12th Big 10 Team

Submitted by Zone Left on December 14th, 2009 at 12:21 PM

I was planning on simply responding to Seth 9’s diary, but this became way too long.

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With Barry Alvarez openly saying that the Big 10 is serious about adding a twelfth team, it is an interesting exercise to try and determine which team the Big 10 would add, given various constraints that either do or supposedly exist.  I did some extensive searching, and could not the find Big 10 bylaws, so we have to go off what the greater internets tell us is the truth.  There are two constraints I’ve seen thrown out:


1.  Membership in the American Association of Universities (AAU)


2.  Located in a state already in the Big 10 footprint or adjacent to the Big 10 footprint. 


Assuming the bylaws won’t be changed and no one is added to the AAU, here are schools that meet both criteria (and play Div 1-A athletics:


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The little bit of research I’ve done does not suggest that entering the AAU is as easy as those of us interested in Notre Dame might think, although Notre Dame has improved markedly in academics and would definitely meet the Big 10’s general criteria of a strong academic institution.  That said, Notre Dame is clearly the obvious choice should NBC decide not to renew their TV contract in 2015.  If the Big 10 were desperate enough, the Big 10 and Fox Sports could make an exception and let Notre Dame keep the TV deal for its home games.


The general assumption is that the Big 10 is interested in expanding solely to create a football Championship Game, with the goals of added revenue and increased national exposure after Thanksgiving.  I believe that better basketball and non-revenue sports are secondary, but desired.  To me, this means that the ideal candidate has a strong football program, a TV market without a Big 10 team, and strong recruiting base.


The base criteria—specifically football strength allows us to pare down the list to something like this, give or take a Syracuse:









Personally, out of those six teams, four are in good to excellent situations right now.  I firmly believe that leaving the Big 12 would hurt Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska.  Their recruiting base is primarily Kansas south into Texas and only Nebraska even comes close to being a true national recruiter.   Losing TV exposure in Texas would leave those schools with small local populations and a difficult road to hoe trying to pry athletes from Texas.  Plus, TCU would likely be the school the Big 12 would add, which is a better choice for a BCS conference level Texas recruit—further diluting those schools’ recruiting bases.  The Big 10 simply doesn’t have that great of an offer for a Big 12 team.  Leaving a goliath conference with guaranteed schedules and a championship game for another goliath, etc isn’t a great sales pitch. 


Maryland is in a similar boat, and really doesn’t have much in the way of historical ties to the Big 10.  However, I see Maryland as a stronger option for the Big 10 than the Big 12 teams simply because their membership means more exposure in the fertile Maryland/DC recruiting region.


Like Seth 9, I see Pitt as a very strong candidate that the Big 10 has something to offer.  The Big East has relatively little exposure nationally, no championship game, and only eight teams.  Big East teams have to schedule five non-conference games and have a crappy TV deal.  The Big Ten can offer eight conference games and a great TV deal, plus Ohio recruiting.  Pitt provides the Big 10 with a (relatively) strong football team, good basketball team, and the Pittsburgh/Philly market.  Win/Win situation.


Rutgers also has a lot to provide the Big 10, minus the strong basketball.  Furthermore, it expands the conference footprint into New Jersey/New York, which would be great for recruiting and TV dollars.  The Big 10 offers Rutgers better TV, a championship game, and Big 10 footprint recruiting—which combined with New Jersey and New York gives the Big 10 a much stronger recruiting base.  To me, Rutgers is the best choice given the above constraints.


How would this break down into divisions?  Let’s assume that the Big 10 decides to operate like the SEC and guarantee one cross division game per year and three rotating games with five games in each division.  Like Seth 9, the East-West Divisions would break down like this (substituting Rutgers for Pitt):


















This division breakdown does not have much parity, so the North/South is probably better, and might look like this:


















To me, this works better parity-wise.  Michigan would still play Ohio State, Iowa could still play Minnesota, and PennState could keep its huge rivalry with Little Brother alive.  Unfortunately, splitting Michigan and OhioState up likely means moving the game to earlier in the season to prevent likely championship game rematches the next week.


There are tons of better teams out there that might be swayed by Big 10 TV money or other factors.  Texas would be great for the Big 10, but would never happen ina million-billion years.  Personally, I’d like to see us gain a foothold in the south by stealing Vanderbilt or Kentucky from the SEC.  Unfortunately, like the Big 12 and ACC teams, the Big 10 doesn’t have much to offer.

ed: Response to comments about the importance of TV markets in today's hyper-media age.

