Friday, May 1, 2009

Final Four Friday: 12th Team

Penn State Coach Joe Paterno told ESPN Thursday that he wants a 12th team to enter the Big Ten. He also wants to explore the idea of playing later in the season, possibly a championship game in December.

Paterno suggested three schools: Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Rutgers. I'm with him on one of those, Pitt, but to me, Syracuse and Rutgers are just not within the Big Ten footprint. So who, if the Big Ten does add one squad, should it be? The answer to that is today's Final Four Friday.


Cincy isn't often mentioned in the Big Ten conversation, but they should be. First off, the school sits in a natural market for the conference. It's central, so most teams wouldn't have to travel as far to play them, which is a big concern for schools like Indiana and Illinois that don't make much money off football. Plus, the Big East is probably the easiest BCS conference to leave. I mean heck, if Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College could do it, Cincy could too.

Iowa State

The Cyclones are the natural rival of the Iowa Hawkeyes and, as an added bonus, aren't really a natural fit for the Big 12. They're just sort of out there randomly, well out of the way. This switch would be a bit trickier than Cincy, in that you'd basically have to convince the Big 12 to pick up another squad they'd be equally happy with (Texas Christian and SMU are options). On the down side, Iowa State is smack dab in the middle of ain't nowhere, and their TV stations are already in the Big Ten market, so you don't really get much added value.

Notre Dame

It's the 800-pound gorilla in any talk about Big Ten expansion, simply because Notre Dame brings so much to the table. They're the only school in college football to have its own network deal. There's a massive alumni base, with a ton of donors and a big endowment. The school has national appeal, and any number of games (Michigan, MSU, Penn State, Ohio State, Wisconsin) would be must-see TV every time. The only difficulty: The Irish have had a chance to join many times before and balked at every turn.


There's a lot to like about Pitt. Start with the fact that Penn State gets a natural rival to play every year. Add to it a great basketball program and you've got a pretty good athletic program that would instantly impact the conference. Not only that, but the academics are pretty darn solid as well.

And the winner is...

It's a tough choice this week. Even getting to a Final Four was tough, as schools like Missouri, Louisville, Rutgers, Syracuse and West Virginia all have great arguments for getting in.

As for the winnner, I'd usually go with Notre Dame, but I'm just so tired of dealing with all that, well, crap about ND joining. First they want in, then not. Then they might do it, but not for football. Or maybe they will as long as they can keep their TV deal. You know what? Enough. They don't want in, so that's that. Let's take someone who might.

Congrats to the Pitt Panthers, the (should-be) newest members of the Big Ten Conference!


  1. Don't mean to show you up on your blog, but Cinci isn't a viable contender.

    One criterion for Big Ten membership is membership in the Association of American Universities. While it is widely believed that the Big Ten would make an exception for Notre Dame (which is not a member of the AAU), I doubt they would extend Cinci the same courtesy.

    The others on the list, Pitt and Iowa State, are AAU members. Still, I don't see the Big Ten expanding to 12 without Notre Dame.

  2. My assumption is that if it were offered and that were a contingent that Cincy would move heaven and hearth to make it happen. If not, I'm sure any other AAU university - Pitt for example - would jump at the chance.

    Thanks for reading!