Paterno: Add a 12th team to the Big Ten

Big Ten NetworkFresh off of a successful 2008 campaign with the Nittany Lions, Penn State head coach Joe Paterno is back in the news with his recent thoughts on the Big Ten. 

While the other conferences are playing long after Thanksgiving, Ohio State and their intraconference rivals are all on break, awaiting the BCS season – possibly to their detriment as seen in a few National Championship games. 

This has often been a criticism of the league, and Paterno thinks he has the answer: Add another team.

“We go into hiding for six weeks,” Paterno said, referring to the hiatus between the end of the Big Ten regular season and the BCS bowls. The other major FBS conferences play into the first weekend of December.  Everybody else is playing playoffs on television,” Paterno said. “You never see a Big Ten team mentioned. So I think that’s a handicap.  I’ve tried to talk to the Big Ten people about, ‘Let’s get a 12th team — Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt — we could have a little bit of a playoff.'”

The B10 is already called the Big Eleven in some circles.  I can’t see how a 12th team would hurt, as it wouldn’t exactly be betraying the conference name.  It would add another game to the schedule, keep things fresh, and most importantly (per Paterno), keep the conference in front of the eyes of the fan. 

So what say you?  Add another team?  If so, who?  If not, why?

Paterno wants 12 teams in league[Ivan Maisal/ESPN]

  • Eric

    Add another team, don’t change the name of the conference, somehow sneak a 12 into the logo like they did with the 11, done and done

  • Denny

    I want more Dr Pepper commercials – let’s do this.

  • JK

    Pitt? Rutgers? Cuse? No. No. No… That does nothing to help an already medicore confrence. Now if you’re talking about Notre Dame, I say absolutly.

  • Swig

    I’m cool with this on the surface.

    My only concern is the Michigan matchup. If you were going to make 2 divisions it would make sense to split up the (historically) top 2 teams. But you need to ensure they play the last week of every season still.

    But how does this affect the championship game? Assuming Michigan becomes relevant again, what if this last game of the season has no effect on them meeting up in the Big10 championship game, so you’re guaranteed a rematch 1-2 weeks later (with more at stake)? Through the 90s and early 2000s this could have happened several times.

    Maybe the result is they split more often, does this hurt them in terms of playing for the national title?

  • Swig

    That does nothing to help an already mediocre conference. Now if you’re talking about Notre Dame, I say absolutely.

    This is a joke right? Because it is hilarious.

  • Jeremy

    They have tried to get Notre Dame into the Big Ten. If they would, then Notre Dame would have to give up all of the endorsement deals they have with NBC and Nike. Notre Dame won’t do it. It would be a good idea though.

  • Alex

    I’d rather have Cincinnati in the Big Ten than Notre Dame at this point

  • DP

    Notre Dame would be the most logical, since they already play 3-4 B10 teams in football every year (always Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue, and recently–like the last 10-15 years–they’ve played PSU and OSU).

    However, the rub is three-fold in my eyes: 1) as Jeremy points out, they won’t leave all of that money on the table; 2) ND football supporters wouldn’t want to give up games against Stanford, Navy, etc. Moving to the Big 10 would probably cost ND a couple of wins a year on top of their current mediocrity; and 3) they’re in the Big East already in other sports. What ripple effect would it have to move them to the Big 10 across the board, or do you only do it in football?

  • AMC

    To me the question is not whether a 12th team should be added, but who that 12th team should be. I completely agree that the Big Ten suffers from the layoff and lack of exposure after their regular season wraps up. I also agree with those who think Notre Dame is the most logical addition, but that they’ll never do it because of the financial, scheduling, and Big East conflicts. I think Pitt would be the most logical choice to come into the conference due to its geographic position and it’s relative strength in athletics. Plus it would give Penn St. and Pitt a chance to rekindle their rivalry.

    @ Swig – I think you solve this problem (regarding the repeat 1 v. 2 matchup) by doing what the Big 12 does and creating two distinct divisions that must play each other with the out of division games rotating. This ensures, for instance, that Oklahoma can play Texas every year and finish the regular season with Oklahoma St and not face either one in the Big 12 championship game.

    I’d separate the conference like this:

    Big Ten East:
    Penn St.
    Ohio State
    Michigan St.

