Big Ten Expansion: Right Idea, Wrong Teams
The Big Ten Conference has been looking into expansion since the college football season ended.
Joe Paterno, the long time Penn State head coach, has been an outspoken supporter of expansion since the conference lost three straight BCS National Championship Games.
It looks like Big Ten conference commissioner Jim Delany has finally heard him.
Recent reports state that Delany is open to adding at least one more team so that the conference can hold a championship game at the end of the season and benefit from the money that comes with it.
The introduction of such a championship game would also allow Big Ten teams to play later into the season, reducing the conference's long layoff from the end of the regular season to bowl games, which has been pointed to as a possible cause of the Big Ten's Bowl Season struggles.
The Big Ten has reportedly approached four teams about joining the conference.
They are: Missouri and Nebraska out of the Big 12, Rutgers out of the Big East, and Notre Dame, which is an independent.
The Tigers and Scarlet Knights have had recent football success.
The Cornhuskers look to have turned things around the last two years and could be back on track to dominating like they did in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Then there is the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. While the Irish have struggled on the field in the past few seasons, the school's brand has remained as lucrative as ever, making it an attractive addition to any conference.
These four teams would be a great addition to the Big Ten.
Rutgers expands the Big Ten into the New York area and gives the conference a chance to build a fan base in the North East.
Missouri and Nebraska would give the conference in-roads into the deep talent pool of Texas, plus the Tigers already have a built in rivalry with Illinois.
Notre Dame already plays several Big Ten schools every year in football. While they play Basketball in the Big East, the Irish are nearly a Big Ten football school in all but in name.
I have no problem with the Big Ten wanting to expand and I hope the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Big East all expand to create a conference title game.
I do not like the way the Big Ten is expanding.
First of all, we all saw what happened to the Big East after it was raided by the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The ACC raided Miami, Boston College and, Virginia Tech out of the Big East and the conference has not been the same since nationally.
Secondly, why would these four teams want to jump to the Big Ten?
Missouri and Nebraska both play in the very weak Big-12 North.
The Big-12 North is an easy division to win in any given year to get to the Big-12 Championship Game.
The Tigers and the Cornhuskers can win this division and play for conference title and hope the team from the South division has an off game.
Last year is a perfect example, Nebraska was not as good as Texas offensively but a favorable clock operator saved the Longhorns. The Cornhuskers were only seconds away from upsetting Texas.
Why leave a division where a path to the conference championship game is so favorable to an unknown and possibly harder path. Both Big-12 teams would be crazy to leave a nice situation for an unknown one or a harder path to a conference championship game.
A down year by Texas and Oklahoma would make the Big-12 wide open. Missouri and Nebraska could take advantage of a situation like that.
One more thing for Missouri to think about is if they leave the Big-12, the conference would snap up Texas Christian out of the Mountain West Conference.
TCU has been a better team the last couple of years and would only get better being in a BCS conference.
If you look at Rutgers in the Big East again you have to ask the question of why leave a favorable situation for one that would be unknown at best and could be worse.
The Big East is the one conference that has the easiest path to a BCS game.
The Scarlet Knights have been very close to representing the Big East in the BCS and could very well accomplish the feat.
Rutgers would be crazy to leave the comforts of an easy Big East for a much harder conference.
Missouri, Nebraska and, Rutgers would be leaving winnable divisions or conferences for an unknown situation or a worst situation.
The Tigers and Scarlet Knights have not been very good football teams for very long and a move could stunt the growth they have made.
Nebraska once one of the most dominating teams in the country might be headed in the right direction to return to that dominance. Jumping to the Big Ten could also set them back as well.
That leaves Notre Dame.
There is no way the Irish are going to give up their huge television contract with NBC that they do not have to share with anyone.
Also the path to the BCS for the Irish is easier as an independent than if they joined any conference not just the Big Ten. Notre Dame is also a member of the Big East in other sports besides football.
The Big Ten would have to come up with some sort of deal that allows the Irish to still collect a huge pay day. Plus find a way to get this school out of the Big East without taking a media hit.
So, what teams should the Big Ten send an invitation to without raiding another BCS conference but still expand the conference to 12 to 16 teams? If the Big Ten expands what teams should the Pac-10 and Big East add?
Should the Big-12 and SEC add teams if every other conference expands and if so, where are those teams going to come from? A conference by conference breakdown follows below with teams that each conference could add.
(Note: I personally believe that teams from BCS conferences should add teams from non-BCS conferences. They could gain the most in terms of money, better players and exposure.)
Big Ten Expansion
I have no problem if the Big Ten wants so steal teams from other BCS conferences, but I am not super excited about the idea.
Personally, I would like to see the Big Ten extend innovations to Mid-America Conference. Teams from the MAC would fit as far as geographically. All the schools are in the same region as the Big Ten.
As far as academics go, I am sure there has to be some schools in the MAC that would fit the mold the Big Ten wants in the area of education. Four to six of the 12 schools in the MAC should fit academically.
As far as being competitive right away the MAC has struggled against the Big Ten.
Since 2005, Missouri has only played Illinois and has beaten them every time. Rutgers has played Illinois twice over the same time and is 1-1 in their only two games against the Big Ten.
