Big 10 expansion talks speed up


According to ESPN, there will be a meeting this week in Washington, DC among Big 10 officials. This meeting also falls at a convenient time for the Big 10, because the BCS meetings take place next week in Phoenix, AZ. I also expect our friends over at Spartan Avenue to be keeping a close eye on this one as well.

In previous stories, Big 10 officials were quoted as saying that the study of conference expansion would take anywhere from 12-18 months. The Big 10 would like to expand to 12 teams in order to hold an outright “Conference Championship Game” to determine the Big 10 Champion (which would be the conference’s representative in the Rose Bowl.) Right now, the Big 10 is at 11 teams.

Folks, this is very important to keep a close eye on. Especially those of us that follow (and defend) the Big East Conference. Some of the rumors of possible expansion:

Invite one or more of the following teams (in what I construe as another possible raid on the Big East)

University of Pittsburgh– They are already well-entrenched in “Big 10 market territory” with Penn State. So, them moving to the Big 10 wouldn’t help the conference out at all. Plus, what would happen to the “Backyard Brawl?” Would that rivalry just go by the wayside, like the WVU-Virginia Tech rivalry did when VTech bolted to the ACC? However, I have heard rumors about a specific rule that would prohibit Pitt from joining the Big 10: Every team must have their own football stadium. Pitt shares Heinz Field with the Steelers. Would the Big 10 make an exception here, or is this just a non-existent/non-enforced rule?

Rutgers University– The New York City market would be a huge boost to the Big 10. Currently, the NYC/NJ market is considered Big East territory, with Rutgers already in place, as well as the Big East Basketball Tournament being held in NYC, as well as the number of students from that market that attend WVU (not to mention the number of WVU Alumni that live up there!) Losing this market would be a huge blow to the Big East. The same case I just made for Rutgers could also be made for Syracuse. The all-important NYC/NJ market despite them being in upstate New York.

Missouri– Could bring in the Kansas City and St. Louis markets. Has had some successes in recent years with their football and basketball programs.

Notre Dame– While the Big 10 is firmly entrenched in the Indiana market (with, yes you guessed it, the Hoosiers and the Purdue Boilermakers), this would be the most logical move for both the Big 10 and Notre Dame. Notre Dame has been an independent in football (while leeching off of the Big East’s bowl agreements) and the prestige that ND brings to the table is unparalleled. Notre Dame usually schedules quite a few Big 10 opponents every year with Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue. The kicker in all of this is ND’s lucrative deal with NBC. Will there be a grandfathering of this deal (allowing ND to keep the NBC deal while the Big 10 has their own deal), a restructuring of the deal, or perhaps ending the deal altogether?

No matter how you look at this, this is going to be bad for the Big East. Luckily, back in February, the Big East put their foot down and said that if any school leaves the conference, they are required to give a 29 (I believe it’s 29, I couldn’t find that article anywhere to save my life) month notice and be prepared to shell out a lot of money.

This is my plea to the Big East Conference: Get DePaul, Providence and Seton Hall OUT of the conference to make room for East Carolina and Memphis, and give Villanova and Georgetown a call to tell them, “Time to step their football programs up.” UConn did the same thing and they aren’t doing half bad now-a-days.

We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled on this story.