At some point the Big Ten is going to be an entire conglomerate and lose the Midwest feel that this conference has always known. In a few years college football may only have five super conferences and a 16-team Big Ten could be the first domino to fall for that to happen.
These latest developments just go to show you that schools are like recruits that have given an oral commitment and if you can sweet talk them a little, they just may do whatever you persuade them to do and follow you anywhere.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney told Dodds, “He would be “very surprised” if his league expanded to a flyover state, one not bordering a Big Ten state. But he also said, “We’re not a national conference but we’re a conference with national awareness and national influence.”
After Maryland and Rutgers were added last month that echoes Delaney’s statement and eagerness that they have a national influence and awareness, and he could greatly enhance that national presence with these two schools that fit the academic requirements.
All members of the Big Ten are members of The Association of American Universities (AAU) except for Nebraska–which was kicked out in 2011–Virginia has been in that group since 1904 and Georgia Tech was added in 2010.
Virginia would give the conference another school to tap into the D.C. TV market and an inlet into the fertile recruiting ground along the eastern seaboard, and potentially could help ensure that Penn State sticks with the conference for the long-term.
According to Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said, “If the ACC or SEC would take those schools and expand up further, that closes us out on the entire East Coast.”
Georgia Tech would give a massive boost to recruiting in the south where the Big Ten has struggled in recent years to poach elite prep talent from SEC and ACC schools while opening up the conference to the Atlanta television market.
Big money would result from these acquisitions without having to sacrifice academic standards.
Part of me longs for the schools in the Midwest making up the Big Ten. I’m old enough remember when Penn State joining the conference was met with controversy, and the thought of Virginia and Georgia Tech potentially joining the conference with Rutgers and Maryland irks me.
The Big Ten may be comfortable with 14 schools–for the time being–but with the constant threat of conference realignment clouding collegiate athletics, Delaney is taking a proactive approach and doesn’t want to end up without a seat in this game of musical chairs.
You can’t fault him for doing what he feels is best for his conference.
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Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and an avid college football fan, and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com airing live on Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.