The Big Ten is all set to expand with USC and UCLA joining the party in 2024, and this doesn’t appear to be the end of the big moves.
The conference has already made a big statement that it wants to go coast-to-coast and expand the overall footprint. Now it can claim the Los Angeles market to go along with Chicago, Baltimore/Washington DC, Detroit, all of Ohio, Minneapolis, most of Pennsylvania, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and for the most part, New York.
Who else makes sense to bring aboard? Where does the Big Ten go if it wants to get to 18? Or 20?
Remember, the Big Ten just got USC and UCLA – it’s not going to go after just anyone.
There has to be a big market, a school with a massive profile, and it has to expand the Big Ten brand.
It doesn’t make sense to go after Iowa State – the league already has Iowa. It wants new places and new eyeballs for BTN, and it wants the school in the state.
It wants The University of Maryland, and The University of Nebraska, and so on.
So with that in mind, here are the top 5 Big Ten expansion candidates … if it really does want to get to 18.
Top 5 Big Ten Expansion Candidates – after getting USC and UCLA
5. Notre Dame
Of course the Big Ten would take Notre Dame in a heartbeat. Of course Notre Dame wants to be in the Big Ten. So why isn’t this happening?
Notre Dame makes a ton of money doing whatever it is it’s doing with the ACC while also maintaining its independent status, but it’s going to want to get on the money train fast.
That’s not the ACC. It’s not the Pac-12, even though the move would make lots of sense for both sides. Notre Dame to the SEC? Nah. Wrong academics, wrong profile, wrong branding, wrong fit.
A source told me that if Notre Dame were to withdraw from the ACC, it can play football wherever it wants. It would have to pay exit fee and grant of rights fees for its other sports.
— Heather Dinich (@CFBHeather) June 30, 2022
So at the very least, these two crazy kids need to have a discussion to see where things are at. The Big Ten isn’t going to give Notre Dame any special treatment, and Notre Dame doesn’t want to enter the league only to become just another football program.
Bottom line, money isn’t a problem, and desire isn’t an issue, but neither side in this stubborn fight will likely cave.
Seriously, the University of Kansas owes me a gift tray of delightful meats and cheeses if the Big Ten or Pac-12 makes the call.
I’m not sure why this school isn’t more in the mix for expansion. No, it’s not a sleeping giant or anything, but it checks all the expansion boxes.
Well, except for one.
No, the football side isn’t great, but Rutgers isn’t exactly pulling down national titles by the bushel.
Basketball doesn’t really matter in expansion, but sort of like having the cache of bringing in the Nebraska football program, Kansas basketball is obviously special.
Decent-sized – but not huge – enrollment of around 20,000, big national alumni base, Kansas City and St. Louis markets, Tier 1 research AAU school, easy rival for Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois – or Colorado if the Pac-12 makes the move – and most of all, as mentioned before, it’s The University of Kansas.
Missouri might fit the SEC in a whole lot of ideological ways, and no one’s leaving that conference right now, but does it seem like the school is having a lot of fun?
It’s out there in the suburbs of the SEC, far, far away from the downtown area where the cool kids hang out.
Mizzou is about as Atlanta as Pepsi.
It’s not like College Football Playoff appearances are coming if Mizzou were to switch to the Big Ten, but it’s a far better, far more comfortable fit with Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and even Minnesota and Wisconsin with a little bit of a drive.
Like Kansas, Missouri brings St. Louis and Kansas City, and it is The University of Missouri.
The Big Ten blew it in 2011 when it didn’t get the school when it had the chance. It’s probably not going to get it this time, either – it’s already in the SEC, it’s not quite splashy enough, markets aren’t that amazing – so …
Missouri sounds nice, but too much work, not enough payoff, unlike …
Source: Don't assume the Big Ten is done.
— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) June 30, 2022
In light of the USC and UCLA move to the Big Ten, Washington now makes so much sense it’s insane this wasn’t more in the sewing circle rumor mongering discussions until now.
Think about what the Big Ten wants.
It wants the major university in a state. Check.
It wants a solid football program that can be a factor. Check.
It wants a big untapped media market to get new eyeballs on the Big Ten Network. Seattle is right there with Detroit and Minneapolis-St. Paul in terms of market size. Check.
It wants a strong academic institution. It’s right there in the wheelhouse with Rutgers, Penn State, Maryland, and Ohio State. Check.
Washington opens up a corner of the country to make the Big Ten even more of a national brand, obviously the tie-ins with USC and UCLA are there, and again, it just fits the profile in every possible way.
As does …
Yeah, all of that with Washington, but with better football, better branding, and much, much better marketing.
The media market isn’t Seattle or Los Angeles, but Portland is there with Baltimore and Indianapolis and Milwaukee. The academic profile is more Nebraska than UCLA or Northwestern, but it’s more than good enough.
And again, the marketing. You don’t think the Big Ten wants to be associated with everything the University of Oregon brings to the table in an NIL era?
You don’t grab an Oregon without a Washington – and vice versa – and these two along with USC and UCLA completely changes the landscape of the Big Ten and makes it untouchable business-wise.
Of course, if the Big Ten actually wants to keep expanding.