The Big Ten's mulling over the potential courting of the University of Texas as a potential 12th member has made me rethink my whole outlook on conference expansion. Previously I was adamantly opposed to expansion, citing the destruction of the OSU-Michigan football rivalry and the increase in basketball games as reasons why the Big Ten should stay put. But, I believe now that the conference could benefit greatly by adding these three schools: Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, and Missouri. Notre Dame, an independent in football and a member of the Big East in basketball, has repeatedly said it does not want to join the Big Ten and would more than likely be the hardest school to sway. But, maybe the addition of Missouri and Pittsburgh would be too much for even Notre Dame to turn down. Any of the three schools would make a good addition as a twelfth member, so why not invite all three and make the Big Ten a superconference?
If this scenario were indeed to happen, I think the conference would be best served by splitting up in this fashion: Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin in one divsion, and Penn State, Pittsburgh, Illinois , and Missouri in the other division, with the remaining teams for each division determined by blind draw. Then, in football you would still be able to keep the OSU-Michigan rivalry at the end of the season and the Michigan-Notre Dame game could still take place the second week of the football season, This would also allow Illinois to continue its developing rivalry with Missouri, and could potentially foster a rivalry between Pitt and Penn State. And Penn State would rotate on a season by season basis whether they played OSU or Michigan. In basketball, I believe that this would work by actually shortening the Big Ten schedule to 16 games and adding a couple more first round byes to the conference tournament. If the Big Ten is really hurting for money like it says it is, an move like this one might be the best for all parties involved.