SBNation's Land-Grant Holy Land reports that Georgia Tech could become the Big Ten's 15th member, likely after the ACC Championship game this weekend. It's all conjecture at this point, but let's make it clear that very few people believe the Big Ten was going to hold at 14 members. As surprised as we all were of the rapid reports of Maryland coming on board, we shouldn't be surprised by a 15th member. Or the inevitable 16th member.
Why Georgia Tech? The Yellow Jackets don't have a great football history, though they do have that 1990 National Championship where they (Rambling) Wrecked the Huskers 45-21 in the Florida Citrus Bowl. All-time, Georgia Tech is 689-461-13 in football. So it's a decent football add. But what really makes Georgia Tech compelling for the Big Ten is staking out a firm placeholder in the Deep South. Otherwise known as SEC country. Tomorrow, the SEC Championship game will be held just over a mile away from Bobby Dodd Stadium on the Georgia Tech campus.
What does this mean for the Big Ten? For starters, television money from the eighth largest television market. More importantly, the Big Ten will now play games deep in the south. When players in the south are considering Big Ten schools, they can now point to games against Georgia Tech as an opportunity to play a game closer to home. At 993 miles between Memorial Stadium and Dodd Stadium, it's actually closer than Maryland and Rutgers for Husker fans.
If Georgia Tech becomes team #15, who becomes the 16th team? David Ubben of ESPN points out that the Big XII schools have all committed all of their media rights to the Big XII Conference...even if they leave. So barring the complete demise of the conference by mutual agreement, you can pretty much count out Kansas, Oklahoma, or Texas. So a 16th member will likely come from the ACC or Big East.
Notre Dame will probably get one last approach, and will be reminded that the ACC they thought they were joining is gone. The SEC will almost assuredly add two more schools, likely also from the ACC. If Notre Dame can't be swayed, the Big Ten will strike again. North Carolina? That would be my preference, but they might not leap unless Duke comes along. And then we're at 17... Virginia has been long rumored, and probably makes the most sense
Frank the Tank, who's been solid all along on conference realignment, offers up this curve ball.
If we're going to buy Big Ten Armageddon rumors (and I'm not an Armageddon guy), don't ignore Miami if you want a pair with Georgia Tech.— Frank the Tank (@frankthetank111) November 30, 2012
That's another game changer. Yes, the Hurricanes are always an NCAA violation just waiting to be investigated...but again, it expands the B1G footprint all over the eastern seaboard. Personally, I like this if only for the rivalry game where the U has to travel to Lincoln for a conference game in November.
Boston College or UConn also would be logical, if not unspectacular, additions to the conference and it's footprint. I kind of think that with Rutgers and the collapse of the ACC, the Big Ten will probably do fairly well in the northeast from a mindset perspective. I don't know that Jim Delaney needs to add a school there to reinforce that. But it's certainly an option.
Buckle your seatbelts, because realignment is back.