The teams involved are up to wild speculation. Texas? Notre Dame? The Cleveland Browns? Logically, there are only a few schools that fit the right criteria to include into the conference, without an unforeseen massive expansion to the south or west. These schools (Missouri, Maryland, Pitt, Rutgers, and Syracuse) may or may not be willing to enter the conference. For the sake of discussion, let's just all assume that these schools would be willing to become a part of the Big Ten for the academics, revenue sharing and lucrative T.V. contract.
My idea for the new Big Ten (I am not creative enough to come up with a good name for it), is to make it the Big 14. It's not outside of the realm of possibility.
A conference statement spoke of an "evaluation of options for conference structure and expansion."
"Anything is possible," one source said, beyond the conventional wisdom of simply adding a 12th school.This idea largely hasn't been approached, but it could work if the Big Ten decides to aggresively expand to fourteen. A split into two seven-team divisions would be obvious, as would the addition of a ninth conference game (like the PAC-Ten, who plays a round-robin with 3 OOC games). The real question would be if it is really worth it for the Big Ten to expand to fourteen. The WAC had a 16-team conference, and it was inevitably doomed due to its size. Teams would lose out on additional revenue with the loss of an OOC cupcake home game. Teams in different divisions would rarely play each other. The divisional champions would have to play a total of 10 conference games, which would make it hard for a team to run the table or receive a second BCS berth. These are all legitimate reasons not to make the jump from eleven or twelve to fourteen, but there are plenty of incentives to do so:
- The conference would generate much more T.V. revenue, due to the expanded T.V. markets and alumni base, as well as the conference championship game
- More schools would receive bowl and NCAA Tournament appearances from the conference
- The conference would become the elite conference in all of college sports and there would be a large increase in national attention to the conference
- An undefeated football champion would all but be assured of a national championship berth, and a one or two loss team would be assured a BCS berth due to strength of schedule
- A conference with more than twelve teams (the MAC) has not experienced too many problems
- A team would not go three years without playing a team in the other half of the conference (see below)
Breaking the conference up into divisions would not be too difficult depending on who is added. There are already three states with two existing Big Ten teams, and if Pitt enters, that would make four. breaking up these in-state rivalries would not go over well, so Michigan-Michigan State, Indiana-Purdue, and Illinois-Northwestern (and maybe Penn State-Pitt) would be in the same division as their rival. Selfishly, we can add Michigan and Ohio State to the teams have to be in the same division. These fanbases can agree that playing the rivalry twice in the same season would not be good for the rivalry, and both parties would be vehemently opposed to being in different divisions. Dividing the proposed teams into East and West, there are four teams to the east (Maryland, Pitt, Rutgers, and Syracuse), and one to the west (Missouri). Therefore, the only possible combinations for adding teams would be adding two teams to the east and one to the west or adding three teams to the east.
Adding three teams to the East would be easiest (a team is across from its permanent rival, some of which are arbitrary):
*any of these three can be switched for Syracuse
However, adding Missouri would put the Big Ten into quite a conundrum, some rivalries would inevitably be split up (and I know that the geography of the divisional names is not quite correct):
*either Rutgers or Syracuse could be switched in for Maryland or Pitt
The schedule would work something like this (if there is an East-West alignment), a team in the East would play all of the other six teams in the East, their permanent rival in the West, as well as a two out of six teams from the West that rotate yearly off the schedule so that the team in the East would play their non-rivals from the West once every three years.
For example, Michigan's schedule may look something like this:
|at Michigan State||MICHIGAN STATE||at Michigan State|
|PENN STATE||at Penn State||PENN STATE|
|at Maryland||MARYLAND||at Maryland|
|at Rutgers||RUTGERS||at Rutgers|
|at Indiana||IOWA||at Illinois|
|OHIO STATE||at Ohio State||OHIO STATE|
So logistically, a move to fourteen is feasible. The practicality of it is in question, but it is the offseason and thus it is the time for wild speculation. Any thoughts?