Nebraska has not faced a Big Ten team in the regular season but did defeat Michigan in a bowl game. Notre Dame is a .500 team against the Big Ten since 2005 going 9-9 and all the losses are not good ones.
So, the argument that MAC teams would not be very competitive is laughable since there is no way of telling how good Rutgers, Missouri or Nebraska, would be having only beaten Illinois and a bowl win over Michigan.
The Irish have struggled to compete against Big Ten teams and have had some head scratching losses.
Yes the Tigers, Cornhuskers, Scarlet Knights and, Irish recruiting will be helped by joining the Big Ten.
MAC teams joining the Big Ten would get the same boost in terms of recruiting better players and they would get more money to upgrade facilities with national exposure as well.
Four MAC teams that the Big Ten could add are Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois and, Bowling Green. They could also add Miami (OH,) Ohio or Toledo.
Since 2005, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois and, Bowling Green have been the most consistent MAC teams.
They would have the best chance to find success in the Big Ten.
Big East Conference Expansion
The Big East could send bids to teams in the MAC and Conference USA to expand.
There are several teams in both conferences that would fit geographically with the Big East.
Out of the MAC the Big East could ask Temple to rejoin after they tossed the Owls out and the Buffalo Bulls. From C-USA the Big East could invite Marshall; the Thundering Herd is another in West Virginia.
Also the conference could add East Carolina and help the Pirates keep up their rivalry with West Virginia.
The Big East could also add a second team from Florida, this time the Knights from Central Florida.
There have been rumors the Big East would like to add Southern Mississippi and Tulane.
The Golden Eagles and the Green Wave would allow the conference to get an even strong foot hold in the rich recruiting talent of the South.
If needed the Big East could also try to add UAB and Memphis for the same reasons.
The Tigers and the Blazers would give the conference a team in Tennessee and Alabama.
The eight team Big East could easily add at least four more teams or more and have a conference title game. In fact, the conference could add all these team and become a 16 team conference in football.
One downside is only Memphis seems to have a strong basketball program.
Pac-10 Conference Expansion
If the Pac-10 wanted, it could add some of the best, “Mid-Major” teams in the country to its conference.
This conference could add teams from the Mountain West Conference and the Western Athletic Conference.
Out of the Mountain West the Pac-10 could add the Brigham Young Cougars, Utah Utes and possibly, the Air Force Falcons.
From the WAC the Pac-10 could add the Boise State Bronco and Fresno State Bulldogs.
Also the conference could add the Idaho Vandals or the Hawaii Warriors. That would also give the Pac-10 a 16 team conference.
It would also give the Pac-10 some of the best small school football teams over the last 10 years or so.
The Pac-10 would become, must see football, over night to see if these “mid-Majors,” can come in and compete right away.
Big-12, ACC and SEC Conference Expansion
The Big-12 and the SEC could get teams from C-USA, MAC and the Mountain West. Starting with the SEC, the conference could add Houston, Rice, UTEP or SMU out of C-USA.
All these Texas teams would give the SEC a chance to recruit the deeply talented state of Texas. Also the SEC could swipe up any of the Southern teams that the Big East did not did not invite.
The Mountain West and the WAC really do not fit in with the SEC geographically.
TCU is interesting because the Big-12 and the SEC could add a team ready come in and compete in football.
The Big-12 could invite any C-USA teams left after the Big East and SEC did not add. From the Mountain West the Big-12 could invite the New Mexico Lobos, Colorado State Rams, and in a stretch the UNLV Rebels.
From the WAC the Big-12 could invite the New Mexico State Aggies, Utah State Aggies, and Nevada Wolfpack in a stretch again. Also, the Big-12 could reach into Louisiana and add the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech.
The ACC could send invites to any C-USA or MAC team that did not get an invite from a major conference.Geographically the ACC would have to work with the teams from those two conferences.
WAC, C-USA, MAC and, Mountain West Consolidation
A simple and sweet idea here for all the teams not gobbled up by the six BCS conferences. Depending on how many teams are left spilt into two conferences or one.
The Mountain West and WAC can become one conference featuring the teams that did not get swallowed up by the bigger conferences.
The MAC and C-USA could also merge the teams that are not selected by the BCS conferences.
Of the four conferences there are 42 teams. Assuming, that the six BCS conferences expand to 16 teams apiece, that would leave 11 teams from the four conferences above.
Those 11 teams could join with the Sun Belt and the division one independents Army and Navy.
That would make 23 teams that could divide into two conferences with South Alabama joining one conference in 2013 to make it two 12 team conferences.
It would be wonderful if as a show of good faith the door would be open for these two conferences to join the BCS. Given time these conferences could become BCS worthy.
Playoffs After Expansion
Depending on how the teams from the BCS conferences want to expand. This plan basically takes care of every conference in college football and only leaves us with two non-BCS conferences.
The best “mid-major” and consistently winning programs would get to join the BCS conferences. With only two conferences left and the schools in them not being the cream of the small school crop, there would be no more agreements about teams that did not get a BCS invite.
All of college football problems solved except for a playoff.
Who knew only a little thought could fix expansion. After this type of expansion a playoff would be easier start and to get the conferences on board with.
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