Posted at 8:00am -- 2/1/2010
Mailbag question: Adding Texas to the Big Ten conference
Would not adding Texas to the Big Ten help us in terms of competing for the elite recruits and expand our reach into the Lone Star State? What are your thoughts on Conference expansion, especially concerning the advantages (recruiting and otherwise), of going East, e.g. Rutgers, Syracuse, vs. staying in the Midwest, e.g. Missouri, vs. stretching down to Texas?
Thanks for your good work here.
Thanks for the question.
The biggest question is why would Texas want to be part of the Big Ten?
They have four or five good rivalries in their conference. Playing Texas might have a small influence on recruiting the state of Texas "Lone Star State,” but we doubt the effect would be large.
Texas will continue to get the biggest share or the best (elite) instate recruits, with Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and even schools like Oklahoma also getting into the act, in which Oklahoma uses Texas like Michigan used to gather Ohio talent in the old days. It would be hard for Michigan to get the elite level recruits from Texas on a regular basis.
In our opinion Rutgers has the most to offer, because they give Michigan/Big Ten the most exposure into the largest expanded market in the country, the New York City/Philadelphia/New Jersey areas. The television/cable rights alone would bring in a lot of revenue.
Syracuse brings good academics, a historically solid football program, with the exception of the last few years and excellent basketball. It also brings upstate New York, a solid market.
Pittsburgh brings very good sports, excellent graduate programs (solid undergraduate) and a valuable Western Pennsylvania market. Pitt is also travel friendly and would bring the league a big payday playing Penn State every year. Pitt, in our opinion, makes the most sense for the conference for traveling, economics, and rivalries. Ohio State and Penn State would serve as rivals. Missouri is a natural fit if the Big Ten Conference wants to go with an East and West Division set-up. The Tigers are natural rivals of Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern and Minnesota.
Notre Dame is the best fit, but as we already know the Irish want to stay independent in football. They would bring a huge national fan base, a national TV bonanza, and already established natural rivalries with many in the Big Ten conference.
Many ignore the reality that every major conference is a total sports conference. Fans mainly focus on football and basketball, but there are many varsity sports. So that means all those teams would have added expenses for traveling, lodging, more time away from classes, being on the road more, and probably spending more money than the minor programs could generate.
We believe a program like Pittsburgh or Missouri would be the best for the Big Ten Conference and keep the Big Ten a Midwest venue. This would also not add as much travel expense and time away for the student-athletes. An important notion to remember about conference expansion is that most student-athletes affected will not play professional sports and they need the time in the classroom to be achieving academically and get a degree. Fortunately, minor sports at many major schools are stocked with very good students.
Written by GBMW Staff
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