Big Ten to add 12th team?
Written by Cory McKnight
As most of you know, the Big Ten has been wanting to add a twelfth team for years. Ideally, there are several teams who could join the conference and bolster the success of the conference.
First and foremost, the most ideal team to join the conference would the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Notre Dame sits in Big Ten country, has the largest fan base in America, and has a huge budget. Notre Dame would benefit by joining because their schedule would be set. As an independent, they sometimes struggle to field a full schedule. Also, they would not have to play the likes of Army and Duke every season either. However, Notre Dame will never join a conference. The Irish have it made for a college football team. They are the Bill Gates of college football. With their television contract with NBC, Notre Dame games are shown exclusively on NBC and the school is paid substantially for it. Along with their television deal, the Irish also have a deal with the BCS. If the Irish are in the top six of the BCS, they are guaranteed a berth into a BCS bowl game, which are the top five bowl games. According to the BCS website, the payout for a team who should make a BCS game is over 14 million. The team has to share the money with the conference. If Notre Dame would make the BCS every seven seasons, they would make more money than any Big Ten team in that time frame. Simply put, the Irish are making way too much money for a college football team, and will not join a conference due to that.
The second team that would make the most sense to join the conference as the twelfth team would be West Virginia. The Mountaineers currently play in the Big East. The Big East is a conference of only eight teams, but they could find a replacement team easily. It would make more sense for the Mountaineers to join the Big Ten because of the level of competition. It is possible for WVU to go undefeated in the Big East and still not make the National Championship. It is highly unlikely for that to happen if they are in the Big Ten. WVU is a program still on the rise with a growing fan base. Their stadium holds 60, 000 people, which is decent enough capacity to hold Big Ten fan bases.
The third school which would make sense to join the Big Ten would be Rutgers. Rutgers is a rapidly growing as a program and has a large growing fan base. Also, if the Scarlet Knights were to join the conference, the New York area fans would become interested in Big Ten football. As long as Rutgers keeps progressing into a top-tier program, their football team would be perfect in the Big Ten. If they become the Rutgers of old, they need to stay in their conference.
A third school from the Big East, and fourth of all teams, that could venture into the Big Ten would be Pittsburgh. The Panthers have a middle of the road program, which would help the depth of the Big Ten. Their facilities, which hold 64, 540, also hosts the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. Pitt is in Big Ten country, and if added to the Big Ten, could develop a big time rivalry with Penn State.
The fifth school that popped into my head was Syracuse. Their program has fallen recently over the years, but their large budget mixed with Big Ten revenue sharing could bring the program back up. Syracuse’s facilities, the Carrier Dome, hold 50, 000 people. That is a smaller Big Ten capacity, but it is also indoors. The stadium would add the second indoor stadium to the Big Ten. Syracuse would not only potentially help the depth of the conference, but also make the academic record better. Along with Rutgers, the Orange would bring in the New York area fan base and introduce them to Big Ten football.
After Syracuse, there are vague options. The top candidate after the Orange would be Iowa State. The Cyclones, like Pittsburgh, are a middle of the road program. Jack Trice Stadium is a small stadium, as it holds less that 46, 000 people. The main reason Iowa State would be considered is so they can establish the in-state rivalry which could attract more fans to the Big Ten. If Iowa and Iowa State played late in season, it could possibly have conference championship implications, which would attract more ratings, and potentially more money for the conference.
The final team that came into my head was Marshall. The Herd have small facilities, less than 39, 000 capacity, and a smaller fan base than most teams on this list, but are very passionate about their football. Against Big Ten opponents, Marshall is 0-2. The most recent loss of those two came on a last second FG in a game won by the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2005. Marshall’s program has declined since the likes of Chad Pennington and Randy Moss, but is able to thrive again. The Herd, like most Big Ten teams, have a good history and have the potential to thrive in the Big Ten.
If the Big Ten were to add a twelfth team, I believe it should be one of the seven teams listed above. Above all things, it should be because of the potential of all teams to thrive in the conference and bring in even more revenue for the conference.
-special thanks to buckeye21 of southeasternohiopreps.com!