Is an expanded Big Ten closer to becoming a reality than anyone had imagined?
Based on an article in the Chicago Tribune this morning, it certainly is. Or, at the very least, could be.
According to the Tribune, and citing a source inside the Big Ten, an initial report commissioned by the conference recommends that the presidents should give two big thumbs up to expansion. And the reason for the recommendation is quite simple — mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money.
“The point was: We can all get richer if we bring in the right team or teams,” the source told the paper.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez stated last month that 15 schools he refused to identify were part of the initial study, but the Tribune reports that five universities were analyzed — Missouri, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Rutgers. The Tribune wrote that the source ” called those five “‘the obvious suspects’ and cautioned that other universities could earn consideration.”
That would seem to leave the door open for the likes of Nebraska and Kansas to possibly push their way into the piles and piles of Big Ten Network money, especially if the conference were to expand beyond just 12 teams.
In an interesting side note, a separate article from the same paper lists Rutgers as offering the best package out of all of the schools involved in the initial study, followed Missouri and Pittsburgh. Those “rankings” came from a consensus of Big Ten sources, officials from other conferences and TV executives.
Speaking to the UW athletic board on Feb. 19, Alvarez stated that a recommendation of either one or multiple schools for expansion could be made to university presidents as early as this summer.
Based on this latest report, Alvarez is looking very much Nostradamus-like these days.