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Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Poll: Potential end of Big Ten expansion

By Adam Rittenberg

The rumors about the Big Ten expanding beyond 14 teams started immediately after Maryland and Rutgers officially announced they were joining the league.

Georgia Tech was supposed to accept a Big Ten invitation the Monday after the league title game. There have been several waves of Big Ten rumors surrounding North Carolina and Virginia as well. I've been asked numerous times about Jim Delany's secret dungeon at Big Ten headquarters where he keeps models for 20- or 24-team leagues, right next to his Mike Slive voodoo doll. Bwahahaha!

Then came Monday's news that the ACC presidents had approved a grant of media rights agreement through 2026-27, effectively putting an electric fence around the league for the foreseeable future. The Big Ten's most likely expansion targets suddenly seem to be off the table.

What do you think about this? Realignment junkies will be disappointed. Others will be thrilled that the expansion chaos might finally be over. And others feel the Big Ten already is too big with the latest uninspiring additions.

My take: enough is enough. Although I understood the motivation behind the Big Ten's move from 12 to 14, the league lost a degree of intimacy that makes leagues special. Going to 16 would further damage this. Branding and markets are important to long-term viability, but there isn't a realistic home run addition out there like Penn State or Nebraska. North Carolina is a ground-rule double.

We shouldn't dismiss the possibility of future Big Ten expansion, but there are limited options. People bring up Cincinnati and Connecticut, but neither are members of the AAU, which is critically important to the Big Ten presidents. The Big 12 and Pac-12 also have grant of rights agreements, making poaching unlikely. The SEC doesn't have one, and while Missouri in my view remains a much better fit in the Big Ten than the SEC, it would take a lot of motivation from both sides to facilitate a move to the Big Ten.

Realignment might finally be screeching to a halt. Your take? Share it in our poll and in our mailbags here and here.