In 1990, Penn State shunned its independence and entered into conference marriage. Many would argue whether that's been beneficial, but I don't hear either party grumbling about it.
The Big Ten brought legitimacy to the Nittany Lions, and in turn Penn State added another powerhouse to the conference.
Now the Big Ten is feeling its legitimacy slip, as the other power conferences either play championship games, or schedule potential de facto championships late in the season.
As most conferences are powering towards the culmination of their respective seasons, the Big Ten quietly names a champion, or two , or three, and then slides into anonymity. Which brings me to my next point.
How can you really crown a conference champion, when you could realistically have two teams finish unbeaten in the conference. Then you have the nice situation of sending one to the Rose Bowl, and telling the other, oh well, thanks for playing.
Hey, I'm not piling on the oldest FBS/Div 1 conference in college football. The Big Ten network was a huge step in the right direction, a credit is due the conference brass for having the guts to step out and do it.
As a southern man who loves some Big Ten football, I now have seemingly the entire conference on display, every Saturday morning.
What I am saying is, if you add a 12th team, break into two divisions, and play a conference championship game, you gain instant credibility in the college football world.
Gone are the days of questionable scheduling, and being thrown out with the thanksgiving turkey, you're now right in the middle of the first weekend in December mayhem. And to top it off, you've got your own network to air it on! Who else can say that?
Who wouldn't like to see their favorite team parading around with some cool trophy, taking a confetti shower?
And for those who say it's all about the money, well it is. You know what else? It's about respect, and that's something the Big Ten doesn't have a ton of right now.
People are also balking at the notion of adding another team, because that would lessen the chances of two teams getting BCS bids. Ask the Big 12 and the SEC if they've had any trouble getting a second team in.
The third thing a lot of detractors are moaning about is who fits the high academic standards. I'm not going to offer an opionion on who should be selected as the 12th team, but I don't believe Missouri, Pitt, or Rutgers are handing out degrees in basket weaving. The Big Ten made the right choice with Penn State, so I think we can trust them with the next one as well.
Bottom line is that the Big Ten has an opportunity to go from afterthought, to the premier conference in college football. The Rose Bowl, their own network, and a conference championship game. Enough said.
I'll even go as far to say keep the name. Just hide a 12 in there somewhere.