If you follow my tweets over the past few weeks, you will see that one of the things that I am passionate about is college football. For me, there is nothing that even comes close. The Pros are just mercenaries who change teams at will..and when it comes right down to it ...like Jerry Seinfeld quipped, "You're just rooting for the laundry."
College is a different ballgame. The team can't pack up and leave. Or change its name.
People who graduate from a school stay loyal to it for life. Even people who don't graduate, or just had a family member attend a certain school can become rabidly loyal fans. You can't buy that type of brand loyalty.
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin, so I will always be a Badger for life.
As a fan of Big Ten Football, one of our biggest frustrations has been getting Notre Dame to join our conference. Notre Dame is nationally known and draws fans from around the country.
Notre Dame is physically located close to the exact middle of the Big Ten Conference and even plays several of them on a regular basis. It makes perfect sense for them to join. The problem? Notre Dame is stubborn.
Well, I believe I have solved the problem that is Notre Dame.
Another part of the problem is that the Big Ten is very picky about academics...but we will get to that in a minute.
STEP 1 - Missouri
The Big Ten goes to 13 teams and invites Missouri. This is an easy call, as Missouri had practically been begging for inclusion to the Big Ten the year that Nebraska was accepted. They will say yes in two seconds. This adds the TV markets of Kansas City and St. Louis. Missouri also is a member of the AAU for academics, and is a good fit for the Big Ten. This pick is a no-brainer. Also, raiding the Big 12 of a good program like Missouri puts that conference close to death.
STEP 2 - Oklahoma
This choice might be a little out-of-the-box thinking, but let me continue...
Big Ten officials let Oklahoma know that they are taking Missouri, and that they might take Kansas also... which would cause the collapse of the Big 12 Conference. This would lose Oklahoma a lot of traditional rivalries ... but by accepting the Big Tens invitation...they get Nebraska, Missouri and maybe Kansas back on their schedule.
If Oklahoma hesitates at all.... The Big Ten invites Kansas. Kansas will say yes in a heartbeat because with a collapsed Big 12, they have few options left for conference alignment. After Missouri and Kansas are on board with the Big Ten, go back to Oklahoma again.
With Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas all heading north, Oklahoma finally says yes.
STEP 3 - Notre Dame
With the new super-sized Big Ten at 15 teams, the call is made to Notre Dame. The Big Ten logically explains how the Big Ten is the right home for Notre Dame and gives them a chance to be part of a "Superconference". It gives the Fighting Irish the chance to compete for national championships every year, instead of being left out in the cold in a new era of college football.
This is where things get a bit tricky.
Notre Dame may initially balk at the offer... but the Big Ten has to let them know the repercussions of not saying yes. The Big Ten lets Notre Dame know...in no uncertain terms...that if they say no... the Big Ten will offer their spot to Pittsburgh, or Syracuse... or they may just raid three teams from the Big East and implode that conference, too.
If Notre Dame says no...The Big Ten has to be willing to call their bluff. The Big Ten invites Pittsburgh and Syracuse and implodes the Big East.
However, faced with an uncertain future and given the chance to join a powerful Superconference that includes Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska and Oklahoma....Notre Dame eventually gives in to the future and says yes.
The only fine detail left is that the Big Ten is reluctant to accept schools that do not have stellar academic ratings...but in the cases of Oklahoma and Notre Dame, the potential TV ratings bonanza will cause them to make an exception.
Oklahoma at Ohio State? Notre Dame at Nebraska?
Ratings heaven for the Big Ten Network.
They will get people subscribing from all over the nation.
The new Big Ten Conference Divisions: