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Monday, September 19, 2011

Notre Dame and the Big Ten: Closer Than Ever Before

So, expansion has managed to muddy the college athletics landscape for a second consecutive year, and us midwesterners are left wondering what is to happen, if anything, to our beloved Big Ten?

For starters, the B1G need not worry about losing any member institutions. While other conferences such as the Big 12 and Big East appear to be losing not only members, but founding schools, the Big Ten added one, Nebraska, just last year. As the SEC appears to be going to 13 (most likely at least 14) soon, the new Pac-12 could become the newer Pac-16, and the ACC has already jumped to 14 with the additions of Pitt and Syracuse, it's time to discuss potential Big Ten targets once again.

Jim Delany's #1 target since the beginning of time has been, and will always be, Notre Dame. Laugh all you want, but the Big East falling to pieces may just be the catalyst Delany's been looking for to force ND AD Jack Swarbrick back to the conference bargaining table. The Irish were more than content to stay independent in football, while their other sports remained affiliated with the Big East, an arrangement that's been taking place since 1995. You really couldn't blame them, particularly since the Big East emerged just a few seasons ago as many analysts pick as the best men's basketball conference around, giving Notre Dame's second highest grossing sports team an outstanding platform from which to play.

Now, however, the grass doesn't seem so green. The exit of Pitt and Syracuse, two of the Big East's heavy hitters, could very well cause the conference to lose its BCS affiliation. The BCS isn't directly related to basketball, but, as everyone knows, football is king. The Big East would certainly take a substantial national reputation hit if it lost the tie-in, and that would trickle down to basketball. Additionally, Pitt and 'Cuse are pretty high-profile programs, and their defection, along with that of UConn if it happens, takes the Big East talent pool down a peg, one that Baylor and Iowa State can't patch.

If Notre Dame accepts an invite to join, I would have to believe Missouri is the go-to as a 14th. The speculation early in the summer of last year was that Mizzou would get the invite that wound up going to Nebraska as the B1G 12th member. Jim Delany's made it no secret that the conference enjoys having AAU members (although Nebraska just recently lost their status as a member), and Missouri's academic profile seems to align nicely. Add to that their geographic location, two new TV markets (KC and St. Louis), and a natural rivalry with Illinois (who is already an out-of-conference rival) and you've got a recipe for an invite. The SEC is supposedly also interested in the Tigers, and I believe their conference affiliation will go to whomever offers them first.

Texas has been batted around in the media, but geography and the Longhorn Network, even though they may be obstacles that could be overcome, present issues that I think the Big Ten would rather not deal with. Rutgers would also be considered, strictly for their ties to the New York/New Jersey market. I know there's a lot of eyes in that part of the country that the B1G would love to capture, but, really, they don't give a crap about college football. Rutgers is supposedly the "birthplace," and averages over 46,000 per home game, but those numbers are hardly to the level of an institution the Big Ten would be looking to add.

We'd all love to believe that Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and the rest are entirely loyal, and would never leave simply because of the tradition and excellence that's been established during the over one-hundred year existence of the conference. However, if the B1G does wind up having money issues years down the line, something that seems entirely possible given the current population shifts, it shouldn't be a shock to anyone to see eyes wander.

It's the eyes of others that are wandering now though, and Irish eyes may soon be smiling on the Big Ten.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Got a Job (Good/Bad News)

I've got a temporary job, and may have a full-time job coming my way within the next couple days. What does this mean? My posting will be few and far between (as you may have noticed). I'll try to keep up when I can, but things probably won't be like they used to. Thanks for reading, and keep checking back!

I've also become the webmaster for For anyone interested in news about the Michigan economy, Rick Haglund is an excellent writer who has covered Michigan business news for over 24 years. Check it out!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Leach Fired - Pirate afficianado Mike Leach was fired as Texas Tech's head coach today. More about this soon.

Happy Holidays!

No posts/podcasts until after the New Year (sorry I didn't mention it before), but one quick mention of last night's GLI game for the icers. MSU destroyed Michigan Tech 10-1, while U-M lost to RPI 4-3. This sets up for a very winnable MSU/RPI final tonight at the Joe. Student tickets are $10 at the door, so whip out those old ID's!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Big Ten's Statement on 12th Team

The Big Ten has released a statement about the possibility of adding a 12th team to the conference. Jim Delany didn't speak on the topic at 4pm as originally thought, which is sort of disappointing. All the statement really says is that the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors will basically look at the situation, and a recommendation will be given in 12 to 18 months. This is really a joke, considering the news coming out all day was that the Big Ten was all over a 12th member, and it seemed like it was somewhat imminent. An interesting note here is that MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon is actually the head of the council, something I had no idea about.

The Detroit Free Press has an interesting picture collage of suggestions as to a 12th team, all of whom I've heard mentioned before. Here's the official word from the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors on the addition of a 12th team:

Penn State joined the Big Ten Conference in June of 1990 and its addition has been an unqualified success. In 1993, 1998 and 2003, the COP/C, in coordination with the commissioner’s office, reviewed the issue of conference structure and expansion. The COP/C believes that the timing is right for the conference to once again conduct a thorough evaluation of options for conference structure and expansion. As a result, the commissioner was asked to provide recommendations for consideration by the COP/C over the next 12 to 18 months.

The COP/C understands that speculation about the conference is ongoing. The COP/C has asked the conference office to obtain, to the extent possible, information necessary to construct preliminary options and recommendations without engaging in formal discussions with leadership of other institutions. If and when such discussions become necessary the COP/C has instructed Commissioner James E. Delany to inform the Chair of the COP/C, Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon, and then to notify the commissioner of the affected conference(s). Only after these notices have occurred will the Big Ten engage in formal expansion discussions with other institutions. This process will allow the Big Ten to evaluate options, while respecting peer conferences and their member institutions. No action by the COP/C is expected in the near term. No interim statements will be made by the Big Ten or the COP/C until after the COP/C receives the commissioner’s recommendations and the COP/C determines next steps, if any, in this area.

Second All-America Honor for Greg Jones

Greg Jones has been named a first-team AP All-American today, a day after he was named an All-American by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). Jones was the only Big Ten player named to the AP first-team, which is probably a reflection on the conference's recent bowl struggles. Pat Angerer, linebacker for Iowa, was the only other Big Ten player on the FWAA team with Jones.

Big Ten - 12th Team?

There may already a Big 12, but the Big Ten is, once again, chomping at the bit to add a 12th team, and this time they may be dead serious. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany is expected to make a statement today at 4pm regarding expanding the conference. The move is likely being made to cut football into two, six-team divisions where the winners would play each other in a conference championship. It has been estimated this could add an additional $5 million in annual revenue for the conference, and also help with prestige, and bowl game rust.

I'm all for a 12th team, but I'm really undecided on who it should be, and whether the conference can afford to settle. The Big Ten and Delany would clearly love to hit the homerun with Notre Dame, but the Irish last turned down the offer in the late-90's, and aren't likely to come back to the table. It's really a shame, considering Notre Dame could definitely benefit from joining the Big Ten rather than living in their independent past. After the Irish, there are a bunch of Big East schools, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Syracuse, Louisville, and Rutgers, that could be potential matches. I have my issues with each of them, mainly fan support related, but I'll definitely post again after the news conference later and let you know where I stand on the announcement.