Sports

Big Ten trying to become BIG TEN

MILWAUKEE

WHEN THE BIG TEN expands, and it's eventually going to expand in a big way, ask yourself, Mr or Ms. Badgers fan or Hoosiers fan or Wolverines fan:

Would you want to open the gate for Texas, thereby allowing the Longhorns' grazing territory to extend all the way up to where the benign dairy cow once ate in relative peace?

Is there room up here in the pasture for a beast like that?

Yes, you should want Texas to be part of the Super Conference that the Big Ten is angling to become in the next three to five years.

And for all the Longhorns would bring to the league, you should be as accommodating and welcoming as possible.

Granted, there is a better chance of ZZ Top playing your league bowling tournament this weekend than Texas joining the Big Ten anytime soon. The Longhorns are merely on the league's sizable wish list, and there are many reasons Texas would rather stay in the Big 12 than realign itself with the Big Ten.

But for what is coming down the road - the three or four massive Super Conferences that will gobble up everything in sight - the Big Ten is going about expansion the right way by trying to take the lead in an aggressive way.

Credit Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany for being somewhat transparent with the process. He has been up front with his colleagues in the Big 12 and the Big East that the Big Ten is prepared to set out on an imperialistic binge to expand its reach and influence as far as the Big Ten Network can take it on a national level, traditional and archaic geographical borders notwithstanding.

Make no mistake about it, the Big Ten Network has made the Big Ten the Big Dog with almost $250 million in TV revenue last year. ... and it will eat.

That's why you would want Texas in the Big Ten, even if you had to take a football beating for a few years.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the Big Ten got its TV tentacles into Texas' mega-TV markets such as Houston, Dallas and San Antonio because the Big 12 began to crumble with the Big Ten and Pac-10 poaching its schools, and the remaining high-profile teams scrambling for cover in the SEC.

There's no way a team like Wisconsin can get top recruits out of Texas now. The Badgers can't even get the second-tier players that have made TCU good lately. But if Wisconsin games began being broadcasted in millions of Texas homes, the possibility exists that those massive and fertile recruiting grounds would open just enough to give the Badgers a shot at some kids who might have otherwise chosen Texas A&M or SMU.

That's the power of TV, which is why the Big Ten also is looking at the New York market with Rutgers, or anywhere else that the numbers make sense for more dollars.

And here's another advantage of expansion for the Big Ten fan:

Let's say the league goes to 12, 14, 16 or even 18 teams. Whether it's Notre Dame, Texas, Missouri, Texas A&M, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, whoever, the case could be made to eliminate nonconference games. No more MAC teams, no more Woffords, no more Marshalls that schools make you buy tickets for to get the good games.

Imagine a college football world with nothing but conference games and a handful of mega-leagues having the final say on what happens to the BCS. Whether it's the Big Ten with another superpower like Texas or other major players, get ready - because it's coming.

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