It looks like Texas and Oklahoma will soon be part of the SEC conference. This leaves the rest of the college football world looking around wondering who they should
hook up with bring into the fold.
The Corn Nation staff shares their thoughts on who the Big Ten should target - assuming that 16 teams becomes the new and more stylish way to dress your conference.
The ACC schools are almost certainly off-limits because of their current TV contracts. It would take way too much money to buy one of them out. I think there are several ACC schools that would be on top of the B1G’s list, but I don’t see it happening.
My first pick is probably going to be the same as many of you - Kansas. They fit the “mold” of the Big Ten academically and they bring a premium men’s basketball program. They also bring the Kansas City TV market - which seems to be important to conferences nowadays. Why wouldn’t it happen? Well, you’ve seen their football program lately.
After that, I’m not sure where Kevin Warren should be looking. He obviously has to approach Notre Dame, but I’m not sure they are listening yet. They have a pretty sweet deal with the ACC and that conference seems likely to survive this round of expansion largely unscathed. Part of me wonders if Warren should be trying to pick off one of the SEC schools. I’m not sure it is realistic, but perhaps a Mizzou, Vandy or Kentucky would look unfavorably on sharing space with Texas. Vandy would fit the B1G academically and bring the Nashville TV market. Mizzou would also fit and touches the KC and St. Louis TV markets. I have no idea about Kentucky. In fact, forget I mentioned them. An SEC defection would give Iowa State a lifeline to a power conference too - wouldn’t you love to watch Hawkeye-Cyclone games and see people waving at the hospital while chanting S!E!C!?
My real pick for the 16th B1G school? No one.
I think the Big Ten should snap up KU if they can and then sit back and wait. We could always add the Ohio State JV squad to one of the divisions to even things out in football for a while.
Man, things are changing and changing fast. Five days ago everyone was safe and happy in their own little conferences. Now, the SEC is looking like a super conference and the Big 12 may no longer be in existence. So with the SEC quite possibly going to 16 teams the other Power 5 conferences will need to fill out their rosters to keep them competitive. I don’t see the Big Ten changing it’s academic requirements or anything to “make things work”. They will go after those who they think will improve their standing. AAU institutions still matter as well as the money they bring to the conference. So, I’ll just do a rundown of each conference out there and who the Big Ten should pillage from.
- Whoever the Big Ten is comfortable with. USC, UCLA, Washington, or Oregon come to mind first. Gut the league and take the teams that will improve the Big Ten’s stature. Maybe Colorado, Stanford, or Cal. I would not take anyone other than those teams. This move would basically lock down the west coast corridor for the Big Ten and the rest of the country for that matter. This league is on life support as it is. Best move would be to join or partner up with the Big Ten.
- Virginia &/or North Carolina - Pro: AAU, good academics, expands B1G footprint, championship level teams. B1G footprint Cons: ACC may not allow it.
None - The Big Ten will not move the needle much in athletics with whatever moves they make if Texas and Oklahoma are off the board. There is no reason to pillage a Group of Five conference for teams or what is left of the Big 12.
While it seems like everyone has this as a done deal, it is Texas and who knows what they may do/demand before votes are taken. That said, the most obvious choice is Notre Dame. Yes, they have made it abundantly clear they are a football independent and it makes sense that since they have aligned with the ACC for five games and in other sports it would be more likely they head in that direction if they go anywhere. However, for all practical purposes they have been historically a Big Ten team. A significant amount of their football history is connected to the B1G. Make every effort possible to get them on board.
Knowing that it is not likely, my heart says Iowa State. I have strong loyalties to that institution and facility-wise they are on par with many of the schools in the B1G. I don’t want to see them get left out. They are superior to Kansas in all sports except men’s basketball. However, I question whether the limited number of men’s sports they have is a major red flag. They only have six and I do not see them in a position to add more. The women’s programs could compete favorably, and academically it would be a good fit.
I am not on the KU bandwagon. They have not made anywhere close to the commitment to their overall athletic program as other schools.
How about Army and Navy? They are within the geographic footprint that has been established. No question they align academically. They compete in a large number of sports. Why not!
There are only three schools in the Big XII that add to the Big Ten conference in my viewpoint: Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Kansas would be my third choice of the bunch, with Oklahoma and Texas being the top two to pursue. I’d be shocked if the Big Ten hasn’t already done a lot of research into all three schools. A Jim Delany-led Big Ten wasn’t going to allow Texas to steamroll the conference the way Texas does the Big XII. Ten years ago, that’s why Texas elected not to join the Pac-12 when they had the chance. I don’t know if Kevin Warren has the same backbone that Delany has, though.
I’m not sure why the SEC wants Texas at this time; the Longhorns don’t extend their reach, and A&M doesn’t want them in the conference. It makes me think that this is more of a negotiating ploy, and I have to believe this favors the Big Ten at this time. Why?
I believe this all comes down to money, and the Big XII’s negotiations for the next TV deal were not going well.
The SEC move is curious, because ESPN already locked up the SEC until 2033, so unless there is some sort of hook that allows expansion to trigger a rights fee increase, there doesn’t appear to be a way for the SEC to benefit financially from the addition of Oklahoma and Texas. That being said, ESPN would LOVE to be able to shutter the money-losing Longhorn Network into their SEC Network.
That’s where I think the Big Ten can clean up. They are halfway through the new Fox/ESPN deal, which means that they’ll be starting negotiations soon with networks. The SEC’s new deal tentatively will put them ahead of the Big Ten’s current deal, but who knows what the Big Ten will receive. My bet is that, at worst, the Big Ten’s next deal will be comparable to the SEC’s deal. More likely, it’ll be more profitable for the Big Ten. And if you add Oklahoma and Texas to the Big Ten, it’ll greatly exceed the SEC/ESPN deal.
So I’d keep the lines of communication open between Chicago, Norman and Austin. I think Oklahoma is the more valuable athletic property, but Texas brings in so much more visibility. My personal preference is that the Big Ten brings in Kansas and Oklahoma, but for whatever reason, the Sooners want to stay connected to Texas.
If the Big Ten can’t get either Oklahoma or Texas, I’d almost be more tempted to stand pat than expand further. Kansas is a decent addition, but unless the Big Ten can grab another ACC school (Georgia Tech, North Carolina or Notre Dame), I don’t see a comparable rise in prestige.
I do have one absurd idea: Oklahoma is forced by their state government to bring along Oklahoma State, so the SEC has to take all three. That creates an opportunity to have Missouri (or maybe A&M) to make the move they originally wanted, leaving the SEC for the Big Ten. Yeah, it’s rather crazy, but you never really know.