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Big Ten to give expansion an exploratory group hug

Both Penn State’s Joe Paterno and Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema stumped to varying degrees this offseason for the Big Ten to fully and wholly embrace the idea of expanding to twelve teams.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the two coaches — and any other proponent of expansion — could be closer to seeing conference growth coming to fruition.

Citing an unnamed league official, the Tribune reported that the conference will release a statement today in which they will announce that expansion has moved to the front burner, as the paper puts it.

This past Friday, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, another supporter of expansion, hinted that something could be in the offing, saying that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany “is going to take this year to really be more aggressive about it. I just think everybody feels [expansion] is the direction to go, coaches and administrators.”

And Alvarez, as well as the Tribune, could not have hit the nail on the head any cleaner as the Big Ten administrators did indeed release a statement this afternoon outlining the league’s intentions to explore expanding the league from 11 to 12 teams.

According to the release, commissioner Delany “has been asked to provide recommendations for consideration” by the league’s Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) “over the next 12 to 18 months.”

The conference office has been asked, the statement read, “to obtain, to the extent possible, information necessary to construct preliminary options and recommendations without engaging in formal discussions with leadership of other institutions.”

The statement added that “[n]o action by the COP/C is expected in the near term.”

A move to twelve teams would allow for the league to be split into two six-team divisions and a championship game to be held at the end of the regular season.  Additionally, it would allow the conference to remain part of the national landscape well after Thanksgiving.  As currently constructed, the conference is a non-entity from, basically, before Turkey Day until the bowls start rolling around.

Should the conference ultimately approve an additional team, there are three questions that would need to be answered:


If the Big Ten had their druthers, Notre Dame would’ve been a part of the conference years ago.  They are a perfect fit academically and athletically, and would likely be pursued yet again.  And would likely rebuff the league yet again.

Short of the Irish, several schools have been bandied about as possibilities as a twelfth: Cincinnati, Missouri, Rutgers, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Louisville.


Once a 12th team is decided upon, you would need to split the conference into two divisions and decide which teams go where.  Rivalries such as Ohio State-Michigan, Michigan-Michigan State and the like would need to be preserved, but there could be some annual match-ups that may be forced to the wayside, at least on a yearly basis.

Here’s one way the conference could look, although it would need to be tweaked depending on the location of the additional team:

EastMichiganMichigan St.Ohio St.Penn St.PurdueIndiana

WestIllinoisIowaMinnesotaNorthwesternWisconsin(new team)

Missouri and, maybe, Louisville would make solid additions to the “Western” division, while Cincinnati, Rutgers, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia would fit in the “Eastern” division.  Indiana could be the swing team regardless of which school joins.


As in, what would you call the conference?  Well, they have eleven teams and are still called the Big Ten.  Would an additional team really necessitate a name change?

[Writer’s note: This story has been edited and given a new headline to reflect the fact that requested it for their front page.  I obliged.]

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Respond to “Big Ten to give expansion an exploratory group hug”
  1. Sean Martin says: Dec 15, 2009 11:17 AM

    You pull Mizzou from the Big XII, which would make the current Big Ten the new Big XII, and the Big XII becomes the Big XI.
    Stupid, I know…
    But is anyone else excited about this? This is a GIANT move that could/will change a lot of things for every school involved (in the current Big Ten, in the league from which the twelfth team will be pulled, the teams on the “moved” team’s schedule). There is a lot of money floating above this move.

  2. Mr. Two Bits says: Dec 15, 2009 11:19 AM

    There is no way the Big 10 would align the conferences that way. It lessens the chance that either Michigan, Ohio St. and Penn St. would be the Big 10 representative in a National Championship or BCS Bowl game given that only one of them could advance to the Conference championship game (as they would all be in the same division). Big 10 would undoubtedly want to split it up so that their would be more of a chance of it’s flagship teams playing each other in a Big 10 title game each year. I think it would be aligned more like this
    Big 10 North
    Michigan St.
    Ohio St.
    Big 10 South
    Penn St.
    (Sixth team)

  3. Mr. Two Bits says: Dec 15, 2009 11:21 AM

    My bad, Illinois in proposed Big 10 South.

  4. Tony says: Dec 15, 2009 11:26 AM

    Could Louisville’s recent hire of Strong make them an attractive candidate in the less-than-diverse Big Ten coaching ranks?
    Also, you would have to think that while the Big Ten is a step-up from the Big East in football, it’s a step down in basketball which may scare away Pitt, WV, Syracuse, and possibly Cincy. Mizzou seems more likely than Rutgers, but what motivation do they have to leave the Big 12?

  5. MN Boise Fan says: Dec 15, 2009 11:52 AM

    This is a chance to correct one of the two wrongs from previous conference switches:
    I consider these two wrongs to be Arkansas in the SEC instead of the Big 12 North, and TCU not being in the Big 12 south.
    If Missouri goes big 10 (I think it should be Iowa State moving for geographical reasons, but I digress), One of these two can get into thier rightful spot in the Big 12. If Arkansas, they slide right into the B12 North (I consider this unlikely – why would you leave the all mighty SEC) TCU could slide into the Big 12 south, with Oklahoma going to the North. It would be easy to keep OU-UT on the schedule every year, plus it would mean OU-Nebraska every year like it should be.
    All this said, I think the team to move isn’t listed in the original posting. I have a gut feeling it’s Rutgers. Big 10 would love to get into that Northeastern market that the Big East and ACC are in right now.

