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Thoughts on "Boston College to the Big Ten" Mentions

Brian: Lots of the Big Ten expansion rumors these days involve some combination of these teams - Notre Dame, Rutgers, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Missouri or Nebraska. Yet sports writers and bloggers will sometimes try to throw other names against the wall to see if they’ll stick. One of those programs just so happens to be ours.

Every once in a while, BC’s name will be thrown into the ring as a possible candidate for Big Ten expansion. Last week, it was ESPN's Adam Rittenberg floating BC as a possible expansion candidate. Just yesterday, there was another article considering BC’s candidacy from Lehigh Valley Live:

"BC gets great TV ratings, generates the most revenue of any candidate named, besides Texas, according to a good analysis I've seen on the web, Massachusetts is choc-a-bloc of wealthy households, BC would probably be the best academic institution in the BigTen if added, (not being in the AAU simply means BC, like ND and every other Catholic school, considers its most important mission undergrad education).

Topping on the cake: BC adds the national champ hockey team, giving the B11 enough critical mass to form it owns hockey league. No way BC goes without other northeast schools, though."

Let’s say for a moment that you like the idea of Boston College to the Big Ten. What aspects of this move would you like, and under what circumstances (Big Ten expansion by 1, 3 or 5 and other considerations) would you approve of a BC move to the Big Ten?

Jeff: If the Big Ten expands by one team to get to twelve - and a lucrative football championship game - I have no idea why BC would be the twelfth team. Also, if BC was invited, there might be increased exposure for football, but not basketball or other sports. A move like this certainly would not help alleviate BC travel concerns either. The Big Ten school closest to BC would be Penn State which would be no closer than Maryland is now.  Beyond Penn State, the rest of the schools would require plane trips to, just as it is with the ACC now.

However, If the conference expanded by 3 or 5 teams, the excitement and buzz surrounding an expanded Big Ten would have so many fringe benefits that could outweigh the negatives (negatives being playing in a lesser basketball conference and against schools that are not as consistent in academic standards). BC could not say no to the Big Ten if they ask BC to become its 14th or 16th member. BC could reap benefits of moving to such a conference for years to come.

The Big Ten Network, which has had unprecedented success, is also another strong selling point for the conference right now. Their success however, will probably just lead to other conferences following suit and eventually all having their own networks.

Brian: I think that if BC was invited as the twelfth member of the Big Ten, the Eagles should still go (however unlikely-to-impossible this scenario may be). I like to think that the Eagles could be equally competitive in football, making the Championship Game every few years, and even more competitive in basketball.

The revenues from the Big Ten Network would be substantial, and with ESPN and CBS already having scooped up the SEC, it remains unclear what the future ACC television deal will look like. With the BTN, BC would instantly become part of a successful TV network. While other conferences could follow suit, I still think the Big Ten and the SEC will enjoy the benefits of being first-movers in the TV game longer term.

There are probably also some benefits with respect to recruiting, as BC would no longer be competing with southern schools in sports like football and baseball where weather can play a factor in a recruit's decision.

In my opinion, the most interesting aspect of BC moving to the Big Ten would be the potential to start college hockey’s preeminent conference. A hockey conference of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Boston College would immediately become one of, if not the, top conference in college hockey. And if you lived in a Big Ten Network area, you’d be able to watch all the conference hockey games on BTN. Not only would this TV exposure be great for BC fans, but it would also be great for the sport in general.

Now that we’ve talked about the likes, what don’t you like about this idea? Why shouldn’t BC consider a move to the Big Ten?

Jeff: BC should not consider a move to the Big Ten if the ACC remains relatively unaffected by the falling dominoes of conference realignment. Also, if the ACC is affected and plans on replacing any of the lost teams (like a Clemson) with a Connecticut or a Syracuse to get more of a presence in the northeast, BC should also stay put. I am not saying that either one of those scenarios are particularly likely, but BC should not be bouncing around conferences just for the sake of bouncing around. The ACC will benefit from having the same 12 member schools for an extensive period of time. BC would also stand to benefit from being in the ACC for a longer period of time with respect to football and basketball attendance as rivalries develop and opposing team's fans make the trip to Chestnut Hill and decide to make such a trip an annual or semi-annual event.

Going to a 16 team Big Ten is something that BC cannot say no to if invited, but otherwise, there could be reasons to stay in the ACC.

Brian: I agree that there are a lot of reasons why BC should consider staying in the ACC if asked by the Big Ten to join. Chief among them is preserving their existing and budding rivalries. Even though BC only gets to play them every third year or so, BC-Miami is still a decent rivalry that goes back to our days in the Big East. The BC-Virginia Tech rivalry has only intensified since both programs moved to the ACC. Finally, but to a lesser degree, BC's games against our Atlantic Division opponents have started to feel like budding rivalries (e.g. Clemson in football, Maryland in basketball).

BC would be better served not chasing BTN dollar signs if it meant throwing away these rivalries, with nothing to show for them on the other side. Now, like you said, if Syracuse, Connecticut, Pittsburgh or Notre Dame were waiting for the Eagles in an expanded Big Ten, this is another story. BC could be incentivized to walk away from rivalries with Virginia Tech, Miami, Clemson and others in the ACC if it meant renewing rivalries with schools like Syracuse, Pittsburgh and/or Notre Dame.

Of course, I don't think BC ever makes a move to the Big Ten. Nor do I think an invitation to join the conference is imminent. But until the Big Ten definitively outlines their plan for expansion, every so often you may continue to hear BC's name mentioned as a possible expansion target.