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The Big Ten Will Not Expand Past 12 Teams. In Other News, Everbody Loves BP

No, seriously. Teddy Greenstein from the Chicago Tribune says so! At least about Big Ten expansion. I'm pretty sure BP is off everyone's Christmas list. And those of us named Ted have to stick together, so yes ... yes I do believe him.

But, OK, let's just do the research on this here hypothesis, and see if the Big Ten really is content at 12 teams. Nothing like doing a research paper on Friday Night, but I do it because I love you. In a platonic 'hug me 'cuz Landon just scored!!!!' sort of way. Nice reaction from the Big Ten's West Coast, by the way. Did we mention we're glad you're on board?

Like always, further Big Ten expansion begins and ends with Notre Dame. If Notre Dame picked up the phone and asked to join The Big Ten, I think the "we're -happy-at-12-teams" meme would disappear as quickly as DB Cooper. But assuming that Notre Dame can find a way to stay independent and remain in the BCS coalition, they'll never join a conference.

And I believe that the Big Ten could very well stay at 12 teams, because two or four of any of the below teams combined do not match the allure and buzz of Notre Dame plus one. No Notre Dame, no expansion.

And the more I think about it, the more I'm OK with it.

I have always felt that the Big Ten wouldn't expand just for expansion's sake, and I still do. Nebraska was a great fit in terms of athletics, geography, Big Ten Network expansion, and rounding out the conference to 12 schools. The Cornhuskers are a solid addition, and if that is where expansion ends, the Big Ten comes out of this in the plus column.

When you look at all the schools mentioned for expansion, there is a lot of "meh" out there, if we're really being honest with each other. Academics are an important consideration, but let's face it, athletics are as equally important. If it weren't, Rutgers probably would have been school 12.  Rutgers can play the "we'll-bring-in-the-New-York-market" card, but that seems like trying to draw an inside straight on the river, at best. I mean, with the New York Jets, Giants, Yankees, Mets, Knicks (okay, just kidding on that one) and New Jersey Nets (just kidding there, too) can Rutgers even draw any air as what is essentially a program that doesn't match up better than even to Minnesota and Northwestern? And this isn't a dig on Minnesota and Northwestern, but they wouldn't pull in the New York market if they were in New ... Jersey either. 

Connecticut doesn't do anything for anybody, either. Good basketball program whose better days are in the rear view mirror. Especially when Jim Calhoun really, finally leaves. They have a football program that is OK, but not great, in and of itself. A big bag of "meh," in other words.   

The other Big East school that has garnered a lot of speculation, Pitt, adds nothing, other than a rivalry renewal with Penn State. But what do you think will draw better on TV, Penn State-Nebraska or Penn State-Pitt? The people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will argue for the latter; the remaining 49 states will crush you with the former. It's not that I don't respect the rivalry, I do. But Pitt and Penn State don't seem to care if they play each other, so why should we as Big Ten fans? 

Missouri was abused worse than a Lindsay Lohan coke straw seemed to think that a Big Ten invite was in the mail, and when it didn't happen, they had to act like they didn't want to join, anyway. Because the B XII rawks!! I think the whole tactical diversion that was Missouri tells me that Missouri isn't a serious option for the Big Ten ... unless you-know-who picks up the phone. If Notre Dame sees the light, I think Missouri is the 14th team -- it's a midwest team, it locks up a major media market (St. Louis), and creates a natural rivalry for Illinois (and bring back the Nebraska rivalry). Unless the belle of the ball, also known as Texas, decides to flirt with the Big Ten. Texas and Notre Dame would be a major coup, and Delany would be dumb not to do it. But Mizzou is nothing more than a "round out" school to get the conference to an even number.  No more, no less. Thanks baby, you're great and I'll call you in a day or two. I'll leave the money on your nightstand on the way out.

Speaking of Texas, when the ball started rolling and the rumor was Texas and Nebraska, most everyone's reaction was one of Holy Crap!! TEXAS!! WOOOOO!!! And then the news started trickling out about how Texas was in it for just them, and everybody cooled on them pretty quickly. Texas wisely leveraged a Pac-10 offer into more money for themselves than any other school in the Bevo 10, and that will not ever fly in the Big Ten. Ever. At this point, I see Texas going Independent if when the B XII folds.

Kansas got a big wake up call, because they realized that basketball doesn't factor in the equation. Nor do they factor in to Big Ten expansion. Enjoy the Mountain West when the Big XII crumbles, fighting Manginos Gills.

So, I think we find ourselves in a Catch-22 in terms of further expansion, at least concerning the Big Ten. Notre Dame won't join the Big Ten unless the Big East dissolves, and the Big Ten won't grab any schools out of the Big East just to grab any schools from the Big East. Or the Bevo 10.

Enjoy your summer. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.