Daily College Football Cavalcade: With Texas and Oklahoma possibly moving to the SEC, what’s the next move for possible Big Ten expansion?
Because the possibility of Texas and Oklahoma going to the SEC is all anyone wants to talk about right now, this week will feature a series of Daily Cavalcades with different views on what could be a seminal moment in college sports.
Sorry if this take sucks, it’s not my fault …
It’s not on the list of the Association of American Universities.
Yeah, it would be a conference with 16 teams – and maybe more – that calls itself the Big Ten, but that’s the least-weird thing happening.
The Big Ten has been way too quiet – even during its own media days – when it comes to the possibility of expansion.
It’s coming. It has to.
Here’s the college sports world reality: the Big Ten is still the biggest, baddest college conference business going, but the SEC is gaining fast.
Of course the SEC is the best football conference on the field, and of course getting Texas and Oklahoma would make it that much more impressive, but the Big Ten has the ability to 1) reasonably pitch almost anyone and come up with a deal good enough to at least look at, and 2) unlike the Big 12, it actually could lose its two biggest-brand schools and potentially be okay by upping its own expansion game.
The Big 12 can’t realistically think about adding Notre Dame. The Big Ten can.
So don’t get into a twist over some random idea/rumor that Ohio State and Michigan might be targeted for expansion, and don’t think that the conference with the broadest reach, largest alumni base, top overall academic profile and best home TV network going will just sit around and let the SEC become the dominant college sports nuclear power – unless it feels like it doesn’t have to do anything.
So if you’re commissioner Kevin Warren, what should your meetings be this week? What should be the counter-move considering what’s happening with Texas and Oklahoma?
Start here – the Big Ten doesn’t play around with Little Brother.
When it expands, it goes for the school in a state, like the University of Maryland, the University of Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers – which might as well be the University of New Jersey.
Also, it’s almost certainly not going expand just to expand.
Pitt and Iowa State might make sense in a whole lot of ways, but the Big Ten already has Penn State and the University of Iowa – the global reach doesn’t get bigger with the Panthers and Cyclones.
There’s another big factor. If the Big Ten is going to expand, it’s only interested in schools from The Association of American Universities. That means no Notre Dame, no Oklahoma, no Syracuse or Boston College, and no Clemson.
Okay, so the AAU thing wouldn’t be a barrier if Notre Dame is on the table, but it’s still a factor for almost everyone else.
So let me plan out what Warren and the Big Ten’s agenda should be when it comes to floating out expansion trial balloons, because no one does that better than the Big Ten. Let’s start with …
Hey Texas … what’s up?
(I don’t think that has any chance of happening at this point, but … )
Make your pitch, Big Ten.
Yeah, the Big Ten and Texas did the expansion talk dance a decade ago, but things have changed. Texas is the richest athletic department going, but the Longhorn Network has been just okay while the Big Ten Network has created the infrastructure to get much, much bigger in the expanded streaming world.
Whatever the SEC is offering, the Big Ten has the potential and ability to come strong to the table with its markets, academics, sheer size, and stability. There’s no need to break the bank or do anything to make the Ohio States and Michigans of the conference mad, but Texas is a better overall fit for the Big Ten – at least academically – than it is for the SEC.
Don’t assume that Texas and Oklahoma are 100% tied at the hip.