There has been much speculation on what may happen in college football if (and when) the Big Ten (11) expands. The arguments range from taking only one team (many think Missouri) to five teams. Given that TV sets, not a championship game, are driving the Big Ten's plans, I believe the likely jump will be to 14 or 16 teams. Since the Big Ten is in the driver's seat, let's start there.
BIG 10/11: Who are the most likely targets? Here are my top five:
- Notre Dame
Yes, Notre Dame! The Golden Domers are sitting back, waiting to see what the Big Ten will do. Everyone, including the Irish, believes that if the Big Ten expands to 16 teams, the Irish will have to include themselves in the Big Ten/16 in order to (1) keep them relevant and (2) keep them in the BCS in the super-conference era. So,pencil Notre Dame into the Big Ten/16. Once the Big Ten/16 pulls the trigger and takes Missouri, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and Notre Dame, the dominoes will start to fall. Next stop, the SEC.
SEC: The SEC may raid the ACC, taking Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech, and Clemson to get its 16 teams. 12+4=16 teams. The ACC gets squashed. But it has backup plans.
ACC: After getting raided, the ACC then goes after Big East members Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, South Florida, Syracuse, and West Virginia and takes East Carolina and Central Florida from CUSA. 12-4+8=16 teams. Ouch, the Big East ceases to exist as a football conference!
PAC 10: Not wanting to be left behind in this new era, the PAC 10 woos Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech away from the Big 12, leaving the Big 12 reeling. 10+6=16 teams.
MWC: The Mountain West, not wanting to be relegated to second-tier status in the super-conference era, cherry picks the WAC and takes the Big 12 leftovers to create its own 16-team super-conference, adding Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State. 9+7=16 teams. At this point, the Big 12 is also history.
The question that will be on the mind of every MWC fan will be, "Is that enough to get us into the BCS?" The answer will be yes. Aside from the BCS failure, Hawaii, the MWC will have all of the BCS busters plus BCS contenders Kansas and Kansas State.
So, what could the face of major college football look like? Here's one very "educated" guess based on what I have said above...
San Diego State