Now that Texas A&M is in the process of destroying the bloated spawn of the Southern Conference, most people seem to think a free-for-all is going to ensue as the Big XII has its death throes. And as any Wall Street scum will tell you, when a huge institution is burning to the ground and the market is generally more and more depressed by the day, that’s when it’s money-making time, people! Time to snatch up the pieces and make as much as you can.
If the Aggies are allowed to leave, and it isn’t clear if Baylor is letting that happen yet or not, expect some conferences to swoop in and snatch a few key schools that could help profits, which is the only thing the conferences care about anyway.
As a grad from a Big Ten school (Indiana), we like to pretend that our conference cares about academic prestige as much as financial gain from athletics. That’s total crap, of course, but we have our illusions.
So if there really is a 1929-style meltdown of the Big XII, it might be time for the Big Ten to dirty itself up a little and pick up some pieces. There are still markets out there who might enjoy the Big Ten’s slower, midwestern style of football. Or at least markets that could have it forced down their throats and alumni who will pay good money to see it no matter what anyway.
So here are a few schools the Big Ten should pursue, in order of importance and likelihood they’d come in case of conference alignment disaster:
God that feels like an underwhelming start, but incorporating the St. Louis area, which is already in the Midwest anyway, into the Big Ten Network’s sphere of influence would be super sweet for advertising dollars. Plus Mizzou is a fairly respected academic school, though the grads from the Ernie Pyle School of Journalism at IU might get a little growl-y at Mizzou’s journalism school in the same conference.
Missouri is also a natural rival for Big Ten member Illinois in both football and basketball. The “Arch Rivalry” is something of a big deal between the two schools, though you’re likely to see something of a pillow fight most years on the field. Still, more rivalries are good since the conference gets so overshadowed by the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry.
Why they might say no: They might not have too many options if the Big XII really does melt down, but there may be other conferences that might be smaller and more financially beneficial, giving the Tigers would get a bigger piece of the pie. The football program also really loves recruiting out of Texas and Oklahoma, which doesn’t exactly translate to the Big Ten game when they’re trying to sell recruits on Columbia, MO. It’s way easier to say they’ll be playing four or five games in Texas than to say they’ll be playing in Iowa City, IA and State College, PA every couple of years.
Missouri’s most hated rivals. While wooing Mizzou, it would probably help to mention that the conference would be happy to keep their most hated rival on their schedule without cheating them out of even easier non-conference games. And frankly, the Big Ten could use more hate anyway. Far too many games are genial affairs every year. And by “far too many” I mean like four. What is this, the WAC?
KU would also be an obvious boon to the conference in basketball as well. They’re already a power and legendary program and they have a large and mostly insane alumni base that would watch the games on the Big Ten Network. Plus the road trips would actually be a selling point for basketball. Playing at Assembly Hall in Bloomington and The Barn in Minnesota are always special. Much better than wherever the hell Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech play.
Why they might say no: Coming to the Big Ten would mean Kansas keeps getting destroyed in football with little or no hope of ever succeeding. Not that there’s some other conference where they’d be good, mind you. They might also not enjoy the crazy focus on basketball that happens once Ohio State and Michigan are done jerking each other off every November. Basketball schools tend to care very much about what kind of competition they’d be facing every winter, and the Big Ten would be a definite step up. Because I said so. Gosh.
Basically the same idea as Kansas (an extra football punching bag, prestige in basketball) except that the ‘Cuse brings in the entire New York television market. Though the Big Apple’s notorious disregard for college football is a problem, Syracuse still has a huge alumni base in the Northeast and would absolutely add to the coffers of the BTN.
Why they might say no: Because they’re happy in the Big East? Okay, that’s impossible. There’s really no reason to say no other than travel considerations for basketball, in which they are already a member of a super conference anyway. But even if they joined the Big Ten, they still wouldn’t be traveling as far as…
Why, you ask? Because the Big Ten is already trying to make inroads in that area anyway. They had Penn State and Indiana play their 2010 game at FedEx field in Landover, Maryland for no apparent reason whatsoever (IU athletic director Fred Glass tried to play it off like the Hoosiers were reaching out to alumni in the area). Clearly the conference wants into the Washington D.C. market. The Big Ten does have tons of alumni in that area, and not just because we secretly control the government either.
The Terrapins would also potentially bring in some Under Armor money with them, which wouldn’t suck. As long as IU gets sweet unis like Maryland debuted last Monday.
Why they might say no: Because the ACC is already home to several of their biggest rivals, especially in basketball. And, like Syracuse, College Park is crazy far from most of their other games.
Other potential targets include:
A respectable enough academic institution with decent football and basketball programs. You just don’t see a whole lot of conferences falling all over themselves for the Pittsburgh TV market. Plus, the Big Ten is already in Pennsylvania with Penn State anyway. Redundancy, anyone? It’s the same reason the Big Ten won’t go after Iowa State for any reason.
Again, good teams, just not an interesting addition in terms of television exposure and money. Ohio State fan would enjoy not being the biggest rednecks in the conference anymore, though.
Kansas State/Iowa State
Not gonna happen, people. Enjoy Conference USA.
Stillwater is closer to the Big Ten area of the country than any team they’d be playing as a part of the Pac-16. Plus, they wouldn’t have to be OU or Texas’ little sister anymore. Not sure if Nebraska would enjoy the reunion much though. However, Cowboy fans like T. Boone Pickens probably want nothing to do with a road trip to Minnesota or Iowa in late November when it’s 30 degrees at game time.
They’ll go Protestant before they give up football independence, but there’s always a chance, especially if ratings with NBC falter badly because the team sucks.
Child, please. Get on my level.
Gets that New England market in there still. Plus the Huskies have been playing against Big Ten teams in out of conference games for a while now, including possibly the worst game of college football ever played (except UCLA/Oregon in 2007, of course). There’s just no reason for the Huskies to make that move. They’re much more likely to join the ACC if there’s ever a meltdown in the Big East.
Longest of the long shots:
Because if the Big East goes to hell, where else are they going to go? Come to papa, baby.