Who Should Join the Big Ten in Football?

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Who Should Join the Big Ten in Football?
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

A few weeks ago, Sports Illustrated interviewed Ohio State Football Coach Jim Tressel.  They asked the age-old question, "Who should join the Big Ten?"

So...what is the answer? 

The obvious answer is Notre Dame.  They already play several Big Ten teams, including Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue.  Notre Dame hockey is in the CCHA with fellow Big Ten teams Michigan and Michigan State.

The Big Ten currently plays eight conference games and four non-conference.  If the Big Ten adds a 12th team, each team will play all teams in their division and three cross-over teams.

How would the teams be split?  This is where the problems lie.

If Notre Dame joins the conference, the 12 teams could be split into North and South Divisions.

The North Division would have Michigan, Ohio State, Northwestern, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.  The South Division would have Notre Dame, Iowa, Indiana, Purdue, Penn State, and Illinois.

The problem with this is that Notre Dame would fore go its series with Michigan and Michigan State.  They would play every other year instead of every year.  The other problem is that Michigan and Penn State would only play every other year.

You cannot put Notre Dame in the North Division—that would make one division very competitive and one division relatively weak.

The other option?  Let the Pittsburgh Panthers join the Big Ten.  They already have a rivalry with Penn State. 

The North Division would include Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Northwestern, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  The South Division would have Pittsburgh, Iowa, Penn State, Indiana, Illinois, and Purdue.

This would equalize the divisions and still allow Notre Dame to be included on Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue's yearly schedules if they choose so.

Either way, the Big Ten probably will not add a 12th team.  They like their current schedule and it allows for a lot of flexibility in each team's schedule.

The final option would allow for each conference team to play each other.  Each team would only have two out-of-conference games. 

The problem with this is that Notre Dame will most likely be dropped from all the schedules.  This will allow for an outright champion.

The Big Ten Conference is comfortable with tradition—nothing will be changed in the near future.  Here are some options for when they decide to join the BCS and make a conference championship game.

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