    Big Ten West

    I know that putting Iowa in the east kind of distorts things geographically, but I’ve done it so that the bigger rivalries in the conference are all in the same division, and keeps all the teams in the same state and WI-MN in the same division.

    The risk with this particular division is that it seems to load most of the talent in the East, but that’s the way it’s been in the Big 12 (with the South being more dominant than the North) for several years, and you figure there would be some revival of some of the West schools.

  • B-bo

    Notre Dame is the most logical, but they won’t man up and make the move for reasons well documented by others. The Rivalry is maintained by putting tOSU and the school up north in the same division of the new 12-team conference. You play everyone in your division once, three teams of the other division (alternating which three each year), and still have room for 3 non-conference games. My ideal addition to the conference would be WVU, a team that just makes sense geographically (I could see Pitt as a nice addition if WVU declines), and doesn’t have its bank account as its number one concern (I’m looking at you, ND). It’s pretty simple overall, which is probably why it won’t happen.

  • Denny

    The difficult thing about having divisions east/west is that the three powerhouse teams (OSU, OSU, UM) are all in the eastern part of the conference. I think adding Pitt would work well – they can have a rivalry game with PSU like they should. WVU would also be a good option.

    No way Notre Dame would ever agree to this – as people have said, way too much money left on the table. Their alumni are too proud of being independent to join a conference anyways (though the same could have been said about PSU 20 years ago).

  • DP

    I don’t think Pitt would come over right now, because their strength athletically is basketball, and the Big East is the premier conference in basketball (also, their natural rival–WVU–is in the Big East).

  • DP

    The difficult thing about having divisions east/west is that the three powerhouse teams (OSU, OSU, UM) are all in the eastern part of the conference.

    Alright, Denny, I know everyone here are OSU fans, but you’re not THAT good to be included TWICE.

  • Scott

    “I don’t think Pitt would come over right now, because their strength athletically is basketball, and the Big East is the premier conference in basketball (also, their natural rival–WVU–is in the Big East).”

    Solution: Send Minnesota to Missouri Valley (I can smell the rivalry with NDSU from here). Bring WVU AND Pitt here. Boom.

  • B-bo

    The Backyard Brawl could be maintained (if WVU or Pitt made the move) as a non-conference game, whatever the sport. And the divisions of this new conference wouldn’t have to be geographically–call them “stars” and “stripes”, “ebony” and “ivory”, “ketchup” and “mustard”–whatever–and then sort the teams out as you please. As for basketball, with a conference title earning an automatic bid, I would think Pitt OR WVU would be ok with getting out of the monstrosity that is the Big East. I mean, I understand the appeal of being a member of a tough, prestitious conference for recruiting and all, but look at Memphis: CUSA is a joke and they manage to get guys (“Come play here, and you’re guaranteed to get an automatic bid to the Dance every year” is a powerful tool as well).

  • B-bo

    that’s “prestigious”, not whatever I had going on there–my bad.

  • AMC

    @ DP – In Denny’s defense I think he meant PSU, but maybe not.

  • DP

    Solution: Send Minnesota to Missouri Valley (I can smell the rivalry with NDSU from here). Bring WVU AND Pitt here. Boom.


  • DP

    #17, I assume so, but I’ve learned that if you don’t beat Denny to the sarcasm punch, you will regret it.

  • Kevin

    “and doesn’t have its bank account as its number one concern (I’m looking at you, ND). ”

    You’re right B-bo, if OSU had the same position ND has right now, they would give up all that money just to “man up.” Right.

    The problem was letting ND get to the position they are in now, NOT that they won’t give it up now that they are there. Who would?

  • Swig

    I don’t know DP

    2002 Iowa and Ohio State
    2003 Michigan
    2004 Iowa and Michigan
    2005 Ohio State and Penn State
    2006 Ohio State
    2007 Ohio State
    2008 Ohio State and Penn State

    2:1 seems about right

  • Tom

    Just call the conference by its original name – The Western Conference.

    The Big Ten didn’t officially change its name to “The Big Ten” until around the late 1980s I believe.

    But whats really shocking is that Paterno referenced Pitt. The man HATES Pitt, and is still holding a grudge against the school for shooting down his Eastern Sports League idea.

