In the beginning of the summer, Joe Paterno said at a press conference that he wanted another team to join the Big Ten—really the Big Eleven. This way, the Big Ten would have 12 teams and could split into two divisions and have a conference championship game at the end of the regular season.
Paterno told reporters, "I've tried to talk to the Big Ten people about, 'Let's get a 12th team -- Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt -- we could have a little bit of a playoff.'"
Then, a few weeks ago I read an article on Bleacher Report about how Rutgers is a perfect fit for the Big Ten. It made a lot of sense why they should join, and the Scarlet Knights could be a good fit in the Big Ten.
Moving to the Big Ten might provide Rutgers more opportunities to play in a better bowls, make a lot more money, and grow as a program, but Rutgers is already growing quite well.
You know what Mr. Paterno?
Instead of Rutgers leaving the Big East and having to charter a flight to every school besides Ohio State and Penn State, why not have Penn State join the Big East?
After all, Penn State technically is on the East coast. If teams like Pittsburgh and West Virginia, who are farther to the west, are in the Big East, why not Penn State?
If Penn State joined the Big East, the Big Ten's name could actually be the same as the number of teams that they have.
And let's not stop at just adding one team, why not steal JoePa's idea and expand the Big East to twelve teams?
With twelve teams, the Big East could split into two divisions and have a conference championship game.
There are many teams who can fill the other three remaining spots in the Big East.
The first one is Notre Dame.
As a perennial powerhouse in football with a rich tradition, Notre Dame makes the most sense. It already is in the Big East for every sport besides for football; why not football too?
Notre Dame is already partially affiliated with the Big East in football. They share the Big East's bowl agreements but get their own, special conditions for it.
The Sun Bowl and Gator Bowl's agreements are as follows:
"The BIG EAST and Big 12 Conferences — along with Notre Dame — forged a bowl partnership beginning in 2006. This agreement assures both BCS Conferences’ and Notre Dame’s participation in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl and Brut Sun Bowl over a four-year period. The Konica Minolta Gator Bowl or Brut Sun Bowl will pick a BIG EAST team after the league’s representative to the Bowl Championship Series has been determined. The Atlantic Coast Conference will provide the opposition in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl and the Pac-10 Conference will participate in the Brut Sun Bowl.
The Gator Bowl has the first selection at the conclusion of each season. During the four years of the deal, the BIG EAST (or Notre Dame) will send a team to both the Gator Bowl and the Sun Bowl twice."
If Notre Dame is not selected to participate in the Bowl Championship Series, then they would replace a Big East selection by either bowl game if bowl eligible."
To be eligible for the Gator/Sun Bowl, Notre Dame just has to win at least eight games, something that isn't so hard for it to do. If this happens, the Big East loses the Gator/Sun Bowl, and as usual, gets screwed.
With this plan, Notre Dame won't have any unfair bowl advantages, but still keeps their same bowl ties and if anything has a better chance of making it to a BCS Bowl.
Irish fans will say joining the Big East will force Notre Dame to play a Big East conference schedule; they wouldn't be able to play teams like USC and Michigan.
Actually, the Irish still could play those teams as their non-conference foes.
They already play a Big East team every year, and will have to play eight Big East teams every season.
They're still welcome to schedule four games against USC, Michigan, Navy, Army, or whatever four they want to, without ruining any traditions.
Notre Dame also has many fans on the East coast who rarely get to go to Notre Dame games and have to watch them on TV.
If Notre Dame joins the Big East, they will be playing near many cities where Notre Dame has lots of fans. This would lead to an increase in ticket sales for all the Big East teams, plus for Notre Dame when it sells its away game tickets.
The 11th team to join could be East Carolina.
East Carolina is a perennial Conference USA contender and has proved it can go blow for blow against major-conference teams.
Last year, ECU had wins against West Virginia and Virginia Tech. This year many predict them to win C-USA, be a Top 25 team, and some analysts even predicted them to go undefeated and make a BCS bowl.
East Carolina has 27,391 students, so school size is not an issue.
East Carolina also fits in the Big East because East Carolina is actually is in the East.
If the Big East can't get ECU, it could try to get the University at Buffalo to join.
Just last year, Buffalo won it's first ever MAC Championship, beating then-undefeated Ball State University. Buffalo is a program on the rise. They might not have a winning season in their first two-three seasons in the Big East, but Buffalo could be a contender in the near future.
Buffalo has 28,192 students, so school size-wise they are big enough too.
The 12th team in the Big East could be Villanova University.
Villanova is an FCS powerhouse and plays in the Colonial Athletic Association, the toughest conference in the FCS. The conference produced last year's FCS National Champion, the Richmond Spiders.
It also has teams like Delaware and James Madison, who are both preseason Top 25 teams. Last year, Villanova finished ranked sixth in the final FCS poll. This year, Villanova goes into the season ranked fifth and predicted to share the CAA title with Richmond.
Villanova is also already a member of the Big East in other sports. By having Villanova, one of the top teams in the FCS, make the jump to the FBS, the Big East would only have to add two new teams (ECU and Buffalo) to its basketball conference making the number of teams 18.
Villanova University is in Philadelphia, which currently has no major college football team. Villanova can be the school that brings college football to Philly. Villanova can play in the Eagles football stadium to make more money from ticket sales, and although it is not likely that they could fill all the seats, they can probably sell 20-25,000 seats a game.
Here's what the conference would look like:
Big East North:
West Virginia, Pitt, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Syracuse, UCONN
Big East South:
Penn State, Rutgers, USF, Villanova, East Carolina, and Louisville
The divisions will pretty much be equally balanced.
This newer, bigger conference would finally give Big East teams the respect that they deserve, should lead to better bowl ties, better recruiting, and of course, now the BCS' most important factor: more money.
For now, this will not happen, but remember, we're talking about college football.
And anything can happen in college football.