  6. MN Boise Fan says: Dec 15, 2009 11:55 AM

    I just re-read and saw Rutgers is listed once in the original post. My bad, but just increases my gut feeling…

  7. pudgalvin says: Dec 15, 2009 12:09 PM

    I agree that Penn St. couldn’t be in a conference with Michigan and Ohio St.
    What about Iowa St? They make a lot of geographical sense, plus a change in conference would bring a little more attention to a team that has shown in years past the ability to put competetive basketball and football teams on the field.
    Cincy would probably be the most logical choice though. Had they been in the Big 10 this year, they might be playing for the title. Plus, there basketball team would be a perenial contender in the Big 10, rather than a second tier Big East team.

  8. Nas-T-N8 says: Dec 15, 2009 12:13 PM

    there is no way missouri would leave the big 12. one of the longest standing rivalries (if not the longest) is MU vs KU. it is not a cash cow, it is a cash elephant. the big 12 WILL NOT give that up, so just stop talking about it. find another team and move on.

  9. tampalawyer says: Dec 15, 2009 12:20 PM

    If they did add another team, then the Big Ten+2 would be another overrated 12-team conference rather than simply one with 11 teams.

  10. JP says: Dec 15, 2009 12:33 PM

    But in both football and basketball, Mizzou-Illinois is a bigger thing than Mizzou-KU. Of course, by keeping them in separate conferences you maintain the kick off classic, neutral-court battles between those two teams in St. Louis, which itself adds a lot of spice to the early part of the season in both football and b-ball.
    The only thing I would say for sure is, no matter who you add, there is NOT A SNOWBALL’S CHANCE IN THE WORLD that Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State all end up in the same “half” of the conference. No.freaking.way.

  11. tk1966 says: Dec 15, 2009 12:34 PM

    Not to throw stones here, but asking a legit question – Didn’t Cincy recently have some NCAA violations in basketball? Would the Big 10 want to inherit that black eye?

  12. jliskiew says: Dec 15, 2009 12:46 PM

    I agree with Two Bits realignment more than JT’s suggestion, except for one difference – put OSU in the South, and Illinois in the North.
    It wouldnt be tough to guarantee that U of M and OSU continue to play each other once a year in the regular season, and rotate the rest for the others. Penn State/MSU is the other cross divisional rivalry that would probably be kept on a year to year basis.
    This alignment would also preserve rivalries like OSU/PSU, U of M/MSU, Wisc/Minn, and PSU/Iowa.
    I also kind of like the idea of sending Iowa State or Missouri to the Big Ten, and then shipping OK to Big II North, and bringing in TCU into the South as the 12th team.
    How great would it be to see Texas/OK, U of M/OSU, and/or U of M/PSU twice? Of course, that presents a problem if the teams split, but the solution to that is the abolishment of the biggest problem with college football – the BCS. That’s an argument for another day though.
    Love the idea though of the Big Ten going to twelve though – if nothing else, it will extend the regular season so the teams dont start their bowl games off ice cold after being off for 6 whole weeks…

  13. wrath4771 says: Dec 15, 2009 12:48 PM

    Actually I think the Big 10 would go by the original selection. The Big 12 has Texas and Oklahoma in the same division while the North usually is the patsy to the winner of the Oklahoma-Texas game. The same would be in this scenario -Ohio State pounds likely Iowa or Wisconsin to get to the bowl game.

  14. WhoPlaysWhere says: Dec 15, 2009 1:18 PM

    How about that it would add another HUGE rivarly in UC-OSU every year?

  15. doctwolf says: Dec 15, 2009 1:24 PM

    Does anyone remember the original name of the Big 10; wasn’t it the Western Conference? I like the idea of Iowa State coming in; they don’t really have a traditional rival in the Big 12, and TCU would now be a plus for that conference. The Big 10+1 doesnt’ give a rip about that, however, and may be surprised at the coolness of the responses from some schools to joining their group.

  16. brasho says: Dec 15, 2009 2:01 PM

    There is no competitive balance in that format, plus it takes away the rivalry factor in the championship games.
    I think they would follow a divisional format like the ACC and put their strongest teams in opposite divisions with the idea that those two strong teams face off every year in the championship game. Those teams also have regional rivalry status and always play each other in the regular season (Miami-FSU). Every team in the ACC has an appointed rivarly game with a team in the other division.
    For the Big 10, the teams that have to be considered are Ohio St. and Michigan as rivalry games and Penn St. has to be considered as a strong opponent game. I think Ohio St. and Michigan should be in different divisions, and for competitive balance, Ohio St. and Penn St. should be in separate divisions as well.
    Ohio St.
    Penn St.
    (new team)
    Michigan St.
    Considering this new team will likely come from the east, it is safe to say that it would be placed in the eastern division.

  17. DiamondDuq says: Dec 15, 2009 2:20 PM

    What would be the best case scenario, from my point of view that is, would be for Pittsburgh to join the Big Ten. Their style fits the Big Ten more than the other schools listed and actually fits the Big Ten more than the Big East. Also, Pittsburgh would fill a geographic “hole” between Penn State and the rest of the Big Ten. Additionally, I’d split the Big Ten into North and South rather than East and West because, lets be honest, the East/West split indicated above would leave the East a lot stronger. A North/South split would leave the following divisions, with the inclusion of Pittsburgh:
    Michigan St.
    Ohio State
    Penn State
    The two divisions are much more balanced, unlike the Big 12 North and South, and they could still schedule Ohio State/Michigan for the last weekend of the season, prior to the conference championship game, which if we’re being honest is no longer a real rivalry game since Michigan is a shell of its former self. Or the Big Ten could have an actual “Rivalry Weekend” at some point in the middle of the season.

