So the Big Ten expansion issue has come up yet again, with Joe Pa leading the charge. Part of their reasoning is that it seems the league wants to remain in the public eye over the last few weeks of the season and be able to reap the profits from a championship game.
If all you're looking for as a league is increased revenue, then sure, I get this. And if you're in a smaller, non-BCS conference that needs another quality win to have more of a chance of being taken seriously, I got it. But why on earth would you want to have to beat a potential top ten team twice in a season? The only thing you'd accomplish as a league is make it that much harder to go undefeated and place a team in the national championship game.
But anyway, let's take a look from the standpoint of a team like Pitt to join the Big Ten.
This would be a mistake on every level in my opinion.
Pitt right now is in a pretty good spot. They're in a BCS conference, but one that is winnable. The schedule isn't so difficult that an undefeated season is out of the realm of possibility for even a non-elite team, as Cincinnati proved this year. And in most years, an undefeated Big East team could play for the title. This year that wasn't the case, but look around. An undefeated Big Ten team likely wouldn't have gotten the nod over Texas or Alabama, either. As short as two years ago, havoc was so badly wreaked that a one-loss team from the Big East, West Virginia, was a game away at the end of the season from playing for a National Championship. And it's not like their schedule was stacked, either. Prior to their bowl game against Oklahoma, West Virginia played exactly ONE team that finished the season in the top 25.
And by the way, let's talk about conference perceptions. WVU would have played for the title OVER the best that the Big 12 had to offer including a one-loss Kansas team, and two-loss Missouri and Oklahoma teams. Make no mistake, had WVU beaten Pitt, they, as a one-loss Big East team would have gotten the nod over a one-loss Big 12 team in KU or two-loss Oklahoma and Missouri teams. It's not always who you lose to, but WHEN you lose. And WVU proved that if you lose early enough, even a one-loss Big East team can make a national championship game.
Undefeated in a BCS conference is usually enough to get to a National Championship game. It's not like the Big East isn't capable of sending a team to the final game. Cincinnati was literally one second in the Texas game away from playing Alabama for the title. That's twice in the past three years that a Big East team has come tantalizingly close to playing for the national championship.
Yes, the league doesn't have the prestige of the Big Ten. But when you can play for championships, who really cares? Do you honestly think that Pitt wouldn't take a shot at a national championship over the 'glory of playing the ol' Maize and Blue?' Please. The Big Ten isn't that much stronger from top to bottom than the Big East is, if at all. But if Michigan ever gets back to being, well, Michigan, that league is considerably stronger and has potentially three top ten teams in it. Why would you, as Pitt, want to go through that labyrinth when you can be in the hunt for a league championship and BCS game every year in the Big East?
If you're talking about money and image, then sure, make the move. But if you're talking about a better shot at someday competing for a national championship, right now, the Big East provides that.