Wednesday, December 16, 2009

12/16- Big Ten Expansion, Because They Can

Big Ten Catching-Up, 2006 Florida Team Still Not Worried
... and 2007 LSU .... and every other SEC Team last year (except South Carolina, of course, Iowa)
So, the Big Ten is finally making an effort towards expansion to twelve members. I'm sure some of you at home somewhere ask which two schools they are adding, to which I note as always that the Big Ten has eleven members right now. There were ten until they added Penn State over a decade ago. After expansion the Big Ten will have to again consider a name change, but I'd say it's safe to venture that they won't. I think there are any number of appropriate names post-expansion:
- Midwest Conference
- Mid-American Conference
- Little 12
- Shitacular in Bowl Games Conference
- Fuck it's Cold! Conference
- We Hate Children Conference
- Big..... Conference
- The SEC's Bitches Conference
Ok, so in all reality it's not that easy to come up with a new name, so don't expect a change.

Expansion Candidates

As you can see from the above map of Big Ten schools, the conference right now is concentrated in the Mid-West and has lots of big media markets. Included in the conference's footprint is Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Columbus. All these markets have pro sports teams and are very much big ratings cities for sports. Keep in mind the Big Ten is very concerned about using expansion to increase their market geographically. So, the candidates are:

PRO: This may not seem a sexy selection, but it actually would make a lot of sense for all parties. It would give the Big Ten a bigger market in St Louis and Kansas City, which Illinois right now does impact to a smaller extent. This is large, public university with solid academics (journalism *cough*) and a decent basketball program history. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this possibility is the conference jumble that could result: Missouri to Big Ten, Arkansas or TCU to Big 12,  and if Arkansas then SEC robs ACC of somebody.
CON: Would Missouri really bolt from the Big 12?

PRO: This is a further expansion of the Pennsylvania area market, and a natural add based on geography. Another program with football, basketball, and academics.
CON: Will JoePa let this happen? My feeling is he still doesn't want to acknowledge another Pennsylvania football program, old bitterness. Another issue is that it does not really add to their market, but only enhances their current presence in this area.

PRO: You want market-share? I got your market-share right here. This is big-time add to the media market with New York coming into play. Despite being bad for much of their history the program is improved and has great tradition (first college football game participants).
CON: This is a situation where maybe the Big Ten doesn't want to bring their market out of the Mid-West, but if they don't mind this might be the best fit financially. The brand of this program nation-wide is not very good still.

PRO: Many of the same as Rutgers, but the expansion into New York market is slightly less. However the tradition and sports fit. This might be the compromise pick for may as it is in a rural part of the state (like much of Big Ten). Good brand on history of sports programs.
CON: Also much the same as Rutgers, but the lesser market hurts more. Also being a small private school makes them different.

PRO: I think this one makes a lot of sense even if many don't consider this a strong candidate. They have a strong basketball program, a decent football program with the right coach, and it fits right into the geography of the Big Ten as it's just across the river from a Big Ten state.
CON: Less tradition in football than others. Just does not have the Big Ten feel, and the media market is not an appealing add.

NOTRE DAME: They will say no again, so no need to review.
CONNECTICUT: Good media expansion, but big travel reach.
BOSTON COLLEGE: Fantastic media expansion, but again travel issue.
ARMY or NAVY: I like the idea, but academies might not want to join and not much to add.
CINCINNATI: Geography is there, but also... Jim Tressel on Line 1, Mr Delaney.

You mean there's more than 12 games? December?
Of course all this means that the Big Ten would move into two divisions and use the SEC model for a championship game design. Most likely an East vs West would develop naturally. Rivalries would remain in place as much as possible, so many trophies to preserve. My question is where to hold a championship game. Do you hold it in the same place every year? (see: SEC Atlanta) Do you rotate it? (Big 12) Do people show up? (ACC)

Championship Game Locations Possible:
- Indianapolis, IN (Lucas Oil Stadium)
- Detroit, MI (Ford Field)
- Minneapolis, MN (Metrodome)
- St Louis, MO (Edward Jones Dome) if Missouri added
- Cleveland, OH (Browns Stadium)
- Chicago, IL (Soldier Field)
- Pittsburgh, PA (Heinz Field)
- East Rutherford, NJ (New Giants Stadium) if Rutgers added
- Buffalo, NY (Ralph Wilson Stadium) if Syracuse added

I would assume if indoors then Indianapolis or Detroit are the most likely choices.
If outdoors then Chicago, Cleveland, or Pittsburgh are most likely choices.
The real question is will the Big Ten hold their game outdoors? Before you answer consider that with Minnesota opening their new stadium this season all current Big Ten member play in outdoor stadiums despite weather. It would be presumably be played either the week of or week before the SEC/Big XII/ACC Championship Game weekend.


  1. The obvious choice is Notre Dame but that'll never happen. NBC would rather take a dump and fall back in it with this TV deal.

    I used to think that Syracuse WAS in the Big 10 so that might be a logical choice but the best is Rutgers. 50,000 student body plus the proximity to NYC.

  2. If I were the Big Ten I'd be most interested in Missouri after Notre Dame slams the door again.