  18. someone_smarter_than_you says: Dec 15, 2009 2:20 PM

    If the Big Ten is looking to add a team from the Big East, I think you limit it to Pitt or WVU. Period. Everyone else in the Big East isn’t worth wiping your crack with. Sure, Cincy is undefeated and playing in a BCS game…this year. They were crap before Brian Kelly got there and they’ll be crap 2 years from now. Rutgers?? Syracuse?? Really? The Big Ten already gets knocked on for being soft, why bring in sub-par teams from a worse conference?
    Bringing in Pitt would reignite the lost rivalry between Pitt and Penn State as well as add a team that has made steady progress in program stability the last 3 years.
    WVU should be second option because they’re the next closest thing to a consistent team. Plus, Rich Rod vs WVU would be a media frenzy.

  19. cbfan says: Dec 15, 2009 2:40 PM

    I agree that we do not want to water down the conference, although Cincy could have probably finished in the top three this year, they will not always be competitive. Notre Dame sounds great but I am sure that will not happen.

  20. crispy says: Dec 15, 2009 2:51 PM

    With N.D. it had better be all or nothing.
    No adding them in every sport except football.
    No team can be “above” the league…

  21. BengalsDouche2 says: Dec 15, 2009 2:51 PM

    Bunch of Cincy haters on here. You guys just mad b/c we beat your team or what? We aren’t going anywhere next year or the year after. We’ll still be ranked right up there ABOVE your beloved time just like this year. We should be in the championship game if it wasn’t for a fluke last second for Texas. Don’t hate on us b/c we have greatly improved our program to be an elite for the future. We should be in the Big Ten over Pitt and WVU w/o question.

  22. jd says: Dec 15, 2009 3:03 PM

    Mizzou to Big 10
    TCU to Big 12
    Nice! What about Boise?

  23. MN Boise Fan says: Dec 15, 2009 3:14 PM

    I wouldn’t worry about the competitive balance between divisions so much. Just remember, it wasn’t too long ago that the Big 12 North had the two powerhouses in Nebraska and Colorado, and the south was considered to be the patsie team in the conference championship game. These things always run in cycles…

  24. DiamondDuq says: Dec 15, 2009 3:19 PM

    @ BengalsDouche2
    You’re obviously attempting to be sarcastic and/or funny by using words like “elite” and phrases like “should be in the championship game”. Cincy is going to get smashed by Florida. If it’s within two touchdowns people would be extremely surprised. Cincy is a nice little team equivalent to Boise St. but they have zero defense and were down 21 points to Pitt before Pitt imploded.

  25. BrownsTown says: Dec 15, 2009 3:38 PM

    Seriously, how long until Notre Dame realizes that their mystique is gone? They need a conference more than a conference need them. That said, I’d like to see ND in the Big Ten (12).
    Do you think adding a 12th team would lead to less conference games and more opportunities to schedule cupcakes? That seems to be a recipe for success in SEC country, no?
    Easy, you had a good year, but did you really prove it with a marquee win? I agree that UC should get in before Rutgers or Syracuse, but there is a legit discussion for WVU and Pitt. In fact, Pitt adds back the PSU-Pitt rivalry.

  26. Nas-T-N8 says: Dec 15, 2009 3:43 PM

    haha! JP you obviously don’t live in kansas or missouri to honestly think that MU vs illinois is a bigger rivalry than KU vs MU. ask ANY MU fan, i mean it, and they will ALL say KU is the bigger rivalry, not even close. do just one ounce of research, and you will see how much $$$$ is invested in that rivalry also. MU vs illinois makes a dent, while MU vs KU smashes a giant hole. yeah MU vs illinois is a good one, but is universes apart from KU vs MU.

  27. Nas-T-N8 says: Dec 15, 2009 3:46 PM

    Missouri leaving the big 12 will never happen

  28. MN Boise Fan says: Dec 15, 2009 4:07 PM

    “Mizzou to Big 10
    TCU to Big 12
    Nice! What about Boise?”
    I have a strong opinion because I’m a huge fan, but in that scenario, I’d like to think Boise could take TCU’s spot in the MWC.
    We’re stating to enter into “dream world” territory though

  29. jward41 says: Dec 15, 2009 4:12 PM

    Interesting that all but one of the teams listed are in the Bid East – which is always downed as being a nothing football conference.
    First the ACC, now the Big Ten!
    Here’s a better idea – Notre Dame should join the Big East in football – they’re already there for basketball. Then the Big East can add a few more good schools and they could be a playoff conference too.

  30. Voice of Football says: Dec 15, 2009 5:07 PM

    Iowa State from the Big 12 North makes the most sense. I’ve never really understood why they’re in there anyway, since their natural historical rival is Iowa.

  31. robertg says: Dec 15, 2009 5:11 PM

    given the agenda being promoted at notre dame by purcell, swarbrick, jenkins, and kelly and swarbrick’s admitted long and close friendship with big 10 con artist commissioner delany, we would not be surprised at all if purcell, swarbrick, and jenkins tried to move notre dame into the big 10 or the big east in football.
    in fact, the more evidence that comes to light, the more certain it becomes that this was purcell’s and swarbrick’s, and jenkins’ plan all along, ever since former notre dame ad kevin white quit and moved to duke and purcell moved his flunkey swarbrick into the ad position in 2008.
    of course, they had to arrange for charlie and his staff and notre dame to lose 6 games on paper 1st.

