Monday, September 19, 2011
Warming up to Missouri as B1G addition
By Adam Rittenberg
It feels like eons ago, but in May 2009, I wrote this:
If and when the Big Ten decides to expand, Missouri should be at the top of Delany's list.
Keep in mind that back then, expansion wasn't a front-burner issue for the Big Ten and its commissioner, Jim Delany. I reiterated in the post that Notre Dame remained the best realistic addition for the Big Ten (and still does to this day). Regarding Nebraska, the team that eventually joined the league, I expressed reservations about the Huskers' ability to leave the Big 12.
Important decisions regarding expansion are on the horizon for Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany.
We all know what happened next. The landscape changed, and the Big Ten made the right call by adding Nebraska. Missouri remained in the Big 12 and came out looking bad after its governor publicly advocated for the school to join the Big Ten. It wasn't the right approach with the Big Ten, and Missouri took some heat.
Fast-forward to today, where Realignment Round 2 is upon us, and everyone in these parts wants to know what the Big Ten will do. While leagues like the Big Ten and SEC aren't under the same pressure to react as, say, the Pac-12 and ACC, if the seismic shift is upon us, Delany will have to act.
Yet, if and when Delany does act, Notre Dame should be his top priority. And if the Big Ten adds multiple schools, Missouri should be part of the mix.
I've gone back and forth on Missouri, which certainly has some pluses but doesn't move the needle nationally like some of its former and current Big 12 brethren. The Tigers wouldn't be a home-run addition like Nebraska or Penn State, but they might be a ground-rule double.
If the Big Ten has to go to 16 teams -- and trust me, this would be a reluctant expansion -- Missouri brings more value than some other options being discussed.
A few reasons why:
Member of the American Association of Universities
Success in two major sports programs (football and men's basketball)
Would have natural rivalries with Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska
Has upgraded its facilities, which are some of the best in the Big 12
Has presence both in the St. Louis and Kansas City markets. Should the Big Ten also add Kansas, also an AAU member, it would dominate both markets.
The Big Ten's East Coast options seem limited after the ACC's actions both to add teams and to protect itself by raising the exit fee for members. But none of the East Coast options are home runs. A Big Ten that includes both Notre Dame and Penn State is very relevant in New York City and other Eastern markets.
Missouri could be an SEC expansion target as well, but the school seems to be a better cultural fit in the Big Ten. Kansas might not be a bad option, either, as its AAU status and national powerhouse men's basketball program are two big pluses. If the Big Ten adds both schools, it adds a terrific rivalry.
Again, Notre Dame should be the Big Ten's top expansion priority if all the complex details of adding the Irish can be worked out. But if a multi-school expansion is on the horizon, and indications are it could be, Missouri should be part of the mix.