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Posted on Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 6 a.m.

More Big Ten expansion? Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon says there's a good chance

By Pete Bigelow


Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon believes Big Ten officials aren't done considering expanding the conference.

Lon Horwedel |

Shuffling across the college sports landscape has started again.

In recent days, Texas Christian fled the Mountain West for the Big East, geography overcome by the lure of an automatic-qualifying bid to a BCS bowl. UMass, meanwhile, is pondering a football-only move to the Mid-American Conference.

Could the Big Ten - the conference that started the realignment wave last summer - be next? Commissioner Jim Delany will address the expansion question at the next meeting of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors in early December.

The group, which approved Nebraska’s membership application over the summer, is expected to decide whether to pursue further expansion or conclude the process, according to Big Ten spokesperson Scott Chipman.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon believes the 12-school conference will eventually add more members. “We’re in a really good place,” he said. “Having said that, if I were a betting man, I’d say there’s more change ahead and more expansion ahead. That review continues and discussions continue, and there’s still possibilities out there.” Brandon said Nebraska’s inclusion occurred much faster than anybody in the conference anticipated, and that the rescheduling of the 2011 and 2012 seasons was an unintended byproduct.

“That wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen,” he said.

Originally, Delany outlined a review of the expansion topic that would take place in a 12-to-18 month. That period began in December 2009.

The addition of Nebraska, the 12th school, accomplished one of the primary goals of the conference - fielding enough competitors under NCAA rules to host a league championship game, the first of which will be held Dec. 3, 2011 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Not everyone agrees with Brandon. In October, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told The Lantern, "We're done with it. We're finished." Two months later, he maintains that position, according to OSU spokesperson Shelly Poe.

But Brandon believes the chances are good that the Big Ten will further expand.

“We’ve accomplished a lot of what we needed to accomplish,” he said. “I know I’m happy, but not that we’ve kind of digested that, we’re still in the same mode of looking at the bigger picture and seeing if there’s more we can or should do.

“That’s far from a guarantee, but I’d say there’s a higher likelihood there’s expansion in the future.”

Pete Bigelow covers Michigan football for He can be reached at (734) 623-2556, via e-mail at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:10 p.m.

@ The OSU As much as the Big Ten would want the people in New York and Boston to watch the games, the most important thing would be to have the Big Ten Network included in their sports package that comes with the cable, which the Big Ten would work out. As long as money is being made, that's what matters, unfortunately. New York and Boston are the 1st and 7th largest television markets in the US. The Big Ten would work on marketing the East Coast for fans. Almost assuredly, the Big Ten heads east to expand. Review the articles on expansion from last summer if you need any proof. I would love to see the the remainder of the Big 12 join the Big Ten, per your theory. The problem is Texas IS the Big 12, meaning they take the lion's share of the revenue the conference earns, thus control it. Though Texas is having a bad year, the are and will always be the power in the Big 12 because of the money. Joining the Big Ten would mean sharing profits equally with the other members, which Texas has no interest in doing. They are in the process of creating their own television network as a matter of fact and will be making even more money. Texas prefers to be the Big Fish in the Small Pond and will not jump into the shark tank that will be the new Big Ten. The other Big 12 teams would probably consider jumping ship, but they don't measure up to the Big Ten's academic standards, nor do they have major television markets. Also, there is no way Tennessee or any other SEC team jumps ship to the Big Ten, just on principle...


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 5:42 p.m.

Lemansblue: I wouldn't count joining the Big East as a "gimme" championship. My guess is that the guys at West Virginia Univ. would love to take a shot at any RR team.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 5:27 p.m.

Any truth to the rumor that RR wants Michigan to join the Big East so he might be able to have a winning conference record?


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 3:43 p.m.

Three divisions with a wild card and a playoff isn't supported by the current NCAA rules which allow for a conference championship game not a conference playoff. If the goal is something that approaches a playoff -- the best alignment would be a 20 or 22 team "conference" with two divisions were all the teams in one division play each other (9 or 10 division games) and then the winner of each division meets in the championship game. That being said, a 20 or 22 team conference with little or no inter-divisional play isn't really a conference. Before the BigTen and PacTen both went to 12 teams, I thought it would have been interesting to form a BigTen/PacTen superconference with the BigTen being one division and the PacTen the other. The RoseBowl could have been the conference championship. This would have been realy close to the traditional (before BCS arrangement) except "RoseBowl" would have been played in early Dec.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 1:44 p.m.

Pete, it's more than just the television market itself. It's the saturation within the market. Pulling in Nebraska means pulling in a huge share of the entire state. Rutgers pulls in a tiny share of a much larger market. Also, Nebraska has more national interest. I studied expansion by analyzing several factors the conference might use to select schools. Of course, with the Big Ten, academics are very important. With all this in mind, I ranked the 120 FBS schools by how much they would interest the Big Ten. Then eliminated those (except in notable cases) outside the supposed expanded league footprint. This is what I came up with: (Michigan, Ohio State) 1. Texas* (Penn State, Wisconsin) 2. Notre Dame 3. Georgia Tech* 4. Nebraska 5. Texas A&M* (Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan State) 6. Pittsburgh 7. North Carolina* (Purdue) 8. Maryland (Illinois) 9. Virginia 10. Missouri 11. Rutgers 12. Kansas (Northwestern) 13. Duke* 14. Syracuse (Indiana) 15. Iowa State I placed where the current Big Ten teams would fit in this ranking for perspective. From what we've heard, the more distant schools don't want to join the Big Ten. We also know Notre Dame has no interest at this time. That's why Nebraska was a slam-dunk choice. After that, you're looking at schools that would rank in the bottom half of the Big Ten in terms of value. Which means adding them makes very little sense in that it's one more slice of the pie to divide. Getting to 16 means adding to the bottom of the conference. We really haven't seen that anywhere else, except in the WAC, which is struggling for survival. I don't see the case for the Big Ten being the first major conference to go beyond 12 schools. It's much stronger for the Pac Ten, where geography limits viable options, or the ACC, which would be battling the Big XII for obsolescence if super-conferences looked like our future.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 1:29 p.m.

