The thing you are not considering here is that any school the Big 10 adds will have to have new TV sets - and alot of them - for their network. Remember, the Big 10 wants to charge $1.10 per cable customer for their network in a state that has a Big 10 team. I mean, once the BTN is on every cable network in the Big 10 region how much the state of Ohio or PA will bring in for the conference in terms of money?
Therefore, you can rule out UCinn, Pitt, and ISU.
Also, the universities have to have good academics - so that rules out UL and WVu.
The schools left on that list would be NU, Missouri, SU, RU, and they make take a shot at Texas (obviously ND is still on this list). NU would be a nice addition but they are not in a populous state. As you said, all of them have problems. The Big 10 can afford to sit and wait a little bit.
But remember what I said earlier about their conference network. Can you think of a huge TV market that is just sitting there - unclaimed - and how money it would bring if they could get close to the $1.10?
Although I know this could never happen but the Big Ten could have perfect symmetry by letting Penn State go to the Big East and inviting Missouri and Nebraska into the league.
East Division - Ohio State, Michigan, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State, Northwestern
West Division - Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois,
It makes them a 'true' midwestern conference, it gives them equal markets to what they would have now, and it perfectly balances their divisions in a way no other possible configuration could (other than doing the unthinkable and replacing Northwestern with Cincinnati). All the members would be AAU and reside in a continguous state with each other.
And it is a league that is extremely likely to happen if the Big Ten chose to pursue this make-up.
I think that you put together a great and realistic analysis of the various Big Ten expansion candidates.
The realignment with Missouri and Nebraska is an interesting scenario, but I would argue that the Big Ten wants the exact opposite - it absolutely wants to be much more than a "Midwestern" conference. With the Big East weakened in terms of its footprint on the East Coast, the conference sees an opening to pair up Penn State with another Northeastern school (or Notre Dame with its large East Coast fan base) and then lay claim to being the dominant conference in both the Northeast and the Midwest. Everything that the Big Ten has done up until this point (adding Penn State, creating the Big Ten Network, etc.) indicates that this Eastward push is the ultimate goal of the conference, which is why I have been adamant that Missouri has never been a realistic expansion candidate.
I agree with what you said here. The Big 10s expansion has been to get at eastern TV markets. I'm just not sure whether anyone other than ND will ever be able to allow the BTN to get into NYC - the biggest prize of all - unless RU or SU goes through like a decade of dominating FB. I mean even with PSU in the league the BTN isn't on basic cable in Philly and its ~ 3 million DMA. With ND in the league that would change of course and I realize that the BT can wait as long as they want but will they wait forever when another potential viable solution is out there? Even with ND in the league there are certain questions about scheduling that would probably be overcome but won't make everyone happy - which is why the NU-UM solution would most help in this situation. with UM and NU aboard they also would make money - certainly less than a ND-PSU but certainly no slouch either without the headaches of scheduling.
Up until about 20 years ago, conferences were perfectly fine with sticking to their own regions. However, the goal of conferences now is to be able to secure lucrative television contracts with the major broadcast networks and ESPN, which require matchups that draw national interest far beyond their own home regions. This is even more important for the Big Ten since it has its own cable network whose profitability depends upon getting it into as many cable households as possible. On this basis alone, it shows the incredible value of Penn State to the conference - the state of Pennsylvania has a larger population than the states of Nebraska, Missouri, and Iowa combined. So, the single school of Penn State does more to add financial value to the conference on this basis than three very large schools in Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska put together. This is why Big East fans who somehow think that Penn State is either going to leave or get asked to leave the Big Ten are completely delusional - the last thing that the Big Ten cares about at all is being "Midwestern" and it makes absolutely zero sense for the conference to take an action that is 110% completely against its financial self-interest (and likewise, for Penn State to take an action that is 110% completely against its own financial self-interest). Penn State is the third most valuable team in the conference in terms of overall financial impact after Michigan and Ohio State, which means that the notion of the Big Ten giving up Penn State is the equivalent of the Big 12 asking Texas A&M to leave or the SEC asking Georgia or Tennessee to leave. If those scenarios were ever brought up, then people would say that they are automatically crazy, yet somehow this irrational notion that Penn State might leave the Big Ten for the Big East still exists. I've said it before and I'll say it again - geographic purity is extremely low on the list in terms of expansion qualifications for the BCS conferences, while adding large populous markets is extremely high on that same list. That is why the ACC expanded all the way to Boston, and that is why the next Big Ten team, if it's not Notre Dame, will be either Syracuse or Rutgers. Bottom line: the Big Ten isn't going to do any favors for the Big East - in fact, the Big Ten has put itself in position to replace the Big East as the dominant conference on the East Coast.
Again, I agree with what you say but there is no guarantee that ND will EVER join the BT. The other option for ND is to simply join the ACC - which has more private schools and academic missions that are more in line with ND.
Also note that even with PSU, OSU, and Michigan, and the gorilla that is the B10 that they weren't able to get onto basic cable in Philly. Will that ever happen? eventually but not without another team and as I said, it would have to be ND or a decade long dominant RU. Without that Philly market, a combo of NU, Missouri makes just about the same monitary $$ as PA and without the headaches of scheduling.
There were interesting comments from the Maryland president about the ACC looking at expansion in the future beyond 12 - but that was before the ACC expansion meltdown - meaning they took VT instead of SU and left the BE as a viable BCS conference for now. I'm not sure if that happens now but if ND called the ACC now, the ACC would take them in a heartbeat.
The biggest prize left is the NYC market and getting onto the cable systems there. Whoever does that first is gonig to roll in the $$$.....
The conversation of PSU going to the BE will never end until the Big 10 gets a 12 team - no matter what anyone says. There are obvious historical reasons why many say this (as you know) but the chances of that are almost 0. I am a firm believer in that PSU would ONLY leave if ND decides they want to join the BE or some modified form of the current BE - and ND would only join a modified BE if PSU was part of the picture too because thats the only way enough money could be made to make it worthwhile for either team to join.
Anyway, it's always good to read your responses here and elsewhere bluedemon (Frank the tank ;) )