  32. Matt says: Dec 15, 2009 5:29 PM

    I think the big ten should be no more. I would add 3 teams and create the Power 14 Conference.
    Ohio State
    Penn State
    Michigan State
    Notre Dame
    Adding three instead of one would be a major addition. Each team would play the 6 teams from their division. They would be allowed to play 4 nonconference games. And then 2 games on a home-home rotational basis from the other division.

  33. BuckeyeWest says: Dec 15, 2009 6:05 PM

    Notre Dame!!! Notre Dame!!! Notre Dame!!! I cannot stress this enough… they’re a perfect fit. Having three of the most storied programs in the history of college football would be epic!!!
    That breakdown of the conference in the article is terrible, by the way… and it’s difficult to advocate placing Michigan and Ohio State in the same division; considering historically, they’re the heavyweights, seeing them in a Conference Title Game would be monumental. Were that ever to happen, of course, there’d be much to overcome for one of the teams because they’d have to schedule each other every year anyway, because tradition like Ohio State/Michigan cannot be abandoned.
    So this is simple math, apply a historical and advanced scouting value to the division… total it… break them apart like professional playoffs and voila… it should look something like this.
    Division X
    Ohio State
    Penn State
    Division Y
    Notre Dame
    Michigan State
    11 games a year right (excluding Conf. Title)
    5 games against your division
    1 game against your rival in the other division (i.e. Ohio State/Michigan, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Northwestern/Purdue etc…
    1 game against one of the remaining 5 in the other division
    4 games against non-conference schools.
    Rivalries remain in tact. Michigan plays Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan State every year; just like they do now… and everything remains peachy in the Bigger 10.
    Screw this geographical breakup… these schools are all close enough; breaking it apart geographically just makes one division more weighted. Like the Big XII South with Texas/Tech/Oklahoma/State.

  34. BuckeyeWest says: Dec 15, 2009 6:51 PM

    Oh, and despite favoritism (albeit pragmatism), out of respect it would seem right to name the divisions: The Woody Hayes (Memorial) Division and The Bo Schembechler (Memorial) Division. Let’s face it… the 10 Year War is something we can only strive to recapture.

  35. overratedgators says: Dec 15, 2009 7:30 PM

    Oops … robertg’s gone off his meds again.
    And BrownsTown, thanks as always for saying what everyone else is thinking. tampalawyer seems to conveniently ignore the fact that just two years ago, even with a new Heisman, his vaunted Gators couldn’t even handle a bowl game against one of those “overrated” Big Te(leve)n teams.

  36. Joshua says: Dec 15, 2009 7:32 PM

    There is NO WAY Ohio State lets Cincy in the Big Ten. And Michigan and Ohio State would have to be in the same division. Ohio State and Michigan have always played the last game and it will always be that way, you cant have them playing one week and then play in the Conference Champ game the very next week.
    Notre Dame is the best choice, followed by Missouri.
    Notre Dame/Mizzou
    Ohio St.
    Penn St.
    Michigan St.

  37. shaunypoo says: Dec 15, 2009 8:01 PM

    Why would WV, Pitt, or UC want to join a third tier BCS conference when they are already in a 2nd teir BCS conference. The BEast has actually had success in bowl games the last few years. If anything, PSU and ND should join the Beast.

  38. Bearcats83 says: Dec 15, 2009 9:02 PM

    First of all, there have not been NCAA violations at Cincinnati in Basketball for years. There was a huge dropoff when Huggins left and the basketball program has re-built itself.
    However, OSU will not allow Cincinnati to join the Big 10. Hell, they won’t even play them in Cincinnati in a scheduled game, but rather pay 7 figures to back out of it… OSU has too much to lose in Cincinnati recruiting battles, but the success of UC and the relationship with the Big East/BCS is already killing them. Maybe now is the time for them to finally put up or shut up.
    I think the addition of Cincinnati would make more sense than Pitt. I saw one blogger comment on the past 3 years of progressive improvement by Pitt. Really? Hmmm, Cincinnati was 34-6 during the past three years and 8-5 the year before that… 42-11 the past 4 years seems to be as consistent as any other school in the country during that timeline. Granted, UC Football just arrived less than 10 years ago – and has been climbing, but that was once said about Miami, FSU and Florida. Most programs in the country have had dry spells or awakenings, so let’s look at the future.
    But since we are still talking a bit of history, when was the last time Purdue, IU, MSU, NW, Wisconsin or Minnesota had a four-year run like that of Cincinnati? Do new teams only need to be compared to the very top of the Big 10? If you want a Big East team, why not choose the one who has only lost one conference game in the last two years? Why would you choose a team we beat up on?
    On a side note, Notre Dame cannot beat a Big East team to save a coach’s job! Not once in two years! I might suggest that they join the MAC and win a few conference titles there first. Pitt and WVU haven’t beaten UC even once the last couple of years. Rutgers hasn’t beaten UC since Joe Pa was in diapers! The only team that makes obvious sense for the Big 10 is Missouri, but not obvious for Missouri. That is a lateral move and not worth the hassle.
    Which brings me to the BIG question,….why would ANYONE want to become part of the expanded and beleaugered Big 10 as opposed to where they are now? The path to the BCS has less traffic in the Big East. There are good, natural rivalries in the Big 12 – and money to boot! The quality of both basketball and football are very highly rated in both the Big 12 and Big East. They have inroads and access into many top recruiting regions. They seem to have the best coaches where the other leagues tend to shop….(at least in the BE). What is the attraction other than the history of the Big 10? Woody and Bo have gone over the rainbow! They are ex-ex-coaches! (note: They are NOT pining for the fjords!) The future looks fine in both the Big East and the Big 12. Go talk to Memphis, I don’t think any of the teams mentioned are buying this Big 10 expansion crap…

  39. Observer1 says: Dec 15, 2009 9:25 PM

    Mizzou Kansas rivalry is huge. Mizzou Illinois is okay. I think the football series expires after next falls game 2010.
    Mizzou could go to the big ten and still play ku every year in all sports. Many rivals are on competing conferences.

