Big Ten Expansion: Why the Conference Cannot Grow Beyond 12 Teams

Tim Bielik@bielik_timSenior Analyst IMay 18, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 28:  Quarterback Blaine Gabbert #11 of the Missouri Tigers runs to his right for yardage during their game against the Kansas Jayhawks during the game at Arrowhead Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The expansion of the Big Ten Conference continues to be the hot topic of college football, as the Big Ten meetings take place in Chicago.

And as time goes on, more reports of expansion offers are coming through, but being immediately refuted by Jim Delany, the commissioner of the Big Ten.

After taking time to realize what the magnitude of the situation is, there is no question that Big Ten expansion could very well shake up the foundations of the college football landscape.

The effects could ripple throughout, as one conference takes a team from another, and that conference will do the same, and so on and so forth.

But there's a point where too much is just too much. And that's what will happen if the Big Ten goes beyond 12 teams.

While Missouri and Nebraska of the Big XII are some of the favorites to head into the new Big Ten (assuming there will be a name change), the best situation would be if only one of those teams made the jump.

Out of those two, Missouri seems most likely to head into the Big XII based on the reports that have come from both sides in recent weeks.

But if expansion involves a multitude of teams, we could be witnessing a mass exodus that could spell the end of college football as we know it.

We will not have seen anything quite like this since Miami, Boston College, and Virginia Tech all left the Big East for the ACC in 2004 and 2005.

But nothing would prepare the college football world if the Big Ten expands with teams from multiple conferences, the ripple effect might ruin part of what makes college football special: in-conference rivalries.

Every conference from the Big Ten to the Big XII and the SEC has great rivalries.

And rivalries cannot be forced with realignments and ideas such as four super conferences.

But for those that felt the Big Ten is wasting time with expansion, the evidence to push for this is clear.

With the revenue the schools generate from the Big Ten Network, that now appears to be a frugal investment, this makes a 12th slot much more enviable.

In addition, the expansion, although it might not provide the dream of a conference championship game like some want, will help put the Big Ten teams on an even footing schedule wise.

What that means is that up until now, the conference season ended two weeks before the bowl matchups were completed, which had been a major disadvantage for the conference.

Although that will change starting in 2010, adding a 12th team can only help with the schedule expansion process.

If you add too many teams, you risk ruining those aforementioned rivalries, especially Ohio State-Michigan.

For those reasons, Jim Delany should take heed that too much of a good thing can be very dangerous.

And since it seems that Notre Dame will not be going anywhere anytime soon, which would allow the other conferences to maintain what they have, taking only one team into the Big Ten may be the best course of action to keep from disrupting the natural order of modern college football.