The age-old question: who will join the Big Ten? There have been several reports that the Big Ten will add a 12th team in the near future.
Now, the question remains who will it be? With the Bowl Championship Series and most of the other conferences having championship games, the Big Ten has to change something to keep up.
There are several possibilities being thrown around for who will be the 12th team. The other question asked: what will the Big Ten be called?
Here are some possibilities for the 12th team and why the team will and will not work.
An obvious choice, Notre Dame already plays several Big Ten teams regularly, including Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue. Notre Dame also fits geographically, as it is in South Bend, Indiana.
This would be an easy add. Notre Dame would have to bend and join a conference, losing their special independence treatment in the BCS. This could be a problem for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame would fit really well in the Big Ten, except when dividing the Big Ten comes in to play. Notre Dame has to stay with Indiana and Purdue because they are natural rivals. This creates one extremely tough division and one relatively easy division.
One division would have Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
The other division would have Notre Dame, Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois, and Iowa.
Pittsburgh and Penn State have a good rivalry. This would be another good choice, but it would interfere with the Big East. This would also add an extra dimension to the basketball competition.
Penn State would no longer be the lone Pennsylvania team, far away from several other teams.
The only problem with taking on Pittsburgh is that Michigan and Penn State or Michigan and Ohio State would no longer play on a consistent basis. The geography between divisions within the Big Ten would be a little awkward in order to accomodate this.
Realistically, one division would be Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, and Indiana.
The other division would have Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois, and Iowa.
Rutgers is another Big East team that has been thrown around in conversations. I do not believe they would add another state to the Big Ten, as it already stretches across eight states.
If Rutgers was added to the mix, they would probably split the conference East and West, leaving one heavy division and one weaker division.
The West Division would feature Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Purdue.
The East Division would have Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, and Rutgers.
Iowa and Iowa State play every year, so Iowa State would naturally fit in with the Big Ten. The Big 12 may not let Iowa State leave, however, and this could create a problem for the Big 12.
If Iowa State joined the mix, they would again split the conference East and West. Iowa and Iowa State would naturally stay together.
Again, Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State would have to stay together. They would also have Michigan State, Indiana, and Purdue in this mix.
The West Division would have Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State, Illinois, and Northwestern.
This makes the most sense geographically of all the suggestions, as all the rivalries can stay together.
There are many more possibilities. I have heard suggestions of Missouri, Louisville, and several Mid-American Conference teams, such as Miami (OH).
Bottom line, the Big Ten needs to add a 12th team in order to keep up with the other conferences. Having an outright champion with a Conference Championship game would take some pressure off the critics of the Big Ten.
There are many possibilities, but we will soon find out who the final team is.