  40. mastercaster says: Dec 15, 2009 9:42 PM

    Nas-T-N8 is correct. No way the MIZZOU alumni will allow us leaving the Big 12 and our rivalry with KU. I would personally volunteer to skin Brady Deaton alive along with any other MIZZOU alums that would like to lend a hand, should he continue with this FANTASY. Chancellors come and go, but rivalries are forever. Especially ones that date back to the Civil War and before. Go pick on Iowa State or Notre Dame.
    Add TCU in the Big XII and either give us either TCU or Baylor in the North Division. That way, all the rivalries are still in place. Give the new team some travel allowance for the long trips north :^)

  41. scottw says: Dec 15, 2009 9:48 PM

    Not a fan of expansion, but if it happened, I would prefer a Big Ten Red & Big Ten Blue lineup rather than a permanent geographic split, ie. the 2 division line-ups would change and rotate every 2 years so that all the rivalries would continue.
    Not sure how they’d need to handle the traditional Ohio State-Mich game since they wouldn’t want to lose it…

  42. Hovenaut says: Dec 15, 2009 10:02 PM

    It’s definately time to get this done. Not sure why Mizzou continues to garner buzz, can’t see the fit outside the Illinois game – and that doesn’t stack up to the established rivalries.
    Like Pitt or West Va – but one or the other gets left out and cramps their rivalry a bit.
    The timing w/ Cincy is terrible – a decade ago the basketball program would have been a fine add, but the football program was off. Now it’s the other way around.
    The other schools (Rutgers, Syracuse, Louisville, Iowa State) just seem off.
    Even though I wouldn’t expect them to say yes this time, hope another push is made for Notre Dame. Right in the heart of the conference, logistically making the most sense. But their tailor-made tv contract shot that to hell. Thanks NBC.

  43. pitt#1fan says: Dec 15, 2009 10:10 PM

    I think that the Big Ten should take Iowa State from the Big 12. Then the big 12 could replace them with TCU. The Big East should also expand. Notre Dame is in the Big East for everything else, they could join for football. The Big East could also add Army, Navy, and Marshall. Marshall and WVU would make a good rivalry. Additonally, South Florida should go to the ACC where they belong. Then Boston college could come back to the Big East where they belong. The Big East could then have a playoff now too. While we’re at it, the MAC and C-USA could combine with the 12-14 most strongest schools. The WAC and Mt-West could combine with the top 12-14 schools there too. That would then make 8 major power conferences. Each could have a conference championship game. Those 8 winners would then go into an 8 team playoff to replace the BCS for the national championship. All problems with college football now fixed.

  44. kcscooterdude says: Dec 15, 2009 11:15 PM

    Here’s a response to a few things said about Mizzou. First of all, KU and Illinois are both big rivals depending on who you talk to. For St. Louis fans, it’s Illinois. For Kansas City, it’s Kansas. There are four times as many St. Louis alum than Kansas City (I know, I’m one). A majority of Mizzou fans would rather play Illinois each year, but I’d say generally there would be a lot of interest in retaining a rivalry game against KU. If push came to shove, most fans would sacrifice a KU game to be part of the Big 10. Which speaks to my second point. Mizzou fans, like many fans of Big 12 North schools are fed up with the Big 12. It has become Texas and everyone else, which is exactly what broke up the old SWC when Arkansas moved to the SEC. There is a major grassroots movement among Mizzou fans to bolt for the Big 10. Dare I say the Big 10 presidents have picked up on this and this may be what has prompted renewed talk of expansion. Of all the schools mentioned, none would be happier to be a part of the Big 10 than Mizzou. And, Mizzou brings a lot to the table. It is a similar institution to most of the Big 10 schools. (Research 1), similar in size and most importantly delivers two top 25 television markets to the Big 10 in Kansas City and, most importantly, St. Louis. Talk of TCU or any Texas school joining the Big 12 is crazy. If the conference were to add yet another team from Texas, the north schools would bolt en masse. At the end of the day, whatever happens will cause a major shift in college football. If a Big 12 team leaves for the Big 10, the Big 12 will not survive. I think eventually you will see three or four 16 team conferences once all this has shaken out during the next decade.

  45. Doogen Fife says: Dec 15, 2009 11:25 PM

    I keep reading all of the talk that the teams in the Big East are so great that they should’nt be a part of a lesser conference such as the Big Ten. Please tell me how any team from the Big East would compete in the Big Ten? Yes Cincinnati went undefeated, but would they have been able to do that against teams such as Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa,etc. I dont think so!!
    The natural fit would be Notre Dame, but they wont be able to come off from their high horse to realize that they need a conference much more than any confernece needs them.

  46. Vinster says: Dec 15, 2009 11:36 PM

    Missouri to the Big 10.
    Texas and Texas A&M to the Pac-10 (Pac-12?)
    TCU, Utah and BYU to the Big 12.
    Texas is more of an academic fit with the Pac-10 (Stanford, UC Berkeley and UCLA). Texas A&M comes along for balance.
    Pac-10 North
    Washington State
    Oregon State
    Pac-10 South
    Arizona State
    Texas A&M

  47. gbreadman says: Dec 15, 2009 11:52 PM

    Hey, how about Appalachian State? After the beginning of last year’s wild season Michigan won’t be too happy seeing them every year, reminding them, “Hey remember us? From 2008? We’re baaaack!”

