Okay, so we all know Big Ten expansion is likely coming. Right? Well, while the talk has focused on it happening, it's easy to forget that maybe it won't.
I know, I don't believe it won't, either.
The talk is of course not dying down and Brian Bennett of ESPN.com looks at some teams the Big East may consider admitting if the conference is purged. As we all know, the options aren't all that attractive. Not terrible once you bypass the name value, just not great. Brian gives his top five, but I outlined a few other options before.
The Trib had an article today about the Big Ten expanding its footprint. Again, nothing new here and there's the usual stuff about Pitt bringing nothing new to the table.
Jay Paterno thinks rivalries will be hurt by expansion. I guess that's true to a degree, but come on. How would playing Pitt instead of Indiana be a bad thing? And Penn State has already been playing Syracuse pretty regularly. I have a hard time believing missing out on someone like Minnesota would be really all that big of a deal. Illinois? Northwestern? I don't know if they're strong rivalries for Penn State. If the league expands to 14 or 16, you might lose 1-2 fairly solid rivalry games with teams like Wisconsin, Michigan State, or Iowa. But you'd still be gaining new rivalries, so I don't know if necessarily buy his argument.
I do, however, think he has a point about what to do with the big three of Penn State, Michigan, and Ohio State. You can't realistically put them all in one division unless you really brought in some heavy hitters on the other side such as a Notre Dame or to lesser degrees Nebraska and Pitt.
Meanwhile, could it be true that the Big East isn't the only conference that should have concerns about survival? Here's a writer who thinks the Big East isn't the answer for the Big Ten:
In my opinion the Big East is not a threat; if I were running the Big Ten I would want them to stay intact. They have some very good football programs and some great basketball universities, but why would I want to break them up?Personally, I think he's really naive about the NY/NJ market issue. That's perhaps the largest issue at hand in this whole expansion thing and he seemingly brushes it under the rug.
It is not like The Northeast is a College Football hotbed, it is an area dominated by pro sports. Especially in the NYC area. WV and Pitt are very good programs but WV is not a member of the AAU, and the market share Pitt could bring is mostly held by Penn State. The only thing going for that area is TV sets, but nothing that really drives the needle, Rutgers really? I believe Delany should only threaten the demise of the Big East to force ND into the fold.
Gregg Doyel over at sportsline.com thinks that the Big Ten needs to essentially 'go big or go home':
Anything less than Notre Dame or Texas, and the Big Ten would be expanding, and demolishing the NCAA infrastructure, for no good reason. I really like Doyel, and there's something to that. But again, he's another example of perhaps missing the issue at hand - the New York and New Jersey market. It comes down to how can the Big Ten expand its reach and that market is something I think they heavily covet. Further, Notre Dame isn't likely to join and Texas would be a travel nightmare for teams like Penn State or Rutgers.
Pat Forde of ESPN.com lays out his opinions on expansion and says the best thing to do would be to simply add one team:
So that leaves the 12-team option, Jim. Not the sexiest or the boldest move. But the best move. Go grab one school and get yourself on even footing with the other power brokers in college sports.This would obviously be the best thing the Big East could hope for. And while 16 teams may be the best thing for Pitt, it might not necessarily be a good thing for the Big Ten.
Missouri offers proximity and two large TV markets (St. Louis and Kansas City). Rutgers offers the window into New York City, and something of an Eastern ally to Penn State. Nebraska offers the most football cachet.
The Big Ten fans, of course, have mixed feelings.
Then there's the ugly issue of teams being left out. Could it be that Cincinnati may be one of those, due to Ohio State?
Whatever happens, I just wish it would happen.