The New York TV market is the largest market in the country.  According to a blatently pro-cable study (http://www.arbitron.com/downloads/cabletvstudy.pdf), about 61% of Americans have cable TV in their home.  If anything, a blatently pro-cable study is going to guess high, IMO.  According to the census, about 7% of Americans don't watch TV.  This leaves about 32% of Americans without cable TV.  Assuming those numbers are relatively constant across the United States, this means that several million people in New York/New Jersey don't have cable. 

Adding Rutgers means ABC would likely televise a Big 10 game in New York during a time slot with an ACC game (Boston College vs. Virgina Tech) and a Big 10 game (Michigan vs. Iowa).  If even a couple percent of those people tune in with their digital TV converter box, that is a few hundred thousand extra viewers, which means more money, etc.



December 14th, 2009 at 2:43 PM ^

That's very true, but with the amount of success the conference has enjoyed (one of the best records vs one of the most difficult non-conference schedules in all of college football) I think the chances of that happening are slim to none. The biggest lack of respect for the conference (in football) is in regards to the small number of teams in the conference. Dropping them as a BCS conference would result, essentially, in the Big East's demise (in football). So yes, you are correct, but I really doubt they do this, especially after how well the conference has responded and grown even after losing Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech a few years back.


December 14th, 2009 at 3:40 PM ^

I'm not sure on what basis you think Pitt wouldn't move. Pitt's endowment is more than double anyone else's in the Big East (and more than quadruple most of the conference), but it is on a par with most of the Big Ten. Of the top fifteen public-university endowments in the U.S., 8 of them are in the BIg Ten. Only one is in the Big East: Pittsburgh.

This is about money. It's Pittsburgh or Notre Dame. No one else has the cash to join the Big Ten.


December 14th, 2009 at 3:52 PM ^

Who cares about endowment? That has nothing to do with moving to a different conference for sports. Your endowment is based on how much money, property and other general income you have generated from alumni, boosters and general supporters.

Pittsburgh will stay in the Big East for basketball. They are already establishing themselves as a draw for football, and their basketball program is steadily on the rise in the best conference for college basketball, with rivalries among colleges like Georgetown, Louisville, Villanova, Connecticut, Syracuse and others. I think Pittsburgh can see the opportunity they have if they stay in the Big East, figuring the BE adds Notre Dame or two other schools (East Carolina, Temple, Virginia) to the conference for football. I think Pittsburgh also realizes that they have a tough enough time getting fans to their football games, without playing an even more difficult schedule. I think the Cincy-Pitt game was the first time I ever saw Heinz Field soldout for a Pitt football game.

Rutgers is the more likely option, which isn't that much of an upgrade or addition for the Big Ten. All Rutgers brings to the table is a larger interest in the conference from the NYC area, although even that is a serious stretch.

I say stick with tradition, the Big Ten is fine the way it is. If you really feel the need to add a team, go after a former perennial powerhouse full of tradition like Nebraska.


December 14th, 2009 at 6:51 PM ^

Endowment means a university can sustain athletic programs in a way that others may not be able to -- they're not so vulnerable to the fortunes of individual coaches. For example, what happens to Rutgers if Schiano leaves?

Plus, the Big Ten is really about more than sports:

The Big Ten Conference is a union of 11 world-class academic institutions who share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service.

Yes, it's an NCAA conference. But there are other links between its members. Pitt's endowment and academic profile allow it to come in and contribute to that community right away.

But Pitt would have to bring all its sports. No way the Big Ten takes a school just for football.

I'm sure Heinz Field would be full for Penn State. And no doubt Michigan and OSU fans would be happy to fill any empty seats for their games!


December 14th, 2009 at 2:46 PM ^

Can we just move on to who is going to be the 13th member of the Big 10? I think we have seen enough diaries/posts in the last few days based off of an off-hand remark Barry Alvarez made. This proposal isn't even good for the Big 10, much less very likely to happen. My rant is not directed at the OP per se, who I think did a good job with this diary. I just think we don't need a "potential Big 10 12th team" post by half of the people who read this blog. It's like "playoff proposals." Love the idea, don't want to wade through a dozen links about them.


