7 possibilities for the 12th Big 10 school

What would the Big Ten Conference be looking for in a 12th member? A strong history of success in the two major sports, football and men’s basketball. And a very good academic reputation (all current schools finished in the top 71 in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings). A television market would be nice, as would establishing new rivalries.

Football: 6-6 (will play Minnesota in Insight Bowl)
Basketball: 7-3 (last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2005)
U.S. News & World Report: No. 88
Why them: Adding the Cyclones would give Iowa an in-state, in-conference rival that it lacks. The school is generally middle-of-the-road in both major sports, but that may not be such a bad thing — it would not rattle the status quo.
Why not: Adding Iowa State gets the Big Ten into no new media markets and the Hawkeyes already have plenty of Big Ten rivalries. There’s not a lot to gain by adding Iowa State.

Football: 8-4 (will play Navy in Texas Bowl)
Basketball: 6-3 (advanced to Elite Eight last season)
U.S. News & World Report: No. 102
Why them: It puts the Big Ten firmly into the St. Louis television market, for one thing. Missouri and Illinois already have a nice rivalry going, and Missouri has solid academic credentials.
Why not: Missouri might be too far west and south for many of the conference’s existing schools. Also, would the Tigers be interested? They have a pretty good situation going in the Big 12.

Football: 8-4 (will play UCF in St. Petersburg Bowl)
Basketball: 6-2 (last NCAA Tournament appearance in 1991)
U.S. News & World Report: No. 24
Why them: New York, New York. Every conference covets that television market. And Rutgers, many feel, could be the Big Ten’s link into the city that never sleeps, despite Rutger’s New Jersey location. And Rutgers is a great school.
Why not: The New York market is already saturated with professional sports. It’s unlikely anything changes with the addition of Rutgers. Besides, the Scarlet Knights would be a guaranteed No. 12 in basketball every season.

Football: 4-8 (last bowl game in 2004)
Basketball: 10-0 (currently No. 5; advanced to Sweet 16 last season)
U.S. News & World Report: No. 58
Why them: The Orange also tap into that wonderful New York market, and probably could do so in a much more substantial way. The basketball program is among the elite in the nation, and would raise the Big Ten’s profile there.
Why not: The football team has struggled, and some schools might not like the idea of such a lengthy road trip to upstate New York.

Football: 9-3 (No. 17, will play UNC in Meineke Car Care Bowl)
Basketball: 8-2 (advanced to Elite Eight last season)
U.S. News & World Report: No. 56
Why them: A logical rivalry for Penn State, and a program that has had success on the field, on the court and in the classroom. Plus, the Pittsburgh television market is solid. Not a lot not to like here.
Why not: Penn State is already putting the Big Ten into the Pittsburgh TV market. And does Pittsburgh want to move out of the Big East?

Football: 12-0 (No. 4, will play Florida in Sugar Bowl)
Basketball: 6-2 (No. 25 currently; last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2005)
U.S. News & World Report: Tier 3
Why them: The Bearcats are a rising power in football (based on the assumption the new football coach does not ruin that), are coming back in basketball and are firmly in the Big Ten footprint.
Why not: Ohio State would likely have big problems with Cincinnati, and Indiana may too. Also, the school has a less-than-stellar academic reputation.


Football: 4-8 (last bowl game in 2006)
Basketball: 5-3 (advanced to Elite Eight last season)
U.S. News & World Report: Tier 3
Why them: The football program could quickly rise back to prominence, and both programs are about to be in great facilities. Louisville is a solid television market, and the Cardinals could help the Big Ten’s basketball presence.
Why not: Indiana would more than likely have problems with competition in the southern Indiana market, and Ohio State would probably not like it either. And, like Cincinnati, there are academic issues.

Share the Scoop!


  • Crean is GAWD says:

    What about a school like Vanderbilt? Solid academics and athletics in the Nashville Media Market.

  • Jay says:

    Thank you, Hugh.
    The academic issue is and will be important.

  • GFDave says:

    What does Korman think PSU’s positon is on Pitt? The PSU folks I know are a little indifferent about being in the B10. Does PSU want to add Pitt to get something going again? Is PSU the principle driver behind this expansion talk?

  • Bob says:

    Do you think there’s a possibility for ND as a 12th?

  • Chris Korman says:


    I think most Penn State fans I know would want Pitt. There’s still the remnants of a rivalry there.

    It’s strange. A lot of older Penn State fans don’t like being in the Big Ten because they preferred the glory days of being independent.

    All in all, though, joining the Big Ten has been terrific for Penn State. There’s no way it could have weathered those down years in football earlier this decade without revenue sharing from the conference. It would have had to cut a few programs.

    Most of its non-revenue sports have improved because of the better competition in the Big Ten. Women’s volleyball has become the dominant team in the nation, and women’s soccer has been strong.

    Those of us who attended Penn State this decade have become accustomed to the Nittany Lions as part of the Big Ten. That Kerry Collins team we remember so fondly played in the Big Ten. So did Lavar Arrington and his crew. Penn State is a Big Ten team.

