Oklahoma and Texas shocked the college football world a couple weeks ago when they announced that they were interested in moving to the SEC. The interest was obviously mutual, as the SEC has already approved the Sooners and Longhorns joining the conference. As if the SEC wasn’t already the premier college football conference in the country, the addition of Oklahoma and Texas only solidifies the SEC’s standing.
Now the rest of the Division I conference are looking at how to respond when it comes to trying to keep pace with the SEC on the football field. The Sooners and Longhorns are likely only the first dominos to fall when it comes to conference realignment, and ultimately it feels like a “super conference” will somehow be formed.
Until then, the Big Ten will likely look to add to their conference roster. There has been some rumors of a few teams from the Big 12 leaving their current conference now that Oklahoma and Texas are planning on leaving. Also, there has been talk of the Big Ten and Pac-12 merging to combat a possible SEC/ACC merger.
The Big Ten adding Maryland, Rutgers, and Nebraska hasn’t exactly worked out as well as the conference was hoping, so if the Big Ten adds more teams they want to make sure those new members are the right schools.
Today’s question: What schools would you most like to see the Big Ten add?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: Oregon and USC
The addition of Oregon would be more of a selfish addition for me. I do have family in southern Oregon and friends in Portland, so I would definitely love another excuse to head out there. I was originally supposed to go to Eugene for last year’s game between the Buckeyes and Ducks before COVID-19 put an end to those plans. As of now, the next time the schools are scheduled to meet in Eugene is 2032.
There are a few other reasons why the addition of Oregon would great for the Big Ten. Not only is Oregon backed by Phil Knight and all that Nike money, the Ducks also are usually a very fun watch. Adding Oregon to the conference would help to put an end to the stereotypes that we hear sometimes about the Big Ten being a boring football conference.
I know schools in the eastern time zone might not be thrilled about traveling all the way out to Eugene for games, but times are changing. It’s not like air travel isn’t easier these days, and the time change probably won’t hit 18-23 year old athletes as hard as some others. If Maryland and Rutgers don’t like it, tough. Do something positive for the conference before you complain.
When the Big Ten added Rutgers and Maryland, they claimed it was so they could extend their footprint into the New York City and Washington D.C. areas. Why not try and do the same with Los Angeles? USC would be the perfect school for this, and it doesn’t hurt that they aren’t nearly as embarrassing on the football field as the Scarlet Knights and Terrapins.
How fun would it be to fire up the Ohio State-USC football rivalry? The Buckeyes and Trojans met six times the Rose Bowl between 1969-1985, but have only met five times since. When both teams are rolling, they usually sit near the top of the college football rankings, so it’s possible you could get some marquee matchups between the schools.
It’s hard to imagine both teams leaving the Pac-12 conference, so the only way we would see the Buckeyes, Ducks, and Trojans all in the same conference is if the Big Ten and Pac-12 merged. If that were to happen, it would create some other very interesting matchups with other teams. I know I certainly would welcome the opportunity to take some trips out west to watch the Buckeyes.
Meredith’s answer: Notre Dame and Boston College
The Big Ten should certainly be looking to add more teams, especially with the apparent expansion of the SEC. The different options for teams to add each bring different benefits, especially when considering a pair of teams that could bring the Big Ten’s team total to 16.
The obvious pair, in my humble opinion, are a couple of private schools that might help Northwestern feel a little less alone in the conference: Notre Dame and Boston College.
Especially in this era of conference expansion, it’s even more ridiculous that the Fighting Irish are still independent. The arguments for Notre Dame joining the Big Ten feel like they’ve been rehashed for ages. South Bend is smack dab in the middle of Big Ten country, two hours from West Lafayette, under two hours from Chicago and minutes from the Michigan border. Perhaps that’s a factor in why the Fighting Irish so regularly played so many Big Ten teams, including Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and even Northwestern.
Notre Dame also brings the same sort of historical panache as Ohio State and Michigan. With seven Heisman Trophy winners and 11 claimed national titles, there’s a lot of history the Big Ten would like to bring into the fold.
Further, as much as we love to hate it, Notre Dame has one of the most valuable brands in college sports, garnering worldwide recognition among a loyal base. There’s also the consideration that it’s not just football. Notre Dame also brings historic men’s and women’s basketball programs, which further contributes to their equity.
But why Boston College, you ask? For starters, there’s a similar motivation to what we saw when the Big Ten added Rutgers (because the Big Ten didn’t add Rutgers to get Rutgers athletics — the conference added for the media opportunity). Boston is the last major holdout in the northeast in terms of a major TV market. The Boston metropolitan statistical area is the 11th-largest in the US. The question remains of if there are enough Big Ten fans in the greater Boston area to make it as much of a home run as adding Rutgers was, but it would help to expand the conference’s recruiting footprint regardless.
This expansion would also be important considering that adding Notre Dame does not necessarily gain any geography in the bustling metropolis of South Bend Indiana (though it is near Elkhart, the de facto RV capital of the world).
The market expansion also helps explain why the conference wouldn’t want to add Kansas, another popular pick. Sure, there’s the national basketball brand piece, but the Big 12’s media revenues come primarily from Texas and Oklahoma. Plus, the Kansas City MSA is the 31st largest in the nation.
That’s one of the things that made the Big Ten’s 2014 expansion such a slam dunk deal in retrospect. The Big Ten added the New York, Washington D.C. and Baltimore MSAs as a result, and Maryland sports (outside of football) have actually performed really well.
Of course the ACC’s media rights deals mean that the conference has its iron fist gripping its teams for decades at a time. While Texas and Oklahoma could (and probably will) get out of the Big 12 in the foreseeable future, the same can’t be said for the likes of Boston College and the fake ACC member Notre Dame.