  • bridgecrosser

    DUMB. We own the Big 10. I like it as is.

  • MattC

    Besides financial implications, Notre Dame won’t join any conference for a multitude of reasons. As an alumnus, I’ve heard this discussion a few hundred times, but by no means am I an expert on every single reason. Here are a few reasons – in no particular order:

    1) Having to share NBC contract (assumed)

    2) We are a national university, not a regional one, and would like to continue to play teams from all parts of the country and conferences. Conference schedules would not allow that except for the 3 OOC games at the beginning of the year. Two would have to be filled with USC and Navy.

    3) Long standing rivalries with USC and Navy would be in jeopardy. Yes, Navy is important – they effectively kept the school financially afloat during WW2 and we’ll play them as long as they want to play us.

    4) Notre Dame is a Catholic School with high admission standards for all students, regardless if they play a sport. Only Northwestern is similar to Notre Dame in the Big Ten, and no one has religious affiliation. Who here would say Notre Dame would get what’s in their best interest when all 12 teams sat down at a table and came to a vote on a number of issues? Remember that

    5) The alumni don’t want it. Feel free to have your own opinion about my university, but we truly believe it is a special place and was built on the spirit of independence. Rockne’s Barnstorming efforts are just one example.

    There are numerous other issues to tackle on this one. Suffice it to say, the Big (11) Ten would be wise to pick up an emerging school (i.e. Cincy, Buffalo, etc) instead of trying to move a traditional power. You need to buy low here.

  • B-bo

    I don’t know what tOSU would do in ND’s position, but I know what ND is doing, and I think it’s all about greed, self-promotion, and cowardice. But hey, as long as NBC wants to be their network and they don’t mind beating up on cupcakes while getting worked by real competition and then heading off to the Gaylord Hotels Bowl or the Meineke Car Care Bowl or whatever game is willing to throw money at them like a dancer at some dive strip club, then good for them. But then they should at least stop presenting themselves as some great, tradition-filled program that people should hold in high-esteem, cuz that’s not what they are anymore.

  • Denny

    Hellz yea, I gots people making my corrections for me. Yes, I did mean PSU. Unfortunately, the O key and P key are right next to each other.

    @ #24 – you’ve summed up quite well what I was eluding to in terms of the school not wanting the join a conference. I’m not a big ND fan, but having gone to my first game there this past September, I’m not callous enough to say that it isn’t a special place.

    I’m not a fan of the ‘high academic standards’ jazz though. Plenty of other schools do the same.

  • B-bo

    That’s one thing that can’t be questioned about ND is the academic quality–it’s an incredible school. My issue is with the football program, period. I agree, Denny, that the high academic standards thing is weak though: it certainly doesn’t seem to have stopped the university from joining the Big East in basketball, has it? And the “national university” idea? Come on, now, really? Obviously hasn’t stopped conference membership in other sports So again, it’s the football program I take issue with, not the school at large.

  • MattC

    @ #25 B-bo,

    I’ll dissect your statement:

    1) Greed – the university is a non-profit with the goals of advancing Catholic education, funding research, and providing financial aid to those who qualify. Leveraging the brand to gain more funding for campus programs, financial aid, and stronger professors is not greedy by any means.

    2) Self-promotion – what university does not wish to be held as a top 10/20 institution? Athletics are a tool to gain greater recognition, drive alumni donations, and increase applicants. Look at when buildings on any campus are built. Its no surprise to find out that they are shortly after a financial windfall, or successful football/basketball season.

    3) Cowardice – as mentioned above, ND plays roughly 3 Big Ten teams per year. They also play USC and typically a few other formidable opponents like Tennessee, BC, or Pitt. Navy became a strong team under Paul Johnson and gives man teams fits. Ask BC and Wake about their bowl games. While this year’s schedule is unfortunately weak, your beloved Buckeyes are so brave as to take on I-AA teams, Ohio U, Troy, Kent State, Akron, Toledo, NM State, all of which at home. Glass houses, my friend. Throw in a crummy slate of Big Ten teams like MN, WI, ILL (most years), and NWern and you’re not exactly taking on all comers.

