I’m getting a little tired of all the talk of expansion in the Big Ten.
It comes up every football season, and it’s always the same story. Some coaches, like Penn State’s Joe Paterno, are in favor of it because they want the conference to be split into two divisions and have a championship game; other coaches don’t seem so thrilled about it.
The most recent talk has been that Texas and the Big Ten have spoken about the possible addition of the Big 12 powerhouse. All the rumors aren’t surprising, but I really hope they’re not true, because Texas doesn’t belong in the Big Ten.
The major football conferences should remain as they are: leagues based on geographic regions instead of teams going wherever they please. The Pac-10 is a west coast conference; the SEC is a southern conference, etc. The Big 12, which Texas is already in, is comprised of teams from the plains region and the south. Putting Texas in the midwestern-based Big Ten makes no sense.
Sure, Texas is a national powerhouse in college football and might add a lot of hype to the Big Ten, but it simply isn’t close enough.
Another problem is the pre-existing rivalries that Texas already has with other Big 12 teams. Can you imagine a Texas season without the Red River Shootout? It’d be the same as stopping the Michigan-Ohio State game. It simply isn’t done.
How would Texas be able to schedule three non-conference games with Big 12 rivals? Sure, you could probably start some rivalries with Big Ten opponents, but a Texas-Minnesota rivalry doesn’t have the feeling of a Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech battle for in-state bragging rights.
If the Big Ten is serious about expanding, it should consider schools that are much closer. There’s been talk in the past of other Big 12 schools like Missouri and Nebraska joining the Big Ten, but nothing has happened in the conference since Penn State joined in 1990.
Here are some other schools they could consider.
The Big Ten already claims Iowa among its 11 members, so this seems like a great choice. The Cyclones already have a rivalry with Iowa and the travel probably wouldn’t be that difficult.
I’m not saying anything new with this one. Notre Dame is one of the few remaining independents in college football and refuses to join a conference, even though their basketball and hockey teams are part of the Big East and CCHA, respectively. Perhaps one day the Fighting Irish will come around and become the Big Ten’s 12th team, but for now it looks like they’ll be staying put.
The Bearcats are already in Ohio and you could probably create an Ohio State-Cincinnati rivalry pretty easily. The Bearcats would definitely bring up the level of completion in the conference too.
Missouri or Nebraska:
I still think Iowa State makes more sense, but these make a little bit more geographic sense than Texas. Plus, the Big 12 could replace either one of them with a school like TCU to even things out. Obviously both of these teams also have deep-seeded rivalries with other Big 12 teams, but if the Big Ten is going to steal a team, they should at least pick one that’s closer than Texas.
Someone from the MAC:
With the exception of Buffalo, all of these schools are in states where there are Big Ten schools, and the two conferences are used to playing each other frequently anyway. Perhaps Central Michigan would be a good choice given its recent success.