December 14th, 2009 at 2:49 PM ^

To ward off the inevitable "why don't you post something else if you don't like this content" remarks, how about this idea:

Do what soccer does in Europe and make a "Primera" FBS league that requires a certain level of performance over time to stay in it and reward those teams with a small 8 team playoff at the end of the season in accordance with the reasonable proposals people have made that don't implicate travel concerns, abolition of the bowls, etc. The games will be better b/c the competition will be stronger.


December 14th, 2009 at 2:52 PM ^

Look, Pitt is a terrible choice. They do not have the fan base and play in a shared stadium. Pennsylvania is already tapped for a recruiting standpoint, so they add nothing but poor attendance.

And Rutgers schmutgers I say. What does another doormat bring you. TV ratings? Are we forgetting that each of our schedules will be diluted with a Rutgers team that doesn't captivate a national audience?

Notre Dame and Nebraska are the only choices that actually add to the Big Ten's prestige. I'm more inclined to go with Nebraska because, as Bo said, to hell with Notre Dame. This conference is about Michigan and Ohio State (despite what Penn State fans will tell you), and I'll be damned if we're gonna share the spotlight.


December 14th, 2009 at 9:34 PM ^

You want to choose a team that will raise the Big Ten's prestige, ensure that Michigan and OSU are the dominant force of the Big Ten (because Penn State apparently isn't good enough for some unspecified reason).

First of all, Nebraska's inclusion in the Big Ten means that another program with a great tradition and historical prestige joins. There is ample reason to believe that they can rise again to the level of the Big Ten, especially when you look at Alabama's pre-Nick Saban struggles and the result after he got there. Programs that have a great tradition will always have the resources to rise to prominence, because they will have a very well developed system of boosters and supporters to keep the team in great shape in terms of finances and facilities.

Second of all, who exactly do you want to take to open up a new recruiting ground? The talent rich states are Florida, Texas, and California. We aren't getting anyone from those states. Likewise, getting a school from the south will be problematic for geographic and financial reasons. And the west coast states are obviously out too.

Expansion targets are few and far between, especially with the Big Ten's focus on academics.


December 14th, 2009 at 5:53 PM ^

A buddy of mine was born and raised in West Philadelphia, and mentioned that on the playground (where he spent most of his days) they often discussed University of Pittsburgh athletics when they weren't chilling out, maxing, or relaxing. That was, at least, until a couple of kids who were up to no good broke his legs.

I think they may have been Penn St. fans.

Super J

December 14th, 2009 at 10:05 PM ^

I used to live next to Pitt's campus and I can honestly tell you that no one from Pitt could name anybody that played any college sport at Chestnut Hill College, The Curtis Institute of Music, Drexel University, Holy Family University, La Salle University, Moore College of Art and Design, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Peirce College, Philadelphia University, Saint Joseph's University, Temple University, The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, Thomas Jefferson University, University of the Arts,University of Pennsylvania, or even the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

I am sure I missed a few Philly Schools but you get my point.

Steve in PA

December 14th, 2009 at 4:27 PM ^

He won't even schedule a school that was a traditional rival until PSU joined the B10. Actually, I always thought PSU should have been a Big East school since their traditional rivals were WVU, Pitt, and to a lesser extent Syracuse. Joe wanted to go to the Rose Bowl and that's why it happened according to many alumni and donors.

When I read Alvarez' comments my thought was Missouri. They are Midwest enough that they could escape the Texas market and would fit in with the middle tier of B10 schools. With Nebraska coming on they have to know that they aren't going to be in the championship game very often.


December 14th, 2009 at 7:06 PM ^

See here:

Paterno wants 12 teams in league

"We go into hiding for six weeks. Everybody else is playing playoffs on television," Paterno said. "You never see a Big Ten team mentioned. So I think that's a handicap. I've tried to talk to the Big Ten people about, 'Let's get a 12th team -- Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt -- we could have a little bit of a playoff.'"


December 14th, 2009 at 4:41 PM ^

Here's a concept, Drop a team out of the conference and move them into the Big East. Then the BIG TEN can be like the PAC 10 and just play 8-9 conference games and 3-4 OOC games. Easy enough. Drop PSU (even though they have been one of the better competitors) and let them go RUN the Big East.


December 14th, 2009 at 4:50 PM ^

Money comes in several forms though, most of which seemed ignored over and over again by most discussing this.

