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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Big Ten Should not invite a 12th member

The movement by the Big Ten Conference to add a twelfth university has been gaining steam in recent weeks. On paper, this move looks to have a couple of potential benefits. The first benefit is that another school would add more revenue to the conference. A second potential benefit would be that in football the conference would be split up into two divisions with the winner of each playing in a conference championship, something critics have been saying the Big Ten desperately needs in order to become more competitive nationally. But I believe that the Big Ten Conference should not expand to a 12th team for three reasons.

First of all, the natural rivalries between Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State in football would be destroyed if the conference expanded to twelve schools. If you put Ohio State and Michigan in the same division, you run the risk that the winner of the OSU-Michigan game plays a school that is not the second best in the conference for the Big Ten title. If the schools are put in separate divisions, then you cannot guarantee that OSU and Michigan will play each other, effectively ending a 100+ year rivalry. And how do you decide what divsion to put Penn State in, so as to give the conference balance between the two divisions?

My second fault with adding a twelfth school lies with the basketball schedule. The Big Ten already has an 18 game conference schedule, and that does not include the postseason tournament. If a twelfth team is added, what number of games would be sufficient? 19? 20? 21? Adding more games to the schedule increases the risk that Big Ten teams will wear down more easily come NCAA Tournament time.

Finally, I believe that expansion to 12 teams in the Big Ten will have a negative impact on recruting for schools already in the conference. Current members will have one extra school to compete with for scholarships in football and basketball. If that wasn't enough, I believe that the destruction of the OSU-Michigan rivalry will lure many prospects away from those respective schools.

On the surface, a twelfth school seems like a no-brainer for the Big Ten. I wonder, however, if the presidents of the Big Ten university have considered the long term ramifications of such a move. I believe that, given the aforementioned reasons, it would not be in the best interest of the Big Ten to invite a twelfth member.

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