    4) Tradition Rich & high esteeem – seriously? 11 National Championships (#1), Most All Americans, 7 Heisman Trophy Winners (Tied 1st), #1 in APR rankings this year – top 5 every year, 2nd highest win % of all time, 3rd most wins of all time,…you know what, just check out the wikipedia page.

    5) They aren’t anymore – You are right that we’re have not hung a whole lot of banners recently. The black hole of Davie-Willingham left the program with gaping needs that only now has Weis filled with recruiting. This year provides no excuses. Expectations are indeed high.

  • DP

    I’m not a fan of the ‘high academic standards’ jazz though. Plenty of other schools do the same.

    As proven every year by Mike Krzyzewski.

  • Clevo

    if this screws with traditional matchups, especially OSU/ scUM, then I am 100% against it.

    But I am also against the BCS screwing up the traditional bowl system, so I may not be the one to ask.

    And while I would be for ND coming to the conference, I know it won’t happen. I have friends that are alums and their answers are identical to Matt’s. I’ve been to the ND campus for a few games, and it really is a special place, especially on game day.

    If the addition of a Penn school or other eastern school screws up the geographical balance, can’t they go after a team from further west in the midwest?

  • B-bo

    Well done, MattC. If I may:

    At the risk of offending anyone of the Catholic persuasion, I’ll skip my criticism that ND is nothing but altruistic. Needless to say, I disagree.

    Would it not serve the university to join a conference (any conference), to help promote itself? If football success is key to that (and it is), then wouldn’t having a shot at a conference title (and thus a BCS birth) be better than cobbling together a schedule and hoping it qualifies the team for a bowl birth? And fans of Big Ten teams travel well, so it’s not like they wouldn’t flock to South Bend–one of the most incredible places to watch a game–thus bringing in money there. I just don’t see the downside, except that tv monies would have to be shared. Is that so unreasonable?

    The schedule is a fair argument in terms of OOC games: ND helps out Navy, tOSU helps out other in-state schools. The Big Ten may not be #1 in terms of overall strength, but are you really telling me it wouldn’t produce a more consistently challenging schedule than what ND faces now? I would disagree.

    The Browns used to win alot of titles and produce notable players–some of the all-time greats. That ship has sailed. For us to contend, in this day and age, that people should hold us in any esteem is ridiculous, given the past 10+ years. Who you are ain’t who you were, is what I’m saying, so expecting respect and treating bowl invites as birthrights now is foolish. The top players don’t play for the Irish anymore, the title drought is Dust Bowl-esque……history? Yes, in spades. But that doesn’t mean automatic “props” now.

    Davie was turrible, no doubt. I still believe Willingham got a raw deal during his time in South Bend, especially given the leeway Weis has received (not to mention the boatloads of cash), and that his recruiting wasn’t the problem these past few seasons. The point is the ND attitude is still “if we aren’t in the top 25, then something is wrong with the system”, when the reality is you have to win games to be ranked, it’s not a given just because of the school’s name.

  • Denny

    I think the point is that at this point, B-bo, ND doesn’t NEED a conference to help promote itself. Through no real fault of their own (much to their credit some might say) they’ve built a well-established brand of college football. The don’t need to win a conference to make a BCS game – just need to crack the top 14 (I think, correct me if I’m wrong) in the BCS to go to a BCS game. And they’d be there in a heartbeat – bowl games know that ND fans will travel from anywhere, just like the Big Ten fans. Having a more wide-spread fanbase helps them in traveling as well (any Irish-Catholic ginger family will be there if the game’s only an hour away).

    Schedule-wise at this point I’d say the Big Ten is a little better (I’d take Indiana and NW over Army and Air Force any day of the week) but the OOC schedule that some Big Ten teams put out is a joke.

    I agree on Willingham – he got hosed. The years that Weis was winning, he had Willingham’s players. I’d give Weis through this year, but if he can’t crack .500 with his own fully developed talent, he’s a total moron and should be canned, and all the boosters who poured money in to keep him after one subpar season should be openly mocked.

  • Scott

    [points and laughs at boosters]

  • bobby

    I would say go for an Ohio team to get into the big 10. Some of the MAC teams compete somewhat with the big 10, and if they got into the big 10, then they could certainly get better recruits. Cincy also would bring good competition. I just think from the state of Ohio prospective, it’d be nice to see an in-state OSU rivalry that means something.