The largest benefit by far will be increased new customer TV (BTN) revenue. As stated in other arguments, the largest $$ comes from new territories, as in states w/o current BT teams.

Secondarily, in areas where BTN is a pay-add-on, attraction to lesser sports programming (non-football/basketball) is needed to help "fill out" programming slots. When you think of a given school, think anout whether you'd watch that school's volleyball/baseball etc if you were "flipping channels".

Very few of the teams being mentioned would provide both of these. Outside of academic requirements, desire for divisions in football, etc, it will be the money that leads the BT to pick someone. Hence Alvarez' assertion that it'll be a "nation wide" serach, i.e. well OUTSIDE the current BT area.

We're looking only at BIG fish people.

MI Expat NY

December 14th, 2009 at 5:18 PM ^

TV money isn't just the Big 10's. Fox (or whoever the partner is in that would take a chunk) and I think Comcast/Time Warner would balk at the current agreement if our only entry in NYC is Rutgers or Syracuse, or a smilar situation in say California/Texas/Maryland/etc. Additionally, you'd have to counter the extra TV money with the extra travel costs associated with travel outside the Big 10 footprint, a factor that will have the greates effect on the new member.

All in all, I'd agree that extra BTN revenue will be a factor, it just might not be enough to entice any school outside the area.

Also, I took Alvarez' "nation wide" comment to mean "not just Notre Dame."

Zone Left

December 14th, 2009 at 6:45 PM ^

I'd be very pessimistic about Mizzou or any other Big 12/SEC team would be likely to leave. In addition to already having established ties with their conferences (even if they are loose ties), what can the Big 10 offer that the Big 12/SEC can't.

Outside of the Ivies, the Big 10 is the strongest academic conference, but the conferences are mainly about regionalism and sports, not academics.


December 15th, 2009 at 6:53 AM ^

A look at this last year's rosters shows that when considering "Big 10" states, as well as the states of Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska...

Kansas has 45 athletes from the midwestern block, Mizzou has 63 athletes, and Nebraska has 80 athletes. Compare that to 33, 30 and 22 from Texas (for each school, respectively.)

Iowa has none from Texas, and Minnesota has 7 (5 from Dallas.)

Taken together, it looks as though proximity plays a big role, as does a school's coaching-recruiting ties (obviously.)


December 14th, 2009 at 6:41 PM ^

I think the Big Ten will only add a member school with a strong hockey team. That cuts it down to Notre Dame and Syracuse. The Big Ten's team-grab is also likely in an attempt to build a Big Ten hockey conference.


December 14th, 2009 at 7:14 PM ^

Football is the only true moneymaker. Every other sport would be tertiary at best. If there was a hockey team it would be a bonus, and forward thinkers would like to get the Big Ten Hockey programs on the Big Ten network to increase ratings/ad/dollars there, but in reality, Football rules in money making, basketball can make a little bit, and everything else pretty much breaks even or loses tons of money.


December 14th, 2009 at 7:32 PM ^

It's always fun to listen to fans of dominant programs piss on the rivalries of the downtrodden; to them, no rivalry is worth anything if it doesn't involve their favorite school. Both my parents and my sister went to Mizzou and half of my relatives live in the state. The notion that KU and Missouri fans don't care very passionately about their rivalry would come as news to them. The fact that it doesn't impact the national championship doesn't seem to be an issue.

I'd have to see a quality survey done of the entire fanbases and academic communities of both Missouri and Nebraska detailing the level of interest in leaving the B12 for the B10 before I'll believe that the possibilities of leaving are anything more than a highly unlikely notion, especially Nebraska. The chances of Missouri leaving are only less remote because of the unequal revenue arrangement in the B12, which is really the only complaint that Missouri fans have.


December 14th, 2009 at 10:10 PM ^

There is a lot of discontent with the B10 from Penn State fans. They feel they have been diminished in Football, and they never got the boost they were expecting in Basketball.

They could easily be enticed to team up with ND and join the Big East, turning it into an instant elite conference.

They would be a conference big dog (beleive me they are tired of hearing about Michigan-OSU), with renewed east coast and NYC exposure, and most games within reasonable driving distance for their fans.

If ND winds up needing to seek the shelter of a conference, and they look to the Big East rather than the B10, they could sweep up Penn State with them.

Be careful what you wish for about schools leaving conferences, it could be ours.

