Mailbag: Where does Big Ten turn?

The 11-member Big Ten is pondering expansion to 12 schools.

If that happens, there will be significant changes in scheduling, championship format and maybe even the conference’s name.

If the Big Ten does indeed expand, the aftershocks could be felt across the country – and most likely in the East.

Further explanation and speculation can be found in this week’s mailbag.

Big Ten plans
What do you think of the Big Ten’s plans to expand? Who do you think the top candidates will be? If they add a Big East or Big 12 member, what are the likely ripple effects?
Nashville, Tenn.
Big Ten expansion could be the Big East’s worst nightmare. But that’s not the Big Ten’s problem.

I think the Big Ten would be wise to add a 12th member. That way, the league could add a conference championship game and enhance the chances of getting a team in the BCS national championship game.

True, Ohio State played for the national championship as recently as 2007, but that was a fluke because one-loss teams Missouri and West Virginia were upset in the final games before the BCS pairings were set and there were no other teams from Big Six conferences with fewer than two losses.

Although Texas, which barely escaped Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game, obviously would argue, a championship game provides a contender one more chance to impress BCS voters. And, frankly, with the poor – and perhaps unfair – reputation Big Ten football has these days, the conference needs every chance it can get to make a good impression.

But what team would the Big Ten approach for membership? Obviously, Notre Dame is on the wish list, but it’s only a wish. The Irish turned down a Big Ten invitation in 1999, and earlier this week, Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Notre Dame wasn’t interested in giving up its independent status in football.

Who can blame them? Why split revenues 12 ways when you can keep the whole pie for yourself?

Missouri often has been mentioned as a possible target for the Big Ten, although I’m not sure why it would want to leave the Big 12, where it has longtime rivals such as Nebraska and Kansas.

If Missouri did leave? The Big 12 would have to ble to find another team, and the guess here is the league would try to lure Arkansas from the SEC. Despite the geographic advantages, that probably would fail.