Big Ten Expansion

Posted by mmq on May 11, 2010 

Welcome back to MMQ. It's been a while, but I just couldn't stand all the talk without weighing in about the impending B10 moves.
For me, it's long overdue. The conference has gotten quite stale from an interest perspective. Does anyone really get up for games with Northwestern? Indiana? Purdue? Minnesota? Sparty (LG trophy notwithstanding)? PSU's poor OOC scheduling doesn't help. Sure, Bama and ND have been and will be great, but the last five years have offered Cuse (after they fell), USF and Cincy (before they rose), and Temple (they still suck), plus the ESPN engineered Oregon State payoff game. After Bama, UVa and Rutgers are on the schedule. Oh joy, what new foes we'll have.
So, the B10 wants to expand. It's about time. My only question in all the scenarios (12, 14, 16) is this? Why so small?
To this observer, the B10 needs to go big, very big. And it needs to be very strategic, both geographically and economically. Of course, since the pre$idents that run the univer$itie$ care about "academic$" they'll probably want to add some good $olid in$titution$ as well. Plus I think they have to encircle the $EC, which has said it will respond to any perceived challenge with expansion and growth of its own. Since it's Jim Delany and the Chicago mafia we're talking about here, let's assume Jimbo plays by Chicago rules: if your foe pulls a knife, you pull a gun.
In that vein, here's MMQ's plan for a Colossal Ten.
Add Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas, K-State, Mizzou, Nebraska, Colorado, (take a breath), plus Notre Lame (oops), Pitt (just for kicks!) Cuse, Rutgers,  UConn and Vandy.
Sure, it probably won't happen, but it should. Here's why:
Split into 4 divisions:
PSU, ND, Pitt, Rutgers, Cuse, UConn
OSU, UM, MSU, Indy, Purdue, Vandy
Wisky, Illinois, NW, Minny, Iowa, Mizzou
Texas, A&M, Kansas, K-State, Colorado, Nebraska

Pro: All positive SEC expansion (short of annexing the ACC/Pac 10/12) is gone. Sure, they grab the Okies and TTech, but it's really leftovers. No else outside of Lubbock cares about Tech, and the Okies would be lost in the SEC. And no one watches the ACC now.
Con: It is unwieldy, but it can be overcome. Schedule the division rivals (5 games), then add six conference games outside the division by rotating the opposite divisions every couple of years. One final slot is available for intersectional rivals.
Pro: Helps cut down on paying for 3-4 OOC conference games, and in my world the rule would be established that I-AA (FCS) teams are off-limits to schedules. Real teams play real teams. Sure going unbeaten is going to be a lot tougher, but so what. It's still pretty hard now.
Another pro: Adds mega media markets in Denver, Houston, Dallas (all of Texas really), KC, St. Louis, and the crown jewel, New York. The Great Colossal Ten would have a footprint from New England to the Rockies. The BTN would need a BTN2 during the football and hoops season. The Great Colossal Ten would have a lot to negotiate with ESecPN if it wants to continue airing these schools, or if it wants to throw its lot in with the SEC/ACC/Pac10 and what remains. I would think the TV rights would go through the roof, and there's still a lot of inventory left over for BTN and overflow platforms (Internet). That's a whole pile more money, and it helps offset the fact that the pie would be split 24 ways.
Another pro: It gives PSU (and others) a better chance to compete and recruit in hoops, a program that's moribund at best and an embarrassment at worst. If winning the NIT is a program's all time highlight, then you've got problems.
Pro: Adds growth areas to the stagnant current B10. Let's face it, no one's moving to B10 states.
Pro: It makes Notre Lame just like everyone else. No more of the "we're special" crap. Besides, if the B10 expands small without ND, I think ND actually joins the Big East, becomes its savior and dominates a weak conference like the Noles did with the ACC in the 90s.
Pro: Adds a championship series in the last TWO weeks of the season. The division winners would be seeded, and home fields used. Then a championship game is the final week. It also adds more varied bowl possibilities, and more bowls would be enticed to join in with the new conference because most of the schools travel very, very well historically.
Pro: Perception. The conference would have a presence, and a massive advantage over the SEC. It would no longer have to even countenance the "who's better" argument. It would also be so powerful as to rival or eclipse the NCAA, an ancient, decrepit and rotting bureaucracy if there ever was one.
Con: It's just too big with too many constituencies to please. Perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome. Can ND get along? Will Texas play nice or want to be first among equals? Will Nebraska fans irritate foes by bringing the sea of red to road games? Will OSU and Michigan pretend to accept everyone, or will it try to haze them in the early years of expansion (sound familiar?)
Pro: It brings JoePa renewed energy and helps him get another 3-4 year contract extension.
Con: It brings JoePa renewed energy and helps him get another 3-4 year contract extension. Sure he's the greatest of all-time, but the transition to the new regime just gets harder and harder the longer and longer it's pushed off.
Pro: It gives fans renewed energy as well. New teams, new road trips, with some good rotations, and it curbs the creampuffs.

I think with all the smoke around the expansion talks, there must be some fire. The B10 is probably going to at least 14 teams, perhaps 16. To me, anything that doesn't add ND, Texas and Nebraska is only inviting SEC expansion that make it even stronger. Given all the denials issued by Mizzou and Nebraska Monday, you'd have thought if they were being asked about taking their sisters to the prom. it's a good thing the B10 has the money and the network to buy pretty dates.

I hope you've all had a safe, healthy and happy off season. Here's to a speedy countdown to Bama, since YSU is a dish best left ignored, and here's to seeing 100,000+ for Michigan in prime time, since I doubt that many will show up for YSU, Kent, Temple or Illinois at noon.

Pass the Blue Kool-Aid, I need a drink.

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