The topic of Big Ten Expansion has been covered by every major and minor newspaper, TV outlet and blog since Jim Delaney made the announcement in late 2009. A quick google search of "Big Ten Expansion" gets you a mere 22,3000,000 results. We here at TDG haven't really weighed in on the issued. Clearly as bloggers of a current Big Ten institution we will be significantly impacted by the conference additions. But since virtually everyone with a keyboard has thrown out their speculation as to who, how and when I haven't seen the point in adding to the monkey pile of opinions. Essentially everything written is pure speculation. Who is going to be added? How will the conference align? What makes the most sense for the Big Ten?
So rather than throw out my own opinions I've decided to bring everyone together from the schools suggested as likely candidates for Big Ten expansion. Rather than figuring out what is best for the Big Ten, I wanted to know what the Big Ten does for these schools? As bloggers, they are representing their fan base and I want to know if they even want anything to do with the Big Ten.
I asked the following bloggers a series of questions regarding Big Ten expansion. I think most of us in Big Ten country have our wish list of school we want to add for whatever reason. Notre Dame brings a national power, Nebraska brings tradition, Texas bring Texas, Rutgers brings NYC, etc. But do these schools even want to join the Big Ten? We know what is in it for us, but also what is in it for them? And most importantly does their fan base really want to switch conferences and come to the plodding and perennially-labled overrated conference?
I have some other responses ready to go, but I'm going to stick with the
Big East conference soon to be formally known as the Big East. Sean from the wildly popular Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician blog was kind enough to give me some answers regarding the Syracuse resume and Big Ten expansion.
For Sean I wanted to know on a scale of 1-10, what are the chances of Syracuse ending up in the Big Ten.
Well, before the events of KansasCityRadioStationRumorGate, I would have said 8. I felt like Syracuse brought a lot of things to the table to be among the top choices. After the rumor came out, even though its not true, it makes me doubt whether or not SU is as high on the list as I thought. I guess our proximity to a major city and lack of recent football success will bite us in the ass after all. Right now, I will say its still very possible, especially if the Big Ten goes sixteen. Let's say 7.
That number seems about right. Syracuse is kind of in the same boat as UConn only with more to offer athletically. They don't appear to be at the top of the list but they have a stronger resume than others. So what exactly does Syracuse bring to the table?
Here's what Syracuse brings: Ridiculously good basketball, a football program with a deceivingly-strong tradition (15th-winningest program all-time), strong alumni base and awareness in New York City, great academics, strong & growing Olympic sports programs, a historical rivalry with Penn State and Jim Boeheim's wife Juli. Oh and we have the best lacrosse program in the nation...we'll explain what lacrosse is later.
Syracuse has an extremely strong, extremely loyal fanbase, especially in the much-desired New York City area. You can talk about proximity to the city compared to Rutgers all you like but check out a crowd for the Big East Tournament and tell me if you can even see any red mixed in with all that orange. Didn't think so. SU also has strong alumni bases in Washington D.C., Boston, Philly and even L.A.
We're a perennial tournament team in basketball, so there's that. What we lack in football we make up for in selling out the Dome for basketball like crazy. And we make t-shirts for every little thing that happens. Merchandising, baby.
Sounds like a direct challenge to Rutgers and their claim to having the keys to New York City. I mentioned in the UConn article that the triumvirate of Rutgers/Syracuse/UConn would almost guarantee NYC. As I've also mentioned, Rutgers would land New Jersey which is significant even if they can't bring Manhattan to the BTN. So, Syracuse would certainly help despite being a private school in out state New York. But enough of what they do for us fiscally, this is also about athletics. We actually a conglomerate of schools who come together to compete on the playing field.
Athletically what does your school bring to the Big Ten?
Basketball - You get one of the best basketball programs in the nation. Case closed.
Football - As you can probably tell, the football program ain't what she used to be. If you know the guy currently running Michigan's defense and how well that's going, you can understand why. But we're getting better, I promise. You'll see.
Lacrosse - The best program in the nation. Eleven-time national champion and that includes the last two seasons.
Our womens sports are as strong as they've ever been. Basketball has gone to the post-season two of the last three years. Lacrosse is a perennial winner. Field Hockey, Ice Hockey and Volleyball are all strong.
We don't have a baseball team. So if that's an issue, let us know. We'll scrap something together.
Wisconsin doesn't have baseball either so I doubt it's a deal breaker. And speaking of schools that graduate spawn of Satan...What about rivalries?
Certainly, Syracuse loses big-time when it comes to the basketball rivalries that will be torn asunder. Georgetown, UConn, Villanova, Providence...these are mainstays. Especially Georgetown. The good news is that because of the size of the Big East, we usually only play these teams once a year anyway so scheduling some of them for non-conference games won't make it that much different. For football, we'd lose the West Virginia rivalry but that's about it. In fact we'd probably keep playing them anyway.
The good news is that we'd immediately get Penn State back as a rival. SU and Penn State were hated rivals from the early 20th century through the 80's when Joe Paterno got all dickish about home-and-home series. They'll kill us in football but we'll make up for it by destroying them in basketball.
Otherwise, we look forward to facing a Greg Robinson-led defense at Michigan and we've played Northwestern, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois recently in football so we've got some recent history there to play with.
I do believe I wondered out loud if Syracuse was making a push for Big Ten entrance last year when they scheduled Minnesota, Northwestern and Penn State for three of their out of conference games in 2009. So the real question for Syracuse fans is, do you even want to join the Big Ten?
I don't because I want to see the Big East thrive but I do because I don't think the Big East can. The Big East is built on basketball and will always think in terms of basketball. In the current college sports landscape, that's a death knell. And so, the Big East will do nothing other than try to talk big and maybe invite Central Florida to join the conference in hopes that it will convince us to stay. It will not.
And is it going to happen?
I think so. I think when it's all said and done the conference will be 16 teams and will include Syracuse, Rutgers and Pitt, thereby destroying Big East football one way or another.
Athletically I think Syracuse is a very nice fit for the Big Ten. They are much stronger in basketball than Rutgers and they have a fairly rich tradition of football. Overall Director's Cup standings (through end of April) has them 58th with Lacrosse finishing up which is sure to see them rise in the standings. And I think they bring some of the prestige and alumni that the BTN is looking for. Are the #1 team on the list? No. But they are a worth candidate and depending on how many teams the Big Ten expands to, they will be in this right up until the end.