April 19, 2010

Or at least it is rumored/expected to be.

High-ranking Big Ten representatives will meet Sunday in Washington to discuss expansion. The timing and location of the session make sense considering the Association of American Universities has its semi-annual meetings there through Tuesday and all 11 Big Ten schools are AAU members.

Among those attending will be Northwestern President Morton Schapiro, according to a university spokesman, and Illinois’ interim chancellor, Robert Easter.

If the conference can emerge from the meetings with a mandate to expand, Commissioner Jim Delany could take a substantial step next week at the annual Bowl Championship Series meetings outside Phoenix.

As laid out in the Big Ten’s Dec. 15 statement, Delany would “notify” the commissioners of the affected conferences before “engaging in formal expansion discussions with other institutions.”

In other words, Big East Commissioner John Marinatto would get a heads-up if the Big Ten wishes to contact schools such as Rutgers, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

That would allow the Big Ten more than a month to negotiate with schools before conference presidents and chancellors meet in Chicago during the first weekend in June.

That timetable also makes sense from a financial standpoint. The fiscal years of universities end on the last day of June, “so if you go past July 1, you have to wait an extra year,” one source said.

So while the Big 10 Presidents and Chancellor’s meet for the AAU meeting (along with Pitt, Rutgers, Mizzou, Nebraska and Syracuse), Big 10 commish Delany goes to Arizona for BCS meetings with conference commissioners and presumably athletic directors from the BCS schools.

At that point, Delany could let Beebe (Big 12) and/or Marinatto (Big East) know that they will be poached. Because let’s be honest, whoever they ask from the conference will go (except maybe Texas).

To admit a new member to the Big 10, it takes at least 70% to say yes, or 8 of the 11 schools have to back the proposed school.

The presumption is that the Big 10 will have to take one more run at Notre Dame before moving down the list. I have no idea how this plays out.

I’ve read so many different scenarios based on expanding with or without ND. Expanding by 1, 3 or 5 teams. Pitt — depending on the person doing the ranking and their biases and values on various aspects — places anywhere from the most attractive candidate after ND and Texas (and Texas A&M) to the least. There are kernels of logic and reason in them, but I don’t think anyone truly knows how the Big 10 is going to make this decision.

I’m also not as worried. If they only go one and it isn’t Pitt, the Big East survives. Even if it would be Rutgers or Syracuse. The loss isn’t that drastic.

If the Big 10 goes to 14, and Pitt wasn’t one of the three, I’m nervous but I also think that the Big East could make it or the ACC would look to expand and Pitt would be a top choice. Is the ACC as lucrative as the Big 10? No. But it would be more stable and more lucrative than the Big East.

Even if the Big 10 went all the way to 16 and still Pitt was left out, then definitely the ACC would be expanding and Pitt would be in there.

Really, I think that Pitt will be okay. It is the fate of the Big East as a football conference that is at stake.

I see no reason for Pitt followers to panic.

If Rutgers is the only BE team to go, then I really don’t see a big negative impact and not much of a change than the status quo.

If more teams are selected, then either Pitt will be among those teams for the B10, or it will start a chain reaction for the other conferences to go 14 or 16 teams, and Pitt will surely be included with the ACC (or maybe even the SEC.)

When considering academics, TV market, current athletic programs and tradition, etc., I would be shocked not to see Pitt be included among the most desirable teams for expansion.

Comment by wbb 04.19.10 @ 3:10 pm

Does Pitt basketball move into the Big 10 then too? Seems New York is too lucrative for everyone to be OK with that.

Comment by Seth 04.19.10 @ 4:28 pm

Pitt basketball moves wherever Pitt football goes. If you are primarily a fan of Pitt basketball, and want it to stay in the Big East, you should hope that the Big 11 only expands by one school.

Comment by Pantherman13 04.19.10 @ 4:33 pm

Opinions are like belly buttons – everybody has one. And, frankly, one makes as much sense as all the others in this mess. For those of us who fondly remember the intensity of the Penn State rivalry, the football aspect of moving to the Big 10 is enticing. Alternatively, what Dixon has built in the basketball area is amazing and that would be tough to watch as there would be a let down for a lot of folks.

