Sunday, December 5, 2010
Big Ten expansion push ran its course
By Adam Rittenberg
The latest chapter of Big Ten expansion is over.
The Big Ten's Council of Presidents/Chancellors announced Sunday that the league's expansion study, originally set for 12-18 months, has ended after 12.
"We have been thoroughly engaged in the process since last December," Indiana University president Michael McRobbie, the chair of the Big Ten's Council of Presidents/Chancellors, said in a statement. "Following detailed discussions at today's meeting, my colleagues and I can report that we believe that this process has reached its natural conclusion. We are pleased with the addition of Nebraska and look forward to working with our colleagues there in the years ahead."
According to the league's release, the Big Ten will continue to monitor the landscape in college sports but "will not be actively engaged in conference expansion for the foreseeable future and does not expect to be proactively seeking new members."
This is certainly a big announcement, but not a surprising one. From talking to key folks around the Big Ten the past few months, I got the sense that the presidents and chancellors are thrilled with the addition of Nebraska in June and didn't see a need to actively push forward for other members. While I think Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany would go forward with a push to expand to 16 teams, the presidents needed to be on board for that to happen, and they weren't.
The Big Ten made a big splash with Nebraska. No need to spend time in the kiddie pool.
Is this the last we hear about Big Ten expansion? No way. TCU just joined the Big East, and other moves could be coming.
But unless a major player decides to change its position -- looking at you, Notre Dame, or maybe you, Texas -- the Big Ten will stay put at 12 members. The Big East schools don't bring much to the table aside from location, and even potential ACC additions like Maryland don't move the needle enough. You should never expand for the sake of expansion, or merely to keep up with other leagues. There's no obvious move, so why make one?
It's interesting how the Big Ten, after setting off alarm bells last December by announcing its expansion study, ended things rather quietly Sunday, the same day bowl selections come out. This story will be forgotten in a few hours, just as the league wants.
The Big Ten was a strong league at 11, and it's about to get stronger at 12. There's no need for overkill, although there's no need to close the door on expansion, either.