Big Ten Expansion Continues to Move Forward...

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Big Ten Expansion Moving Forward….

Spartan Nation was the FIRST to report over a year ago that Texas was at least part of the discussion with Big Ten expansion. That report caused a major stir, but has since been proven correct many times over.

We also reported that sources at Notre Dame have said and maintained that they WOULD NOT join a conference unless their automatic seat at the BCS was taken away. Well, now it appears that it could be.

With college sports on the verge of changing for what could be the remainder of our lifetime, Notre Dame could be the team on the outside looking in and their acquiesce to joining a league could be on the brink.

Super Conferences

Spartan Nation has learned that things are shaping up to have four stand alone super conferences. Ideally, they would each have 16 teams, although more than one person has suggested in our discussion that, “Two or three of them could possibly go to 18.” Those four super conferences would then LEAVE the NCAA and form their own alliance.

That information has privately sent shock waves through college sports and been the catalyst for so many different schools. Oklahoma and Texas already have the green light for their Presidents to jump to the Pac 12 with Oklahoma State expected to do the same on Wednesday and Texas Tech is expected to do whatever Texas does.

Notre Dame

With this development, Notre Dame now has to roll the dice or join a league. What do they do? No one can be sure of course, but one Big East head coach told Spartan Nation, “They will be outside looking in and they can’t allow themselves to be maneuvered into irrelevance.” One long time major Notre Dame donor and member of the Notre Dame football family told Spartan Nation, “I have never felt like Notre Dame would join a conference prior to today.” That statement was giving to Spartan Nation last night. “I know think it is inevitable,” he added.

Big East

The Big 12 and Big East could have the death angel on their porch. That is why they have started as of Sunday evening informally talking a merger for whatever is left once those fleeing the Big 12 are gone. Could that be a super conference?

It would appear that the Big East would be a conference on the outside looking in, that is why breaking news from a Big East head coach was head scratching yesterday morning. He told Spartan Nation, “Kansas, Kansas State, and Missouri I am being told all want in on the Big East. With football driving this expansion I am hearing it is because they want to be a major basketball power, but with football pulling the sled that still doesn’t make sense to me.”

I agree, but more than one source confirmed the Kansas, Kansas State, and Missouri discussion to me.

Pittsburgh and Syracuse recently joined the ACC in what too many looked like knee jerk reactions to the super conference information leaking out and yesterday it was learned that Connecticut wants in on the Super Conference thinking and is pursuing the ACC.

West Virginia

West Virginia is an interesting school in this equation. They are not really wanted by any one conference. They have made it clear they are willing to dance as long as they aren’t left out, but with whom? Yesterday it was reported by ESPN that they want into the ACC, and again the dominoes are falling.

Big Ten

So what is next for the Big Ten? Spartan Nation already reported that according to Big Ten sources (not authorized to speak on expansion) that although the conference has made statements as if they are not actively or aggressively pursuing expansion, they are active and waiting for the dominoes to start. Those previous reports have also stated that in the opinion of those at the Big Ten that the Commissioner wants to avoid law suits and other entanglements (such as what Texas A & M recently faced with Baylor) as his reason for waiting.

For the first time publicly Spartan Nation can report something we learned some time ago. Several years ago (more than two), the Big Ten quietly had a study performed looking at several schools and their viability for future membership within the league.

While stating a wait and see approach there is NO REASON to think that the Big Ten Commissioner is sitting in his office waiting. He has a detailed list of all schools, their impact and footprint, and what benefits the conference.

Could his delay hurt the conference? Perhaps. Could it cripple it? Not a chance.

We know that Rutgers wants into the Big Ten, but we have already profiled in other reports why that is not something we support.

Two names previously mentioned and discussed although not with overwhelming support, are growing…Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.

Georgia Tech brings the southern markets for the Big Ten Network along with quality academics, which frankly don’t matter, but are good for spin along with great facilities. They also do things the right way, are quality in both football and basketball, and with the amount of northern geographical transfers, there is immediate belief that they would be a viable member. One Big Ten head coach, when I asked him recently about Georgia Tech, told me, “That would open up so much recruiting and with the huge hubs of transportation it wouldn’t be a long or expensive flight for our fans. I love it.”

Virginia Tech is a name we have already discussed. They are a high quality institution. They have an amazing fan base (similar to and devoted like Nebraska) along with great facilities, academics, and are part of one of the fastest growing parts of the nation. They bring a great area for expanded must carry cable outlets for the BTN and in my opinion are one of the jewels of college sports. Virginia Tech isn’t a look at me type SEC school. They are similar to the rich guy that doesn’t go in debt for the monster house and car to convince you he is rich. Frankly, he knows it and doesn’t care if you do. That is the style of Virginia Tech. They are an exceptional school and they don’t have a permanent inferiority complex that mandates you know it. Although not the first to be discussed in Big Ten expansion discussions, Virginia Tech is a prize. I spoke with a member of their athletics family yesterday and I was told, “I have not been told that we are looking at or being considered, but I would love it. I think we fit in every way and joining the Big Ten would make a lot of sense if it were up to me.” Remember that their fine coach (and person for that matter) Frank Beamer almost was hired by MSU.

In conclusion, the Big Ten is going to expand to16 teams, a fact we have maintained for nearly two years and were the FIRST to report. Remember that when Spartan Nation first reported it, it was scoffed at, but is being proven correct. The dominoes are falling fast all around college sports and we will have more next week.

 UPDATE: When Spartan Nation in December of 2009 reported that Texas was a player for the Big Ten, we took intense criticism. Now former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese is echoing those comments. CLICK HERE TO READ. Thanks to Spartan Nation Senior Writer Jon Schopp for passing this on.

Here are links to previous stories on Big Ten Expansion:

PART 8

PART 7

PART 6

PART 5

PART 4

PART 3

PART 2

PART 1