Monday, May 3, 2010

On Conference Expansion

I know the big talk has been conference expansion while I have been out and about.  I know the dominos might not fall for some time, or they could tomorrow.  When you deal with Jim Delaney, who is as opposed to fast athletes as he is to moving fast, there is no telling.  This much we know:  The Big Ten is tired of just losing the Rose Bowl; it wants to lose the National Championship game with some regularity, as well.

It can't do that without a conference championship game.  It can't host a conference championship game with out 12 teams.  In a feat of illogic that only folks in world class engineering schools can figure, the Big Ten only needs to add one team to get to 12.  Once that happens, only heavens knows who will go where.

I am still not convinced that Nortre Dame is the way for them to go.  While geography and prestige are certainly factors for the Big Ten to consider in this search, simply adding Notre Dame does nothing to help something that is very important in this consideration: substantially increase the level of value placed on the conference schedule by those outside the conference.  Yes, ND adds national recognition, both good and bad.  The Irish adds a team that is located dead in the middle of Big Ten country.  However, the price the Big Ten will pay is too high, that being Notre Dame will insist on keeping five non-conference games.

Southern Cal, Navy, Boston College, plus two home games against the likes of Air Force and San Diego State, by my count.  The only upside is that the conference could put The Irish in a division to allow Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State to play Notre Dame every year.  That means there would only be two cross division games available, assuming the conference goes with a "play everyone" in your division rule.  I just don't see that happening in a way that makes the addition of The Irish work.

So, what does that mean?  Delaney will go west, probably raiding a couple (or more) teams from the Big 12.  Hey, Delaney wants to be the best at something, so seeing a 16 or more team conference isn't out of the question for him.  Imagine The Big Ten and Then Some Conference.  If that happens, the SEC makes the move and grabs Texas and Oklahoma, even if it means Texas A&M and Oklahoma State comes along.  I am ok with that.  In fact, I like all four of those teams, assuming Oklahoma and Texas are part of the four, way more than FSU and Miami.  To keep things simple, the SEC could move Alabama and Auburn to the East, retain all of the traditional rivalries and keep the same basic scheduling regime. 

Sounds simple sitting here in Illinois, right?  I am sure there are a brazillian things I am not thinking of, but this just makes a little too much sense for it to happen.


  1. I think it's clear the Big 10 and Pac 10 are expanding. Texas should be interesting, from what I've heard it would come down to fit v. money, I know they'd prefer a move to the Pac 10 over the SEC, but the money in an SEC package is likely going to be greater.

    I do think if CU leaves for the Pac 10, and Neb. and Mizzou for the Big 10, then the Big 12 is essentially going to disband. It's too bad, but they don't have the media markets to expand themselves.