RudeJude: Sorry but no cigar. Rutgers doesn't make sense from a TV markets standpoint. BC? In September the only thing people in Boston are doing is watch the Red Sox lose to the Yankees (again!). Again, no useful TV market. New Englanders don't appreciate midwest football.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 1:10 p.m.

1. Notre Dame 2. Boston College 3. Rutgers 4. Mizzou The Big Ten has a crush on ND, which is still the ultimate prize for the television ratings. Pull in BC and the Big Ten has four of their rivals, plus a new television market. Mizzou and Rutgers bring in new television markets. BC is not a AAU school, but either is ND. If that persuaded ND into joining, the Big Ten would relent. Another potential option would be Pitt, also an AAU member. I love the expansion speculation. : ) If ND had any sense (or humility), they would join the Big East.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 1:02 p.m.

PETE: There is little value in adding 1 or 2 teams. Notre Dame will remain independent until they have no choice to join a conference (either financially or to qualify for BCS). Going east is pointless. You need to reach the east coast to gain TV market share and frankly, college FB has never been big in the northeast. If the Big 10 is convinced expansion is the way to go, they need to add 6 teams. Sprecifically, the would want Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and (gulp) ND. With 18 teams they could set up THREE divisions and run an internal playoff system with one wildcard. This specific group of six teams would BOTH grab most of the major rivalries AND dominate the central core of the US television market. After all, the Big 10 has already established that their major role is being a TV network. If ND is too foolish to join this plan, raid one of the following: Tennessee (2 TV markets and FB school), Kentucky (Basketball market) or Arkansas. Obviously, this would kill the Big 12. Furthermore, it would geographically, box-in the other major conferences. If this happened the SEC would probably follow and follow the same idea, grabbing the best of the ACC and Big East. The PAC 10/12 would then try to follow by grapping what's left in the west. But don't feel too bad for them, they get the LA and SF TV markets.

David Vande Bunte

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:57 p.m.

Now that they have Nebraska to give them enough teams for a title game, I think its Notre Dame or nothing. The Big Ten will only expand again if Notre Dame is involved, otherwise it will stand pat at 12 members.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:34 p.m.

Lorain Steelmen, you are right to Hell with Norte Dame.

Lorain Steelmen

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 12:01 p.m.

Gene Smith has it right..the big ten is done with expansion. Twelve teams, two divisions, is a workble setup and accomplishes everything they need...quit while you're ahead. As far a ND is concerned....nope, that ship has sailed. The Irish will NOT be joining this league anytime soon.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:12 a.m.

I'm probably one of the few who would like to see the Big Ten expand to 14 or 16. With 16, you could break it down into a four-division conference, and potentially have a conference semi-final before the championship. Imagine if there were four 16 team conferences, it could work out well for a playoff, and two of the four rounds of the playoff would take place within the regular season like I suggest above. You'd end up with a final four of conference champions, and there is no reason you still could not have the other bowl games. But, please, tell me how this is impossible or will ruin college football.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 9:13 a.m.

Ya, rite. Why not get an uneven number of teams in the conference once again so we can have another fiasco where a msu can claim conference superiority without going through a columbus to prove it. $$$ over quality is what it is coming down to. The money guys will be the ruination of college sports yet. Go ahead and go for it Brandon. You lost me and my $$$ already.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 9:12 a.m.

Dave Brandon, by all measures, is an astute businessman and an forward-thinking executive. He seems to make well-thought comments and I suspect that he doesn't show his hand when dealing with reporters or business relationships. So, his comment about possible future expansion could very well be an effort to stir the pot and see what comes to the top. As far as conference expansion goes, it might be a blessing to have 6 Super conferences and dismiss the BCS system altogether. It would be a great way to have a real plalyoff and determine a legitimate national champion.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 7:16 a.m.

The Big Ten doesn't have to be the first major conference to experiment with 13 or more teams. So why not let another conference take that risk? It's not like the best candidates won't still be available down the road. Brandon still seems like just a fan sometimes - one who has been hiding in a pizza box the last decade or so.

3 And Out

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 6:34 a.m.

Wow. Just clicked on the UMass to MAC article. They finished just 6-5 this year...and they had Rich Rod coached UM down 17-7 and almost beat our team in the Big House. Shows even further how far this program is down under Rich Rodriguez....+ how BADLY a good staff will be needed if the Big Ten is expanded to include more good teams. Already he have Nebraska to worry about next year. Dave Brandon is so correct when he said that we need to compete and not move sideways or downwards as we have been under Rich Rod Error. Go Blue!