The Big Ten has unfinished business when it comes to expansion. So, let’s go over what their next step should be to become the first “Super Conference”. It’s a fairly common belief that the B1G will not stop at 14 teams, and why would they? So if you were Jim Delany, who would you add next to get to sixteen? (And hopefully no more) My opinion is that the next expansion for the Big Ten would be to add two more national brands like they did with Penn State and Nebraska. One might assume that means to add football powerhouses such as Texas, Notre Dame or Florida State, but that would be incorrect. The conference already has plenty of brand names in that field with the aforementioned expansions, Michigan, Ohio State and schools on the border of that acclaim; Wisconsin and Michigan State. The Big Ten brand has a lot of star power, and attracts people around the country to watch its football. The latest expansion was a clever one in disguise, in that it targeted two rather large TV markets to further increase the “money tree” that is the BTN. Rutgers and Maryland benefited greatly due to their ideal location, and not their mediocre athletic programs. With all that being said, the next logical step would be to aim expanding in a new direction, the college basketball direction.
I’ll pause for that to sink in. That’s right, it is my firm belief that the Big Ten would benefit most from expanding its hoops resume. Now, don’t get me wrong, the conference is quite good in that area this year, but there just simply isn’t enough renowned for the best in the B1G. Indiana stands out as an elite hoops school, but only when comparing them to the rest of the Big Ten. What the conference really needs is to successfully lure one of the basketball blue bloods to the richest athletic conference. My idea… lure two of them. I propose that the Big Ten target North Carolina and Kansas as their next expansion targets.
The Big Ten would be further increasing its footprint by going Southeast and Southwest, which is where the current demographic movement is going towards. Both schools are AAU (Association of American Universities) members and would greatly expand the Big Ten’s own research group, the CIC (Committee on Institutional Cooperation). Kansas only major downside is their lack of quality football, but at least IU would not always be the worst in the Big Ten. North Carolina might feel like a bit of an outsider due to being the most Southern school, and being an island much like Penn State was for 20 years. Also, it might be hard to pull Kansas away from the GOR (Grant of Rights) that it has with the Big XII right now, even if that would mean it could continue playing against its old conference mate, Nebraska, and bring in more dough. If not Kansas, than I would suggest adding Virginia. It is another solid academic school with all the same credentials of the other two schools I mentioned, and it is average to above average in both basketball and football most years. They would also connect North Carolina to the rest of the conference, and add another Southern school to the Midwest conference, which would at least make the Tar Heels feel more at home. Additionally, it might be easier to persuade UNC to the Big Ten with Virginia and Maryland both coming from the ACC, than it would be with just Maryland.
I will soon be discussing a possible “Pod” system I came up with featuring UVA and UNC as the proposed expansion targets. (Yes, even though I would prefer adding Kansas for its basketball, as opposed to UVA for its athletic program as a whole, I feel like Virgina is the more likely outcome.