The world has gone stir crazy over college athletics. The excitement of basketball in March and the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) season in winter. There is no question these college sports have found their signature seasons among the best of any professional or intercollegiate sports. Success, however, calls for changes to make things better. This time change needs to shake up the college football scene and the Big Ten Conference has come calling for 12, 13 or as many as 14 teams.
Talk has swirled throughout the college sports world about which team or teams should join. Notre Dame was summoned in 1999, but declined. Will the Big Ten knock on the Irish’s door step again? Don’t count on it. Syracuse is attractive, but Jim Boeheim will try and avoid moving his Orange out of the basketball "friendly" Big East Conference. Rutgers will get some consideration, but they just don’t offer that Big Ten appeal. Maybe Pittsburgh since the Panthers have solid football and basketball teams. Why not move to the Big Ten? Well, the move would only benefit the football program. The basketball program is simply too good in the Big East. Nebraska and Missouri from the Big 12 Conference offer some nice football schools. A decent choice, but why upset a conference that is already considered a power conference?
There is no question the Big Ten needs to expand. The time is right. Who will join is the harder question? Experts say it will come from the Big East. Others say it’s Notre Dame or nobody. I’m no expert, but I say expand the Big Ten, Pac 10, and the Big East. Why not put 12 teams in all BCS conferences?
You could mangle and cram teams from the non-BCS conferences to fit them somewhere in a BCS conference to make the elite conferences all power conferences. The bottom line is Notre Dame needs to join somewhere and that somewhere has to be the Big Ten. Sorry Irish fans, you have escaped this for far too long, and now is the time.
The Pac 10 has three very good options. Boise State would be a lock. They have shown they are ready to play with the best, and now it’s time to show it through an eight game conference schedule. The second choice is a bit harder. You West Coast people could go with TCU. The Horned Frogs would fit nicely and have shown in recent years that they can play with anyone in the country. The only problem is they are located in the state of Texas. A bit far from the West Coast, but then again, Penn State fell into the midwest via the Big Ten. There is Utah, who, like Boise State, has proven time and time again that they can play with anyone on a given day. Finally Brigham Young, an outside shot at best, but the Cougars were the last non-BCS team to win a national championship (1984).
Things aren’t so easy in the Big East. The conference would need to add three teams and the choices aren’t great. First, they need to reach out to Navy. The Naval Academy would be a perfect fit for the Big East. The Midshipmen would be able to recruit and compete with all Big East teams. With Navy and Notre Dame abandoning the land of Independents, it would only be natural if Army followed suit. The Big East would be an improvement for the Black Knights. The final choice could come from an array of teams. Such teams include Buffalo, Marshall, East Carolina, Memphis or Temple.
Then again, maybe the Big Ten can just add three members and bully the rest of college football around and leave college basketball begging for help. Joe Paterno would certainly be left smiling.