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Could the Big Ten become the Big 14?

12/17/2009

The last time major college sports experienced expansion, the ACC made a significant move, poaching three teams from the Big East in a four-month span.

So with expansion back on the table for the Big Ten, how big of a splash could the league decide to make?

The general feeling is the league will only add one team, bumping the league to 12 members. This ensures a division split and a conference championship game in football, which would satisfy Joe Paterno and some of his colleagues. Given the league's hesitancy to expand -- the Big Ten hasn't added a team since Penn State in 1989 -- you'd think commissioner Jim Delany would look for only one institution.

But the Chicago Tribune reports today that the Big Ten could end up going very big, all the way to 14 or 16 members.

From the story:

Multiple Big Ten sources told the Tribune Wednesday that 14 teams, even 16, could be in play as it relates to the Big Ten's potential expansion. "Anything is possible," one source said, beyond the conventional wisdom of simply adding a 12th school.

This is certainly noteworthy, though it would create a logistical nightmare for the Big Ten. Plus, how many schools are really worthy of joining the league?

People can take shots at the on-field performance all they want, but the Big Ten is the sport's richest conference and has the best infrastructure. Delany and his staff can afford to be picky.