A number of ideas, theories, and completely fictitious hair brained rumors have made their way around regarding Big Ten Expansion since early January. It would appear the time for idle speculation is nearing its end.
With one Tweet reverberating through the establishment like mortar fire, college football realignment’s fastest rising star, former Dallas Morning News writer turned local sports talkshow host and Orangebloods.com contributor Chip Brown, broke the news we’ve all been speculating for sometime now:
Calling the news shocking would be naïve at this point. Nebraska’s been one of the logical, leading candidates for the better part of the last 3 months and perhaps no school more geographically and culturally fits the league short of Notre Dame. The question now evolves into a Strokes record: "Is This It?"
Per other murmurs, Missouri’s been issued a June 17th deadline to decide whether or not they too have designs on departing the Big XII, though as Big XII south officials are speculating, there may be 10 others teams doing so with them. Since the Big Ten first openly announced intentions to begin the investigative process into possible expansion, many thought Texas, not Nebraska, would be the lynch pin with which the entirety of the Big XII would come tumbling down like a game of Jinga.
Perhaps we should’ve interpreted some of the the agenda setter in terms of whether the Big Ten is done or not. Based on could be a one and done scenario for the Big Ten. Given the traditional slow moving nature of the league, stopping at one wouldn’t be entirely surprising. In fact, judging from some of the previous statements regarding conference championship games and the like, I wouldn’t put it past Delany & co. to keep the platform as similar as possible to what’s currently in place, perhaps even to the extent of neglecting to divide into individual divisions and/or add a championship contest.
It should also be fascinating to watch the Big XII’s slow, precipitous decline over the next several months. The rumors of Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and either Colorado or Baylor (Ken Starr fighting the good fight, no doubt) syncing up with the Pac-10 seem more empowered now than ever. What happens to Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and potentially Missouri could be forced to turn to unlikely bed fellows like the Big East, Mountain West, or maybe even the likes of the CUSA. Reciprocal moves on the part of the SEC and ACC to keep up the joneses could also be in the pipes. Fasten your safety belts, folks.
So what then if the Big Ten gets the likes of Notre Dame on board? Which (if any) of the Big East/ACC bunch make the most sense? Per the Joe Schad report above, the Big Ten would love to get Maryland and Rutgers in the fold. Both of these based on the theory that adding these schools would mean additional eye balls for the Big Ten network from the highly populous D.C. and New York City markets respectively. If Maryland football packs anywhere near the fervor of Rutgers, it’s probably safe to conclude these eyeballs are best appreciated in theory as opposed to extrapolated from Nielsen numbers.
Connecticut and Pitt both certainly fit the academic mold of the Big Ten and would also add strength in the middle of the league with their football programs. Then again few have put it as succinctly as Steve Chapman does:
If your students can harvest oysters without leaving the state, you are not a Big Ten school.
That’s saying nothing of the likes of Syracuse, who while by no means a high caliber football program at the present point, seems to be heading in the right direction since exiling ‘Gerg’ to Ann Arbor.
So what say you? Is the Big Ten done or which school(s) needs to be next on the expansion agenda?