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Posted on Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 7:18 a.m.

Top 5 schools in the mix for the next phase of Big Ten expansion

By Dave Birkett

The Big Ten expanded to 12 teams with the addition of Nebraska on Friday, and commissioner Jim Delany said he’s not done exploring the matter, though the next phase might not come until the end of the original 12- to 18-month timeline. Here are five more schools that could be in the mix should the Big Ten decide to grow again.

Notre Dame: After Texas, which could leave the Big 12 for the Pac-10 as early as Tuesday, the Irish are the biggest catch in the expansion game. Notre Dame values its independence in football, but might be forced to join a league. The Big Ten is a natural fit, though Notre Dame turned down an invite in 1999.

Rutgers: If Notre Dame jumps, the Big Ten won’t stay at 13 teams. Rutgers hasn’t had great success in football or men’s basketball, but it does expand the conference’s footprint east. Why is that important? Getting in the New York and Philadelphia TV markets means big money for the Big Ten Network.

Missouri: Delany told Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe on Friday he wasn’t pursuing any of Nebraska’s former conference mates - for now. Missouri still makes a lot of sense if, say, the Big Ten grows to 16 teams. The Tigers might be forced elsewhere, first, however. If the Big 12 implodes, expect the Mountain West to come calling.

Maryland: One of the hottest rumors has the Big Ten eyeing Maryland in its next expansion push. The school sits in the Washington D.C. television market, No. 9 nationally, and is a fit academically as a member of the Association of American Universities. Of course, as a charter member of the ACC, Maryland doesn’t seem like a good bet to bolt.

Pitt: Despite solid academics and athletics, Pitt, by itself, doesn’t add much value to the Big Ten. But if Notre Dame is the end game in this, the conference might have to poach a few more Big East teams to force the Irish’s hand. Every Notre Dame sport but football plays in the Big East. If that league crumbles, or becomes even less desirable than it already is, Notre Dame has to leave. Pitt makes sense in the 16-team super-conference model.

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 1:28 a.m.

I'm not exactly on board with this or anything and know it won't happen. But just wondering, if the Big Ten is so concerned with academics and how so many people are leaving Big Ten states for the South, why not get a more southern-most school like the University of Virginia (which is more likely to come than Texas)? UVA sucks in football right now, sure, but they do have some history there and they are the Michigan of the South, academically (my law school choice came down to Michigan, UVA and Penn). It's not the SEC, but it would still also get that regional exposure growth by getting more viewers/supporters from the South and the Mid-Atlantic. And people care more about football in the South than the NY region the Big Ten has been [oddly] interested in. Might even get a few more people from the South back up to the Midwest (or, well...if the economy wasn't particularly schitty in the Midwest. I'd still live in Chicago or Southeast Michigan otherwise vs the Southeast region).


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 5:19 p.m.

Poker anyone and before we show our hand remember, those priests over at Notre Dame are just as arrogant as we are so before we try to force their hand by acquiring a bunch of schools we really don't want we better do a little marketing on that bluff.

John Driscoll

Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 5:02 p.m.

One could make a strong case for the inclusion of MARYLAND in an expanded Big Ten -- A state flagship university with a large alumni and fan base (2nd largest among expansion candidates); a global continuing education program (check out its contract with the Department of Defense); rated among the nation's leading public research institutions; a member of the AAU; territory borders current Big Ten footprint; located in (not near) the heart of the DC-Baltimore media markets, combined it's the fourth largest in the country; the nation's 38th-ranked revenue producing athletic department; nationally competitive in many men's and women's sports; and all sports venues are campus-based. Maryland may be a step behind Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska in football, but it holds its own among the rest of the conference in national championships (2), conference crowns (11) and bowl games (23). Over the last decade, the Terps have produced 11 national champions in several sports (basketball, lacrosse, soccer, field hockey)... The Big Ten network doesn't just cover football. It's a year-round enterprise.


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 4:12 p.m.

Tim Wild wrote, "Syracuse is further west than Maryland." Actually Maryland, College Park that is, is about 40 miles west of Syracuse.


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 11:56 a.m.

SLIPPERY ROCK!! Sports Commentators love to say; "Slippery Rock", while reporting football scores. And Rich Rod needs to have someone on the schedule that he has a 50/50 chance of beating. They have great academics too!


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 11:09 a.m.

Kansas - not a premier football school but a legendary basketball program which would give the Big XX more credibility in Basketball. Maybe even Kansas State


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 10:54 a.m.

This is it. There won't be another round of expansion, at least not without ND. Notre Dame is not going to voluntarily join the Big Ten. Their hand has to be forced and way too many cards have to fall before that can happen. The first would be the Big 12 collapsing which still isn't a forgone conclusion. That conference still has a premier name with a BCS auto-bid and bowl ties. It could all end tomorrow for it, but then the SEC and ACC have to make moves in order to force ND's hand. I don't think all these cards are going to fall correctly therefore I think instead of 12-18 months were probably looking at 5 years to a decade before another round of expansion happens, if it ever does.

Tim Wild

Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 9:11 a.m.

Note, Maryland is also closer to Penn State than Syracuse, and is easier to get to for everyone else in the Big Ten [Teams and fans](Big airports and plenty of hotels)

Tim Wild

Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 9:07 a.m.

Syracuse is further west than Maryland. Suprised that Penn State was not able to bring Philly to the BTN by themselves. Rutgers brand is not strong. Without help I doubt they are enough to add NYC. Now if we add ND (to Penn St, Michigan, OSU and Rutgers) then the Big Ten would have a large percentage of the New York market fan support. Maybe enough.


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 9:07 a.m.

Why is Tuesday "early" "After Texas, which could leave the Big 12 for the Pac-10 as early as Tuesday" As "soon" as Tuesday would be the proper way to explain it... Tuesday is not early unless there is a deadline or another date is "late"... In other words, you cant be early if you cannot be late!


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 8:55 a.m.

Glad to see someone actually put it in print: re PITT "But if Notre Dame is the end game in this, the conference might have to poach a few more Big East teams to force the Irishs hand." This whole thing just makes me sick to my stomach. Destroy a whole conference to get what you want and to make more money. It shouldn't be this way. Its just not right.


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

Rutgers and Maryland would not be good choices in my opinion. They're just too far east, out of the Big Ten geographic area and market. Pitt, Missouri, ND, and even Syracuse would all be good choices however. This whole thing will be decided on manuevering that goes on in the next week or two. Delaney may very well be willing to grab a bunch of Big East schools to force ND's hand. I wouldn't doubt that for a minute!


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 8:19 a.m.

To get Notre Dame the Big Ten has to force their hand by raiding the Big East. Rutgers has the largest enrollment and a TV market so I assume that is ineviable. Pitt offers little in way of increased viewership yet a known football school although basketball teams have been good of late. Syracuse? Great basketball tradition but...... Will grabbing 3 teams out of Big East be enough?


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 7:21 a.m.

All of these schools makes sense, some more than others. They're all members of the AAU, with the exception of Notre Dame, whose academic standards are well known to be high. The Big Ten doesn't want any school in their conference who is weak academically. But, what about Syracuse? We heard their name a lot in the beginning of the expansion conversation. Are they off of the table, now?


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 7:19 a.m.

Show me the $$$!!!


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 6:40 a.m.

What a shame that it's all come down to TV market share. Pitt would be a great addition to the Big Ten, culturally, athletically, academically, and geographically. Rutgers and Maryland make absolutely NO sense when you take $$$ out of the equation.