Of all the scenarios speculated upon, Pitt to the ACC scares me the most. Every road trip would be a nightmare and football would never become the second fiddle over time. Love basketball and Jamie but not ready to throw in that towel just yet.

I guess it will be interesting to watch the next few months play out. I personally will hope for an invite, but recognize there are others who feel strongly otherwise. Just hope it all works out for the best for everybody.

Comment by wally 04.19.10 @ 4:39 pm

Word from some alumnis who “know things”, Pitt is #2 after ND to enter the Big 10. Texas does not have Pitt’s rep for academics. It will be interesting. I am all for it and hope that we do not lose JDixon. While I love Big East Basketball, it is a huge grind with every game but one or two a toss up. BE teams enter the NCAA’s at a less than ideal physical level due to the type of BE play and then the tourney. We’ve won the BE and I want to see us win the NCAA’s. BB future, whatever league we are in.

Comment by Dan 72 04.19.10 @ 5:43 pm

Great analyses posted here by Chas, wbb, wally and Dan. But, Dan, I’d disagree with your assessment of Texas academics.

My gut reaction is that the Big 10 brand has lots of oomph plus I would love to renew the PSU rivalry.

I am not umbilically tied to the BE for sure.

Comment by steve 04.19.10 @ 8:16 pm

I pretty much agree with what others have said – there are plusses and minuses to any of the conference affiliations. Interestingly, I have a lot of faith in Nordenberg to position Pitt and make the correct decisions. The good news is that Pitt’s reputation, both athletically and academically, is probably at its highest point ever.

BTW, my memory is that Texas is generally considered one of the top academic public schools in the country. I don’t think UT is going to join the Big 11, but if it did, it would probably be among the top 3 or 4 schools academically.

Comment by Pantherman13 04.19.10 @ 9:31 pm

Pantherman13 I looked it up and Texas is ranked 47 overall for schools and 15 for public University. I could be wrong but don’t think a move to the big ten could pump it up that far in the ratings to be a top 3 or 4 school. Still, a well respected institution.

Comment by OntarioLettsGoPitt 04.19.10 @ 10:20 pm

I’m haunted, yes haunted, by memories of what the Big East could have been. The best of the East Indies all rolled into one. It WAS JoPa’s Eastern Conference, if only he hadn’t picked up his ball and gone home.

I really believe that, with State Penn in the Big East, Our Lady of South Bend would have, eventually, followed. With Navy and, eventually, Army, and the Army-Navy game…Oh what a conference it would have been.

I really don’t think joining the Big 10 puts Pitt in a favorable position, at least not initially. BB will suffer. So will football, to a degree.

But it will mean a lot more money, and if college sports is about anything, its about the money. It certainly isn’t about the sports.

So if Pitt goes, so be it. Took 60 years, but we finally got in the big 10. Now here’s looking forward to a 96 team football layoff.

Comment by Spanky 04.19.10 @ 10:25 pm

Err, Playoff. Playoff.

Comment by Spanky 04.19.10 @ 10:28 pm

Ontario-just to clarify, I meant that UT would be among the top 3-4 schools in the Big 11. Just a guess on my part. In any case, it’s a pretty good school (and no, I didn’t go there).

Comment by Pantherman13 04.19.10 @ 10:45 pm

I think we’re going a little overboard here with the whole “going to the Big 10 will be the end of Pitt hoops” senario.

Is Big 10 basketball preferable to the Big East? No. Not to the fans, not to Jamie, not to anybody. But its not like the Big 10 is full of stiffs.

Big 10 or Big East we’ll still have a top notch facilty, we’ll still be on national TV a lot and we’ll still have the Nordenberg/Peterson combo. That should be enough to keep Jamie, attract recruits and keep the Basketball program rolling. And if RU and Cuse come with us, the NYC pipeline isn’t going to dry up.

Comment by Pablo 04.20.10 @ 9:34 am

Has anyone thought about the possibility of Ohio state politics intervening like the Virginia legislature did in the ACC expansion. None of the Ohio based MAC schools particularly likes OSU so my guess is that they and UC grads in the Ohio houses force the Big Ten to take UC. Not exactly what Jim Delaney has in mind I am sure.

Comment by Clyde Parrish 04.27.10 @ 5:17 pm

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