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Posted on Tue, Jul 10, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Michigan AD Dave Brandon: Big Ten not currently looking to expand, but will keep 'options open'

By Kyle Meinke

Nebraska was the first major domino to fall in the conference realignment movement, which has now touched every FBS conference in the country, and its marriage to the Big Ten helped stabilize the league during a period of volatility.

But as the conference landscape continues to shift -- 24 schools have changed leagues in the past 14 months -- some believe the future of collegiate sports are in so-called superconferences.

In that corner is Michigan football coach Brady Hoke, who believes there could be four superconferences in as few as three years. He said the Big East will "go away," and "maybe" the ACC as well.

Could that movement sweep up his conference as well?

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has said the league currently is standing pat on expansion, but Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said the conference also won't rule anything out.

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Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said the Big Ten isn't actively looking to expand, but is keeping its options open.

"We’re in the enviable position of not having to do anything (right now)," Brandon said last month when asked about superconferences. "We don’t have schools that are broke, we’re stable, the Nebraska thing has worked out really well.

"But, I think there’s a round of change ahead, and you can almost feel it. And as change occurs, I'm sure everybody is going to take a hard look and say, ‘All right, how are we going to react to this change?’

"We’re in the good position of being able to sit it out, find out where we are, but I think we’re of the mind we have to keep our options open and make sure we’re doing the right thing for the future of the conference."

The Cornhuskers were the first program to join the Big Ten since Penn State was added in 1990. Their entrance signaled seismic changes to the league, most notably the divisional split in football and the creation of a championship game.

The ripples of Nebraska's move extended beyond the Big Ten footprint, though, with each of the 11 FBS conferences shuffling its lineup since the Cornhuskers announced their plans in the summer of 2010.

Twenty-four programs have swapped leagues since May 2011, including notable football schools such as Boise State (leaving the Mountain West for the Big East in football), Missouri (Big 12 for SEC), Texas A&M (Big 12 for SEC) and West Virginia (Big East for Big 12).

In perhaps the most apropos move of all, TCU officially entered and exited the Big East without actually playing a single season there. It will join the Big 12 next year.

Programs have shuttled between conferences in the past, but this kind of clip is unprecedented. Brandon said he doesn't think it's over, either.

"There's more to come," he said. "I think the world of college athletics continues to change, and I sense there's going to be another round of alignment and realignment and expansion, and that's something that all the conferences will be looking at, and probably many will be part of."

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.


Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jul 10, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

Following Macabre Sunset's theme the PAC 12 was the PAC 8 before it was the PAC 10. When I was a lad finishing High School In Phoenix Arizona State (Frank Kush was ASU's Bo.) and U of A were in the WAC. They didn't join the PAC til 1978.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Jul 10, 2012 : 4:11 p.m.

I'll add that the Big Ten has always been careful about expansion, conscious that a new member must bring something to the table. Notre Dame has always been on the radar, but the current landscape means that unless it raids the ACC, there isn't another school out there that would be a value-add. Some say Rutgers, but it doesn't bring much of the New York television market. I think the ACC has done enough to survive for the next ten years. It was either the ACC or the Big 12, and the ACC won that battle when the SEC took Missouri and Texas A&M rather than filling in with ACC schools. So I don't see quality candidates like Maryland, Virginia, maybe Pitt, considering a switch to the Big Ten. There's still a long way to go before conferences are viable at 16 members. The ACC and the SEC want to try 14. Let them for a few years. I think the loss of familiarity with other-division schools hurts. I'm quite happy with just adding Nebraska and surveying the landscape for awhile.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Jul 10, 2012 : 4:02 p.m.

We'll know it's serious, though, when this starts hitting FBS conferences in Italy and Greece. From an historic perspective, there has often been quite a bit of conference movement. It comes in waves. You highlight TCU - an early member of the SWC, which included Texas and Texas A&M, disbanding in 1996 after losing Arkansas to the SEC (1991) and the SMU recruiting scandal. TCU has been a member of the TIAA, the SWC, the WAC, Conference USA, the Mountain West, the Big East (without ever playing a game) and now the Big 12. This shift is actually smaller than the one from 1991-96, which not only touched every conference (including the Big Ten if you count Penn State's addition in 1990), but created a few conferences. The Big Ten is remarkable for not having much movement. That's nice, but it's not always realistic.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Tue, Jul 10, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

If we add teams to our conference, can we at least do it slowly so that the new teams can be absorbed into the conference traditions, rather than just adding a bunch of teams so we can make more bucks? Nebraska has started to be part of the Big Ten, but really has a ways to go. Also, can we at least try to continue to call the Big Ten and academic conference and not start taking in, well, lesser lights? Oh, and about Notre Dame...Isn't it a lot more fun to keep them floundering around outside our walls than to bring them in?


Tue, Jul 10, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

This whole "realignment" is unfortunately a financial reality, which I do not like. I think when it is all about money rather than competition and rivalries, the universities and student-athletes lose a lot (not to mention alumni and fans). I Just think that separating natural rivalries (Neb-Ok, Neb-Tx) in the name of money is just a loss that cannot be overcome. I live in the real world so I get it, even if I don't like it. I still think that ND will and should ultimately join the Big ten and that will require another team to balance it, probably.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jul 10, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

Nice rant lumberg48108 , nice indeed.


Tue, Jul 10, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

You are correct - so we have to deal with it college presidents are saying loud and clear - we want revenue over traditional conference rivalries --- OK - I get it but they need to quite pretending they want both -- you cant have everything. You cant create a playoff and protect the bowls. You cant worry about players and then add a 12th game. You cant say its not about money and then let your title game be sponsored. You cant say you are concerned with studies and then join a league thousands of miles away which leads to long trips on weeknights for athletes. You cant pay coaches millions dollars not expect them to cheat to get the coach or keep the job. You cant create gimmick games and present them as a big deal and then wonder why non-sexy games dont sell out. Etc etc ... College football is selling its soul and I am ok with that - they want to be the NFL - they want 24/7 coverage but that leads to more scrutiny - so deal with it College football is jumping the shark -- fine - but the powers that be need to stop pretending they are not even swimming in an ocean


Tue, Jul 10, 2012 : 11:09 a.m.

TCU belongs in the Big 12... just from a geographical stand point although that doesn't seem to be as relevant anymore.