Miscellaneous notes, news and thoughts on Big Ten expansion and Missouri potentially leaving the Big 12:
Much of the speculation this week has been about the Big Ten adding Missouri, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, etc. But according to the Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein, the conference may look at adding up to five schools. I’m familiar with Greenstein’s work from my year as ASE in Newport News (also a paper in the Tribune chain), and the guy does solid work. This information has merit. Here’s a link to the story: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/college/chi-17-big-ten-brite-dec17,0,3820862.story. There’s also a poll at this link on which school would be the best fit (Missouri led by a wide margin at the time this blog was posted).
Suppose the Big Ten+1 goes to 14 teams. Say those teams are the most logical choices (Pittsburgh, Missouri and Rutgers/or Syracuse). The Big Ten would be adding TV markets in St. Louis, Kansas City and New York. And each of those schools has impressive academic resumes. You’d also have the best basketball conference in the country and possibly the best football conference.
Above is map of the current conference geography. From a previous blog, here’s a look at the Big Ten+2, if Missouri joins (scroll down to the bottom): https://erniewebbiii.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/it-could-happen-missouri-should-jump-if-big-ten-comes-calling/.
Here’s the alignment I’d like to see if the Big Ten becomes 14:
North Division: Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Syracuse/Rutgers.
South Division: Ohio State, Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri.
This also means the conference has a championship game in football, which would rake in millions.
That’s Dan Beebe above, commissioner of the Big 12 conference. Have to admit, he sounded completely, utterly lost Wednesday when asked about Missouri leaving the conference. To paraphrase, he said the conference would let Missouri know how valued a member of the Big 12 it is (commish-speak). But then he said Missouri fans appreciate and would miss their “rivalries” with Texas and Texas Tech.
Huh? Missouri’s rivals are Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois and maybe Kansas State. Tiger fans would not miss playing anybody in the Big 12 South. Perhaps Baylor in football (of course, Missouri did lose to the Bears this season). The Longhorns have throttled Missouri in football for a decade now. That’s not a rivalry. Missouri is 5-1 against Texas Tech in Big 12 play. Not a rivalry. And neither is a rival in basketball.
If you believe what you hear on the radio, specifically in Kansas City, and read message boards for the Big 12 North schools not named Nebraska, you’d think Beebe’s day went something like this:
6:30 a.m.: Wake up to alarm clock set to Buddy Holly (FYI, he’s from Texas) music
8 a.m.: Drink morning coffee from Texas A&M mug.
10 a.m.: Pick up Texas AD DeLoss Dodds dry cleaning.
Noon: Lunch at Eskimo Joe’s in Stillwater (always with a side order of corn)
2 p.m.: Afternoon tea with Bob Stoops and Barry Switzer
7 p.m.: Dinner with Tom Osborne
Speaking of radio, WHB 810’s Kevin Keitzman and guest Jack Harry, a TV sports anchor in Kansas City, had an entertaining and spirited debate on Missouri leaving the Big 12. In the end, both said they hoped the school could use its likely flirtation with the Big Ten as leverage to move closer to a balanced Big 12. You can hear the podcast here (it’s worth a listen): http://www.810whb.com/podcasts.
The “new” Big 12
If Missouri does leave, I’d like to see TCU join up. It makes the most sense. Arkansas isn’t leaving the SEC. It’d be stupid to do so considering how much money the Razorbacks have made by moving to that conference.
Here’s a look at potential alignments if that happened:
Big 12 East: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, Baylor, TCU
Big 12 West: Colorado, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Note: Past columns from the Topeka Capital-Journal available at http://blogs.cjonline.com/authors/18-Ernie-Webb