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Big Ten expansion: Do you believe in Dominoes?


College football seems to be heading for a major overhaul in the very near future, and in an unexpected twist, it has nothing to do with a playoff.

Wait, maybe that's expected. Regardless of how much interest there is, how much money can be made, and how much sense it makes, university presidents are as adamant as ever that there will be no playoff.

In fact, the more we talk about the possibilities, the more resolute they seem to be about not allowing it. But that's not what we're talking about today.

Today, it's conference re-alignment. Of course, we all know that the Big Ten is in the planning/discussion/rumor-mongoring phase. Everyone thinks it would start with the Big Ten, but actually, it could begin out west.

The BCS released it formula for conferences getting automatic bids recently. The Mountain West Conference "has a chance" to earn an automatic bid, starting in 2014. If the conference makes it to automatic bid status, there will be many teams looking to move into the MWC, including Western Althletic Conference members Boise State and Nevada. There's also a possibility that one or two Pac 10 members would be looking at moving into what's perceived as a "lesser conference".

The more interesting scenario is if the Mountain West does not make it. Because it will be the end of the MWC. TCU and Wyoming are in prime Big 12 country. BYU and Utah would look to the Pac 10, as would San Diego State and UNLV.

The Big Ten wants to expand. There's no question about that. They can, and likely will. Names are being thrown out, from Texas to Syracuse, Missouri to Rutgers, with the Tigers seeming more and more of the best bet. The SEC is going to keep pace with all the possible changes.

And of course, we can't forget about Notre Dame. A recent story out of Connecticut has opened a new side to the ND drama. Apparently, Big East football coaches have been asking for an ultimatum to Notre Dame: get in the conference for football or get out completely.

Times are changing for the Irish. The college football world does not revolve around them any longer. They reportedly looked into getting the top coaches to fill their vacancy this past winter. Bob Stoops, Mack Brown, and Urban Meyer all turned them down. They found out that there are numerous jobs much more attractive than theirs. They are also finding out that no conference wants them unless they are a full member.

So, what does this all mean for the future of college football? It means decisions are going to be made, conferences re-aligned, teams left the cold. It's going to be a domino effect. Maybe Missouri leaves for the Big Ten. Now, the Big 12 needs a replacement. Do they take TCU or Wyoming, or maybe do they look east for a Mississippi or Arkansas, or even LSU?

See where this is going? And that's just the mild end of the spectrum. Imagine if the MWC scenario above happens. The Big 12 and Pac 10 each pick up 2-4 extra teams. Now, the Big Ten and SEC start getting envious, and scooping up other teams. Florida State and North Carolina sneak into the SEC, Maryland, Syracuse, Rutgers, and yes, maybe even Notre Dame head to the Big Ten.

One minor move could be the catalyst to a major change. Honestly, Notre Dame to the Big Ten, however unlikely at this point, is the least attractive option. The Big Ten wants to break into a new television market, and it has the Chicago and Indianapolis markets. Missouri gets them into St. Louis and Kansas City, Maryland gets Baltimore and D.C., Rutgers brings in New York City.

The dominoes are ready to fall, so who's going to start the fun?


It became official today. The NCAA men's basketball tournament is moving to 68 teams, one year too late for Illinois. No worries for the Illini, as they should breeze into the tournament next season.

It's unknown as to how the bracket will look next season. It's obvious that you have to have four play-in games. But do you put the low-major champions into those games, assuring virtually no audience for the games and a walkover for the Number 1 seed? Or do you put the last eight at-large teams into those games, to grab a TV audience?



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