Wednesday, December 16, 2009

We debate Big Ten Expansion

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.



Sounds like the Big Ten is about to get serious on this whole expansion issue. A 12th Big Ten team? A conference title game? A ridiculously rich conference trying to get even more ridiculously rich?

It seems to me like the good folks running the Big Ten (aka Jim Delany and the conference Presidents) just can't leave well enough alone. The conference gets more teams into BCS games than any other conference which, last I checked, makes them huge money thanks to the BCS bowl payouts. Having a title game puts that in serious jeopardy of continuing.

There's also the question of fit. Other than the hated Golden Domers, who else fits as a Big Ten team? Pitt? Syracuse? Rutgers? Missouri? North and South Dakota State? Thankfully for the Gophers I'm just kidding about the last two, but really, without the Irish (who are absolutely, positively not committing to a conference), does anyone else make sense?

And then how do you align two divisions? It cannot be done fairly geographically (you cannot have Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State all in the East division), and any other arrangement means we'd lose Wisconsin or Iowa to the other division. I hate those schools, Jermo, but we all need to be in the same division!

I know the Big Ten presidents can't see past the big, fat wads of cash that a conference title game would bring them (at least in the short term), but aren't they risking killing the golden goose?



I am going to work backwards through your questions (because it’s the end of the year and the people I “get” to work with everyday seem to be pulling this kind of crap on me). 

I don’t think anyone is risking killing the golden goose… I think they are just looking to fatten it up a bit, or make it more goldener… which isn’t a word, but you know what I mean.

I hate Iowa and Wisky too, but I disagree that you need to have them and Minny in the same division… regardless, a North/South split, which by far makes the most sense, accomodates keeping them in the same division.  Split up Michigan (north) and OSU (south) and let the chips fall geographically after that.  I do think the map lends itself to a pretty clear North/South split, with the 12th team falling into the South. Here's what I would envision it looking like.

As for which team comes to the Big Ten, THAT’S the big question, and it really drives everything else.  You and I agree that Notre Dame makes the most sense, and we agree that it doesn’t matter because they will stay independent.  My opinion is that the next options are Pitt and Missouri, and I think they both provide a decent fit.  Geographically they both bring rivalry in football (Pitt/PSU, Mizzou/Illinois), they are both good academic institutions, and are both fairly strong in non-revenue sports as well.

It’s true that the Big Ten gets more teams into the BCS, and it’s true that that makes them money, but I’m not sure why a 12 team division changes that?  I think what it does do is make the Big Ten more relevant late in the season, which we currently are not. 

The almighty dollar is certainly in play here, and it’s a big reason that the Big Ten would want to expand.  As a fan I think this makes the Big Ten more relevant and more competitive.

We’ll clearly dig further into the specific issues…

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