Big 10 expansion could trigger more
All the talk about Big Ten expansion the last few days has led to some interesting theories on the ripple effect from leagues like the Big 12, Big East and ACC. But here’s a league that could be impacted by Big Ten expansion — the Pac-10.
A friend of mine with Pac-10 ties pointed out yesterday that the Pac-10 and Big Ten, joined at the hip by almost a century of Rose Bowl partnership, routinely follow one another. Usually with the Big Ten’s lead. Example: the Pac-10 finally joined the rest of college basketball with a post-season tournament only after the Big Ten joined the fray.
So if the Big Ten expanded, the Pac-10 might soon follow. And where would the Pac-10 look? Before the OU-Boise State Fiesta Bowl, I wrote, half-jokingly, that if Boise pulled the upset, the Broncos would be in the Pac-10 within a decade. That’s not likely to happen; the Pac-10 is proud of its academic status and would look down on Boise State, which was a junior college when UCLA’s Gary Beban won the 1967 Heisman Trophy.
The Pac-10 could go after Colorado, which always has been mentioned as a possible Pac-10 member. Or Texas, which flirted with the Pac-10 back in the ’90s and is being tossed around as a Big Ten expansion candidate, too. Colorado is a decent possibility and could jump without harmful ramifications. Texas would face politicial pressures if it tried to bolt and leave Texas A&M in a watered-down Big 12.
Utah and Brigham Young would make solid Pac-10 members, but it’s hard to see the Pac-10 take one without the other. Going as a package deal makes more sense.
Until this Big Ten talk came around, I believed that Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada were destined to soon join the Mountain West Conference, making it a 12-team league, with an automatic berth in the BCS quickly to follow.
Expansion talk always is fun, until schools actually start jumping around. Then there are profound winners and losers. I talked to SMU people a few years ago when OSU played the Mustangs down in Dallas. I was trying to determine how SMU had recovered from the probation and death penalty it received in the 1980s. SMU people said it had recovered OK from that awful stigma, but the school still had not recovered from the breakup of the Southwest Conference.
If Missouri or Colorado or even Nebraska bolted the Big 12, it would survive and probably even continue to thrive. If Texas left, the whole dang league probably would splinter.
Texas makes no sense geographically to the Big 10 (or the Pac-10) but would be a fabulous addition in most every other regard. Travel expenses would soar for all sports, which is no big deal to Texas, but how about Northwestern or Indiana or Michigan State? Does it want to fly its baseball teams to Austin every other year?
The most serene move in this whole discussion would be if Notre Dame just joined the Big Ten. And NBC holds the key to that. NBC and its solo contract with Notre Dame is why the Irish keep firing football coaches. Notre Dame knows that golden dome goose doesn’t have to play out forever. The Irish have to be nationally competitive for people to keep watching, which they are in increasingly fewer numbers.
If Notre Dame joined the Big Ten, the domino effect, at least east of the Rockies, would stop. But if the Big Ten pulls from another conference, it’s chaos.
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