Shocking: Agree with Rosenberg (against Big 10 Expansion)

Submitted by StephenRKass on September 22nd, 2011 at 10:16 AM

I don't know if this is a first, but I actually agree with a full article written by Michael Rosenberg. Today's Freep has a piece by him against Big 10 expansion. (Link:

I too am basically against expansion. Every team we add is one more team to split the revenue pie stream with. I particularly don't care for expansion outside of the Big 10 footprint. Unless a school is in our geographic footprint, student demographic, and fits with our culture, I can't see adding more teams and ending up with a "super-conference."

The one clear exception is Notre Dame, but that horse has been beat to death. I'm trying to think of other major schools in our area who have a decent history, size, academics, etc., and not many come to mind. I suppose Iowa State might qualify in addition to ND.

What I wouldn't want to see happen is to add a directional state university MAC Snack, or a city commuter school (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati) and I'd want a team that has a strong football team. We went through this before (in adding Nebraska.) Honestly, Nebraska and Penn State are a bit far physically, but they do fit the Big 10 profile well.

However, to flirt with schools yet further away than Penn State and Nebraska makes absolutely no sense to me. The Pac 10, SEC, ACC, Big East, and others can do what they want. I think the Big 10 is a great conference as it is now constituted. Short of adding ND, and possibly Iowa State, it is lunacy to consider further expansion.



September 22nd, 2011 at 10:18 AM ^

I would love to add Cincinnati since that would give them a chance to cannibalize some of OSU's recruits.  But that's more of a selfish reason.  The conference would be stupid to add just about anyone right now outside of a pair that include Notre Dame.


September 22nd, 2011 at 10:28 AM ^

I'd rather not have a conference game in the tiny little stadium of some glorified commuter school, no matter how much it messes up tOSU's recruiting.

Also Cincy would be competition for us as well in terms of recruiting.  We go after the same guys tOSU does.

Hardware Sushi

September 22nd, 2011 at 10:46 AM ^

I don't know if it's anti-Mizzou as much as Mizzou (and anyone else semirealistic) isn't worth the addition unless ND or Texas comes with them.

They stack up like Pitt - good school, strong overall athletic dept, decent fanbase, seem like a cultural fit - except they have the added benefit of being out of the Big Ten footprint and can add almost a state's worth of BTN subsribers. I think I feel the same about Rutgers as well, except lower on the cultural fit rating - but it would make some PSU people happy.

The only school I think is even semi-realistic without ND or UT coming along (and it's a very low chance of happening, what with the new $20 mil buyout and ACC going to 14 teams, but who knows if FSU or someone else were to leave for the SEC...) is Maryland. I still think Maryland is just a pipe dream of mine to get a Michigan game in the DC area.


September 22nd, 2011 at 11:01 AM ^

They are just too far away. Nebraska and Penn State are bad enough . . . Texas, no way. And they're not going to blow up the Longhorn Network, and I don't think they could deal with Michigan, Ohio (State,) Nebraska, Penn State, & Wisconsin . . . five other schools with a strong football tradition. Texas wants to be the bully in the sandbox, well, they can pound sand in Texas.


September 22nd, 2011 at 10:29 AM ^

I fail to see the benefit of adding Iowa State.  They're natural resources/agriculture (a'la MSU) and engineering (Purdue, Michigan), don't add anything geographically, except Souix City, and we already have jNW as a spoiler team.  The only time they sell out Jack Trice Stadium is when the Hawkeyes travel to Ames.  


September 22nd, 2011 at 10:32 AM ^

You add ISU just to watch Iowa fans foam at the mouth for a few years.  Then you kick ISU out.

Surpisingly ISU is AAU and isn't the worst option if you need someone to just balance out ND and keep divisions even.  They don't add travel costs or anything and make for a nice in conference body bag to hang out with the likes of Minnesota, Indiana, and Purdue.  


September 22nd, 2011 at 10:56 AM ^

My point was not that I'd be FOR adding ISU, but that other than ND, they are the only one I wouldn't immediately be OPPOSED to adding.  (They have 28,000 students, their academics aren't in the toilet and they're in the top 50 public universities, they seem to be not terrible in athletics, they are pretty much in our geographic footprint.) Their stadium is kinda small, but still bigger than Minnesota, NW, & Indiana.

