Big Ten Looks to Add 12th Team
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Dec 16, 2009 4:20PM
With the release of a statement on Tuesday, the Big Ten conference declared expansion to add a twelfth team a "front burner" issue, although Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez tipped the league's hand the other day. As college football has become increasingly about the money, the Big Ten sees the attention and revenue they are leaving on the table. Other BCS conferences, like the ACC, Big 12 and SEC, by nature of at least 12 teams, are able to split into two divisions and play a championship game to determine their automatic BCS bid recipient. These championship games mean big money to the conference and an additional high profile game on TV at the end of the season. It also cuts the down time between the regular season and the bowls.
So the Big Ten officially wants to expand, but with which team? Notre Dame has to be the most logical choice due to its athletic and academic reputations, as well as its geographic proximity. But with its own TV deal and national following, the Fighting Irish seem content to remain a lone wolf in college football. Raiding the Big East to lure a school like Pittsburgh might make sense, but after the ACC's raid a few years ago, the Panthers are among that league's elite. Fellow Big East member Cincinnati had an incredible season on the gridiron and make sense based on location, but they're not a traditional football power. With their coach bolting for Notre Dame, does their program fade into obscurity once again? Further east, teams like Syracuse and Rutgers might be attractive for their entree into the New York media market. But do they really fit into the mold of the Big Ten? We don't think so. Perhaps some schools in the Big 12 are ripe for the picking, like Missouri or Iowa State and make the most sense.
Even if the Big Ten adds to its roster, the difficult decisions aren't over. Splitting into two divisions could prove a sticky issue. An East-West split looks to make the most sense, but an Eastern Conference would include traditional powers Penn St., Ohio St. and Michigan regardless of whether a new school was added in along the East Coast or out west. Perhaps a North-South split would result in a more even distribution of power, but would split Michigan and Ohio St. -- perhaps the best rivalry in all of college football.
What team would you like to see added to the Big Ten? If a twelfth is added, how should the divisions be split?