Big Ten officials made ripples throughout the college football world with their announcement regarding possible expansion. Considering the fact that they've looked into expanding before, I'll step out on a limb and say its really going to happen this time.
Many have speculated about the whos, whats, whens, wheres, hows, and whys, and so I thought I may as well join the party.
So, how is this going to happen?
Well, first the Big Ten is going to flirt a lot with Syracuse, Pitt, Rutgers, Mizzou, and Nebraska. This is just to make Notre Dame jealous.
ND is the only girl the Big Ten wants, and people, don't believe that ND wants to remain independent. They are just playing hard to get.
But, what if the Big Ten wanted to really shake up everything? What if the Big Ten changed the way people thought about college football. Well, in that case I propose the Big 16. With the additions as Nebraska, Mizzou, Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Rutgers the Big Ten becomes a 16 team super conference with four divisions:
Corn Division: Nebraska, Mizzou, Illinois, and Iowa
Snow Division: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Michigan State
Status Quo Division: Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue, and Indiana
Tradition Division: Penn State, Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Rutgers
Imagine this alignment where the division winners play each other in a semi-final match-up the weekend of Thanksgiving, and then a conference championship game the following weekend. To win your division, your division record is the first consideration.
So the last weekend of the regular season, you can have Iowa meet Nebraska, Wisconsin playing MSU, Michigan playing OSU, and ND playing PSU. This creates a quarterfinal weekend most years.
Ratings would be through the roof with so much riding on these keys games. The semi-final games would be even bigger. This setup would create a brand of football that the entire country would be interested in.
This de facto playoff model would also take care of some of the "problems" of Big Ten expansion. The OSU-Mighigan game would keep some of its luster despite Michigan's troubles, and these two teams would be guaranteed to only meet once a year.
The alignment will probably also make so much more money with Big Ten Network revenues and renegotiated ESPN and bowl deals that each team of the 16 would probably bring in more money than each team of the current 11.
You would add the national appeal of ND, the Nebraska local and national market, the Mizzou local/St. Louis market, and the New York state and NYC market.
You would have to think this is a no-brainer for all involved.
To address scheduling, well, each team would play their division teams (three games), one team from each of the other divisions that rotates(three games), and two constant rivalry games that never come off the schedule.
Now, what about the name? Well, it will stay the Big Ten regardless of the number of teams. The Big Ten is a brand. It's not a description of the schools involved.
So what do the Big East and Big 12 do after their teams have been taken? Well, the Big East probably adds two of East Carolina, Temple, or Ohio. The Big 12 probably takes two of TCU, Utah, and Boise St.
I think all involved would be OK with that except the Mountain West and WAC. They will both go back to being meaningless conferences in the national picture.
Lastly, what about Pitt? Well, forget Pitt!