Paterno continues to push expansion talk

The refrain from most coaches on Tuesday’s Big Ten football teleconference, the first and only of the spring practice period, was that conference expansion ideas are above their paygrade. Most expressed their general support of the idea, but said any specific ideas were beyond them.

“I’m certainly supportive of whatever our presidents and our commissioner feel is the right thing,” Indiana coach Bill Lynch said.

Said Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio: “That decision has to be made by people at a much higher level than myself.”

Said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz: “I haven’t given it an awful lot of thought, and part of that is a point you made a minute ago. Not only will I may not have a vote, I doubt I’ll have a vote.”

But Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who has been a vocal proponent of expansion for years, had no problem saying that with his experience, he probably should have a vote.

“Unfortunately, the athletic directors and the conference commissioners forget I’ve been in this thing for 60 years, so I don’t get a lot of input,” he said. “They don’t call me and say, ‘What do you think of this and think of that?'”

Paterno has many times said that the Big Ten needs to expand to create a championship game to shorten the Big Ten’s layoff between its final game and the bowl season and to keep its teams in the public consciousness when the rest of the major conferences are having their championship games. He reiterated that on Tuesday.

“I think the Big Ten has put themselves at a big disadvantage,” Paterno said. “Because I think when you play people who have played games three weeks after you finished playing and having a very, very competitive game two weeks after you play, I think you’re at a disadvantage. And having said that, even the exposure, the television has been a disadvantage to us. I think expansion is coming. Now, in what form, there’s a lot of talk about the Pac-10 going to try to get two or four teams more in their conference and someone else is doing something else and so forth.”

Paterno said he expected expansion and realignment to make bigger conferences with 14 and 16 teams. He again said he’d like to see one team from the East added to broaden the television markets and add exposure. But he said any teams added needed to fit in more ways than just football.

“When you get married, you better marry somebody you love,” Paterno said. “That means somebody that appreciates what you want to do. We’ve got to people in our conference who are AAU (Association of American Universities) schools, that are schools that have the same kind of commitment academically. I’m not even talking about the football field. I’m not talking about athletics. I’m talking about the research and all of those other things. One of the reason we got in the Big Ten so easily and so quickly was because we were a very comparable institution to some of the really great institutions that are in the Big Ten. And I would hope when we move we would do that, and along with that bring along some people that have a comprehensive athletic program, they’re gonna have women’s sports, they’re gonna have broad-based men’s sports. We’re not just looking at football and basketball, we’re looking at the other sports. We can really mesh that’s going to be a happy marriage and we’re all on the same page and nobody dominates it. It’s not a question of bringing somebody in who you’re just going to kick around. It’s a question of bringing somebody in who can handle the academics, the research, AAU schools preferably, people with a commitment to the women’s sports, the commitment to all sports programs, a commitment to the ideals of what intercollegiate athletics should be all about. Now, can you find one, two, three, four, I don’t know. That’s up to some people that are outside my realm.”


  1. I hereby reiterate my support for adding one team with the appealing candidates being Missouri, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia, not necessarily in that order.

    I further establish my opposition to adding multiple teams and becoming more like the Big East. Too many teams somewhat defeat the purpose of being in a conference–close association with like-minded institutions.

  2. Given the environment, I think expansion to 12 teams is inevitable, necessary and positive. I would hope that the school we add would fit the parameters JoePa talks about. As e’ve talked about before, schools fitting these criteria and also falling into the current B10 footprint include Missouri, Pitt and Notre Dame.

    The talk about Texas joining is insane imo. Think about the travel costs and the impact the travel would have on kids going down there to play mid-week games.

    I would hate to see an expansion to 14 or 16 schools. That to me just smacks of a money grab along the lines of the tournament expansion to 96 schools.

  3. Call me crazy, but I would like to see 10 teams in the big ten. I would rather cut Northwestern loose than add a team. Everything is about the almighty dollar.
    Also would like to see the tournament cut back to 64 teams and not expanded.

  4. Sadly, 4guards, IU has had less of an argument athletically to remain in the Big Ten than Northwestern the past several years in hoops and DEFINITELY less so in football!

    I’m not really all that jazzed about any expansion, but since I believe it to be inevitable, I’d prefer to see only one team added (and it must meet the same academic standards as the current members).

  5. Might have to finally side with 4 here, Speedway.

    Granted basketball is a train wreck right now, football has been a work in progress for 15-20 years and no one cares about the non-revenue sports.

    But, we are looking at the entire institution and the entire athletic department. Off the top of my head, I’d have to say outside of those two sports, we are probably in the upper half of the conference with recent success in baseball, swimming and diving, track and field, water polo, golf, soccer, and probably something I’m forgetting.

    And, the fact that Northwestern has almost made the tournament a couple of times and we’ve missed it a couple of times, probably isn’t justification to dismiss the 6th most profitable basketball program according to Forbes magazine.

  6. Err, at least agree disagree with you. I don’t agree with 4’s wish to cut to ten, but Northwestern would be the obvious choice if we were to go that route. I understand 4’s sentiment, looking fondly on the past in a way he and many around here often do. But I think we need to change with the world sometimes, and 12 is probably necessary and would benefit the league, particularly in football.

  7. The B10 is not going backwards to ten schools. Its just not. Arguing for that is a total waste of oxygen. Some like to do that I guess.

    As far as NU is concerned, be careful. I compared IU’s regular season finish to NU’s in 10 men’s and women’s sports where regular season conference standings are reported on the B10 network site. In those sports our average finish was basically 7th place. NU’s was slightly better, but not much.