  48. Badgerjohn says: Dec 16, 2009 12:13 AM

    Big Ten should Drop Penn St., who should be in the Big East.
    Then pick up Iowa State AND Missouri from the Big 12 (and keep the Big Ten name. No reason to change). Make your new divisions:
    Great Lakes Division
    Michigan State
    Midwest Division
    Ohio State
    Iowa State
    Include scheduling rules to ensure big rivalry games continue (Ohio-Michigan, Missouri-Illinois). Scattered divisions are no big deal, as the ACC deals with it.
    But this leaves the Big 12 two short. That’s fixed, too: Add Arkansas and Texas Christian. Arkansas has must stronger regional rivalries than they do with their SEC teams, and TCU would love a shot at playing in a BCS Conference.
    Then the Big 12 can redraw along lines that will recall some old-school conferences:
    Big Six Division (Formerly North)
    Kansas State
    Oklahoma State
    Southwest Division (Frm. South)
    Texas Tech
    Texas A&M
    Texas Christian
    The OU-Nebraska rivalry is back at full flame, and you also have the possibility of the Red River Shootout either wrecking someone’s title hopes or setting up a rematch at the conference title game.
    The SEC would have to patch the hole left by the Hogs, but that shouldn’t be hard (Florida State, Miami and Clemson could probably be convinced). The Mountain West may be fine without a long trip to Forth Wort on their map and stand with their lineup, or make another push for 12, in which case you can be sure that Boise State and possibly Hawai’i or Fresno State will get called. The WAC could be wrecked, and may have to absorb/join Sun Belt teams for a mid-major league.
    With 120 D-I (I’m still calling it that) we may be looking towards a time where every team is in one of ten twelve-team conferences, each with a title game. Sounds like a good format to set up a playoff to me…

  49. Leeds USA says: Dec 16, 2009 12:15 AM

    People aren’t thinking about the academic aspect of things. Some of the schools listed as possibles just aren’t up to snuff academically, and size is going to be a consideration as well.
    The question is, if not Notre Dame, then who? Rutgers and Pittsburgh seem more likely than Missouri or one of the small (by comparison) schools like Cincinnati or Louisville. Rutgers seems like it would be a strong candidate, if for no other reason than to push the league towards the NY/NJ metro area. It would give all the schools more inroads into recruting in that area.
    I can’t see Cincinnati for the recruiting politics alone, and Louisville just isn’t strong enough in football (on the field and as a draw). West Virginia is a non-starter on all fronts. Syracuse is a bit of a dark horse, but for some reason I just can’t see that.
    Missouri just doesn’t make sense to me, and it is getting father west, especially since Illinois has a significant presence with respect to the St. Louis metro area, and KC is really part Kansas territory anyway.
    Thinking out of the box, if distance is less of an issue, the dark horses might be Nebraska, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Nebraska would push the conference further to the West (if going west is really an option) and is enough of a draw in football to make it a viable prospect.
    For those laughing about Kentucky and Tennessee, think again. Either would give the league a push into SEC territory. In UK’s case, they already have a rivalry with Indiana. Despite long histories, UK and Tenn have less compelling rivalries in the SEC in comparison to the other schools. For example, UK is really more of a rival to Louisville and Indiana than the rest of their SEC bretheren. For that reason, I think they are not as rooted in the SEC as some of the other schools might be.

  50. gaucho-jeff says: Dec 16, 2009 12:40 AM

    Nebraska to the Big 10!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you done laughing yet? Instead of being the redheaded stepsister to Oklahoma and Texas, Neb would own its new division in the B10, and probably kick OSU’s butt in the B10 championship game every year. And … most importantly … no other school except Notre Dame could bring as much TV $$$ to the conference as Neb. Can you imagine the TV coverage of an annual Neb-OSU game.

  51. thegao says: Dec 16, 2009 1:52 AM

    Seeing as how every member of the Big Ten (eleven) is a member of the AAU, odds are it would be more interested in pursuing a current AAU member. This leaves out Notre Dame, as lucrative of a school it might be for expansion. Based on the list presented in the article, the only schools that would fit this criteria are Rutgers, Pitt and Syracuse.
    This being said, I don’t think it would be incredibly difficult for Notre Dame to pursue membership in the AAU were it to join the Big Ten. Academically it is a fairly solid school, about as solid (if not more) as all of the other current Big Ten member schools. But that would probably be a big selling point, and I would not be surprised if the conference asked them to pursue such an endeavor. The real question would be if Notre Dame were really that interested in joining a conference and giving up that lucrative NBC deal.

  52. bbq says: Dec 16, 2009 4:58 AM

    Lots of interesting theories here. This is kind of exciting.
    One thing though…
    @ Leeds USA”
    There is NO way Tennessee leaves the SEC as a result of any of this.
    Vanderbilt maybe.

  53. shaunypoo says: Dec 16, 2009 6:53 AM

    Cincinnati fan here, but what recruiting politics? SW Ohio is a hotbed of high school football and we are right in the middle. And small by what comparison, enrollment? UC has 32,975 and Pittsburgh has 27,562, by the latest numbers. The Big East is the one that should be expanding.