The Claw

December 14th, 2009 at 11:17 PM ^

I think the Big 11 really wants Notre Dame but I doubt they do anything because that would mean getting beat an awful lot. I think if they get someone, it will be a really good lower tier school. Cincinnati really jumps out at me. Undefeated this year and if they can bump off Florida, it will open up a lot of Big 11 eyes. They have the Ohio recruiting. They could be a good fit. Strong in Basketball. No hockey or wrestling, but most of everything else.

Then comes Louisville. Every few years they have a really good football team. Always good in basketball. Rutgers goes in here as well.

I think these are the type of teams that would jump ship.


December 15th, 2009 at 1:51 AM ^

Personally I hope we can add Canada as the 12th team.

Kidding aside, as long as the B12 has horribly imbalanced revenue sharing agreements and remains Texas/Oklaholma focused, there will be unhappy schools, Mizzou and Nebraska chief amongst them.

You can talk about history and rivalries all you want - if the Big 10 approaches Nebraska or Mizzou, the money and academic prestige are likely to make the choice much less difficult than you might imagine.


December 15th, 2009 at 1:59 AM ^

it's just as far away from PSU as Boston College is from Miami. They fit perfectly with the academics. They currently are significantly better than the closest academic rival in the Big 12 (Texas AM). They fit athletically (obviously). They'd make a ton more money in the Big Ten than the Big 12.

Is it a longshot? Well yeah. But it's not that crazy.


December 15th, 2009 at 2:22 AM ^

Texas has rivalries with Oklahoma and Texas A&M, which they will never give up. Furthermore, I'll take issue with the statement that they'd make a ton more money in the Big Ten. They currently make a bunch of money now, thanks to the Red River Shootout and the Big 12 revenue sharing plan.

I just fail to see any motivation on Texas' part to join the Big Ten.


December 15th, 2009 at 7:54 AM ^

When the answer cannot be obviously deducted from the list of possibilities, then the answer must lie in a different set of possibilities....

Enter the Big Mid-West.

I fail to see how adding the splintered New York market is as valuable on a per-person basis as adding viewers of the same cultural area. If you want to do something well, focus on that which you do, and do it better (not just bigger.) The Big 10 is a marketer's pipeline to the mid-west... we don't do East Coast (or South, or West for that matter.)

Imagine that you are one of two marketing directors: one for John Deere and the other for the Trump properties division. Would a Rutgers(or Syracuse)-Iowa game excite both of these marketing directors? Nope, in fact, I don't think either would be all that excited. How about Iowa-Nebraska? Now Trump is out completely, but John Deere actually sees double the opportunity. Why? Because there isn't a forced cultural dichotomy.

So, I say forgo the 22 million people of the greater New York area, and instead pursue the 10.5 million people of Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. Yep, the real solution is to shock the world and go for a 14-team conference. Why stop at 12 teams? Because that's the model of the Big 12 and SEC and ACC and Conference USA... the MAC has 13 teams, are we really going to let the cupcakes one-up us? The Big Ten is a leader, not a follower. We started our own cable channel for God's sake! Since when does the Big Ten simply do what everyone else calls reasonable?

Besides being a massive land-grab, the addition of the Cornhuskers, Jayhawks and Mizzou would lock up the St. Louis market and add the Kansas City market. In addition, the conference could go to each team playing 10 conference games (each certainly more marketable than playing a MAC or CUSA team...) It would also bring intersectional games to the conference (Mizzou-Oklahoma; Kansas-Kansas St.; Nebraska-Oklahoma) while preserving rivalry games between the three new teams (and solidifying Mizzou's rivalry with the Illini.)

And, speaking of rivalries, the first REAL trophy game would be initiated. With Nebraska and U of M in the same subdivision, there would be the "1997 Trophies" game... in which the winner would be given the other's trophy to keep until they lost next. Lose and you lose your NC Trophy from the display case... is that good enough motivation to go knock someone's helmet off?

14 teams... much less obvious, but much more sensible. And if there is some silly NCAA regulation limiting conference size, then we do what is obvious and sue on behalf of our Mid-Western Manifest Destiny.


December 15th, 2009 at 9:19 AM ^

...I would have Bill Gates donate a hundred million to finance the University of Chicago to re-join the Big Ten and Division 1A football. They can play their games at Solider Field. It would be awesome.

Even more awesome would be for them to come back and kick Michigan State out of their former place in the Big Ten, but now I am just dreaming.