Big Ten Expansion: The Details
Rumors have been flying around for the past few months about the Big Ten looking to expand the size of the conference by one, three, or five teams. The biggest prize up for grabs (as it pertains to additional members) is Notre Dame, which is an independent football team, despite being a member of the Big East in most sports. So, why expand? First off, JoePa wants it, and who’s gonna tell him no? Certainly not me. But here are some other reasons why the Big Ten is considering adding members:
Expansion is needed in order to set up a conference championship game for football. A minimum of 12 teams are needed in a conference to set up a championship game. With 12 teams, the Big Ten could split into an East/West divisional format. With a conference championship comes more revenue being brought into the conference by way of a TV contract for the game, along with additional ticket sales for a game in a large-scale venue (say, Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium).
Adding teams would also increase the influence of the Big Ten Network, creating new markets for it to be broadcast in. With the channel being seen on cable only within the conference bounds for the most part, expansion could lead to cable providers in the northeast and Central and Southern Plains picking up the channel, once again helping the conference to gain more revenue.
So besides Notre Dame, who would the Big Ten consider picking up to create a super-conference? The big names on the list as of now are Missouri, Rutgers, Pitt, Syracuse, Nebraska, and even Texas. Other schools like Boston College and Connecticut have also been brought up by a smaller contingency of experts. The conference wants to add a team already in the Association of American Universities, of which all the main schools are members, except for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame will not leave unless the Big East crumbles, which would mean at least two teams leaving the conference. With that being said, I believe the Big Ten will become a 14-team conference by picking up Missouri, Nebraska, and Rutgers. This will in turn set off a domino effect with the Pac-10 also picking the Big 12, Western Athletic Conference, and Mountain West Conference apart, but that’s a different story.
In order to keep up with the economic times, it appears that expansion has to happen and will eventually occur. It shall be an interesting next year or two for the NCAA, as we could see conferences looking like nothing we’ve ever seen before.