A new discussion has emerged regarding future expansion possibilities within the Big Ten Conference. Commissioner Jim Delaney stated in a copyrighted Des Moines Register story from Thursday that due to the creation of the Big Ten Network, adding a 12th member would one again be a relevant discussion, as early as next year.
That spawned some debate and discussion on the Hawkeye Nation message boards today, as well as on my radio program.
There are several aspects to consider, and I want to get several of them into one location for a greater understanding and discussion of the situation, because it's not so cut and dried.
First, who would the 12th member be?
Notre Dame had their chance in 1999, but decided to stay independent. I am guessing the Big Ten would at least make one more inquiry to Notre Dame before looking in a different direction. I would be shocked if they did not. As much as I despise Notre Dame football, I would welcome the Fighting Irish into the Big Ten in a heartbeat.
That would put more distance between the Big Ten and every other
conference in the league as far as television viewership goes; there are more Americans living in Big
Ten states than in the states that comprise the other BCS Conferences. Adding Notre Dame, whose national appeal
is rivaled by
But they don't
appear to want to share things the way they would have to in the Big
Ten. They are also scaling back
their ‘mini' Big Ten schedule, doing away with their series against
I personally believe that Notre Dame would have a tough time being ‘Notre Dame' if it played an annual eight or nine game Big Ten conference schedule, and I am guessing they know that, too.
The way things are set up right now within the current BCS system, Notre Dame has a far too easy road to the $15,000,000 BCS game payday, and they don't have to share that money with anyone. They have their own TV contract with NBC, and they don't have to share.
So whose next? I have been
keen on Rutgers for about the last
five years of this discussion, and that was well before it was cool to say
They had some solid winning percentages during the 1970's as an Independent, including an 11-0 season, but they played between three and five non-Division I opponents during those years. So their football history is really being made right now under Coach Greg Schianno.
But they are located next door to
the media capital of
Some folks like to throw Pitt
out there, but the Big Ten will likely want to expand into a new market, a
Now, I doubt that
So to be a fit, you are probably looking for a state that borders at
least one of the current Big Ten states, or is just a state away in a logical
region. Looking to the south
doesn't make much sense to me, as you are talking about a much different culture
than what exists in the heartland and
As I scanned all of the colleges in the Universities Research Association
there really are just three schools that don't seem currently entrenched in a
conference that also meet the research institution criteria; Notre Dame, Rutgers and
Again, Notre Dame appears fine content to be on their own. They are the absolute perfect fit, as they are right smack dab in the middle of the region…but oh well.
Next comes the athletic thought process, and since football is the bell cow for athletic departments, we start there.
12 teams likely means two divisions. Two divisions likely means six on each side, and playing the other five teams in your division each year. The Big 12 does that, and they play three teams from the opposite division in a two-year, home and home setup, then they rotate to the other three teams and doing the same.
Some other discussions on the message boards include playing a nine game schedule, where you would play your five division foes, then get to have two protected rivals in the opposing division, and then rotate between the four other teams on a two-year, home and home basis.
But a nine game schedule means playing five home games and four road games one year, then four home games and five road games the next year.
I don't see that as working out.
The current football schedule of 12 games was put into place basically by the presidents of the BCS conference schools to make more money from an extra home games. This has a trickle down effect for smaller conferences, such as the MAC, who have to populate the schedule. The Big Ten and MAC have a scheduling agreement in place. The MAC schools get a nice payday for traveling to a Big Ten school, and that helps support their athletic departments.
So if you are playing five Big Ten road games and four home games, that
leaves three out of conference games to be played at home to have at least seven
home games. And you are not going to see BCS conference
teams have any fewer than seven home games, unless there is a situation like
It doesn't add up, in today's BCS climate.
So I don't see a nine game Big Ten slate being a reality, or if it is,
Then there is the discussion of having a Big Ten title game.
I don't know if the coaches favor such a thing; Kirk Ferentz doesn't seem to at this time.
The Big 12 title game has oftentimes knocked out one of their schools from BCS consideration.
The Big Ten, even prior to the addition of the fifth BCS game, was routinely getting two teams into BCS games.
What's that old saying…if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Certainly, this is a discussion to be continued…