Since the news broke that Jim Delany and the Big Ten were looking into expansion, numerous teams have surfaced as the front runner.
First it was Pittsburgh. They have strong football and basketball programs, and they would create a natural in-state rival for Penn State. Pitt makes all the sense in the world.
Next was Missouri. This time the reasoning was the outstanding academics the school offered. The football program would become one of the mid-to-upper teams in the Big Ten.
Then, out of the blue, Texas surfaced. This choice made no sense, and at the same time, the most sense in the world. Texas would provide a huge media market for the Big Ten Network, strong football and basketball programs, and offer the recruiting gold mine that is the state of Texas. The obvious draw back would be the distance.
Now Rutgers is the hot name floating around. The New York media market appears to be the deciding factor in this perspective choice.
Whichever school the Big Ten decides to add as their 12th team should not be the last addition in this expansion. I think the Big Ten should be ahead of the curve for once, and begin the formation of a Super Conference. They should expand to at least 14 teams, but preferably 16 teams or 18 teams.
We all know that Notre Dame would be the best school to start with, but I think they have made it clear they prefer to stay independent for the foreseeable future. Instead begin with the 3 “local” schools that have already been heavily mentioned in the media. Just think what adding Pittsburgh, Missouri, and Rutgers would do for the Big Ten. Athletics, academics, and media are all strengthened by the addition of these three schools at once. The Big Fourteen sounds pretty good to me.
If the Big Ten feels like getting really ahead of the curve, look at two or even four more schools and complete the Super Conference. Cincinnati and Nebraska are the two schools that make the most sense. It keeps the conference in contiguous states, provides a natural in-state rival for Ohio State, and adds a couple more good academic programs.
The Big Eighteen sounds even better to me though. Let’s not forget the talks that Texas and the Big Ten just had, so that makes 17. You don’t have to look far for an 18th team. Adding Oklahoma would make this new Super Conference contiguous again, and preserve its rivalry with Texas. These two schools would again escalate an already improved athletic side to the conference, as well as adding solid academics, new recruiting possibilities, and huge media markets.
Let’s say Delany can’t convince the higher ups at UT and OU. Go ahead and add Syracuse and Iowa State. That creates two more natural in-state rivalries and keeps the Super Conference contiguous still.
Now, the new Big Ten (Big Eighteen) will undoubtedly have large hurdles with traveling, football scheduling, divisions, and many other things. Have no qualms about this though, the Big Eighteen will figure out a way to resolve all of these issues, because there is an obscene amount of money to be made by doing so.
Super Conferences are the way of the future, for football at least. The Big Ten should be ahead of the curve and add the best and brightest before it is too late.