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.