Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Big 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.........

Could the Big Ten Conference do something not motivated by making more money just once please?

I ask this as the conference reportedly courts another five members to join its ranks--creating another "SuperConference" in college sports. Notre Dame, Rutgers, Nebraska, Missouri and a yet to be named school have all allegedly been offered spots in the new "Big Whatever". Conference officials deny the reports--but where there is smoke, there usually is fire--especially in college sports where if there is a chance to make more money someone will always grab it.

The "Big 16" would likely feature two divisions of eight--with a conference championship game for football after the regular season. I'm sure the University presidents can already see stadiums like Ford Field, Soldier Field or Lambeau Field filled with dollar signs--I mean fans for the title tilt and a trip to the BCS. One report had them considering four-divisions of four teams--meaning conference semi-finals games (played on campus in front of 100-thousand more dollar signs--i mean fans) before the title tilt. Isn't it amazing that the main defense for the BCS--a football playoff would mean too many games when the kids should be studying for finals--doesn't pose the same problem when it's each individual conference that gets to keep the cash for their nationally televised playoff game?

The schools the Big Ten might bring in don't excite me at all either. Rutgers? Until a couple of seasons ago--when they were competitive in the pathetic Big East--I would have been unsure if Rutgers was even Division 1-A for football. The only reason they are wanted is because somebody at the Big Ten offices thinks that would get the Big Ten Network on New York City area cable systems. Missouri has had few good runs in any sport and Nebraska football has fallen far from its lofty perch of the 1970's, 80's and 90's. Plus, they stink at every other sport.

The crown jewel for the Big Ten of course would be Notre Dame. But even there, you are getting a lemon. This is not the Fighting Irish of Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian or Holtz. Hell, it's not even the Notre Dame of Bob Davie. Have you seen the Domers in a BCS Title Game ever? They've made it to the BCS just twice since it started--despite having the easiest road to get there--thanks to their own "eligibility" rules.

Yes, fans of every Big Ten school that currently cannot get Notre Dame on the schedule will be jacked up to get them as a conference foe (plus it's an easy "W") but that will wear off in a few years and they will become the same as having Purdue in on Homecoming weekend. Besides, the Fightin's have their own economic incentive to NOT join the conference--that being their individual TV contract with NBC--which has meant big bucks for the Domers--and huge losses for the network. But you know that any of the other networks would be more than willing to pick up the deal--on the outdated belief that fans really care about Fighting Irish Football.

Personally, I think the Big Ten should contract (and actually live up to their name) by dropping the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Maybe they could join the WIAC and find some teams they can actually beat.

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