(Photo by: Jeff Gross/Getty
There are so many reasons why this is the perfect time for the Big Ten to find a 12th team to add to its ranks:
1) The Big Ten ends its season far ahead of every other conference in the country, causing long periods of down time before bowl games, especially BCS bowls.
2) A conference title game gives a more legitimate feel to crowning a champion. Penn State (assuming they would take care of business in a championship game) would not have the stain of sharing a Conference title with a team they defeated (Ohio State) that has a worse record.
3) Adding another team gives the Big Ten an opportunity to increase its number of championship caliber programs (not to mention its revenue streams). Programs in the SEC such as Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana State seem to thrive off of their immensely difficult schedules.
4) A Nationally televised Championship game would create more Big Ten awareness. Most of the country hasn't seen a whole lot of Big Ten football other than the BCS embarrassments of late.
This leaves the Big Ten with one conundrum: Who do they invite?
There is one glaringly obvious answer and then there are a lot more acceptable ones.
Notre Dame is the program that should stand head and shoulders above the others. Residing in the heart of Big Ten Country, the Fighting Irish are the perfect fit for many reasons.
They are already rivals with two Big Ten programs in Michigan and Purdue. These games would gain a new level of intensity if played within a conference schedule.
Notre Dame also has something else important: a national TV contract with NBC Sports. Should the Big Ten be able to negotiate ND into sharing this with the league (not at all a sure thing) then the Big Ten would join the SEC as the second Conference with a Major broadcast TV deal.
Also having the two winningist programs in the NCAA wouldn't be bad thing to have.
Other suitors could include the likes of Rutgers, who would bring with them a large portion of the New Jersey/ New York Media. If they can expand and sell out their smaller stadium they could be a good fit.
West Virginia or Cincinnati would also be quality adds if the Big Ten could find enough incentives to lure them away from the Big East.
Another sleeper could be the Missouri Tigers, who have been noted as being unsatisfied with their spot in the Big 12. Keep your eyes open on this one.