Maryland and Rutgers recently joined the Big Ten Conference, bringing the total number of teams to 14. A recent article by Bryce Miller of the Des Moines Register speculates that the Big Ten may be looking to add two more teams from the south to form a 16 team “superconference”.
Miller points out that nearly all Big Ten members are also members of the Association of American Universities. Further, we know that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney has said that he wants to choose schools in states that are adjacent to existing members. From those two facts we can narrow down the list of schools to 10:
|Iowa State University||0|
|University at Buffalo, The State University of New York||1|
|University of Colorado Boulder||1|
|The University of Kansas||1|
|University of Missouri-Columbia||1|
|The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||2||Virginia|
|University of Pittsburgh||0|
|University of Virginia||1|
|Vanderbilt University||2||Missouri, Virginia|
Duke, Vanderbilt, and North Carolina are not adjacent to current Big Ten members, but they are adjacent to states that are. The neighbors a school needs to be admitted to join are listed in the “Need” column.
- Missouri recently joined the SEC and is unlikely to leave.
- Colorado recently joined the Pac 12.
- Iowa State and Kansas have already been passed over in previous rounds of expansion, including when Nebraska (a former Big 12 member) joined.
- Buffalo is a bottom-tier FBS team whose athletic program does not meet Big Ten standards. I mean, seriously. Buffalo.
- It seems unlikely that Duke and North Carolina would split up – but both require Virginia to join to be contiguous and there are only two spots.
This means that we’re down to Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Vanderbilt. The previous expansion shored up the northeast – so my speculation is that if the Big Ten looks to expand again, first on the list would be Virginia and Vanderbilt.