    Some sports like XC, Swim&Dive, and Rowing, to name a few, had rankings reported, not B10 standings. In those it appears to be a wash again but it was hard to tell.

    The fact is that it appears that NU competes basically as well as we do. Financially, the advantage may be to IU, but don’t kid yourselves into thinking we’re some kind of athletic juggernaut compared to them, because we’re not.

    The winners in all of this are the big budget schools: OSU, UM and PSU. They can fund all their sports at a high level and they compete well across the board. A winning football program filling 100,000 seats 6 or 7 times a year will do that for you.

  8. agreed GFD. Notre Dame would be my first choice, next would be Pitt and then Mizzou. After that I cannot find another school with an all around good fit!

  9. Expansion is probably a foregone conclusion. The coaches of all sports have input but they do not vote. Yes, football is first, followed by basketball but all the other coaches have input as well.

    The NCADA (National Association of Directors of Athletics) presents an award for overall athletic excellence. The most current rankings have:
    Stanford #1
    OSU #2
    PSU #4
    Minn #7
    Wisc #11
    MSU #18
    IU #34
    Mich #49
    ILL #50
    PU #54
    Iowa #57
    NU #60

    The three most popular choices:
    ND #23
    Missouri #48
    Pitt #77

    Personally I am against ND. If people don’t like Paterno pushing for expansion just wait until ND attempts to be the tail that wags the dog.

  10. At this time ND has no financial incentive to join a football conference. If their football fortunes remain down, that might change. But for now they are where they want to be.

  11. I agree with Millport. ND thinks the world revolves around them and would definitely try to wag the dog. And, they rebuked an offer to join in ’99, then promptly joined the Big East. They can take that ‘We’re better than you’ attitude and do something unseemly with it.

    Pitt and Mizzou would be the most logical choices, but I don’t think Nebraska or Syracuse would be bad either. WVU I put in there because of geography, though I don’t think they’re a member of the American Association of Universities (hate to use acronym of AAU here).

  12. I think it will be relatively easy for the B10(because of the BTN entree)to add most any school they invite to join based on the proximity of a schools geography to the Great Lakes with the exception of ND and I think they will be easier than has been postured. ND is the 800lb. gorilla but only in FB, their BB is not near so popular(hence their accepting to participate in the Big East)and they do not participate in as many collegiate sports as does most of the other B10 schools. Their hopes to remain the top national brand are a successful tenure of Kelly and the broadcasting(BTN)of their schools sporting events nationally(along with FB)to their alumni regularly. It is simply a matter of ND sustaining their prominence but it is expansion and enhancement for the B10 through the BTN. As far as how many should ultimately be in the B10, I can easily see in a decade or less 14 to 20 schools including ND. Imagine the worth in advertising dollars then for the BTN entity if the B10 had 20 schools. On a side note how would ESPN react.

  13. 20 school conferences…interesting. Is there a point of diminishing returns? At some point, will fans stop watching after rivalries have been muted? Sponsors will not support these TV deals if ratings drop. But, youngsters watching the Big 10+10 will only really know this iteration. They will only hear the stories of their fathers about “the good old days” when IU and Purdue were hated rivals playing each other twice a year in basketball and the Old Oaken Bucket game every year in football, while they only play once in b-ball and every two years in f-ball in the Big 10+10.

    Maybe a 20 team league will be split into four 5 team divisions with a 4 team conference football tournament? Actually, this might be the only way to maintain the relevance of the regular season in b-ball. Top 2 teams in each division advance to the conference tournament… Of course, with four 20 team super conferences and a expanded 128 team NCAA tournament field, teams that can’t even make their own conference tournament will have to be invited to play for a national championship since the committee wouldn’t be able find 96 worthy mid-majors to invite. But, hey, it’s about the competition right…the money is just a by-product?

    In the end, some may complain about the affect of expansion on rivalries, but I guess we are saps that just enjoy competition and rooting for our school. We keep coming back. We’ll find new rivals.

  14. fwa, I agree about diluting rivalries with conferences that are too big. I get that from the Big East even with 16 teams; I can’t imagine 20.

    What’s the point of being in conference with a school if you don’t even play them regularly? UConn, Syracuse, St. John’s and ‘nova are in conference with Marquette and South Florida, but not with Boston College, UMass or Temple. HUH??? Tell me again how that’s good for anyone but whoever gets the ad dollars?

    In a 20-team conference, if you had 18 basketball games, you could play 4 teams twice and 10 teams once, meaning you wouldn’t even play 5 teams in your league each year. Imagine how it would be with 8 or 9 football games. You’d hardly even see some of your ‘heated rivals.’

  15. I tend to agree, you are both right. But the fellows charged with the responsibilities for growth of the brand name, revenue and profit look at it differently since the birth of BTN. Some rivalries will suffer just as our local grocery store became a location for WalMart. As to the Big East they are far stronger in BB than FB. A big conference that can organize, manage and promote both and expand their own broadcasting jewel too would be be a blue ribbon prize to those fellows I spoke of earlier. They AD’s will be delirious with joy over the increased revenues they receive. These people like innovation, change, growth and big footprints for others to follow.

  16. I get the business aspect of it all and agree that AD’s would love to have extra money in the coffers. I guess my real point is that fans are all just along for the ride. They don’t matter in the equation for the most part because they all keep coming back for more. The money has to come from somewhere…we the consumers. If fans ever decide they don’t like the product they will stop watching/attending/spending, but for the most part we haven’t stopped. We just like to root for our teams in the end and wherever that takes us seems to be okay…

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