Resetting the Big Ten Expansion Situation

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Resetting the Big Ten Expansion Situation

As many of you know, Spartan Nation broke the story originally that when expansion is said and done the Big Ten would grow to 16 teams. We have never wavered from that and still won’t. That is the end line. 

For now they stand at 12 and despite the public wrangling that is still the plan. In this article we will tackle two big issues. Is Notre Dame still in the equation and why is the Big Ten trying too hard to publicly give the impression that they are not interested in growing the conference and what is the reality?

The Notre Dame Question

The Irish are a natural addition to the league. They are close in proximity and they have natural rivalries on the gridiron with several of the schools. Make no mistake; this move to super conferences is solely based on football.

The Irish have flirted with the Big Ten before. In so much as one member of the Big Ten conference staff telling Spartan Nation that at one point the Big Ten was 100% certain they had a deal, had developed a logo, and the party literally was planned until at the last moment they backed out.

When looking at the Irish, they would make more money from the Big Ten Network than they do with their NBC deal for football. That isn’t even questionable. The second area is that they would save incredible amounts of money traveling to Big East schools for their Olympic (that is the politically correct term instead of non-revenue) sports. None of that really matters with Notre Dame and here is why.

According to a senior member of their administration, the Irish, being a private school, bring in considerable private donations and it allows them to more than compensate for those losses. This senior administration official told Spartan Nation this past week, “I can’t see any scenario that Notre Dame joins any conference as long as we have a seat at the BCS that is guaranteed. No way. The only way that a move to a conference makes sense is if our BCS guarantee is taken away. As long as we have assurances that we are legitimate in football if we get to a certain level then financially we don’t need it.”

Spartan Nation was able to get confirmation to that statement from two other sources, one being a major Notre Dame contributor who has also been given those same parameters.

In all cases, all Notre Dame parties concur that the Big Ten is the legitimate and natural conference choice for the Irish, but not in the present scenario.

There is growing frustration among the Big Ten schools with the Irish and what some schools take as a lack of respect. There has been loose talk among some schools trying to get Big Ten schools to keep them off the schedule, but frankly that will never happen. So what is next?

Notre Dame has the best of all worlds now and as long as their seat at the BCS table is guaranteed they have no incentive or reason to join. Are they the be all and end all of the Big Ten? Not at all. Are they the crown jewel? Of course they are.

Unless the BCS meal ticket is taken, a playoff is adapted that doesn’t give them a golden ticket, or other changes come about that don’t let the Irish stay outside the conference format they will stay independent. That, however, isn’t the end. In a funny development the super conferences are on the horizon and the Irish could see themselves left out and holding a bag when it is done and THEN changes come to the system.

Big Ten

The Big Ten understands where things are going. Sure they can say that they are not “Actively” pursuing expansion. You can bet there isn’t a paper trail, but they are keen to what is happening and are squarely in the middle of the power brokering that is going on.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is trying to avoid what is happening in the Big 12. He doesn’t want the lawsuits from other schools and conferences when they plumage their leagues.

The SEC was given assurances that the Big 12 and schools wouldn’t sue them. That is why they gave the green light to Texas A & M. Baylor is now threatening suit against A & M, and according to people in Norman they are waiting to see if Oklahoma says they will stay in the Big 12 or not before pursuing litigation.

According to folks with direct knowledge of the Big Ten plans and thought process, “I don’t see the Big Ten leading the move to the super conferences, but the moment the dominoes fall they will be in the middle of it. They are certainly one of the conferences that looks the prettiest.”

So in this reset article we know that the Big Ten will expand. We, in NO WAY, are backing off what we learned well over a year ago that 16 will be the final number. We also know that unless the automatic card to the BCS and national recognition in football is taken, Notre Dame is off the table for any league as a full sports member.

Keep an eye on the Big 12 and the Pac 12. Once the dominoes fall, the Big Ten may claim they are not actively going after expansion, but you will see them swoop in fast and furious as the plan has been all along.

Next week we resett the canidates to join the Big Ten, inlcluding one school that seems to be universally looked at as a LOCK when expansion begins.

Previous Big Ten expansion articles:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven