In case you’ve just spent the last month stuck in Europe because of the never-ending erupting Iceland volcano (we’re not going to try to spell its name, let alone try to pronounce it, but to understand how long this could last, its last eruption went from 1821-1823), Big Ten expansion is back in the news.
Reality, however, is less certain.
A Kansas City radio report stated that the Big Ten has offered Nebraska, Missouri, Notre Dame and Rutgers the chance to join the league. This isn’t backed by facts because nobody in the know is saying anything.
Nebraska and Missouri are members of the Big 12 Conference. Rutgers is in the Big East. Notre Dame is a Big East school in basically every sport except football, which is independent.
Nothing is official yet, but it sure makes for plenty of intrigue. Because if it’s true and those schools accept (Notre Dame remains a long shot), college athletics will never be the same.
Why? Because that would mean the Big Ten would ratchet up to a 16-team league (yes, it would still have to find one more team –- Pitt, Syracuse and Connecticut are strong possibilities), make a gazillion dollars from its Big Ten Network and maybe even figure out how to win a football national championship (the SEC has won four straight).
Notre Dame officials are adamant that they want to stay independent in football. The Big Ten wants Irish football in the worst way.
In the past, that meant a stalemate, but that was before the super-conference threat emerged. If the college landscape changes enough -– say a Big 12-Pac-10 merger, the SEC taking Texas, the ACC taking the best Big East leftovers after the Big Ten is done raiding -– Notre Dame might have to buck tradition and give up its football freedom.
Big Ten presidents and chancellors are set to meet in June to discuss expansion.
What would this mean for Indiana? Basically, more money. Expansion would give the Big Ten Network more clout, more access to East Coast markets and, ultimately, more dollars.
Without Big Ten Network money, IU would be in a world of hurt right now. With it, the Hoosiers are building new facilities, upgrading programs and keeping up with all their competitors.
More, you see, is definitely better.