The Great Big 10 Debate: What School Is The Best Fit?

Ryan BuckContributor IFebruary 2, 2010

As time goes on it seems that the question surrounding the Big 10 is not if they will get a new member, but who?

This brings up the next logical debate of who would be the best fit to join the Big 10 conference.

A lot of speculation has been surrounding Big East teams, mainly Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Cincinnati and West Virginia. Other teams included in these debates have been Missouri, Memphis, and even long time independent Notre Dame. The real question for some of these teams is;

What does the Big 10 have to offer?

Let's start with Notre Dame.

Definitely one of the perennial football powerhouses, Notre Dame's long lasting tradition of pride and winning make them an easy fit for the Big 10 conference.

However, as a Independent in football, Notre Dame is able to schedule anyone who desires to play them throughout the season. This allows them to play highly ranked teams and could bolster their own rankings if they win.

Not to mention their contract with NBC sports to televise every game.

In other sports Notre Dame is Big East affiliated including basketball, where it has been obvious the Big East has been the strongest conference top to bottom.

So it seems that Notre Dame would have nothing to gain in joining the Big 10. In fact, it seems their would be more to lose.

Now as for the Big East teams mention.

It would definitely be a plus to play in a stronger football conference such as the Big 10, but having said that the Big East teams really have the easiest path to a BCS game.

The Big East is usually a toss up at the beginning of the season, and throughout, on who may possibly win that BCS berth. On the other hand, the Big Ten is the usual suspects.

Sure, adding a team like Pittsburgh or West Virginia could add both old and new rivalries such as the classic Pitt vs Penn State, or possibly a new series in WVU vs Michigan fueled by Rich Rodriguez.

But in adding either one of those teams there will be a great chance in losing one of the best rivalries, WVU vs Pitt, the Backyard Brawl. That is unless they sign a deal to play each other every season.

As stated before, there really is no motive for a Big East school to move to the Big 10 for basketball reasons. The only positive thing I can think of is they have the ability to run the table during the regular season in conference play.

But even that may not be the case.

Moving to the Big 10 would without a doubt cause some big name basketball recruits to rethink where they would want to play.

The one Big East fit I do see as a possible fit is Rutgers.

Rutgers lately has been mediocre in both Football and Basketball. Moving to the Big 10 might bolster both of those programs. It would surely add recruiting strength in Football, and Basketball would gain some ground just based on the lack of talent in the other Big 10 programs.

We must also consider academic fits, because we all know it is not just about sports.

Rutgers has always had a rich tradition in medical and science fields, which would be a great fit for the Big 10's high academic standards.

This also reaches out to the far East Coach for the Big 10, allowing them to expand their horizons.

The one big problem I have yet to mentioned about a Big East team moving is the new rules and penalties they instated ever since schools such as Miami and Virginia Tech left the conference.

Not only is it a expensive penalty to leave the conference, I would imagine the Big East would do all it can do to prevent a school from leaving simply cause that would only leave seven football programs within the conference.

As for other teams, such as Missouri.

Mizzou would seem like a great fit. Geographically it makes sense too. 

However in recent years, Mizzou football was already competing for a conference title anyways in what some may argue a stronger football conference within the Big 12. They may do better in the Big 10, they may not.

As for Basketball, one could also easily argue the Big 12 is better than the Big 10 top to bottom also.

Memphis has had some great basketball teams, but has been less than stellar in football. However, they do have a fairly large stadium in the Liberty Bowl, fitting about some 62,000 people.

So I have been pretty negative on teams moving to the Big 10. You can find pros and cons for probably any team to move conferences into the Big 10.

For most of the aforementioned schools, I just feel that the cons outweigh the pros to switch conferences. As for the the schools that did seem to fit, it may be a good thing for them, but not necessarily for the conference on a whole.

Maybe instead of looking east for new schools, the Big 10 should be looking west. Perhaps a school such as BYU or Boise State would make a good match.