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.