A 12th Team in the Big Ten?

Ron Maly's friend, LeRoy, says he agrees with some Big Ten football coaches that it's time for the conference to add a 12th team. "How about Iowa State?'' he asks. Maly thinks LeRoy has been in the sun too long, and says the Cyclones should stay in the Big 12. By doing so, such Big 12 teams as Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Nebraska would still be playing in Ames. Teams such as Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State would be playing in Iowa City. What a deal for fans in our state.

I occasionally get into some spirited sports conversations with a guy named LeRoy, not his real name, from Lake City, not his real hometown.

LeRoy mentioned that Big Ten football coaches are saying it might be time to add another team to the conference.

"Any particular reason why?'' I asked. "They already have 11 teams in that league, and still call it the Big Ten. If they add a 12th team, they sure can't call it the Big 12. There already is a Big 12, and Iowa isn't in it. I guess I'm wondering which of the 11 teams in the Big Ten isn't big.''

"Well, first of all, I think all 11 teams in the Big Ten are big'' LeRoy said. "It beats me why they don't call it the Big Eleven. "The reason I'm in favor of adding a 12th team, though, is so there can be two six-team divisions. That way, there could be a championship football game in December between the two divisional winners. The Big Ten would then be big league like the Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences. Those leagues already have football playoffs.''

I told LeRoy I could see some sense to a football playoff because it would make a lot of money for the Big Ten, Big Eleven or whatever you want to call it. And if it makes a lot of money for the conference commissioner's office, then he'd be all for it, too. Plus, it would give everybody a true conference champion.

"What school would you like to see added to the Big Ten,'' I asked LeRoy.

"Notre Dame,'' he said without hesitation.

"Forget Notre Dame,'' I countered. "They're already able to out-recruit every other school in the country because they have a great football tradition and, besides, they have their own TV network. They won't want to come into the Big Ten if it means losing their network. And maybe they couldn't keep playing Navy, Army, Air Force and the Coast Guard if they joined the Big Ten.''

"Yep, I forgot about that,'' LeRoy said. "Well, how about Pittsburgh, Syracuse or West Virginia for the Big Ten?''

"Come on, LeRoy, what are any of those schools going to add to the Big Ten?'' I asked. "Pittsburgh might make a little sense because it would give Penn State of the Big Ten a closer rival. Otherwise, I can't see a great advantage to having any of those schools.'' Silence.

Obviously, LeRoy was thinking again.

"OK, smart guy, I've got one for you,'' he said. "How about adding Iowa State to the Big Ten? They're kind of off in a geographic no-man's-land in the Big 12. Those road trips to Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech are brutal.''

"Hey, LeRoy, you've been out in the sun too long. Why don't you join the jet age? It doesn't take long to fly to Austin and Lubbock, Texas, these days. Also, the idea of adding Iowa State to the Big Ten is nothing new. I brought that up a few years ago when the Cyclones were still in the Big Eight. I thought it made some sense for Iowa State to change leagues. But nobody else seemed to think much of it—especially the fans from Iowa State and Iowa. They want to keep hating each other while they're in competing conferences.

"And, the more I think of it, I'd rather have Iowa State stay in the Big 12 now. I like the idea of having those Texas schools, Oklahoma, Colorado and Nebraska coming to Ames for football and basketball games. Bob Stoops and Mack Brown are due to bring their Oklahoma and Texas teams to Ames in the 2003 season. I can't wait.

"Oh, sure, it would be nice to have Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State coming to central Iowa for games, but this way Iowans get to see some of the nation's best teams from two leagues. Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State have occasional games in Iowa City. Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Nebraska have occasional games in Ames. And, thank goodness, Iowa State and Iowa are included in that list of ‘best' teams right now.

"So, LeRoy, let's leave Iowa State in the Big 12. How about this idea, though. Maybe the Big Ten can add Missouri, and then the Big 12 can add Colorado State or Brigham Young as its 12th team''

"Let me think about that a while,'' LeRoy said.

Here & There

College football is getting closer. Just think, August two-a-days are right around the corner. Iowa State's media day is Friday, Iowa's is a week from Friday....Wayne Morgan, who has more than 30 years of basketball coaching experience, is Iowa State's new men's assistant. Morgan had a 91-84 record—including 24-6 in 1999-2000—the past six seasons as the head coach at Long Beach State. "Wayne will be an excellent addition to our coaching staff,'' Cyclone Coach Larry Eustachy said Tuesday. "He has been a top-notch collegiate head coach and assistant coach for over 30 years, and his experience and knowledge will be a key part of our program's success. We are all very excited about his decision to join us at ISU.''...Ayden Ollivier, a high school track standout from Granton, Ontario, Canada, has signed a national letter of intent with the Drake women's program. Ollivier ran a personal best 54.11 seconds in the semifinal heat of the 400-meter dash in the IAAF World Junior Championships at Kingston, Jamaica. She had scholarship offers from more than 50 colleges. "I am more than excited about having Ayden a part of the Drake track and field program,'' said Drake women's coach Natasha Brown. "Aside from being a great athlete, she is a tremendous person. Ayden brings another dimension of depth to our program. Not only is she capable of handling herself in the 400 race, her performances in the 100, 200 and long jump are very good also.''....If you read my column late last week about Harry Kalas, the Philadelphia Phillies announcer who went into baseball's Hall of Fame on Sunday, you saw that I quoted him at length about when he attended Cornell College in Mt. Vernon for a year, then transferred to Iowa, where he studied from 1956-59. The local paper carried a story Monday about how Kalas got "emotional'' at his acceptance speech in Cooperstown, N.Y. The story was written by Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The information that Kalas was a 1959 Iowa graduate was not included in the Inquirer story. I know because I checked. But a good soldier at the local paper edited that fact into the Inquirer story that appeared locally. I wonder where that good soldier got the information, considering no one at the local paper seemed to know anything about Kalas' Iowa background previously. You don't suppose the good soldier read about Kalas' collegiate days in my column, do you? If so, I appreciate it. I certainly am not complaining. Anything to help out a place that needs lots of it.

Ron Maly

Vol. 2, No. 42

July 30, 2002

[E-mail Ron Maly at malyr@juno.com]

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