Monday, December 21, 2009

We debate Big Ten Expansion, Part III

Jeff and I started discussing the possibility of Big Ten expansion by email. Over the next several days we will debate this back and forth over email, and will post our exchanges here, for your reading pleasure. Late in the week it appeared that based on his research, Jeff had changed his tune slightly. We continued discussing other topics within this topic anyway.


I must say, I'm in favor of having Ohio St and Michigan in the same division so they only play once a year, not twice. Rittenberg has a post up with an argument for the same, but that's about the only one I've heard. Not only does the rivalry mean more if it's only played once instead of possibly twice, but how redundant and boring would it be to have them play each other in the last game of the regular season in their annual game- and then play again two weeks later? Who wants to see that? And what happens if both teams go into the regular season game already having sewn up spots in the conference title game? Just seems ridiculous to me but I have a feeling Michigan and Ohio State people would disagree.

Also, while Notre Dame won't be joining the conference, they now have zero logical reasons for not doing so. David Haugh in the Chicago Tribune does a great job of laying to rest all the old arguments Notre Dame folks use for saying why they won't join a conference. The three biggest reasons are always money, their sweet-heart deal with the BCS, and their schedule but all of those are now moot.

Notre Dame makes $9 million a year from their NBC deal: Well guess what? Thanks to the Big Ten Network, EVERY team in the Big Ten- even Minnesota!!- brings in at least $20 million a year in TV and radio revenues. So joining the Big Ten would actually make Notre Dame more TV money, not less.

As for BCS eligibility, when the whole BCS sham started in 1998 there were only four bowls and you needed to finish in the top eight to be considered for an at-large selection- except Notre Dame, who only needed to finish in the top 14. Well since 2006 when they added the fifth BCS game, now everyone needs to be top 14 to qualify as an at-large, so Notre Dame's built-in advantage is gone too. What's more, with the Big Ten locking up the Gator Bowl for a fourth New Year's Day bowl, Notre Dame would have much better bowl choices in the Big Ten than they would by staying independent.

Finally the schedule: Notre Dame used to schedule as tough as anyone in the country, but with the addition of a 12th game and nobody except the Pac 10 really striving to schedule tough out-of-conference games, the Irish either aren't finding big time teams to play, or they're not looking. Their 2009 schedule, yes the one where they went 6-6, had just one ranked team on it to start the year (USC) and had only three by year end thanks to surprisingly good seasons (Pitt and Stanford). Look at Notre Dame's future schedules and it's cream puff city. They can whine all they want about how being forced to join a conference would rob them of rivalries, but as you might guess, that's a golden load of baloney too. They could still schedule Navy and USC, leaving two games a year open to schedule their cupcakes (it looks like long time rival Stanford is off the schedule in 2013. Probably because The Cardinal beat them too much?(. It's clear they no longer care about a strong schedule, so really, them whining about losing rivals is a joke.

So the only reason they have left is probably the biggest reason I hate them- because they think they're better than everyone else! But that's really it. Yet another reason to hate the Golden Domers.



I’ve got mixed feelings about OSU & Michigan being in the same division. Historically those are the two best teams in the conference each year so it seems to me that they should have the opportunity to play for the conference championship. Additionally, if they are in the same division, does that make it less likely that two Big Ten teams get BCS bids? Having said that, I do see your point about having them play only once each year. As you can tell, I'm non-committal at this point about my feelings on OSU & Michigan being in the same division.

What I do not want to see happen is for the Big Ten to end up being an incredibly unbalanced conference, like the Big 12. The Big 12 North, outside of maybe Nebraska some years, is fairly irrelevant in the overall scheme of the Big 12. Yes, I know that Nebraska almost upset Texas in the Big 12 Championship, and that is precisely why you have championship games. But take 2008 for example: Missouri won the North division, but there were at least 3 teams in the South (Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and maybe Oklahoma State too) that were better than Missouri and all of them were far more relevant on a national level. But I digress.

I agree 1000% with you about Notre Dame, and Jack Swarbrick basically admitted to as much:
“Independence is a big part of the tradition of the program and our identity. We'd sure like to try to maintain it... All of this has a lot more to do with our priorities than it does with business issues. Our independence is tied up in a lot of the rivalries we have. We play Navy every year and have the tradition of USC weekends. Frankly, it works pretty well to play USC in October at home and in November at their place."


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