The landscape of college football is changing. The era of the 16-school super-conference is about to dawn. At this very moment, the presidents of the Big Ten Conference, which currently boasts 12 schools, should be conducting clandestine confabs to determine which four schools they will nab to round out their roster.
To help with the Big Ten's deliberations, I have devised a handy, dandy scorecard to sort the contenders from the pretenders. I have included most of the current Big 12 and Big East schools, as they seem to be ripe for the picking, as well as the major independents. The most notable exception to this is Texas, due to its conflicting Longhorn Television Network.
Among the factors considered are proximity to current Big Ten schools, size of the nearest television market and history of football tradition. In addition, academic strength plays a large role, as every Big Ten school but Nebraska is a member of the prestigious American Association of Universities. And Nebraska was an AAU member at the time the Big Ten approved its admission.
With those factors in mind, I give you the Big Ten Conference Expansion Scorecard:
|School||Proximity||TV Market||U.S. News Rank||Football Tradition||AAU Bonus||Total|
|N Dame||5||5 (U.S.)||5 (19)||5||2||22|
|Missouri||4||4 (StLou 21)||2 (90)||4||2||16|
|Kansas||4||4 (KC 31)||1 (101)||4||2||15|
|Rutgers||2||5 (NY 1)||3 (68)||3||2||15|
|Cincinnati ||5||4 (Cin 34)||1 (143)||3||0||13|
|Iowa State ||5||2 (DMns 71)||2 (91)||2||2||13|
|W. Virg ||4||4 (Pitt 23)||1 (164)||4||0||13|
|BYU||1||4 (SLC 33)||3 (71)||4||0||12|
|Kansas St.||4||4 (KC 31)||1 (143)||3||0||12|
|Oklahoma||3||3 (OKC 45)||1 (101)||5||0||12|
|UConn||2||4 (Htfd 30)||3 (58)||2||0||11|
|Louisville||4||3 (Lou 50)||1 (164)||2||0||10|
|Ok State||3||2 (Tuls 61)||1 (132)||4||0||10|
Proximity: 5 points down to 1 point based upon proximity to Big Ten states. TV Market: Top 100 U.S. markets, with 5 points for top 20, 4 points for top 40, etc. U.S. News College Rankings: 5 points if in top 25, 4 points if in top 50, etc. Football Tradition: 5 points down to 1 point based upon the historical success and tradition of a school's football program. AAU Bonus: 2 point bonus if member of AAU.
Assuming each of the thirteen schools above would be willing dance partners, the four top choices are Notre Dame, Missouri, Kansas and Rutgers. Those four schools would be offered an admission ticket to the most lucrative football conference in America.
If one of those four—can you say, Notre Dame—rejects the Big Ten's offer, the Conference would simply move to the next school on the list. In this case, there are three schools scoring 13 points, so a tiebreaker would employed. I would use the category of Football Tradition (in this case resulting in West Virginia), though it would surprise no one if the Big Ten Presidents chose an academic category such as AAU (making Iowa State the winner).
It cannot be denied that major college football conferences are in full transition mode. Big Ten, you are on the clock.
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