Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NCF Nation [Print without images]

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
A Big Ten title game without expansion?

By Adam Rittenberg

As we all know by now, NCAA bylaws state that in order to hold a championship game in football, a conference must have 12 members.

So for the Big Ten to hold its title game in Indianapolis, Detroit, Chicago or Sheboygan, a 12th member must be added.

But rules change all the time, and many of us have wondered whether a league could simply hold a championship game without expanding to 12 teams or more.

New Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott is thinking the same way.

Scott tells CBSsports.com's Dennis Dodd that he has had discussions with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Big East commish John Marinatto about holding championship games without expanding to 12 or more. The prospect obviously would interest the Big Ten (11 members) and the Big East (eight members).

"That's a possibility," Scott said. "Initially, it doesn't make much sense but I've had a couple of conversations."



Dodd goes on to write: "NCAA bylaw 17.9.5.2 (c) states that a conference must have at least 12 members to stage a championship game. NCAA legislation would be needed to change that bylaw. Supposedly, such a change would be non-controversial."

Hmmm, very interesting.

Delany has stated multiple times that a football championship game won't be the driving force behind expansion, but it's obviously a big factor to many folks involved in the process. As I've repeatedly reminded blog readers, the Big Ten is healthy at 11 teams, but it could be even stronger if the right addition or additions are made.

If the Big Ten can't land a slam-dunk expansion candidate (Notre Dame), and the requirements changed for a football championship game, this might make a lot of sense for the league. Of course, the lack of a round-robin schedule in the Big Ten makes things tricky. The top two teams in the league could take very different paths to a championship game.

Still, it's interesting to see that we aren't the only ones thinking about alternative ways to have a title game.