    The one thing missing is a true rival. The whole Michigan State deal has been manufactured. The Land Grant Trophy? Are you kidding me? (Best column on this topic, written by the other guy who covered football with Dustin and I.) Does it really matter which school whose land was given to it by the government is better each year?


    Penn State fans certainly want to have a rivalry with The Big Two, Michigan and Ohio State. But it’s tough to truly hate a school that does not truly hate you. Those two use up all their anger on each other.

    But even the newest Penn State fans are vaguely aware of some hard feelings toward Pitt, mostly because they learn very early that the school name rhymes with a swear word.

    I would guess Penn State is not the principle driver behind expansion talk, though. I’d say the Big Ten Network would have a lot to do with it, especially if it figured a way to have the TV rights for the championship game.

    The football coaches are probably pushing for it, too, as they are sick of their programs exiting the fray before Thanksgiving and becoming after thoughts during the raucous weeks of conference title games and award giving.

  • stevealford says:

    We should be more concerned with dropping a team (Northwestern) than adding a team. It is the Big 10 after all.

  • Chris Korman says:


    No. I don’t think Notre Dame is a possibility at this point. Joe Paterno, among others, have expressed some bitterness over a failed attempt to lure Notre Dame late last decade.

    The Irish won’t make a change unless they need to. They won’t need to unless the NBC TV money dries up. Even if Notre Dame continues sinking in football, I don’t see that happening. Especially now that NBC and Comcast have coupled and appear poised to increase sports programming.

  • JGlessing says:

    Does anyone know which conference brings in the most money from athletics?

  • Korman is half-way onto the real driver behind this crazy expansion talk: the BTN wants it, but Ro*Tel craves the thought of expanding its diced tomatoe & green chili empire. It’s like manifest destiny, mixed with queso. And imagine what Ro*Tel could do to the scrapple market. (The gastrointestinologist lobby is salavating over this possibility, as well.)

  • TF6S says:

    stevealford always has the best ideas. Hard to tell what he’d excel at more: Indiana Athletic Director or Big Ten Commissioner? Keep ’em comin’ stevie, you’re a veritable source of wisdom.

  • Chris Korman says:

    Ro*Tel runs everything. I thought that was assumed.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy a product that is completely reliant on another separate product for its relevancy.

  • DTFree says:

    Its always been assumed all the TV sets in B-10 country was the biggest thing going for the conf. Just look at how many pro teams and leagues are in B-10 area. Some other conf’s are pretty much just college sports bound. So don’t put too much faith in this decision being based too strongly on the number of TVs a new school would bring. You must also look at how more clutter a new school/area brings with even more pro sports. If an area loves their school because of a lack of a pro sport franchise to cling to then they might be the best bet.

  • Dougy says:

    Lets drop IU from the Big Ten and join the Big East or something? a real conference lol.

  • chris says:

    we are also behind the 8 ball on teams with the nick name of tigers.. the SEC has 2 of them!! with this logic we need mizzou.. we dont need anymore cats as we have a nitany lion and the wildcats, so that would eliminate cinci and pitt. i am sure Ro*Tel need to expand the market in the state of mizzou.

  • For the sake of argument, let’s add ND into the mix:

    Why ND: Throw out the records, they draw crowds & viewers like few other programs in the world. Period. They’re geographically centered, and they’re one of the few schools in the mix that would raise the academic bar. They already have a history with several conference teams: rivalries abound. Adding ND to the Big 10 would, on average, likely boost both parties’ strength of schedule. And, uh, FOOTBALL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME!!!! Who can’t get behind that?! The pairing also provides the financial safety net of revenue (and expense) sharing when ND’s programs are having down years.

    Why not ND: They’ve already got a good thing going on. Aside being flush with NBC’s (& God’s) $$$, they have the freedom to do whatever they want. They can play anybody, anywhere, at any time. The recruiting advantage of this flexibility allows them to hit every major geographic region as often as they choose (Remember that home game in the Alamo Dome against WA St.? Few teams can recruit in Texas using that strategy). Their scheduling freedom maximizes national exposure and alumni support while minimizing the sting of playing in a tough conference during down years. Being bogged down in the midwest for the majority of the football season would severely limit their receipt for recruiting and exposure success.

    After already having been spurned by ND recently, I doubt we’ll see them join the Big 10 anytime soon. That said, this is the same school that gave Weis a 10-yr., gazillion dollar extension after only a year and a half of success with Willingham’s players. Just because they’re rich, clad in gold, & have God on their side, they’re not immune from making decisions which no rational mind can understand.

  • HoosierSmitty says:

    I heard that the Big Ten has provisions that require the school have wrestling. Does Cincinnati have wrestling? If there are requirements like that, it might eliminate some schools. Does anyone know if there is truth to this?

    Personally, I like Iowa State or Pittsburgh. They make sense and are the “type” of school that I think fits the Big Ten mold. However, that’s not what the Big Ten will look at when making a run at a school.

    So just like the Big Ten went after Notre Dame with $$$ signs dancing in its head, it’ll go after the school they think will make the most money for the conference. It is after all, a business.

