InsideMDSports, from 247, fired off the latest round of conference realignment discussions last week with a tweet about who else the Big Ten might be looking at:
Big 10 talk buzzing again. #UVA being mentioned often as likely to join. Georgia Tech still in the mix. #UNC, the big domino, has an offer.— Jeff Ermann (@insidemdsports) February 19, 2013
The names have been discussed before, so whether the behind-the-scenes discussions have heated up or this is just a rewarming up of old speculation, we don't know. But let's assume that the Big Ten is looking to expand beyond 14. What's the target?
If all three names are invited, that's 17 and an unworkable number. So either one falls off the list or others will be included. The biggest name in the bunch is North Carolina. Occasionally decent in football over the years, but a definite basketball power. Jim Delaney's alma mater is probably the biggest home run that the Big Ten probably could acquire from the ACC. It's an east coast stake that gets the Big Ten into the south and definitely enlarges the Big Ten region. Maybe not excessively so, though. Chapel Hill is 450 miles from Columbus, Ohio. That doesn't sound so out of line when you remember that State College, PA is 320 miles from Columbus.
With Maryland coming on board, I'm not sure what Virginia brings to the table. Charlottesville, VA is 120 miles from Washington, so that's not going to move television sets IMHO. Frankly, if you are bringing in Virginia, consider Duke. Duke football is putrid, to be sure. But they bring basketball to the table, and keeping the North Carolina/Duke rivalry B1G only enhances the reputation of the Big Ten.
Georgia Tech? The Yellow Jackets are decent in football, but their big asset is demographics. Sure, Atlanta is an SEC market, but it's a big enough market that the Big Ten could still make an inroad. The big deal in my opinion is that Big Ten schools can recruit players in the South and promise an opportunity to play games in Atlanta. Maybe it's not a big infiltration, but it establishes a B1G presence in the heart of the South.
If the Big Ten offers North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina, that makes 18 teams. Is that too big? If so, who do you exclude? If it's not too big, do you expand further and double up the original ten? If so, who should the Big Ten target next? Kansas, Boston College, Florida State? Notre Dame, perhaps, now that the ACC has essentially been destroyed?