INDIANAPOLIS – The Big Ten is not talking about expansion or reshuffling.
At least for now.
The Houston Chronicle reported that Oklahoma and Texas interested in joining the Southeastern Conference, news that has fueled reshuffles and super conference calls in college football. Newly appointed Big Ten adviser Barry Alvarez had a simple question when he read the report: “Why?”
“It surprised everyone,” Alvarez told a small group of reporters on Big Ten Media Day on Thursday. “Somehow I didn’t really notice it. I don’t know how legit it is. Nobody has commented on it. The fact that it hasn’t been commented on may say something. ”
What is the response from the conference? Should the Big Ten Respond? That’s when Alvarez, a former head coach and athletic director in Wisconsin, was booming.
“I don’t know about that,” Alvarez said. “We haven’t even brought that up in any meeting with sports directors. I don’t want to go into expansion because it’s too early. We’ve never even talked about it. I have nothing else to say.”
Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren added a noncommittal response.
“We are always constantly evaluating what is in the interest of the conference,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how that story evolves and where it ends up.”
It’s never too early to talk about the possibility of expansion, but don’t count on the Big Ten to react quickly. After all, if Texas and Oklahoma do indeed go to the SEC and Notre Dame remains locked in its five-game deal with the ACC, what will the leftovers look like?
In this case, no action might be the best course of action.
“I don’t know if the Big Ten should react to it until it happens or if it’s a plan they had themselves,” said Big Ten Network analyst Howard Griffith. “It’s obviously sent a shockwave in college football when you talk about two dominant, prominent programs and what they could do for the SEC.”
True could be the Big Ten if expansion was possible? A cursory look at the possible selections:
TCU. That would give the Big Ten a Texas outpost in the Dallas market, but it would be an exclusive move for football. The Horned Frogs have competed only once in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament since 2000.
Kansas and the state of Iowa. The Hawkeyes get a rivalry with the Cyclones, but what does everyone in the Big Ten get? Kansas would be exclusive to basketball, and unnecessary given the power of the conference in that sport.
Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and West Virginia. Pick your choice-two combo. The Buckeyes are in no rush to share that Ohio spotlight with Cincinnati. Pitt and West Virginia would probably be the best bet, but that won’t bring much excitement.
Does the Big Ten want to haunt those schools? For not much excitement? Perhaps that’s why Alvarez isn’t in much of a hurry to talk about expansion.
The Big Ten added Penn State in 1990, Nebraska in 2011, and Maryland and Rutgers in 2014. Are those fanbases really embracing the Big Ten?
Depends on who you ask and when. Remember, the Huskers are challenging the Big Ten’s decision to cancel the 2020 season. Nebraska, of course, is also familiar with Oklahoma and Texas from the Big 12 days. Nebraska coach Scott Frost still didn’t catch the hook.
“I have absolutely no comment on Texas or Oklahoma or any other league,” Frost said. “I think there’s a lot of dust flying around, and we’ll all have to wait and see where the dust settles. If that leads to a little more reshuffling, then I feel great about the position Nebraska is in.”
No comment. Nothing else to say. No reaction.
In this case, the Big Ten is right to wait and see what happens next.