Forget Expansion, Maybe the Big Ten Should Drop a Team

B.Senior Analyst IDecember 16, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 29:  The Minnesota Golden Gophers mascot Goldy entertains the fans during a break in the 76 Classic game between Texas A&M and Minnesota at Anaheim Convention Center on November 29, 2009 in Anaheim, California. Texas A&M defeated Minnesota 66-65.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Apparently, the "timing is right" for the Big Ten conference to research the idea of adding a 12th team.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, the Big Ten explained that the league is ready to explore its options for adding another team. This, of course, sent the sports blog-o-sphere into a Twittering craze.

The timing of the announcement was perfectly planned. In the calm before the bowl storm frenzy, Big Ten officials broadcast the idea of expansion and got everyone's attention.

Well played, Big Ten.  Well played.

Most Big Ten fans favor the idea of expansion in the hopes that it brings a conference championship game with it, similar to what is found in the SEC and Big 12. A post-Thanksgiving championship game to determine what school goes to the Rose Bowl has epic potential written all over it.

The idea of adding a Notre Dame or Pittsburgh or TCU is also intriguing to fans, as it adds another potential powerhouse into the mix That, in turn, makes the conference look stronger nationally.

But is expansion really the answer? 

Let's face it, there are a couple of teams in the Big Ten not holding up their end of the bargain in the grand scheme of the conference.

Northwestern hasn't won a national title in anything other than women's lacrosse, not to mention that attendance at Wildcat football games borders on pathetic. Do we really need to keep Northwestern in the mix of things?

And no one really wants to travel up to Canada for a football game in November, so why not tell Minnesota to take a hike? Few in the Big Ten would miss that bucktoothed gopher.

Maybe the Big Ten could even structure a competition, whereby the all-around loser gets kicked out of the conference. It would be the college athletics version of Survivor , with the loser packing its bags and heading to the Big East or Mountain West.

Or maybe the Big Ten could stay at 11 schools and just offer a straight-up trade of Minnesota to the WAC for Boise State. Or trade Northwestern for TCU.

Don't get me wrong, I am actually in favor of a Big Ten expansion. Breaking the schools up into divisions would be very interesting for both basketball and football, and bringing in another school would provide opportunities for other sports, too. It's just that I am also in favor of trimming the conference fat, if needed.

Sometimes less is more, right?