  54. olbuzz says: Dec 16, 2009 7:34 AM

    There will be no expansion this season. They said discussion… Which means in about three years. They will not take small time Cincy. A decent Pittsburg team or a Rutgers possibly..
    If its not ND it will proably be a state team Missou, West Virgina, Iowa St…maybe a Virgina or Kentucky or Maryland.
    Texas inquired as to joining the B10 back in the ninties.
    Whoever the new invitee ends up being …Chances are they are an- Association of American Universities Member. A research institutions group consisting of sixty some members.
    Your not in the club and your names not Notre Dame….your not joining the Big Ten.
    Rutgers the New Jersey State school and Pittsburg are members. There’s a lot more than the football question envolved. Anyone other than the 11 Member Schools have zero opinion..
    So ESPN, SI Foxsports… and the rest of the backwards world get lost. You’ll be informed at a later date.

  55. hal9000 says: Dec 16, 2009 9:01 AM

    Leeds… allow me as a Kentucky fan to respond to your provocative suggestion about UK or Tennessee joining the Big 10.
    It’s certainly not a completely laughable idea, at least the half about Kentucky to the Big 10. Tennessee is impossible to fathom — the Alabama / Tennessee rivalry in football is huge and has deep roots, and if it weren’t for the existence of Auburn that would be known as one of the great rivalries in the country, I think.
    From a football perspective, UK in the Big 10 would be a very happy fit, I think. Let’s face it, the school is geographically much more in the Big 10 region than the SEC. More importantly, in the Big 10 Kentucky would have at least an occasional fighting chance to win the conference, in the way that Iowa and Wisconsin are sometimes able to put together the right stuff to be up at the top of the standings. In the SEC, with Alabama, Florida, LSU and Tennessee all perennial national powers, it seems highly improbable that UK will ever find a year when all 4 of those teams (plus Georgia) are having down years. Finally, I think Kentucky fans would be pretty fired up to go see Ohio St. and/or Michigan play the Cats on a regular basis.
    However, all of this discussion is missing the elephant in the room, which is UK’s basketball tradition in the SEC. Kentucky is very, very proud of its many SEC championships in basketball. For Kentucky to leave the SEC in basketball would be no less earthshaking than for USC to leave the PAC 10 in football, for both the school and the conference. I think Kentucky fans might literally riot in the streets if UK tried to leave the SEC, on account of the basketball tradition.
    Also, while Kentucky and Indiana do have a rivalry in both football and basketball, it isn’t particularly emotionally charged and hasn’t been, I think, in a generation. (The football rivalry has always been kind of a yawner, and with Indiana being down in basketball for so long, it can’t compete with the UK-Louisville game, or with Kentuckians’ general sense of antipathy and rivalry with Duke and North Carolina — even if they don’t play very often.
    So, even though it seems like a reasonable — if unlikely — proposition when contemplating football, I don’t see Kentucky walking away from the SEC anytime in our lifetimes on account of the basketball tradition.

  56. HerbertJablonski says: Dec 16, 2009 10:43 AM

    dont divide it into geo regions, just have teh #1 & #2 play each other in the champ, who cares?

  57. Pier588 says: Dec 16, 2009 10:52 AM

    robertg – returns with his Noter Dme DUMBA$$edness while out on Holiday pass from the Asylum.
    Michigan vs Ohio State traditionally in the last regular season game – then – if Michigan can ever return to prominence – a week later a rematch in the title game for the Big 10? What would playing the same team in back to back weeks accomplish?
    They play 12 regular season games a year in CFB – 11 of those games should be against conference opponents and 1 against whomever. Stop staging those stupid conference title games and make the conference members play it out during the regular season (they did this in CFB for years and years) to see who is the champ.
    Toss the conference champs, runners up and “others” into a playoff starting the first Saturday in December through the title game.

  58. frank booth says: Dec 16, 2009 11:03 AM

    I don’t care what happens here, but I keep picturing robertg as Benny from L.A. Law.

  59. TheADyouwanttoknow says: Dec 16, 2009 1:56 PM

    First, all the Cincinnati Bashers. For the record Cincinnati has one of the biggest alumni’s in the country. School is 40,00 strong. Is number #1 out of all BCS schools in APR and graduation rates. Is ranked in football and basketball this year. Are they attractive of course they are, that’s why the Big East took them.
    As to the Big Ten Nebraska or Iowa State are the obvious choices from the Big 12. No Big East team will leave for the Big Ten. Pitt and Penn State have issues, Bob Huggin’s would cause a riot at WV if they went in the Big Ten. Rutgers no way too far away. Cincinnati, not a chance in hell Ohio State allows that to happen. Louisville, again Petino like Huggin’s won’t go for it. Paterno wants a Big East team, but no one wants Penn State, just like in 1985 when the Big East said no to Penn State.
    As for Notre Dame, why anyone assumes they would join the Big Ten is beyond me. If they even had an inkling to join the Big Ten then they would have done so, but not they chose the Big East, due to the catholic tradition of some of the schools as well as the academic accomplishments of the Big East. Notre Dame has a winning record against the Big Ten over the last 10 years, but is 9-9 against the Big East in the same span. The Big East would make concessions for Notre Dame if they want to come in in football.

  60. borninhuntsv says: Dec 16, 2009 2:49 PM


    You said, “of course, they had to arrange for charlie and his staff and notre dame to lose 6 games on paper 1st.”

    They must have arranged for Notre Dame to lose 6 games on the field as well.

  61. TheADyouwanttoknow says: Dec 16, 2009 5:23 PM

    According to these numbers the Big East is doing much better than the ACC and BIG TEN.
    Maybe finally all the one’s saying the Big East doesn’t deserve a BCS bid will zip it! Nope, then what would they complain about.

