Over the past few months word has come out that the Big Ten Conference has been looking to expand to 12 teams. When word first came out many expected the Big Ten to look at the usual suspects, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. Mostly because of the geographical similarities to all other schools in conference. But in today’s big money NCAA, those schools are no longer the big catches the conference will be looking to add.
Things have changed because of the creation of the Big Ten Network. The BTN can only get their television channel into states and surrounding markets that have Big Ten schools in them. Notre Dame is no longer the crown jewel for addition into the conference that it once was. Because ND brings in no new dollars to the BTN. The markets they bring are already covered by Indiana. The same thing goes for Cincy in Ohio and Pitt in Pennsylvania.
So as it were we started hearing about names of different schools that were peaking the Big Ten’s interest. The names of Syracuse, Rutgers, Missouri, and Texas came up. Because above all, money is going to be the driving force here. Syracuse and Rutgers would bring in the New York City market. Missouri brings with it Kansas City and St. Louis markets. And Texas brings, well… Texas. All of those markets would bring huge dollar amounts to the BTN.
So the next step for consideration is of course academics. At this point that is were Texas separates its self from the others. According to the usnews.com rankings of all American universities, all Big Ten schools rank in the top 71. Texas would fit it perfectly tied with Penn State at ranking #47. Or 5th best in conference.
Now I’m going to focus mainly on the aspect of inclusion of Texas in regards to football. But obviously Texas also fits in across all sports for men and women. But what I found especially surprising was, that Texas joining the Big Ten isn’t even a new idea. Back in the 90’s when Texas was still part of the old SWC, they looked into joining the PAC 10 and the Big Ten. Nothing materialized on either end and the SWC and Big 8 turned over and formed the Big XII. Which is a good point to bring up, its not like Texas has been a part of its current conference for ever. Their are no deep rooted traditions there. Inclusion into the Big Ten would still allow them to schedule A&M and Oklahoma every year. The main reason the move to the Big Ten didn’t happen back in the 90’s is Texas seemed to balk at the fact that its closest conference team would be Iowa, who is 856 miles away. But even something like that isn’t unprecedented in college athletics. Look at Miami when they were part of the Big East. They faced many of the same long distance traveling. Even in today’s college landscape look at the map of Conference USA…
That is 12 schools spanning 9 different states. And none of those schools have the money that Texas does. If they make it work, obviously Texas can too.
Texas and the Big Ten would also benefit from each other, football wise, in these ways:
A conference championship game
I would break the division down like this
Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota (Call it the West)
Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Illinois, NW (Call it the East)
That keeps all the main rivalries intact.
The loyalty of the Rose Bowl
The Rose Bowl has shown they are willing to take a lesser bowl match up in their game, by selecting an at large Big Ten team (when its champion is in the national championship game) even when a higher ranked non BCS at large is available. Now I would agree that this is a bad thing in college football, but hey… facts are facts.
When the conference is stronger, the riches and National Championship births will follow
People in the south and mid west watch and love college football the most. That’s why the Big Ten and SEC are the conferences that get the big television deals from ABC, CBS, and ESPN. ESPN gave the SEC all that money because, the people in that region care and from top to bottom the best football is played there. The addition of Texas closes that gap of conference strength that the SEC has over the Big Ten. As it sits now, a one loss SEC team is always going to go to the NC game. And its deserved because they are so good, from top to bottom. The Big Ten adding Texas, would do the same for the Big Ten. In a circle of life type thing…Better teams, bigger TV deals from the other networks, more national televised games, more money, better recruiting, better teams, bigger games on television… and around and around it will go.
The payouts for the none BCS Big Ten bowls will grow as well. The Capital One and Outback are the best non BCS bowl game payouts to begin with. But considering the jolt Texas will give the Big Ten in strength, the Big Ten will be sending better/ more complete teams to face SEC teams in those games. The games will have higher demand in viewership, and will play into the factors listed above.
Fact is The Big Ten and Texas fit well together. They are huge to begin with and they both want to become global institutions. Putting them together opens up many perks, one of which is Jerry Jones’s 100,000 seat play house in Texas’s relative back yard. Could you imagine a new Big Ten bowl game there? Or “neutral site” regular season football games between Texas and OSU/Michigan/Penn State there, and even the Big Ten Basketball championship being played there. Jerry ain’t no dummy, he can sniff out the dollars that could come from all this.
I’m going to leave this here. I want to see where the comments go with this, and then maybe I’ll do a follow up. But the thing is, once you get over that inital shock of… Texas doesn’t fit in the Big Ten and really start to consider it, it makes perfect sense.