Basically, however, I see no need for the Big 10 to expand, other than adding ND, and if we added ND, we would either need to get rid of one big 10 school or add one more. So, add ISU for balance, or remove one of the weakest. The only one's I would remove would be PSU or Nebraska, and it wouldn't make sense to do that. That's why ISU. I suppose, as mentioned elsewhere, that Missouri could be a possibility too


September 22nd, 2011 at 11:47 AM ^

Pitt really wants to rebuild itself as a football program.  Coal country in PA is a fairly talent rich area (Breaston came from there recently, as did Pryor) and Pitt has a number of National Titles.  Pitt's problem is they've never really been in a stable conference during the modern era.  Big East was raided by the ACC in the past for example.

Pitt Athletics would kill to get in.  They'd become a premier conference basketball program automatically.  Football wise they'd suddenly have marque matchups, BTN money, and stability for attracting recruits.

Academics wise, the CiC commands a lot more money than the ACC or Big East.

For the most part through the B1G likes them weak, as a lot of schools recruit out of coal country and we don't want additional competition for the recruits.  JoePA also holds a grudge against them for refusing to join his Atlantic super conference idea back in the day.  For us the big incentive is they add a really top end medical research system and there is a lot of money in medical research.


September 22nd, 2011 at 11:55 AM ^

Wanted to say I agree, and from what I've read on the internet (read: might be completely true or completely false) Pitt lobbied hard for a Big Ten bid and didn't get one. My personal suspicion is that they would have been invited along with ND, but as long as ND stayed independant the Big Ten wanted to wait.

As far as academics go, Pitt is as good as a university as any other available. Their research would put them in the middle of the current CIC and any medical school would kill to be associated with UPMC and Pitt's Biomedical Engineering department.


September 22nd, 2011 at 12:41 PM ^

Let me answer the second two before I answer the first: I've been a Michigan fan my entire life, I have the stories about being a little kid in Michigan like many others on this blog and I've always rooted for them. Yes, I do root for Pitt, and there was actually a time when I was quite happy with Pitt and very frustrated with Michigan (scholarship money at Pitt, not being able to put the money together to attend Michigan).

That being said, I'll always cheer for Michigan over anyone, but I wouldn't like being put in a situation where I needed to root against Pitt.


September 22nd, 2011 at 12:41 PM ^

Thanks for sharing your story. I identify (from a parent and Michigan alumni perspective.) It breaks my heart that I can't afford to put my 18 year old through Michigan. I love my job, but the money isn't there for out of state tuition to a school like Michigan. I wish there was a way Michigan could accomodate legacy students whose families don't have the resources, but that just isn't reality, especially in this economy. Sorry that was your lot in life too.

So, given you wouldn't like to be put in that situation (having to root against Pitt,) would you prefer that they NOT become part of the Big Ten?


September 22nd, 2011 at 12:49 PM ^

From the sounds of it, you're from my neck of the woods (Illinois). That OOS tuition is absolutely killer, but I'm happy with how things turned out.

Regarding the Big Ten, I do want Pitt in the Big Ten. The huge bump in prestige, money, competition, everything, would more than make up for me feeling uneasy one (or even less) Saturday in the fall and a couple times through basketball season.


September 22nd, 2011 at 12:42 PM ^

Were you there when Pitt played at Heinz Field (I'm assuming so)?  All I can say is I want to meet the guy that designed that stadium and punch him.  With the open end facing the rivers, the wind that comes down the rivers come right into the stadium and introduces you to a whole new level of "cold". 


September 22nd, 2011 at 12:52 PM ^

Yup. The night before the Rutgers game in 2008 I got completely hammered at a friends family house in Monroeville, wearing an Oakland Zoo t-shirt and a red sweatshirt. When I got to the stadium right before kickoff I realized the color of my sweatshirt and obviously took it off...that absolutely sucked. Wind, cold, dropping a game that only Wannstedt could drop. Epic fail on the day, I can't even imagine January with the Steelers.

Frank Drebin

September 22nd, 2011 at 12:58 PM ^

Why would Pitt agree to join the ACC, just to leave and come to the B1G? Also, with the Big East holding TCU to the 27 months and $5 mil buyout, I would imagine that the ACC would hold Pitt to the $20 mil buyout. I just don't see it happening, and if we wanted Pitt, we would have already taken them.


