10 schools it would make sense for the Big Ten to add

·6 min read

It appears as if the marriage between Texas, Oklahoma and the Big 12 is coming to a close as the two powerhouse schools look to depart the south-midwest conference in favor of the SEC.

Long have I said that both schools would be fabulous additions to the Big Ten if it were to continue expansion, but alas — the Longhorns and Sooners will potentially look to contend annually with Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Florida rather than Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin. To me, there’s more parity in the Big Ten (outside of Ohio State) than the SEC, but I guess the heart wants what it wants.

Assuming the move goes through and the SEC expands to 16 teams, the Big Ten will likely follow suit. There certainly aren’t any names out there nearly as sexy as Texas and Oklahoma, but here are 10 schools that could be on the Big Ten’s radar if it does look to expand to 16 teams in the near future.

Keeping in mind that I’m ignoring the Big Ten’s rigorous academic standards, because it’s more likely than not that, like with the additions of Nebraska and Rutgers, the incoming schools will not rise up to the majority of the current member institutions in that regard.

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Pitt

Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s long been rumored that Pitt has been on the Big Ten’s radar and it’s a program that’s had a long history of excellence both on the gridiron and the hardwood. Pitt’s addition would give Penn State an in-state rival (the two programs face off occasionally) and the Nittany Lions would likely fight the petition for membership. But adding the Panthers could help bolster Pennsylvania as Big Ten territory, even though its flagship university is already a part of the conference.

Syracuse

Sep 26, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange wide receiver Taj Harris (3) stumbles into the end zone for a touchdown as Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive back Myles Sims (16) defends during the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Photo: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

When Rutgers joined the Big Ten, the rationale was that it was tapping into the New York market. Adding Syracuse would only enhance that. The Orange have been much better on the basketball side than the football side, but it still has a long history in football. Syracuse was another rumored school for Big Ten expansion long before now.

Oklahoma State

Photo: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

This would be one of my favorites should the Big Ten expand. Thanks to T. Boone Pickens being a generous benefactor, Oklahoma State has incredible facilities and a ton of success both on the football field and in basketball. It would likely be competitive with the other current Big Ten teams, more so than any other, in both major sports. It has an established brand and is generally thought of as a top-notch program. It might not have the cache the Sooners have, but it would be a wonderful addition that would also tap more into the southern United States.

Iowa State

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Iowa State already plays Iowa every year, now it would just be a conference game. The basketball program has been steadily good, and recently the football program has started to match that. Just this year, the Cyclones are among the favorites in the Big 12 thanks to Matt Campbell leading the charge. It likely wouldn’t be a bottom-feeder in football even in the Big Ten, at least cementing itself at Indiana-level.

Kansas

The University of Kansas new football coach Lance Leipold, left, shakes hands with athletic director Travis Goff, right, during a news conference Monday at the indoor football facility.

Let’s be honest: this would be terrible for football, but great for basketball. Kansas already, apparently, has a call set up with the Big Ten, but if it were to enter the conference, its football team would easily be the worst while the basketball team would be considered a yearly top 3 team every year. Regardless, I don’t know how much adding the Jayhawks would bolster the Big Ten overall.

West Virginia

Photo: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Academically, it makes no sense, but we’re disregarding that. West Virginia has oscillated between being a mediocre-to-very good football team and is no slouch on the hardwood. It definitely has a solid fanbase and while it does good in recruiting, there are no recruits to speak of in the state. Also, there’s essentially no media market to tap into when it comes to the Mountaineers.

Notre Dame

This is the big fish the Big Ten has long yearned for. It only makes sense: it’s in the Big Ten’s current footprint, the Irish have the same kind of tradition and academic cache that matches the conference’s lofty standards. It would instantly become a flagship program. This would be a home run on all fronts. But Notre Dame continually resists the Big Ten, even though its hockey program is in the conference. Instead, it’s in bed with the ACC, despite being an independent. This is a move that makes all the sense in the world, yet Notre Dame just refuses to listen to reason.

Virginia Tech

Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan already has Maryland, which taps into the D.C. market, might as well go one state south. Virginia would probably be the better academic fit, and while the Cavaliers are solid in basketball, the football team hasn’t done much of note. Enter rival Virginia Tech, which brings cache on both fronts. While the Hokies haven’t quite been what they were in football, they would still be a welcome addition on that front and could provide another potential solid contender in both sports.

Boston College

Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten wants to cash in on New York with Rutgers? Why not head further east and poach an ACC school in Boston? Boston College isn’t exactly a powerhouse, but it would meet the academic standards while also providing at least a good option football-wise. It’s the premier college football program in New England and it would make sense from a contiguous geography standpoint.

Cincinnati

Photo: Isaiah Hole

There is no way that Ohio State will let this happen, but Cincinnati has long been a program, particularly in football, that is much bigger than its Group of 5 standing. The Bearcats have always tended to field solid teams and has long been a school where coaches have success and then are poached. While it doesn’t tap into any new markets, it would give Ohio State an in-state rival. Cincinnati would certainly see more benefits from this move than the Big Ten would.

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