DJ Gallo's Offseason Pigskinpalooza
Talk of Big Ten expansion seemingly has extended into its 10th month. So let's just assume that it has really extended into its 11th month.
Almost every program in the country has been rumored to be going to the Big Ten or, if not, moving to some other conference in the vast college football wasteland that is to be post-Big Ten expansion. (Stock up on your canned goods! Store them in a closet! Remove your players first!)
Let's take a look at the programs most often discussed as Big Ten candidates.
RutgersPositive: Adding Rutgers would really expand the conference's geographical footprint and open the New York market even more than adding Notre Dame and, therefore, Regis Philbin would.
Negative: Rutgers isn't all that great at football, but the Scarlet Knights are even worse at basketball. Bringing them into the Big Ten would add almost nothing athletically. They'd lose. A lot. Sure, current Big Ten members like the sound of extra wins, but they don't need to travel halfway across the country to get them when Notre Dame is right there. That's like flying to New York to rent "Rudy" when the same movie is at the Blockbuster right around the corner.
NebraskaPositive: Nebraska has a storied football program. In fact, it could single-handedly change the negative perception of the letter N in Big Ten country. You'd be off the hook, Northwestern!
Negative: Like several other Big Ten programs, Nebraska is living more off history than recent accomplishments. Adding them wouldn't really change the perception of the Big Ten as an old power. If the Big Ten adds Nebraska, the next conference expansion likely would include Army, Harvard and the University of Chicago.
SyracusePositive: Syracuse is an established basketball power and would really provide a boost for the Big Ten, which is pretty much a basketball disaster beyond Michigan State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Ohio State and Indiana. Whoops. I wrote Indiana. My mistake.
Negative: Syracuse would play Northwestern in football every year. That means the alma mater of half the sports media would be guaranteed at least one football win every year. No one wants to unleash that quantity of smugness.
PittPositive: Pitt has a good program in both football and basketball. Unfortunately, its men's soccer team was 2-13-2 this past season. Although, you know -- to many in Big Ten country, that might be another positive. Yay, Pitt!
Negative: Bringing Pitt into the Big Ten would add nothing geographically. Penn State is east. Ohio State is west. And Michigan and Michigan State are northwest. Plus, why bring a ton of college girls from all over the country into Heinz Field four or five times a fall? Let's at least give Ben Roethlisberger a chance.
CincinnatiPositive: The Bearcats have built a very good football program. In fact, they've been to BCS bowl games two years in a row. They lost both times. You know, they're practically an honorary Big Ten team already. (Umm, hello? Moron! The Big Ten won two BCS games last year. Take THAT, previous decade!)
Negative: Cincinnati is a city school, a commuter school, a school without a rich athletic tradition. It's basically the complete opposite of Penn State. Heck, the Bearcats' football coach is only 42. That's insane!
MissouriPositive: It's a school with a state for a name. That sounds impressive. It might not be Texas or Florida, but it's not Montana or Rhode Island, either. So that's nice.
Negative: Adding Missouri would have no wow factor. And as you know from watching Big Ten football and basketball, this is a conference that demands excitement.
Notre DamePositive: It's Notre Dame. The name says it all. It has a certain gravitas. Like JoePa. Or the Big House. Or Rich Rodriguez.
Negative: In a way, Notre Dame is almost too big a name. Add any other school(s), and the Big Ten still would be the Big Ten just now with X members. But bring in Notre Dame, and the Irish would almost dwarf the entire conference. The Big Ten then would become "the Big Ten NOW WITH NOTRE DAME!" It's one thing to hide an 11 in the league's logo, but putting an ND in there would be much harder.
USCPositive: I'm just trying to start a rumor. It's not a column on possible Big Ten expansion without a baseless rumor.
Negative: Yeah, it probably won't catch on. But I wanted to at least try. (I heard from a friend who knows a guy who plays golf with the Big Ten commissioner's brother, et cetera, et cetera. Pass it on!)
TexasPositive: Texas has consistent success in football and basketball akin to that of Ohio State, the conference's flagship program.
Negative: Texas has consistent success in football and basketball akin to that of Ohio State, the conference's flagship program. So adding the Longhorns would give Ohio State competition and everyone else an additional team to bludgeon it in at least one sport. There's no reason any Big Ten program should vote for Texas' admission to the conference. Except the money. Tons and tons of money. Which is really the point of expansion in the first place. Bwa-ha-ha-ha! Well expect your membership application in the mail any day, Texas!
DJ Gallo is the founder of SportsPickle.com. His first book, "SportsPickle Presents: The View from the Upper Deck," is available from only the finest bargain book retailers. His next book project will be released soon. You can follow him on Twitter at @DJGalloESPN.