  • Brad says:

    I read on ESPN that it might take 12-18 months to research the schools and come up with possibilities. Really? How can it take any longer than about 2 weeks? There are at most about 20-25 realistic options. From there you can widdle away most for various reasons. Just ask the conferences now, start talking to some of the schools and go from there. I’m not sure why this needs to take over a year. IMO, its ND, Pitt, Mizzou, or no one. None of the others really excite me.

  • David says:

    If I’m the Big Ten, I’d take (assuming no possibility of ND):

    1) Mizzou – Ability to expand into the St. Louis and Kansas City markets. Solid football and basketball teams. Existing rivalry with Illinois, and the possibility of starting a rivalry with Iowa. Makes sense from a geographic and academic standpoint.

    2) Pitt – Gives PSU a naturally rivalry. Great football and basketball teams. Great fit academically and geographically, but as Hugh mentioned, Pitt doesn’t allow for the Big Ten to expand in to a new market (and besides a championship game, I believe this is the main goal).

    3) Syracuse – Excellent basketball program, but the football program is lacking. Good academic school, however, the Orange are quite a stretch geographically.

    If the Big Ten can’t secure one of the above schools, then scrap the expansion idea. Iowa State, Rutgers, Cincinnati, and Louisville all dilute the conference in one way or another.

  • Nate says:

    Pulling any Big 12 school will drop that conference to 11 teams. So I’ve heard teams like Iowa State, Nebraska and Mizzou mentioned.

    1) The Big Ten said it would contact conferences first. I’m pretty sure the Big 12 won’t be incredibly pleased to lose that 12th school. In fact, I would assume the Big 12 will do anything in its power to lure its schools back to its own conference.
    2) Where would the Big 12 look to find a replacement team?

    3) Would it be time to start thinking about a new name for the conference? It was goofy enough to have 11 teams in the Big Ten. Obviously, the oldest collegiate athletic conference has some tradition, but if it’s willing to seek out a 12th school, it should be willing to get a new name.
    Let’s see…The Big Dozen? The New Big 12? The Great Lakes Conference?

  • chris says:

    the big 12 will look to Utah TCU or Bosie State to replace Missouri. I think Utah makes the most sense since they have had BCS success and have had strong football AND basketball teams. the new big ten conference will be call the Big Tween conference because it is not yet a big kid on the block being the step children to the SEC.

  • Charles says:

    There’s an obvious choice here…

    The University of Chicago.

    Original Big Ten powers unite!

  • DJ says:

    when you consider geography, academics and something a lot of people forget–minor or “Olympic” sports–Pitt and Mizzou clearly seem to me to be the most logical candidates. Some of the schools mentioned, like Vandy, don’t have enough of the same minor sports that Big Ten schools have.

  • Bettor says:

    Bordering/Current state BCS schools:

    Iowa State
    Notre Dame
    West Virginia

    Eliminate schools not in the AAU (All current B10 institutions are in the AAU)

    Iowa State

    Current US News Peer Assessment scores of Big Ten institutions, and the 7 eligible institutions (Score out of 5.0):

    Michigan: 4.5
    Northwestern: 4.4
    Wisconsin: 4.2
    Illinois: 4.0
    Indiana: 3.8
    Minnesota: 3.8
    Penn State: 3.8
    Purdue: 3.8
    Ohio State: 3.7
    Iowa: 3.6
    Michigan State: 3.5
    Maryland: 3.7
    Pittsburgh: 3.5
    Rutgers: 3.4
    Syracuse: 3.4
    Missouri: 3.3
    Iowa State: 3.3
    Nebraska: 3.1

    Director’s Cup standings (2008-09)
    Maryland: 28th
    Nebraska: 31st
    Missouri: 36th
    Iowa State: 58th
    Syracuse: 63rd
    Rutgers: 92nd
    Pittsburgh: 93rd

  • HoosierB says:

    I would vote Pitt. The school is growing fast and its reputation as an athletic power is growing faster. They fit the mold of a B10 team in how they play (especially hoops). I know it does not grow the footprint of the conference in terms of geography or media markets, but I’d rather have an up and coming guy in our own yard join than a questionable fit outside the yard.

  • BeatPurdue says:

    The Big 10 has done this before. Nothing much has changed EXCEPT Notre Dame can not hold on to it’s solo national TV deal because it is never in the top 25 at the end of the year. Notre Dame is the right fit. Pittsburgh is a good fit. Rutgers is interesting. No one wants to go to Syracuse! Missouri, Louisville, Cincinnati, Iowa State add nothing. If all you get is a $5 million football game each existing school will LOSE MONEY-1/11 versus 1/12 of the pie, if $100 million now for 11 schools = $9,090,909 versus $105 million for 12 schools = $8,750,000. How about Maryland in the Baltimore-DC market, or Miami in the FL market, or GA Tech in Atlanta, or SMU in Dallas, or Colorado in the Rockies? The whole point is to expand the BRAND and raise the profits from the Big Ten Network so the PIE grows! What if the presidents say “OK” but no other good school says “yes”? The Big Ten looks like chump change. There is more risk here than is obvious. In this kind of a deal you do not want “transparency” you want a solid private commitment and a one year or less time frame, so that the commitment does not unravel. I thought that all of the academic presidents had been replaced by smooth political operatives? This is politically naive.

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