The last couple weeks have been wild for the Big Ten after it was announced that USC and UCLA would be joining the conference in 2024. Even though the announcement of the addition of the Trojans and Bruins is huge as the conference tries to keeps pace with the SEC, it seems obvious that the Big Ten isn’t done adding schools yet.
While we all know that the Big Ten is likely to add even more schools to the conference, what we don’t know is what schools those future additions will be. There has been speculation that academic powerhouse Stanford could be one of those additions. Another thought is state schools Oregon and Washington could be headed to the Big Ten, but if that happens it’s hard to see those schools leaving rivals Oregon State and Washington State behind. Then there is Notre Dame, who could finally be coming to the realization that they’ll have to join an actual conference.
What we want to know today is who are the schools that you’d like to see the Big Ten add next? Aside from Notre Dame, a lot of the big name schools have found a home, so you’re not really going to get any more splash moves like the addition of USC and UCLA, or Texas and Oklahoma. Still, there are plenty of additions that could really bolster the depth of the conference and create some fun matchups.
Today’s question: What schools would you like to see the Big Ten add next?
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 Oregon State
A lot of my reasoning for wanting these two schools to be added to the Big Ten is personal. My dad and my uncle live in Medford, my cousin did some graduate work at Oregon State, and I have friends that live in Portland. I’m begging the Big Ten to give me more reasons to travel out to Oregon. Honestly, if I didn’t live in Ohio, the state that I would want to be living in is Oregon.
Also, I would like to see Oregon added to the conference after they beat the Buckeyes in Columbus last year. As of now, the Ducks and Bucks aren’t scheduled to meet again until 2032 in Eugene and 2033 in Columbus. We all know the schools could meet before that though, as we have seen them matchup in bowl games twice since 2010.
Oregon is obviously the more desired school when it comes to Big Ten expansion, but it’s hard to see the Ducks coming and the Beavers going somewhere else. I’ve been through Corvallis and it’s definitely better than going to some of the dumps in the Big Ten like West Lafayette, Bloomington, or Champaign. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if the Big Ten added the Beavers along with the Ducks.
I’m sure that the Big Ten might be a little hesitant to add these two when it comes to the academics. Honestly though, academics are falling in the order of importance for conference expansion, especially when the Big Ten has to try and keep pace with the SEC. I just know if the Beavers and Ducks were added to the conference, fans would love it. I can speak from experience since I’ve loved the time I’ve spent in the state, and I know Buckeye fans would really enjoy trips out there.
Meredith’s answer: Notre Dame and Stanford
For starters, I love the move of adding West Coast teams to the Big Ten. As much as I hate the idea of possible 10 p.m. ET kickoffs for conference games, the benefits of geographic expansion — in terms of recruiting, media markets and more — are too good to pass up.
That being said, the teams that I’d like to see added next don’t bring as much new strategic value so much as brand recognition and rivalry opportunities.
Notre Dame has felt like the obvious choice for Big Ten expansion since Penn State joined the conference in 1990, but the Fighting Irish seem to still be smarting from their rejection from the Western Conference (the predecessor to the Big Ten) more than a century ago.
While it’s so easy to get annoyed by Notre Dame and their relentless bend toward exceptionalism, the program does have deep historical roots aligned with the likes of Ohio State and Michigan. Geographically, South Bend is firmly in Big Ten territory. Furthermore, many of Notre Dame’s historical rivals, including Michigan, Purdue and Michigan State, are current Big Ten teams. That list grew with the announcement that USC would be joining the Big Ten.
Selfishly, I also like Marcus Freeman as head coach in South Bend, which further positions Notre Dame as a Big Ten program in practice.
The other team I’d choose to add would be Stanford. This pairing makes sense especially considering recent history, which has seen Notre Dame and Stanford facing off most years since the late 1980s.
Stanford would bring a different kind of prestige to the Big Ten. As regular winners of both the Director’s Cup and Capital One Cup, the Cardinal are the shining example of how athletic departments can support a portfolio of sports that goes beyond football and basketball, which also serves to improve equity especially in women’s sports. (We’ll ignore here that one time Stanford announced they’d be cutting 11 varsity sports due to the impacts of COVID-19.)
Further, Northwestern, as the only private school in the 14-team conference (well, until USC joins officially), has always been something of an outlier compared to the rest of the Big Ten. It’s significantly smaller and significantly more rigorous academically compared to an already rigorous conference. Stanford (or Notre Dame) would give Northwestern a true peer within the Big Ten, because who doesn’t love a good pairing?