Big Ten + 2?

The conference is apparently actively pondering an expansion to a 12th team which would allow for a championship game in football:

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/2009-12-15-big-ten-expansion_N.htm?csp=DailyBriefing

I have always considered expansion to be a matter of time. The question is will it be Notre Dame? Will expansion be delayed waiting patiently for Notre Dame? Will they eventually give up and pick someone other than Notre Dame? I think momentum might be moving in the not Notre Dame direction. To my mind there are several possibilities.

Pittsburgh would be a perfect fit. Its a strong academic school, it re-balances the rivalries by giving Penn St an end of season game, and it has good facilities. Its an original member of the Big East but I’m not sure its basketball team is as strongly associated with that league as, say, Syracuse or Connecticut is. If they joined you could form an East division of the two PA schools, Ohio St, the two Michigan schools, and most likely Indiana. Of course them leaving would leave the Big East as a football conference in a precarious position and not really many good options for adding a new member without having a dropoff in quality. But I doubt the Big Ten is so concerned about that.

Missouri would be another possibility. Their traditional rivalry with Illinois could become a conference game (though with Kansas would become non-conference) and it expands the Big Ten into a new state with two sizeable media markets. They could form a West division with Illinois, Northwestern, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Another name I am hearing is Nebraska. This makes slightly less sense geographically but would add a team with plenty of football tradition. If the Big Ten did poach a Big XII school, I would look for that conference to invite TCU to fill the gap, though the divisions would be less tidy, or Colorado St which would be a more tidy replacement in the North division.

A school that I have not really heard rumored but that I think would make sense is Kentucky. Lexington is not far at all from Columbus, it expands the Big Ten further into the south, and the Wildcats are a bit on the fringe of the SEC. They have generally of late been respectable in football and would add serious cachet to the conference in basketball, while also being a potentially better fit for them in sports like baseball, softball, and soccer (to my knowledge the SEC doesn’t even compete soccer and Kentucky is still a member of the MAC for that, or at least they were until recently). They could form an East division with Ohio St, Penn St, the Michigan schools, and Indiana.

At any rate, I would stay tuned on this one.

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2 Responses to “Big Ten + 2?”

  1. Douglas Says:

    I actually like Pitt for the 12th team, but there is no way in hell OSU, PSU, and Mich are all going to end up in the same division. My guess would be that you see some type of ACC type split. When ND was rumored to join the Big 10 in the 90s the division split was rumored to be OSU and Mich in one division with PSU and ND in the other with the other teams divided in some way.

    Also Kentucky is now in C-USA for men’s soccer, along with South Carolina who is the only other SEC school with men’s soccer. I also don’t see the Cats leaving the SEC. Too much history there and I don’t see a huge benifit for either side.

  2. Tony77019 Says:

    I hope the Big Ten looks westward and leaves the Big East alone. The Big East conference must do more to promote and enhance its football schools, including expanding, but the joy of East coast basketball at its finest can never be replicated in the stodgy Big Ten. But Big Ten money talks – that’s why these next 18 months will be interesting but unnerving.

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