Big Ten expansion (part 2): Outside looking in

23 02 2010

Nebraska or Notre Dame to the Big 10?Since the last installment, Big 10 commissioner Jim Delaney repeated the conference has not yet begun to contact other schools and conferences about potential additions to the Big 10 lineup. While I am sure that is true, especially due to a roll of legal red tape, I am also sure conversations have been had over golf games at Torrey Pines, beers at Hooters on West Higgins Road in Chicago and other back-slapping events for college big-wigs gauging the interest of potential teams.

But before we get to the A-list teams the Big 10 is most likely looking at, lets look at the fringe teams that have a shot at joining the next super conference. In no particular order …

NOTRE DAME

Notre Dame is like the hot chick at the dance. Everybody wants her on their arm, but once you’re dating her, you realize her breath stinks, she farts and calls you every time she gets confused about which way to put the CD in the player. Yes, the national fan base of the Golden Domers and its storied history (Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!) is very attractive. But working around its NBC contract and the special treatment the Irish will expect as incentive for joining the Big 10 will make them unattractive. Sure they are located in the center of Big 10 country, but there aren’t really any rivalries to latch on to. Notre Dame’s rivals are more like USC, Navy, Florida State, Miami, and maybe Michigan. There is definitely an up-side to bringing Notre Dame into the fold, but the Fathers declined the invite several times before, and will undoubtedly pass again.

NEBRASKA

Imagine the 1980s with classic match-ups pitting Tom Osborne and Hayden Fry. The border rivalry between Nebraska and Iowa is as strong as any other in the nation. However, the Bugeaters and Hawkeyes rarely face each other on the gridiron. This only fuels the buffalo chip tossing over barbed-wire fences. Adding Nebraska would not only give resolution to generational battles of Iowa versus Nebraska, but would also land another historic program to the Big 10. The conference would increase its overall strength of schedule significantly with an addition like Nebraska. The Cornhuskers play traditional Big 10 football with superior defenses and conventional offensive attacks. They would fit in nicely, however it is up to the Cornhuskers to accept the challenge. History would suggest they prefer to take the easy Big 12 North schedule  as they prepare for their post-season bowl. Plus the Big 12 will fight kicking and screaming about letting go of their only threat out of the North. Like Notre Dame, it would be a great addition, but the school and conference are standing in their own way.

CINCINNATI

Surprise! Didn’t see that coming, did ya? They are a rising star in the BCS division, despite getting whacked by (that guy with the initials T.T. and) Florida in the Sugar Bowl. They would definitely shake things up in the Big 10, as well as create an in-state conference rival with Ohio State. To date, the OSU and Cincy hasn’t been much of a rival, but throwing them both in the Big 10 East would make an instant rivalry. They also contribute something Notre Dame and Nebraska can’t; a basketball improvement for the conference as well. Sure the Cornhuskers and Irish have had good teams occasionally, but between the three, the Bearcats program would improve the basketball conference more than the others. Look for their stock to rise in the Big 10 Sweepstakes especially if they have another BCS-level season in 2010.

As much as either of these schools would improve the Big 10 conference, Notre Dame have any real incentive to join the Big 10, Nebraska doesn’t have the leather to join the conference, and Cincinnati might be too green to be considered a quality addition to the Big 10.

Next time, we will break down the finalists.

Mr Pressbox Out!!

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