Old man yells at cloud, reopens Big Ten expansion can of worms.

There are no meaningful games until September, so I suppose I should weigh in on Joe Paterno's recent comments about Big Ten expansion.  Apparently, a question about whether a team from the northeast could win a BCS championship precipitated the question.  Paterno said:

"The only [Northeastern] team that's got a shot would be us, and yet we've got a tough job because the Big Ten is not as visible in the key times as the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12."

Asked what sort of response he had received, Paterno raised his eyebrows in a facial shrug.

"You know, it's a conference that's dominated by a couple of people," Paterno said. "If I start talking, they're polite, but they snicker.

"They don't know I know they're snickering, but they're polite. ...I wish I were younger and going to be around [another] 20 years."

I really don't buy the rationale that the Big Ten's layoff, all of two weeks more than that of other conferences, hurts Big Ten schools all that much.  Ohio State has played for the BCS title three times in the last six years, including in 2006 and 2007.  The Buckeyes have lost the last two, but the Big Ten and the long layoff didn't prevent OSU from qualifying for the title game.  As for Penn State, if the Nittany Lions had won at Iowa, they would have played for the title, likely as the #1 ranked team.   Also, the absence of a championship game does not prevent the Big Ten from playing later.  Starting next season, the Big Ten plays its final weekend of games after Thanksgiving, and the Pac-10 plays its final regular season games on the same day as the ACC, SEC, and Big 12 title games. 

In any event, Paterno listed Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse as possible candidates for expansion.  I talked about expansion nearly two years ago in this post.  That post was precipitated by comments by Delany that sounded very pro-expansion, so Boiled Sports may be on to something about Delany's preference that it be his idea. 

Still, while Delany's position is an odd flip-flop, I think he's more right now than he was two years ago, when his primary motivation was selling the Big Ten Network to as many cable companies as possible.  It's easy to mock the money motivation, but at the very least, any prospective team should do no harm financially.  I have to question whether a team like Rutgers, an afterthought in the NYC media market, would increase the cut for the current 11 conference teams, even with a championship game.  Is the awesomeness of having Rutgers or Pitt in the Big Ten a sufficient reason to take money out of the pockets of the current 11 members?

I don't claim to have a great handle on the numbers, but I think Delany is right when he says a) there's no obvious fit out there and b) there's no justification for expansion for expansion's sake.  I wouldn't mind a Big Ten title game, but I don't see much support for the idea that it's a panacea for the Big Ten recent postseason struggles.

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