Spartan Nation has been at the front of the B1G expansion talk and information since late 2008. Today we continue to take that lead. We have learned for the first time that the B1G is considering changing the number of schools that it would like to add. We have also been informed of the five leading candidates to be the next two to join; two of them we have not looked at before.
At the bottom of this article are several links that document the lead Spartan Nation has taken at the forefront of the expansion talk. We have maintained from the beginning that Jim Delany, the B1G commissioner, was going to take the B1G to 16 teams.
After the addition of Nebraska, we maintained that 16 was the goal. Even when reporters took our reports and questioned Delany about adding more teams he took the sarcastic approach of denial. We held to our stance and today the B1G now has 14 and will add an additional two more to get to the number we have maintained: 16.
Is that number changing? Spartan Nation can be the first to report that serious discussion has been underway for at least three months internally at the conference about the possibility of adding more than 16. We have been told by two sources, one INSIDE the conference office and one outside of it with direct knowledge of that happening, “I think 24 is the ceiling, but not out of the question. 20 would work also. I know they have taken a long hard look.”
Both sources confirm that this is Delany’s way of “Legacy building.” One went as far as saying, “A 16 team B1G would certainly lead the way towards the eventual four super conference formats and anything more than 16 is the certain nail in the coffin to college sports as we would know it.”
Spartan Nation has maintained for years that the eventual super conferences would lead to the formation of another organization and those conferences leaving the NCAA. Last year at the B1G basketball tournament, one B1G AD stopped both me and another of my Spartan Nation colleagues to discuss our previous reports. After congratulating us on the reporting (something he had been a great source for), he added, “You really are nailing it on the super conferences and forming of a new organization that leaves the NCAA. Delany is not a big NCAA fan, even more in my estimation not an Emmert (Mark Emmert, NCAA Chairman) fan. You are correct. I think that is his goal and I think it is a matter of when, and not if.”
So with at least the discussion of more than 16 teams being looked at, the door gets swung wide open. Who will they be? What are the requirements? Football is driving this bus and the money it generates, but traditionally bad football playing schools are being added ONLY for their geographical locations.
The Final Five for 15 and 16?
To say that anyone can join is as close to accurate as you can get. Here they are and two of them we have NOT discussed publicly before.
We have never discussed UNC before. Arguably the crown jewel of the ACC and the alma mater of B1G commissioner Delany, this school is the one that the conference is drooling over. Instantly, they bring one of the greatest basketball schools of all time, but other than recent football issues, they bring a squeaky clean NCAA record. Not that it matters because we are talking about dollars.
If you look at their region they would bring more TV households than a Nebraska to their immediate area, and have such a national following they would bring more eyeballs from around the nation also. According to a person cited in other B1G expansion stories (including this one), this is the big fish. There are no other big football schools available, but they are almost as big in basketball and will raise their expectations with football.
We have never discussed Kansas before. With no other realistic football schools out there, Kansas and North Carolina would make an explosion. There is NO DOUBT that football is driving this bus, but a Kansas and UNC addition would help bring more eyeballs than a Rutgers any day. The biggest question surrounding Kansas is if they signed away their TV rights to the Big 12.
I spoke last night with one B1G AD who told me when asked about Kansas and UNC, “This is an easy choice. They are such national programs in basketball, that in NYC that loves hoops they would bring more eyes to BTN than Rutgers ever would. Jayhawks football is non-existent and UNC football is a cesspool of trouble, but in the B1G they would have the revenue to fix that. I am an old school guy, but if these two could join I would love it. Neither are big TV markets like NYC or DC, but with their national interest, they are bigger than both schools.”
We first mentioned Georgia Tech on May 19, 2010. We also mentioned them on September 20, 2011. Here is what we said then: “Georgia Tech brings the southern markets for the Big Ten Network along with quality academics, which frankly don’t matter, but are good for spin along with great facilities. They also do things the right way, are quality in both football and basketball, and with the amount of northern geographical transfers, there is immediate belief that they would be a viable member. One Big Ten head coach, when I asked him recently about Georgia Tech, told me, “That would open up so much recruiting and with the huge hubs of transportation it wouldn’t be a long or expensive flight for our fans. I love it.””
Spartan Nation has learned that nothing is set and anything can happen, but that our sources inside the B1G and with direct knowledge of events think they are the third choice right now. The Atlanta market would be a great addition since the B1G has already went out and blew up the geographic DNA of the conference. Georgia Tech is an AAU school. Thy B1G is confident that if they offered, GT would accept.
Spartan Nation first mentioned Virginia on May 19, 2010. I would rather have the Hokies, but one thing is clear. The B1G doesn’t want Virginia and Virginia Tech. With the population center in the north, VTU has more value, but there is a strong interest inside the higher up from the B1G with Virginia at this point. We have already discussed them so we won’t get into a long dissertation, but the Cavaliers are making a STRONG push. They want in. The general perception is that they are desperate with all of the realignment coming and the super conferences and DON’T want to be left out of the dance.
I spoke with a Virginia administrator this last Tuesday who told me, “I am hearing that Cincinnati is making a strong push to join us, that tells me that the ACC is in trouble. Of course, we want the stability of what we all know will be a super conference.”
We have discussed this at length. We first mentioned VTU on May 19, 2010. Here is what I wrote on September 20, 2011: “Virginia Tech is a name we have already discussed. They are a high quality institution. They have an amazing fan base (similar to and devoted like Nebraska) along with great facilities, academics, and are part of one of the fastest growing parts of the nation. They bring a great area for expanded must carry cable outlets for the BTN and in my opinion are one of the jewels of college sports. Virginia Tech isn’t a look at me type SEC school. They are similar to the rich guy that doesn’t go in debt for the monster house and car to convince you he is rich. Frankly, he knows it and doesn’t care if you do. That is the style of Virginia Tech. They are an exceptional school and they don’t have a permanent inferiority complex that mandates you know it. Although not the first to be discussed in Big Ten expansion discussions, Virginia Tech is a prize. I spoke with a member of their athletics family yesterday and I was told, “I have not been told that we are looking at or being considered, but I would love it. I think we fit in every way and joining the Big Ten would make a lot of sense if it were up to me.” Remember that their fine coach (and person for that matter) Frank Beamer almost was hired by MSU.”
I spoke Monday evening with the source sighted in the above quoted story from last year and I was told, “Hell yes we want in. I have heard about it now and I don’t have any doubts if the offer is extended we will take it.” He went on to add, “I know that just a short time ago we applied for the AAU status because of the school wanting in to the Big Ten.”
I am told that Virginia Tech is NOT an AAU school, but has applied. My friend in their athletic department sent me a link to this report.
One last name that is seen as a long shot is Boston College. There is only a slim chance, but with Rutgers getting in you can’t rule anyone out. My source at the B1G said, “If we offer, they are in. They are a last resort, and we aren’t at the last resort level yet.” They went on to add, “If BC joins us, you will know expansion didn’t work out real well.”
So this is the latest report. As you know Spartan Nation will keep you updated with the latest news.
Here are the links to previous B1G expansion articles.
One May 16, 2010 First public mention of Rutgers
Three May 18, 2010 Nebraska