Daily Roundtable - Should The Big Ten Expand?
Notre Dame WR Golden Tate
Notre Dame WR Golden Tate
Posted May 28, 2009

Are you for Big Ten expansion? If it adds one team, who should it be? Does the league need a conference title game to get even bigger? It's the Thursday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

May 28

Should the Big Ten expand? If it adds one team, who should it be?

- May 18 No BCS, No Weis?
- May 19 Does 2008 Utah have a beef?
- May 20 When should preseason polls come out?
- May 21 Is Tebow the best QB ever?

- May 22 2009's most interesting teams 
- May 25 Heisman race sleepers 
- May 26 Chizik, Kiffin or Mullen? 
- May 27 Should the Pac 10 expand? Is so, then what two teams should be added? 

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Pete Fiutak, CFN 

Q: Are you for Big Ten expansion? If it adds one team, who should it be?

Not only am I against Big Ten expansion, I'm for retraction so the league can pull a Pac 10 and go to a nine-game conference schedule.

In the Get Over It Already, Dorkface, category, I still have a hard time accepting Penn State in the Big Ten. It's been 17 years since the Big Ten became the Big 11, but Penn State, because of its location and past history, belongs as the anchor of the Big East or even in the ACC. Actually, I don't have that much of a problem with it outside of the Big Ten still calling itself the Big Ten.

That's never going to happen, so I'd love to seen the league ditch a two non-conference game and play a ten-game conference slate. That's not going to happen either, but it would be far more fair than what the league has now.

Wisconsin and Penn State don't play, Minnesota gets to miss Indiana and a still-rebuilding Michigan, Northwestern misses Michigan and Ohio State (which would mean party time in almost any other year), Illinois misses Iowa and Wisconsin, and worst of all, at least this year, Michigan State and Ohio State don't play each other. I'm against conference championships, but at least the ACC, Big 12, Conference USA, MAC and SEC come closer to crowning a true champion than the Big Ten does.

The obvious answer for many would be to add Notre Dame, go to a 12-team format with two divisions, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Ohio State in one, and Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State, and Purdue in the other, play a championship, and join the rest of the flock. However, that's not going to happen any time soon because there's no reason whatsoever for Notre Dame to join a conference considering it gets to keep all its bowl money, has the NBC deal, and it gets to schedule anyone it wants to. Why give all of that up? The Big Ten would have to give the Irish a sweetheart of a deal, like an extra percentage of bowl and TV revenue, and that wouldn't exactly be kosher for programs like Ohio State and Penn State.

Forget about stealing away anyone from the Big 12. Iowa State makes geographical sense, but there are a whole mess of reasons why the Big Ten wouldn't want the Cyclones. Nebraska also makes some sense, but that would never happen. The same goes for Missouri, who already have a geographical rivalry with Illinois. You can also forget about anyone in the MAC, because, well, it's the MAC. That means the pickins become slim in a big hurry if the South Benders don't want to be a part of the fun. That leaves one program that fits for what the Big 10 might want to do when it comes to expansion.


The Big Ten would LOVE to hork the Orange away from the Big East for basketball alone (which is why this will never happen), but it would also expand the overall landscape of the league for football. Syracuse might be way overpriced, but it's a solid academic institution and has a large alumni base that would add to the Big Ten's image of being large.

In the same way Penn State brings in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh markets, despite not being close to either city, Syracuse would help attract interest from New York City, who currently has little to no interest in college football. The school isn't that much further east than State College and is closer to Columbus and Ann Arbor than Minneapolis is.

In the end, the Big Ten is happy with the way things are. It's unique and bizarre setup allows for two teams to get into the BCS every year and for the money to come flying in by the buckets because of the TV deals. It's not going to mess with what's working.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: Are you for Big Ten expansion? If it adds one team, who should it be?

It’s not going to happen, but, hypothetically, if you can ever lure Notre Dame from independence, you do it every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Adding the Irish to such luminaries as Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State would give the Big Ten a national Q rating that would rival the SEC and surpass the Big 12. Beyond the Domers, however, why bother trying to shoehorn in someone, like Missouri or Rutgers? Would it really make the league better or more appealing outside the Midwest?