  62. Dug says: Dec 17, 2009 1:00 AM

    I love the idea of expansion, but we need to consider a few things.
    1. Notre Dame is not going to join a conference in football for a long time. They get way too much money from NBC for the TV contract, and they don’t have to split any of the bowl money(if and when they make a bowl game)
    2. I vaguely remember one of the Big Ten coaches when talking about expansion not wanting Notre Dame because it would not expand their recruiting territory. So that would be another reason to leave ND out. With that idea in mind why not simply add TCU to the conference? I agree that Missouri shouldn’t leave the Big 12, and Iowa State joining the Big Ten does nothing for either the school of the conference. TCU in the “southern” division of the Big Ten would be a great add, and it would give the Big Ten a foothold into Texas for recruiting.
    3. Another interesting possibility is one of the military academies. Adding Navy or Army would open up the East Coast, and actually the nation for recruiting. The conference would instantly gain national acclaim. Academic standards and character standards are high for each one. Navy is a legitimate bowl team year in and year out. Army is making strides that way…it would be an interesting addition. I dont’ think that the Air Force would move from the Mountain West, but they might, and that would be an interesting fit as well.

  63. BFLO Sports Fan says: Dec 17, 2009 1:47 AM

    I see Notre Dame as the Perfect canadate because they already have three B-10 School’s on their schdule(Purdue, Michigan, Michigan ST)
    Let’s be honest if you were a recruit why would you go to a school which is not part of a conference where you had a measuing stick against other schools year in year out rather than be at a school where just 1/3 your schdule is against the same teams year after year.
    I have been saying since Charlie Weis’ hiring that the Fightin’ Irish will never win another National Title until; the Football Team joins the rest of College Football and Join a league.
    Until Notre Dame make the correct decision the coaching Carousel will continue moving at S. Bend every 3 to 5 yerars.

  64. Leeds USA says: Dec 18, 2009 12:28 AM

    To the Cincinnati fans, by recruiting politics I mean that Ohio State will never tolerate a recruting competitor in the conference. I am a Purdue grad (Ph. D.), but I can’t seen the Buckeyes allowing the Bearcats to gain the additional credibility they would get from joining the conference. That is a huge advantage I can’t see them ever letting go. I’m not bagging on Cincy’s numbers either, but those are inflated a bit by the relative large number of commuter students.
    To some extent I can see the same rule applying elsewhere. There will be resistance to admitting any other in-state competitors (apart from ND) from the affected schools with the additional possible exception of Pitt.
    Hal9000 has some good points about the plusses and minuses of UK, particularly their basketball history. But, these decisions will be made by administrative types who I suspect are not as considerate of tradition. The same goes for UT and keep in mind that most schools moving conferences are breaking with a good deal of tradition.
    I agree that Tennessee is more of a reach, and a lot less likely than other choices, but I wouldn’t be as dimissive as some. A good deal of the state is identifying more with urban areas than in the past, and there may be a drive from the academic end of things to raise the school’s profile by its’ athletic associations. No disrespect to the SEC schools, but they simply are not regarded as well as those from the Big 10 and certain other leagues.

  65. shaunypoo says: Dec 18, 2009 8:17 AM

    Leeds, there are alot of commuter students. OSU and some other schools do provide alot of housing to students. Hell, I lived 2 blocks from UC for 3 years, and I was considered commuter. I don’t think being a commuter or not is relevant anymore, just total numbers, but I am just saying that to help my POV.
    I do agree that OSU doesn’t want UC in the same conference, but disagree that being in the Big 10 would add credibility. The Big East has done better out of conference and in bowl games in recent history, and that is only with 8 teams. Personally, I think the Big 10 is overrated and the Big East is underrated, but some of that is bias.
    I say dissolve all current conferences, realign to form 8 superconferences with 12 teams each, have a conference title and the winner of the 8 go to the BCS tournament. If you are not one of the 96 in the BCS superconferences, don’t worry, every year the last place team in each conference gets dropped and the best of the rest get to join their regional.
    Problem solved, try the veal, I’ll be here all week.

  66. BigTigerfan1 says: Dec 18, 2009 9:18 AM

    Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa St to the Big 10 (11). That would bring the conference to 14, with the addition of the KC and St. L tv revenue, along with the rest of Iowa and the Omaha tv also. Big money, and on a very consistent basis, lots more money from the bowl victories we would be participating in, (IF, the NCAA would let that many teams in the bowl games?)
    Great midwest rivals would get going with this setup, and travel for the athletes would still be decent.
    Texas and ku can stay with the Big 12.
    If ku would like to schedule Mizzou, we would be up to that, but ku likes patsies.
    Colorado has had inclinations to join the Pac 10 for some time.

  67. Chuck Norris says: Dec 31, 2009 3:15 PM

    All Big Ten teams are members of the AAU (Association of American Universitites). I would assume any new team would need to be also. Schools are invited, they cannot apply. The only schools that make any sense are Iowa State, Rutgers, Syracuse, Buffalo, Kansas, and Pitt.
    KU is too far out geographically. I think JoePa would veto Pitt. Buffalo is too weak. I prefer Rutgers as an inroad to East Coast exposure.
    Overall, I am against expansion. Does it really matter if you are off 4 weeks or 6 weeks between games? This is all about money and national exposure. If they expand, move the OSU/Mich game to the middle of the season so they aren’t playing in back-back weeks (when Mich gets back to where they should be). And it wasn’t always the last game of the season, only since 1935.

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