On NCAA Conference Expansion

The Big 10 fired the opener with news of a possible expansion study, and now with many of the other conferences having their summer meetings, college athletics is aghast with expansion speculation.  From all the hemming and hawing, the most likely loser in all this is the Big 12 – especially with the news that the Pac 10 may extend invitations to the four Texas schools and two Oklahoma schools in an attempt to seriously redefine themselves.

So what’s our take on all this? Well count me as opposed to the idea of four ‘mega-conferences’ with 16plus teams that dominate Division 1.  The Big East has too many teams; it’s unwieldy and saturated.  To see the Big 10, Pac 10, and SEC go this route would diminish the regional ties and in some ways solidify certain teams’ choke-holds at the top of their leagues.  On the other hand, with conferences that big, winning your league would really mean something again.

The only sport it would really make sense for is football, which is the reason the Big 10 started exploring options to begin with.  Like it or not, football is the NCAA cash king.  The Big 10 wants a championship game, and mega-conferences would probably make it easier to transition to a playoff system.  More money for TV deals means more revenue to fund the other sports – the inherent irony.  Because for the rest of college athletics, large regional conferences with long road-trips would only add headaches.

One thing you’ll hear the college presidents and various ADs talk about is, ‘academic fit’.  While this might have some effect, it’s actually a laugher.  The Big 10 might care to some degree about academic reputation when extending an offer, but it’s really about the TV markets.  Why else would the Pac 10 be gambling so high on the state of Texas?  They want to expand that all-powerful media imprint so they can renegotiate for better TV $$$ next year.  You think the Standford faculty is thrilled with being linked with, say, Texas Tech?

What do we hope happens? The Big 10 adds just a single team and everything else stays pretty much the same.  My personal choice would be Missouri – the Tigers are in the region, they’re natural rivals, and it wouldn’t totally upset the balance of the NCAA.  The Big 12 could then backfill with TCU or Colorado State or even raid Arkansas back from the SEC and everything’s cool.  Of course a lot of folks in the Midwest think Notre Dame is the perfect fit, and maybe they are, but I’m sick of their holier-than-thou attitude.  As much as I love the idea of heading north to South Bend to watch the Illini beat them, they can continue to suck in the Big East and watch their vaunted TV contract dry up and spiral into a has-been for all I care.

What we hope doesn’t happen… The Big 10 adds three schools – call them Missouri, Nebraska, and Notre Dame – which leads to the Texas schools jumping from the Big 12 to the Pac 10, followed by the SEC, ACC and Big East slugging out to expand as well.  While it would be humorous to watch longtime NCAA sacred cow Kansas flapping in the breeze alone before heading to Conference USA or the Mountain West, this is just too much chaos and too much tradition scuttled.

So what’s next?  The Big 10 seems to hold the cards with all their TV revenue and they’ve repeatedly stood by their original feasibility study timetable.  So that means nothing happens for now.  They have to decide if adding one or three gets them the $$$ they so covet.  But with other leagues making noise, maybe that timetable has to move up.  Who knows…  Missouri is clearly ready to join, so I say get it done, get your even number of teams and football conference championship, and move on.

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3 thoughts on “On NCAA Conference Expansion

  1. If money is truly the deciding factor Texas would almost certainly be one of the highest priorities. Then have almost as large of an alumni base as us with their 37k undergrads and 11k graduate students every year. In addition they have a large following outside the state as its “cool” to flash the Hook ‘Em Horns sign to your homies and wear that uglier orange color.

    What worries me is what will happen to Kansas?!?!?!? Does Bill Self’s dream job, now become a nightmare because their football program is so pathetic? That would be irony wouldn’t it.

    The latest scuttle here in the ‘Paign is Missou and……wait for it….Nebraska! Yeah that Nebraska, I’m not sure they have a basketball team, seriously….that just goes to show how important football and the money it prodcues is! Nebraska is like Meatchicken, a shadow of its former greatness in football. In addition it would probably be like Penn State for our Illini. Whip our butts in football every year or every other year and field a basketball team that doesn’t do much but spoil the real teams with a win here or there they shouldn’t get.

    I agree Missou is a good fit, I also agree that ND can go fly the proverbial kite! Matter of fact once expansion is done, I’d love to see Delany tell the rest of the league to not schedule ND, that would be cool! Then they could lose to NIU or SIU or the Tapioca School of the Blind or whomever!

    As for the number of teams 16 would be cool. We could do a Big Ten East and West. Who freakin’ cares if we play PSU every year in football or for that matter our football rivalry with MSU or Indiana or Meatchicken can go blow too.

    Imagine Big Ten West: Texas, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin
    Big Ten East: Meatchicken, tOSU, MSU, PSU, Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame and pick one Rutgers, Syracuse, Pittsburgh.

    That would be cool. Then you play your 7 divisional teams rotating home/away every year and the other five games three could be from the other divison and then you can throw in the two cupcakes! In basketball it wouldn’t be a problem, the Big Ten season would have to start earlier, which means less cupcakes…or does it, I mean really, ND basketball, Nebraska, PSU, NW still some pretty week teams.

    Finally, we have to think about the impact on college soccer. Adding these “Super Conferences” to the mix may cause havoc for the new America’s passtime. In Mens Soccer there wouldn’t be as big of an impact as Indiana has national Championships galore in 98, 99, 03 and 04 and a runner up in 94. Heck even tOSU goet a runner up in 07. However, with Notre Dame earning National Runner up honors in 92, 06 and 08 with a championship in 04 in womens soccer, the balance of power might shift too much to the power conferences…on second thought becasue of soccer maybe we should scrap the whole idea!!!

  2. Quit being an old maid you sissy! Change is good, money is what makes the world go around unfortunatly so why not get as much as we can. Why resist expansion, the SEC and Pac 10 are both going to do it. Do we want the Big 10 left to the dolldrums like…..Conference USA or gulp….the Big East!

    I say let the fun begin. Bring on 5 new teams. Football playoffs….the possibiility of the Big Ten B-ball tourney in St. Louis or Dallas!

    Plus, guess what….unforseen by product of this all going down….SEC raids ACC and takes some decent football schools (ok they only have a couple) and then…..wait for it…..DUKE IS IRRELEVANT as the ACC falls to pieces! Coach Ratface leaves for the Cleveland Cavs Lebron goes to Chicago and both the Bulls and the Blue Devils SUCK FOREVER BWA..HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Sorry random dream tangent there.

    Nebraska and Missou will be in the Big 10 by Friday so that means at least one more, ND or Texas? Possibly both and then either Syracuse or Rutgers! The Super 16 Baby, welcome to the future……WELCOME TO THE REVOLUTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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