The Ohio State football team and the Big Ten have welcomed four new members over the last year. Who will come next?
The Ohio State football team and the Big Ten conference have ushered in a new era of college football. With the additions of Oregon and Washington over the last week, coupled with UCLA and USC additions, the Big Ten conference is now the Big 18.
While I’m not particularly happy that the tradition and rivalry in college football are quickly fading away, these moves were inevitable as the almighty TV dollar is holding the sport hostage. Adding Oregon and Washington makes sense to help corner off the west coast, but expansion is in no way over.
After watching the OHIO Podcast last night, the topic of who comes next was brought up and I have some opinions. I believe that Stanford and Cal are next to join the Big Ten for three specific reasons.
No. 1) The fight over the biggest TV markets takes precedence.
The Big Ten is clearly trying to attract the biggest TV markets in the United States with its additions. It started 10 years ago by capturing Washington D.C. and New York respectively with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers. USC and UCLA give them the LA market. Oregon and Washington add the vast Pacific Northwest.
But make no mistake, the west coast is huge, and the Bay Area TV audience is clearly something that will attract Big Ten President Tony Petitti and the Big Ten school presidents. Getting the Bay Area under its wing will effectively make the entire West Coast Big Ten country.
No. 2) Michigan would like to add a school (or two) that aligns with its administrative beliefs.
Michigan will want to throw its weight around with the next school or schools under consideration. They are indeed the second biggest brand within the Big Ten and they do have some say in these matters. Without getting too political, Stanford and Cal’s administrations align with a lot of the same beliefs that Michigan has as a school.
With an emphasis on being an academic school first, Universities like Michigan and Northwestern would like to add a school or two with the same academic prestige that they have.
Remember, it was Ohio State AD Gene Smith who said he wanted somebody to help carry the weight of the conference athletically with Ohio State in reference to USC joining the conference. He doesn’t see Michigan willing to help. Now, Michigan will voice its opinion on having Universities join to help carry the weight of the conference on an academic level.
No. 3) Adding two more west coast schools will give non-revenue sports more opportunities.
One of the more important questions on conference realignment has to deal with the non-revenue generating sports. How can we expect them to travel across the country and be back in time to their school to take a calculus exam?
By adding Cal and Stanford, the non-revenue sports can have their own bubble of schools to compete with out west, lessening the amount of travel for every school involved.
It’s not a perfect situation. There are going to be obstacles for whoever joins the Big Ten next. Do I personally want to see Cal and Stanford in the Big Ten? Heck no. It’d be way more fun to see a school like North Carolina, which I believe fits everything you want a Big Ten school to be, join the conference.
But I just don’t believe that the conference is done adding to its west coast pod of schools. Cal and Stanford are likely to be the next schools to join the Big Ten and will likely be new foes of the Ohio State football team for years to come.