The Big Ten has long been the staple conference of the Upper Midwest. The Big Ten, in many ways, is a reflection of the Midwest itself. The Big Ten offers an education to rival any other, even those found in the stuffy halls of Ivy League old money. A stellar campus experience alongside thousands of other students can be found for gritty, hard-working kids. Athletic programs that can rival the best in the country are a nice bonus.
As much as Big Ten fans may dislike rival schools, they still respect them. Yes, I'll root for Iowa or Wisconsin over any other conference's team every time. Why? Big Ten schools may be in different states, but overall are cast from the same mold. Big schools, good academics, clean(er) programs, competitive athletics.
Enter 2010. Nebraska has joined the Big Ten, which I consider a good move for both parties. They're called the Cornhuskers, and that's about as Midwestern as you can get. Let's hope the expansion ends there.
With the exception of Notre Dame, who will remain celibate from a conference commitment as long as possible, there are no more Big Ten caliber schools. Texas is a great school, but they belong in, rather they are the South and I doubt their fans would want them traveling to the Upper Midwest for away games. The other options floating around just wouldn't cut it.
Let's face it, conference realignment is based solely upon athletics and revenue. Let's be more frank by admitting that football and basketball rule that realm. Basketball has a little flexibility, but football doesn't. Big Ten football without cold Novembers and generations-old rivalries would eventually become nothing more than the NFL's minor leagues.
It's already inaccurate to call it the Big "Ten," but where will it stop? 12? 14? 16? Why not 32 with a December Madness to generate TV revenue?
It's the Big Ten, not the Big Something.
Fringe Bowl Team argues that an East-West division for the Big Ten will work at this link.
Brian at MGOBLOG thinks that Texas could be making a big mistake by not joining a conference at this link.