I am a rabid college football fan. Though I have never visited my favorite team’s stadium or gone to a game, I watch every game that I can on TV and the ones I can’t I follow on the radio or internet, I wear my team colors with pride on every Saturday in the fall, I have a matching bed set adorned with my team’s logo and I went as far as to have an Ohio State lightswitch cover. So with the expansion business fully underway, I find it necessary to throw my $.02 into the ring about the whole issue.
First the pros: It seems likely now that Nebraska has joined the Big Ten. I want to congratulate the Huskers on a VERY good decision to join. They will find that they are a perfectly natural fit for most of the conference as OSU, Iowa, Penn State, Wisconsin and (if they ever get their act together) Michigan all play tough, grind it out, hard nosed defensive football. Nebraska is exactly the same. They also fit in geographically. Nebraska is, for the most part, pretty close to a lot of the teams in the Big Ten. We could very easily see a Nebraska-Iowa or Nebraska-Minnesota started up by this new move. Academically they are part of the AAU which makes it attractive as well. From a purely selfish standpoint, I see this as adding a tough team with lots of history to come in and make the Big Ten even stronger heading into next year or the year after that. With Iowa, OSU, Penn State, Wisconsin and Nebraska all being legit national contenders for the next 5-10 years right off the bat and, with the consistent success those teams have had in the past, we could see all the above (and Michigan, if they ever get their act together) be national contenders for years after that.
As a side note, the conference championship game would be a push between a pro and a con, as I would likely get to see OSU play another game for the next many years, but it would obliterate the traditional last game of the year with That Team from Up North. It seems like for most fans of the Big Ten the addition of a conference championship game supersedes the loss of The Game’s symbolic placement at the end. But for me, it would be the worst thing to come out of expansion.
Now for the cons. First off, this might make for fewer non-con games. This might make games like OSU-USC (which arguably hasn’t been too good for us over the past two years, but if we played them at the end there is no question who would have won!), OSU-Miami, OSU-Nebraska (wait!) a thing of the past. Then again the conference would be tougher and a one loss Big Ten team might get the same respect as a 1 loss SEC team. Two, the addition of Nebraska might push the Pac-10 to add Texas, thereby giving credence to their toughness as a conference. Even so, a Big Ten with Nebraska, Iowa, Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State is still better than a Pac-10 with Texas, USC, Oregon, UCLA and Stanford.
In any event, college football as we know it is changing, rapidly. The Big Ten was supposed to be on a timeline where a team was added in December, here it is in June and we already seemingly have our 12th member. Momentous changes could be occurring within days.