With 11 members, the Big Ten is sort of in conference purgatory. You’ve got too many schools for everyone to play each other annually and not enough to set up two balanced divisions. The only reason why you’d even consider a twelfth team is to justify a conference championship game, which I’ve never favored for any league. Without being too redundant on this topic, I find them, well, redundant at the end of a regular season and little more than another cash cow. Plus, extra games in December only hurt whatever small chance exists of expanding the postseason in the future.

For the Big Ten, this should be an all-or-nothing proposition. Expand if you can do the unthinkable and land Notre Dame. Otherwise, you might as well stand pat. Just curious, but if the conference did add another member, would it still insist on referring to itself as the Big Ten?

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: Are you for Big Ten expansion? If it adds one team, who should it be?

If the school is Notre Dame, I'm for Big Ten (11?) expansion. Getting the Irish into a league would, at long last, liberate college football fans from seeing the iconic program coast to a BCS bid with a cake schedule against service academies and lower-rung BCS conference schools. The solid teams Notre Dame plays come from the Big Ten, so the addition of the Irish to the league of the Upper Midwest would provide a natural fit on geographic and TV-related levels.
Similar to the Pac-10, an important digression needs to be voiced: The Big Ten doesn't need a conference title game so much as it needs to be willing to schedule games on the two weekends after Thanksgiving, to maintain visibility and prevent member schools from having 50-day layoffs before championship bowl games in early January. Again, this thing called leadership would be nice if it could be found in Big Ten offices. Making Big Ten Network available on basic cable would also help, far more than league expansion.
It's all about priorities. Notre Dame or no Notre Dame, the Big Ten needs to choose its battles wisely.

Jon Miller, Publisher, HawkeyeNation.com

Q: Are you for Big Ten expansion? If it adds one team, who should it be?

A: I can go either way on this one, because there are 11 teams in a league that calls itself the Big Ten.  But the moniker Big 12 is already taken, so if they would add another team, they would still call themselves the Big Ten, something that would further irritate math teachers all across the nation.

The first team you contact is also the last team you contacted about expansion, and that is Notre Dame.  The Big Ten has a different pitch this time around; Big Ten Network money.  The way I see it, the eight to ten million dollars Notre Dame would get for joining the Big Ten, along with the shared bowl pool money it would receive, and the millions it would get if the Big Ten went to a conference playoff game makes their NBC money less of a debate this time around.   Yes, I know the Fighting Irish don’t have to share any of the money they get when they go to a BCS bowl game, but they don’t do that any more.  They would probably lose a portion of their identity by joining the Big Ten, something that has happened to former independents like Penn State, Florida State and Miami. 

If not Notre Dame, I look at Rutgers. They are a research institution, and the Big Ten brass insists that is a factor that University Presidents would weigh heavily.  Missouri is another possible name I would throw into that mix.  The bottom line is as it stands right now, the Big Ten is the most powerful conference in sports, and the only school that would turn them down would likely be Notre Dame.  But I like the league how it is.

Hunter Ansley, Publisher, DraftZoo.com

Q: Are you for Big Ten expansion? If it adds one team, who should it be?

The Big Ten already has 11 teams, so why not add one more?  They don't pit every team in the conference against each other like the Pac 10, so the league is already in danger of those situations when two teams have equal records that didn't meet in the regular season.  I may be the only that thinks so, but I think conference championship games could lead to a playoff.  It could really just become the "first round" if every conference adopted them.

There's no reason not to expand.  In fact, it would be fun to see the graphic designers try to come up with clever ways to sneak a "12" into the logo. 

The obvious answer is to include Notre Dame.  Of course, that likely won't ever happen because money is more important to college football than great matchups and a nice round number of conference teams.  But Notre Dame makes perfect sense from a geographical and historical standpoint.  I'd give Boise State some consideration, but I'm not sure they'd bring enough clout from a financial standpoint.  I just hope no one makes the obvious Appalachian State joke...oops.