Big Ten Expansion: Bigger Isn't Better

↵It broke over the weekend that major news would break this weekend about Big Ten expansion, and then that news failed to break. Teddy Greenstein, Chicago's foremost purveyor of Mecha Big Ten scenarios: ↵

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↵⇥High-ranking Big Ten representatives will meet Sunday afternoon in⇥Washington D.C. to discuss expansion. ... If the league can emerge from⇥the D.C. meetings with a mandate to expand, commissioner Jim Delany⇥could take a substantial step next week at the annual BCS meetings,⇥outside Phoenix. ⇥⇥⇥ ↵⇥

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↵Conveniently, there are AAU meetings going on at the same bat place  at the same bat time. Presidents from Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, and Northwestern are confirmed attendees; you can be sure that the rest of the relevant people will be in attendance. ↵

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↵Something is happening, that much is for certain. ↵

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↵⇥The thinking among those in touch with Big Ten officials is that the⇥league is likely to add at least three schools -- to end up with a 14-⇥or 16-team league. ⇥⇥⇥ ↵⇥

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↵⇥"I don't think 16 is scaring anyone off, as long as you can find⇥that many (five) that are a good enough fit," said one source who⇥has been consulted during the conference's exploratory phase.⇥"They're looking long-term, across the horizon. What gives them the⇥best shot at keeping value at a high level?" ⇥⇥⇥ ↵⇥

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↵Unconfirmed (but equally anonymous) posts from things as far afield as Virginia Tech message boards indicate the same thing, with Missouri, Nebraska, Pitt, Rutgers, and Notre Dame on the menu. Rittenberg says "almost everyone" he's talked to thinks it's 14 or 16. Notre Dame fans are peeved, unsure of what "literally" means, and wearing T-shirts to prove it: ↵

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↵If Notre Dame comes accompanied by half the Big East, I'm with them. You'll be able to pick me out by the trace amounts of melanin in my skin and my ability to have a beer without committing crimes against the concept of motion. ↵

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↵This is a stupid idea no matter how much money some amalgamation of Big East teams, spare parts from the cornfield section of the country, and an orphaned Notre Dame will add to the bottom line. Adding more than one additional team pushes the Big Ten from a tight federation of teams with meaningful relationships with each other to two conferences loosely pasted together. The current setups in the Big 12, ACC, and SEC are silly enough-remember that year Kansas skated into the top ten because it had a Kansas-State-worthy non-conference schedule and missed Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech? A 14 or 16 team conference exacerbates that immensely. With 14 teams you play two of the seven members in the other division. With 16 teams it's one of eight. Conventional two-divisions-and-game-at-the end ceases to make sense once you push past 12 teams. ↵

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↵If I thought the Big Ten would be ballsy enough to hire some Australian Rules Football consultants or just get really high you guys and come up with something unprecedented that would split the conference into smaller groups and segregate teams by performance, I could see it being fun. If they'd go to 14 and tack on two extra conference games - surely there could be no complaints given the millions everyone would be pulling in - I could deal. ↵

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↵If they just splotch some additional teams onto an eight-game conference schedule, it will be a net negative. Big Ten teams will lose three meaningful series against teams they play 75 percent of the time in favor of eight series in which the two teams meet slightly more than once a decade. Michigan won't be gaining a selection of five teams, they'll be losing Penn State and Iowa and Wisconsin. Penn State will be losing Michigan and Ohio State and treasured rival Michigan State. ↵

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↵As with a lot of things that promise to make money hand over fist, the only people who benefit are the ones pulling the strings. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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