The Big Ten Conference is eyeing expansion and is reportedly looking at the biggest fish in the Big XII Conference, the Texas Longhorns.
This interest comes as a surprise, but it makes sense in the bigger picture for the Big Ten.
With the ever-mighty dollar getting more lucrative in college football, a television contract with a BCS Conference has the potential to be worth billions of dollars.
It is the era of the super conferences and everybody is following the trails left behind by the most successful conference out there, the SEC.
The Big Ten has been operating with 11 teams since Penn State joined in 1993, but they see the potential that faces them with their very own conference championship game.
Missouri from the Big XII, along with Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse from the Big East, are teams that have been on the conference’s radar for much of these expansion talks.
It is incredible how the word expansion has developed a contagious following when it is brought up in conference speak.
For the Big Ten, Notre Dame is the ‘golden’ choice. They have been courting the Fighting Irish since 1999, when they were offered an invitation that they rejected.
As far as expansion goes, Texas makes plenty of sense for the Big Ten, even though on first thought the idea is far-fetched.
For one, the Texas brand name is a powerful entity like those of Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Southern Cal, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma, just to list a few.
Regardless of the travel, the Texas name will bring fans out in droves in the Midwest when the Longhorns visit fellow Big Ten programs. Travel expenses are more costly, but this is Texas. They will draw anywhere they play.
The Longhorns were rated college football’s most valuable team, according to Forbes. They generated around $82 million in revenue last season, including $33 million in ticket sales and $30 million in donations. They can pretty much afford it.
When you look at the list Forbes put out, 18 of the top 20 teams listed are from the Big Ten, Big XII, and the SEC.
Aside from athletics, Texas boasts strong academics, something the Big Ten looks for in potential members.
Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium is one of only five facilities that houses over 100,000 fans during a home football game. The Big Ten boasts the three largest in college football: Michigan Stadium (110,001), Beaver Stadium (107,282), and Ohio Stadium (102,329).
All in all, this would be a smart investment for the Big Ten but the question that should be asked is if the move would benefit Texas. They rule the Big XII and get a big chunk of the revenue in the conference that formed in 1996.
Is losing Oklahoma and Texas A&M as conference rivals worth the potentially bigger payday if they leave?
Texas can agree that they do not want to play eight conference games and then use two non-conference games to play the Sooners and the Aggies.
Looking at the bigger picture, luring the Longhorns to the Midwest is a smart PR move, bringing attention to the conference, but if they are being serious, I give credit to the Big Ten for swinging for the fences.
This move could be a ploy to finally get the Fighting Irish to sign on the dotted line and finally join a conference in football. Notre Dame’s revenue, according to Forbes, was valued at $108 million, only $11 million less than Texas.
The Big Ten is playing hardball and the next move has the potential to cause a bigger chain reaction than the one that took place in 2003, when the ACC signed Miami and Virginia Tech away from the Big East. Boston College joined the ACC in 2005.