3:19 PM ^

If we add a 12th team- we've got to change the name- you would think right?

What about the Great Lakes Conference?

That'll do- I hope

Top 3 Twelfth teams: Rutgers, Syracuse, Nebraska

Bottom 3 Twelfth teams: West F***in Virginia, Pitt, and Louisville


December 15th, 2009 at 4:27 PM ^

There are already a few conferences with 'Great Lakes' in the name (Great Lakes Valley Conference, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Great Lakes Football Conference).

I don't think the name would have to change. Calling an 11-team conference "Big Ten" is no less weird than calling a 12-team conference "Big Ten".


December 15th, 2009 at 3:24 PM ^

I think we need a school that can compare in famous alumni, so that their videos on BTN during games won't look subpar. That is obviously the best way to pick.

Let's look at the candidates:

Pitt: Most Famous Alumni: Mike Ditka
Tagline in the 'Gerald Ford Spoke of World Peace' commercial: "Mike Ditka Coached Da Bears"

Iowa State: Most Famous Alumni: George Washington Carver
Tagline: "George Washington Carver invented Peanut Butter"

Syracuse: Most Famous Alumni: Jim Brown
Tagline: "Jim Brown ran through people"

Rutgers: Most Famous Alumni: Charles Molnar
Tagline: "Charles Molnar defined personal computing"

Am I missing anyone?

Clarence Beeks

December 15th, 2009 at 3:51 PM ^

I realize you were being (at least somewhat) humorous in selecting these, but it raises a good question about who the most famous alumni of these schools would be. Pitt definitely has quite a few that would be right up there: Andrew Mellon, Ditka, Ron Paul, Tony Dorsett, Cyril Wecht, Gene Kelly, and Dan Marino, just to name a few.


December 15th, 2009 at 3:41 PM ^

What about Missouri? I don't know much about their academics in general, but their journalism school is tops along with Northwestern. I guess poaching a Big 12 school is gonna be harder than a Big East school. Pitt wouldn't be a bad option either. No to Cincy, WVU, Syracuse, and Rutgers. Well, I guess I'd consider Syracuse, but no way they're coming b/c of bball.