September 22nd, 2011 at 10:44 AM ^

Adding Nebraska was the right call as it was the best choice we could get and it gave us the opportunity to add the B1G Championship game which adds lots of $ to the conference.  If were were going to add more , ND is the only candidate that has both the value proposition and geographic fit.  Texas has the value but is pretty far.  If you wanted to balance out the conference if we were ever able to add ND, I would look to a school like Pittsburgh (they would bail on the ACC) or maybe Kentucky as they have the geographic fit and a strong basketball program (although I dont think they are very strong academically).  


September 22nd, 2011 at 10:50 AM ^

B1G will be a tight family whereas the ACC/SEC will be diluted. I wonder if the SEC/ACC is kind of kicking themselves for A&M/14(?) and PITT/SYR as a preemptive strike of fear from the B1G/PAC. I could also see these new leagues shrinking again if Mega-Conf. don’t come online.


Lost games.

OK/NEB (1912)

WVU/PITT (1895)

UT/A&M (1894)


Very sad.

Waters Demos

September 22nd, 2011 at 11:07 AM ^

That's the thing about 'Murrica.  We produce lots of wealth, and have tons of innovation.  Only the US could produce someone like Steve Jobs IMHE.

But the reverse side is that we commodify everything.  Absolutely everything is reduceable to dollar form in this country.  Thus, history, rivalry, tradition, etc... will be thrown away as lesser commodities when commodities with greater values come along (TV deals, etc...).  It's all just relative commodity value.

You have to take this aspect of our country or leave it.  I venture to say that most of us will take it (and particularly in the college football context), but not out of any sense of affirmative choice and deliberation, but instead out of laziness, weakness, and indifference. 


September 22nd, 2011 at 11:13 AM ^

Thing is -- I don't see history, rivalry, and tradtion as mutually exclsive with the view of college football as a business.  The problem that I see is that the sport right now is being run by people who don't have an appreciation for how important these assets are to running their business.  I think that dumping old rivalries like Texas and Texas A&M is dumb, shortsighted business.  Athletic programs are harvesting seeds that were planted 100 years ago, but they aren't planting seeds for future generations if you ask me. 

Waters Demos

September 22nd, 2011 at 11:33 AM ^

Good point. Agreed that it's short term thinking, and that smart business would be longer term and preservative of those things that people can attach to generation after generation.  Thus I agree that business and tradition do not necessarily have to be opposed to one another. 

But at the moment, anyway, the TV deals offer up more in the way of commodity value - there's a dollar (or a few million of them) to be made now! 

And that's a national trait IMHE (in keeping with the nationalist rant theme). 

Seattle Maize

September 22nd, 2011 at 12:48 PM ^

Yeah this is spot on.  Long term what generates soo much interest and subsequently revenue are these types of rivalries.  This is also why I think its not as important for the B1G to add small scale teams (Rutgers, etc) in order to add TV markerts because college football is based off of rivalries and tradition and is also much more national.


September 22nd, 2011 at 11:41 AM ^

Maybe Pittsburgh, but I can't think of any others that would fit, in terms of college culture, academics, athletics, etc. I don't think Cincinnati has the right academics and history. In Chicago, there are no schools that have real Div. 1 football. There is something about a residential experience that can't be replicated. Are there any other city schools you can think of which would fit?


September 22nd, 2011 at 11:49 AM ^

NU is the only school in the area with FBS football, until you get out to NIU or head pretty far south. The B1G should probably stay as is, but Pitt and ND would have been a good pair if the conference wanted to expand. The bigger difference with Pitt is moving to Heinz Field, which is off campus, not being in the city, IMO.

As far as city life goes, Northwestern, Pitt, Miami and USC have many more competitors than Nebraska, Alabama or Penn State; if the team isn't good, the stadium isn't selling out.


September 22nd, 2011 at 11:38 AM ^

Things have settled down for the moment, and that is good. As for ND and their new, or maybe not so new love of the ACC, maybe it's time to start thinking they will never come to the B1G.  As for Texas, who started this mess, any thinking that they will ever come and share revenue equally is probably misdirected.

The thought of four superconferences sounded viable until you realize the problems that go with it and that five of the top 25 teams, including Boise State, wouldn't have been in the mix.  That just won't work.

