Big Ten Expansion Plans May Get Clearer This Week
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jun 8, 2010 2:40PM
Since the Big Ten announced it was considering expansion in December, there have been a lot of rumors and speculation but not much in the way of firm movement toward adding to the conference's roster of schools. That may change this week. Having originally laid out a 12-18 month plan toward expansion, Big Ten officlals acknowledged that they now plan to speed things up. Or, more accurately, the Big 12 is forcing them to speed things up.
The Big 12 Conference, home to rumored targets like Nebraska, Missouri and Texas, has allegedly given the Cornhuskers and Tigers an ultimatum to declare their loyalty to the Big 12 or reveal their intentions of leaving by this Friday. Without a formal invite from the Big Ten, the schools may have to commit to staying put. Which means the Big Ten, if it wants to land either of those universities, may have to extend the invitation this week. A Nebraska departure could have even bigger ramifications on the powerhouse Big 12 as Texas (as well as the rest of the Texas schools?) may head west to the Pac-10.
That still leaves a lot of questions concerning which schools the Bin Ten is actually targeting. While some discussions revolve around the conference poaching from the Big 12 to remain a Midwestern conference, others believe the conference wants to make an eastern march and add schools with fans in the New York media market. And then there's Notre Dame, the independent football program that would be the holy grail of expansion. The Fighting Irish might have their hand forced by a Big East ultimatum, since the school's lesser sports play in that league currently and the Big East may be looking for ways to shore up their relevance if schools like Rutgers or Syracuse join the Big Ten. There are lots of opinions out there about what happens. And maybe by the end of this week, we'll have some firmer answers about the Big Ten's expansion plans.