Big Ten Conference expansion seems to be the hot topic in college football. Is a Big Ten Conference expansion a reality or a myth though? There have been a number of stories since the college football season came to an end about the Big Ten looking to expand the conference. There are currently 11 teams in the Big Ten, and as they try to keep pace with the SEC and Big-12, suddenly the Big Ten has been found in the rumors of several schools. The biggest rumor has been that Notre Dame would join the Big Ten next season, ending their run as the biggest independent school in college football. Then the Big Ten said the rumors were false. So where is the truth in all of these stories?
The most prevalent fact in all of these stories is that the Big Ten does want to expand. Expansion for the Big Ten means taking on additional schools, and possibly splitting into two divisions within the conference. The question then becomes which schools would actually come over to the Big Ten if they were invited into the fold. For some schools it is more beneficial to do so, including the rumored Rutgers shift, which would put them in a more lucrative network of schools. It’s not quite as clear though, if Notre Dame would benefit from joining the Big Ten, because they would have to give up some of the money they get from being broadcast on national television every week. The Big Ten does have their own network though, so the revenue wouldn’t completely disappear.
A couple of the other teams rumored to have been offered slots in the Big Ten Conference next season are Missouri and Nebraska. Those would be great schools for the Big Ten to get into the fold, and it would make the Big Ten Conference much stronger. It sounds exciting for fans of the Big Ten, especially if the conference were to attract five additional teams and push their number of teams up to 16. Would that make the Big Ten the best power conference out there? Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said that there was no truth to the speculation that offers were made to the four schools, begging the question of why the rumor was started in the first place. It’s the college football offseason, and thus there is not much going on outside of the NFL Draft. This often leads to stories that appear quite interesting at first, but cool down quite quickly when they are actually put to the test.
So, is there any ring of truth to the rumors that the Big Ten extended offers? Maybe the answer is in the semantics of what the Big Ten commissioner is saying, and the conference actually intends to make the offers, but just hasn’t at this moment. The athletic directors from all Big Ten school are meeting from May 17 to 19 in Chicago, and expansion is sure to become a hot topic. Don’t think for a minute that Big Ten expansion rumors are done yet, as we are sure to hear many more stories before the summer ends.