Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Radical Suggestion

From time to time the subject of Big Ten expansion comes up at the office. Usually it's brought up by one of those quasi-sports fan, who knows when the Super Bowl is, but not much more. The question gets tossed at the sports fans in the group, "Is the Big Ten ever going to add another team to make an even number?"
A discussion usually ensues about how any school that might be considered would have to meet a myriad of qualifications, including geographic proximity, academic reputation, and profile of the university. We talk about all the various candidates, and why they don't fit, wouldn't leave their current conferences, or are just too far away. Of course this topic has been covered in much greater detail by the professional Michigan bloggers.
The other day while we were rehashing this, a thought occurred to me: What if The University of Chicago had never left the Big Ten? Would MSU have been invited to join if there were 10 and not 9 members? Would they have looked to Penn State? Would we have 12 teams in the Western Conference now?
If you think about it, the addition of Chicago make sense in a lot of way. Geographically they fit perfectly, and would fit in the western division with NU, Ill, Wisc, Minn, and Iowa. They could play their games in Soldier Field and would be a southside Chicago private school counterpart to the northside Chicago private school Northwestern. The resulting Big Ten championship game could be played in Chicago, which is just teeming with Big Ten grads. Academically they are a perfect fit, as they already belong to the CIC, the academic arm of the Big Ten. Historically, they would represent a return to the roots of the league, as they were one of the founding members of the league, and the league probably wouldn't exist without Chicago. Plus their colors (maroon and white) would be unique in the league.
Of course there is the small problem of them being a Division III athletic program that offers no scholarships, and has facilities that are woefully inadequate for the Division I, let alone a BCS conference. But if Michigan can make the Big Dance, and State can make it to two straight bowls, anything can happen