The Big Ten has 12 teams.
The Big-12 has 10 teams.
The University of Nebraska officially applied for admission to the Big Ten, Friday, and has reportedly already been unanimously accepted as the conference's twelfth team by university presidents (only eight of 11 votes are needed).
Nebraska will officially merge with the Big Ten on July 1, 2011, and begin Big Ten play later that fall.
Adding the Huskers will allow the Big Ten to stage a championship game in December. That single game is estimated to generate $15-22 million dollars annually.
No wonder the vote was unanimous.
Holding a championship game will also decrease the lay-off for Big Ten teams who compete in BCS bowl games by at least two weeks.
It's uncertain when a championship game will actually be implemented, although Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany hinted at the 2011 season as the target date.
The conference will almost certainly be split into two divisions, as follows:
East: Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana
West: Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern
Ohio State will annually play all five teams in the East and half of the West in conference play. The Buckeyes may, however, play Illinois every year as that is a sanctioned rivalry game.
So far, the Big Ten has succeeded in all this expansion chaos two-fold.
They added the twelfth team necessary for a Big Ten Conference Championship Game, and in the process brought in one of the most prestigious football programs in the country with Nebraska.
The Huskers have more all-time wins than Ohio State, 827 and 819 respectively, giving the Big Ten three of the top five most winningest programs and eight of the top nine (Michigan is first, Penn State is ninth).
Nebraska won national championships in 1995 and 1997 under coach Tom Osborne (now the acting Athletic Director). After falling on some hard times as a couple coaches and offensive schemes rolled through Lincoln, Nebraska appears to have their old luster back after being one second short of taking down Texas in the Big-12 Championship Game last year.
Athlon Sports has Nebraska ranked seventh in their preseason poll, and the Huskers stand a very good chance of making it back to the Big-12 Championship.
Going forward, the Big Ten is now home to four of the most well-known football programs in the country--Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and now Nebraska, along with Iowa and Wisconsin.
In other words--the Big Ten got it right.
The Big Ten is very happy with where it stands right now (12 teams). The Pac-10 is still waiting on Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to decide if they will stay in the Big-12, join the Pac-10 or pull a massive rug out from underneath both conferences and join the Big Ten. Texas and Texas A&M officials will meet on Tuesday to come to a conclusion.
Even if all the aforementioned teams join the Pac-10 to form the first super conference, the Big Ten does not need to counteract.
Twelve teams is ideal to Delany, although two scenarios exsist in which his hand would be forced (maybe expanded is a better word).
1. If Notre Dame decided to end 120 years of independence to jump on the Big Ten bandwagon, Delany would accept the Irish with open arms and add three other teams (probably among Rutgers, Syracuse, Missouri and Pittsburgh) to fill 16 slots. Make no mistake-- the Big Ten will drop any and all plans to add Notre Dame, should the opportunity arise.
2. It's been reported the Pac-10 will petition to obtain two BCS bowl bids. To keep it very simple--more automatic BCS bids means more automatic money in the very lucrative BCS bowl games, the crown jewels of the college football world. If the pac-10 is successful, it's very likely the Big Ten and SEC will both follow suit in order to guarantee themselves two automatic bids. A fourth conference will emerge (speculated as a merger of what will be left of the ACC and Big East), also garnering two automatic BCS bowl bids.
Pay attention to the latter, especially any conspiracy theorists out there.
Should the Pac-10 petition to add an automatic BCS bowl bid, the Big Ten might support that notion and apply even more pressure on the BCS Bowl Committee to grant the Pac-10's wishes.
The Big Ten is desperate to add Notre Dame, but the Irish will most likely only join the Big Ten if the "super conference" scenario comes to fruition. This scenario has four conferences of 16 teams eating up all available BCS bowl bids. Meaning, in the event of four super conferences emerging, Notre Dame would be shut out of BCS money. School officials and state legislatures will not allow that happen.
If the Pac-10 is granted two automatic bowl bids, it's probable that the Big Ten, SEC and one other conference (probably a merger of the ACC and Big East) would follow.
To bring it all home, the BCS Bowl Committee granting the Pac-10 two automatic bids may force Notre Dame's hand, eventually driving them to the Big Ten.
This is all speculation, and it's no guarantee that the Big Ten or SEC would act even with the Pac-10 adding an automatic bid. But it might be enough to tip the scales in the Big Ten's favor.
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