Waters Demos

September 22nd, 2011 at 11:55 AM ^

Wilbon had an interesting take on the issue - noting that if ND joined the B1G, it would have to get used to frequent 6th place finishes because of the quality of the league, whereas it thinks it can win a lot of games in the ACC against lesser but still high profile teams, and thus have . . .greater TV appeal!

"You know why Notre Dame might prefer the ACC, even though it lives amongst like Big Ten institutions? You think Notre Dame would rather face Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin year after year, or Virginia, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse and NC State? Notre Dame would be looking at a whole lot of sixth-place finishes in the Big Ten, not so in the rearranged ACC, which has always been a weak sister as a football league. Translation: Notre Dame football is a whole lot more valuable as a television property playing in a lesser football conference, but one with more high-profile schools, than the little basketball-oriented Catholic-school driven league in the northeast where football is more an afterthought."



September 22nd, 2011 at 11:45 AM ^

I went to Pitt, and while I knew people who commuted, campus life probably matches my experience with B1G schools (although my experience is skewed towards Greek life, so maybe I have no idea).


September 22nd, 2011 at 12:11 PM ^


So far, so good.  But I can't help thinking that this is not over as far as the B1G is concerned, no matter what the other conferences do.
Remember about a year and a half ago when the B1G started this avalanche by announcing that they would be looking at expansion candidates?  One of the key rationales stated for this by Delany was demographics.  The B1G occupies an area of declining population and wants to expand its footprint into areas of growth.
Since then Nebraska was added.  This was an excellent add for the B1G.  It gave the league an iconic program with an ideal cultural and historical fit.  It also opened the door for a B1G champion$hip game.
But it did nothing to address the demographic issue of the B1G stagnating into just a Rust Belt conference.  Has something changed, or is Delany just being patient and playing it close to the vest?  I can't imagine that he has had a sudden change of heart.  The long term perspective has not changed.
If he still sees expansion into areas of demographic growth as the long term future, where does he go?
Notre Dame? - Even though not located in the east, ND has critical mass in the eastern media markets.  But ND looks less and less likely in any scenario.  They will likely find a way to stay independent, especially if they are not surrounded by 16 team superconferences.  I'm personally fine with this.  Independence is part of ND's DNA the way Michigan-Ohio State on the last weekend of the season is part of ours.  As long as 3-loss ND teams are not part of BCS discussions just because they are ND, I'm at peace.  Desirable but not happening.
Texas? - Texas is pathological.  Incurable.  Any conference bringing in Texas has not been paying attention.  Not desirable and not happening.
Oklahoma? - A Nebraska-type home run in a vacuum.  But they are not in a vacuum.  They have dodgy academics, they are chained to Oklahoma State, and they have a perpetual Battered Wife syndrome with Texas.  Could this diamond in the rough be polished?  Could they finally break from Texas, leave OK Junior behind, and get on some kind of academic get-well plan?  Um, no.  Could be desirable but not happening.
ACC "Core Four"? - Maryland, Virginia, UNC, Duke.  Of all the B1G expansion-candidate rumors, I was most excited by this one.  Not so much because of these schools in and of themselves, but because of Delany's demographics.  It makes the B1G a player in the growing talent-rich DC, Tidewater, and North Carolina demographic areas.  This was always a long shot, and is now even more so if the ACC has effectively built itself a proper defensive moat.  Desirable but not happening.
Just Maryland and/or Virginia? - Would it be possible to just pick off a single ACC team or two that is in the B1G backyard and could use the money?  Still a long shot, but not as big a long shot as extracting UNC/Duke from tobacco road.  Virginia has historically had OK-OK State type ties to Va Tech, so they may not be a free agent.  Maryland would be the "easiest" target, but they fancy themselves a BBall school and have built up quite a good rivalry with Duke.  They would not just jump like some of the Big 12 refugees would.  But they do need money.  Desirable though not likely happening (but not totally impossible).
Rutgers? - an OK fallback position if Delany is serious about the demographics thing.  Not because it gets the BTN on basic cable in NYC, it won't.  But because it gets the B1G firmly entrenched in the east along with PSU.  NJ is also a talent-rich area in and of itself.  Slightly desirable and could easily happen.
Other Odd Ball Stuff? - GA Tech, UCONN, BC, etc.  Grasping at straws.  Maybe at best the last-man-in to round out to an even number.  Not Desirable but could happen if we really wanted it to.
None of these options are both easy and good.  The most logical thing to do is for the B1G to stand pat at 12, and I think they will for some time.  But I still can't help thinking that this is not a permanent situation.

Mr Miggle

September 22nd, 2011 at 4:43 PM ^

There was a rumor that the B1G offered Missouri, but without a full share of revenue for the first 8 years. If true, that meant they had someone in mind for the 14th spot. Missouri + ND would obviously be a net gain, but who else would they be paired with? Missouri + Kansas seems like a net loss and Oklahoma seems unlikely.

I think Maryland would jump at the chance to join. Their athletic department is in pretty bad shape and that would allow them to save some sports they're looking to trim. 

Rutgers has some potential. The move will help their recruiting and NJ is not a bad state for HS football talent. Playing marquee opponents on a regular basis should increase fan interest. How much is the question.

If the B1G expands to increase it's footprint, then Maryland and Rutgers is a pretty logical way to go. They add half-decent markets in NJ and MD with the potential to add more, low risk with a fairly high potential gain.

I'd rather stay at 12, but if ND were to join, (or if they think ND will eventually) I'd expect the B1G to try to capitalize on ND's strength in the east with a move like that.



September 22nd, 2011 at 7:52 PM ^

I don't think ND is ever going to happen.  

But I gotta say, I would not be opposed to Rutgers and Maryland and stop at 14.  There is nothing that compelling about those 2 teams in and of themselves, but what they do is expand the B1G footprint into some highly desireable talent-rich growth areas.  They solve Delany's demographics problem.

The real home run for us would be if we somehow could get Oklahoma and one of the above  2 teams, preferrably Maryland.  That would create a balanced, demographically appealing conference that still stays true to its roots. 



September 22nd, 2011 at 12:13 PM ^

Travel is hard enough, but doable. Going further out of our footprint would make that harder.

I hear what you're saying about ND, and agree.

So, if there is expansion, I would want two of ISU, Pittsburgh, or Missouri. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on those three. I will say, I literally cannot think of any teams, beyond those three and ND, that I would be interested iin adding to the Big 10. In terms of athletics, stadium size, academics, demographics, and geographic footprint, those four teams are the only remaining teams that would work. At least with those four, you are staying within reasonable driving/flying distance.


September 22nd, 2011 at 12:35 PM ^

What I think that a lot of people are missing in this whole equation, is that when it comes to conference expansion, we need a balance. Adding ND and Texas would be great in the short term, but in the long term, you start to dilute some of your brand names because of the depth of the conference. With ND and Texas, for example, you run the real risk of a program like Iowa or Penn State turning into an average program that isn't expected to be a powerhouse. I don't think Michigan is in danger of this for the time being, but there comes a point when conference strength actually starts to dilute things.

I would personally like to see the Big East expand to a 12 team conference, the Big 12 get back to 12, and things stay the way they are. I think adding teams without a ND in the mix would be foolish, but if we were to snag ND, I'd like to see UConn and Rutgers get an invite, along with Missouri. It fits the regional footprint, and those are all respectable academic schools as well.


September 22nd, 2011 at 12:41 PM ^

All conference expansion is about four things: money, football, academics, and geography, in approximately that order.

The Big Ten is sitting pretty in all four categories: it makes a ton of money for its members, it plays great football, it is academically excellent, and it’s geographically compact. It is difficult to come up with new members who would improve the conference in at least one or two of these areas, without making it worse in any others.

Because the Big Ten has such a high payout per school, there is a high financial bar for any new member. Kansas, for instance, is almost surely a net negative. The Big Ten won’t get a new network deal for Kansas, and it won’t attract enough new BTN subscribers to exceed a 1/13th share of revenues.

In other words, the Big Ten would lose money if it added Kansas. No conference expands to lose money. And since the Big Ten would probably prefer not to have an odd number of members, Jim Delany needs to find two revenue-positive additions that play good or great football, have good or great academics, and are either in or adjacent to the existing Big Ten footprint. That’s a tall order.

The Big Ten looked at Rutgers and Missouri a year ago. Given that they weren’t invited to join, one must assume that the numbers didn’t work. Either one would be a plausible 14th member if Notre Dame were the 13th.

In the meantime, the Big Ten already has an excellent product. It is in no rush expand. Both of the last two additions, Penn State and Nebraska, were home runs. Until Delany is in a position to hit another home run, he is better off standing pat.