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Big Ten Expansion: Give Me One! Commish Says No

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Big Ten Expansion: Give Me One! Commish Says No
(Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)

The Big XII, ACC, SEC and MAC all have championship games to showcase their conferences and Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has been an advocate for expanding the Big Ten Conference to gain the same kind of exposure.

"We go into hiding for six weeks," Paterno said, referring to the gap between the end of the Big Ten regular season and the BCS bowls.

Paterno, 82, would like a 12th team to be added to the Big Ten, and he mentioned Syracuse, Rutgers or Pitt on Thursday as possible suitors.

"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 such as Syracuse, Rutgers or Pitt, and we could have a little bit of a playoff ourselves.'"

Having a Big Ten Champioinship game would be great for the conference, and it would boost the image and "media prestige" of the league.

Lets be honest here, anybody with a brain knows the missing link the Big Ten wants...and that link is located in South Bend, Indiana.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany weighed in on Coach Paterno's comments.

"It's not the reason you would expand," Delany told ESPN.com.

He also said that Paterno isn't the only Big Ten coach to have inquired about expanding the 11 team league.

"The issue has come up with our football coaches a couple times with the extra week, and if we did expand, would we be more competitive?" Delany said. "I would say in some years they might be right, but has it enhanced the competitiveness of the ACC in football? Has it enhanced the competitiveness of the WAC? I don't know."

"Just because you have a championship game, it doesn't make you more competitive. It's about coaching the players. The SEC game has been a marketing bonanza, I wouldn't discount that, but others have struggled with it," Delany continued.

Coach Paterno is right about adding exposure to the league, but what would the impact be if you added a 12th team?

A lot of Big Ten traditionalists love the kind of round robin schedule the Big Ten has. The season ends with Ohio State and Michigan, and is the tradition of the league with it's biggest rivalry.

In my eyes Pitt, Rutgers and Syracuse are great schools, with great academics and superior athletics, but they are not Notre Dame.

Out of the three Big East schools mentioned, Pitt geographically, and historically, would make sense; Pitt has a real deep football history and would bridge the Ohio State and Penn State gap.

Lets face facts though, the Big Ten is holding out for Notre Dame and the Big Ten is paying the price for what it did to Notre Dame nearly a century ago.

Back in the 1920's, Notre Dame head coach Knute Rockne wanted ND to be part of Big Ten. He enjoyed the rivalries with Michigan, Iowa (Iowa was home to Howard Jones, the same Howard Jones that would go on to a little school called USC), Chicago (Amos Alonzo Stagg's school) and so forth.

A majority of institutions were envious of Notre Dame's exposure and fame, and ultimately shut them out.

Over the years it came up time and again, and eventually Notre Dame was content being an Independent, and the Big Ten was happy with it's 10 teams.

What boiled the interest over was the great expansions of the late 1980's and early 1990's when the college football's landscape changed forever.

The Big East created it's football conference, and shut out Penn State.

Florida State went to the ACC, the old Southwest Conference died and the Big XII took the Texas schools, while Arkansas went to the SEC.

Penn State was an orphan with no TV contract, and when the Big Ten came calling to add PSU to their league, this was a huge factor in them joining a conference.

The Big Ten tried to sway Notre Dame, whom at the time was coached by Lou Holtz and off it's 1988 national championship, but that was a no-go.

Ever since the SEC Championship Game exploded into an extravaganza, and the Big XII was a hit, everyone has tried to be a copycat.

Jim Delaney knows the money in a championship game, the exposure and the marketing. Delaney is also smart enough to know that just adding an Eastern school like Pitt, Rutgers or Syracuse is not going to cut it.

You may just get the New York market, but that is it.

Delaney and the Big Ten want Notre Dame.

They are smart enough to know that Notre Dame is the only logical choice, but the only problem is that Notre Dame doesn't want them.

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