This post has nothing to do with China, Vermont, or the environment, but instead college football and might only be of interest to my Sports Law expert and CNNSI.com writer Vermont Law School colleague Michael McCann.
The Big Ten wants to expand from 11 teams to 12-16 teams. The Big Ten last expanded in 1991 when Penn State joined. Football, and the revenue that comes with it, drives expansion. The Penn State addition proved very successful. From the beginning I have argued that Big Ten expansion from this point is driven by three schools that the Big Ten would like to add:
(1) Notre Dame
Notre Name was ironically denied admission to the Big Ten at the turn of the century, and now wants to remain an independent. ND will join the Big Ten only when the Big East dies; though joining the Big Ten, and the accompanying Association of American Universities, would greatly enhance its academic profile.
The Big Ten seems to have landed Nebraska and its storied football tradition. My guess is that the Big Ten still wants Texas. The question is whether continued bad blood between Nebraska and Texas will allow this to happen, and whether Texas can join the Big Ten without Texas A&M (something that Texas politics might forbid). My guess is that this can only occur if Texas A&M goes to the SEC as some reports suggest.
Jim Delaney, commissioner of the Big Ten, is in my guess hoping for a dream scenario where the Big 12 (Colorado, for the Pac-10, and Nebraska, for the Big Ten, have already left) and Big East fall apart, and Texas A&M goes to the SEC. Then the Big Ten will have 14 teams with Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Texas, to go along with national football powers Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan. The revenue would pour in at that point for cable’s Big Ten Network. I question whether the Big Ten can pull this off but I think it’s their dream scenario.
The divisions, setting up a conference championship game, would look like this:
West Division: Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Northwestern
East Division: Notre Dame, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State
Such a strong football conference might also argue to have two automatic BCS bowl qualifiers.