  • Tom

    Nobody wants to hear it, but Michigan is every bit as good of a school as Notre Dame.

    According to US News:

    12. Northwestern
    18. Notre Dame
    26. Michigan
    35. Wisconsin
    40. Illinois
    47. Penn State
    56. Ohio State
    61. Minnesota
    66. Purdue
    66. Iowa
    71. Indiana
    71. Michigan State

    Academics should not be an excuse to join the Big 10. The Big 10 has much better schools than the Big East, and ND already plays all other sports there.

  • Denny

    Regarding strength of schedule, here’s an interesting conference-by-conference tidbit: The Big Ten schedules 32% of its OOC games against BCS teams. The ACC, 42%. The Big East 40%. SEC 29%, and the Big 12 23%.

    At least the Big Ten isn’t the bottom of the barrel in terms of OOC scheduling.

    IMO, the ACC and Big East schedule BCS opponents because they HAVE to (same reason they play on Thursday nights – exposure), while the Big Ten, SEC, and Big 12 prefer to have guaranteed home games to make that paper.

  • B-bo

    Denny: good addition–especially as it helps to highlight what a travishamockery the BCS system is, though that’s not at the heart of all this. It’s more the fact that a non-top 25 raises objections from ND backers that make it seem as though they are supposed to be awarded for past accomplishments when their present performance is waek at best. I don’t dispute that there are arguments in favor of remaining independent, they just aren’t very convincing ones, in my mind.

    Bobby, there is no MAC team within a mile of being regularly competitive in the Big Ten. Yes they field the occasional scrappy squad (a couple of directional michigans or Miami or testicle u every now and again), but no one of consistent quality to justify the move up from the MAC (look what happened to Marshall–and they are in the pathetic CUSA). Cincy is a legit possibility, and in just about every sport they field a team in. It makes geographic sense (moreso than their membership in the Big East), and it gives the Buckeyes an in-state rival. I’d still want WVU over anyone, but Cincy works for me.

    Now, back to reality.

  • MattC

    Hey Guys, especially B-bo and Denny.

    Great discussion, but I don’t want to unfairly hijack a Cleveland/Ohio sports blog with ND talk. I will defend my Alma Mater to the death if necessary, but I’d like to direct you both to the Willingham rap sheet that was put together to dispell some of the preconceptions of his “raw deal.”
    Considering he was the highest paid employee of ND for 3 years AFTER he was fired because of his buyout (that includes Weis’s salary), I WISH I could get a “raw deal” like that.

    It’s a long read, but it has to be to be comprehensive. If you’re really interested in educating yourself about the guy, here’s the link:;pid=20;d=this

    One thing they don’t really cover is the complete lack of depth left on the OL and DL at the time of his departure. As everyone here will agree, depth and development of the trenches is critical at any level, and perhaps more so in college because there’s a huge advantage to obtain there with talent discrepancy. Willingham left ND with 8 scholarship OL.

    Ask Washington fans if they felt he was worth keeping around for a 4th season.

    Go Cavs! Thank goodness we have them.

  • B-bo

    Good find on the article, Matt–and good talk as well. Likewise, Denny.

    I think the lesson in all this is: forget med school or that fancy lawyerin’–teach your children to coach major college football. Evevn if they are incompetent, they’ll make a truckload of casish.

  • bobby

    I don’t really think any MAC team would be great and a top fighter, but OU put a good fight up with OSU. Thatd be a fun rivalry 5-10 years from now if OU joined the big 10 and therefore could get better recruits. Toledo also got a victory against Mich. I was just saying, they would be good enough to win 1-2 games right now in the Big 10, and in a few years, who knows. Having the Big 10 be your conference would definitely make people want to come to one of these schools then if they had MAC-conference. I dont really think it will happen, but itd be intriguing. Cincy makes sense in my mind the most, but they are also already in a big conference and may not want to, or be allowed to switch.

  • mgbode

    A MAC school? Really? Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue (recently), and Northwestern (except for their high blips) are not enough teams that struggle to bring in players and compete?

    Also, one of the biggest factors of bringing a team in would be their academic standards. The Big10 fancies itself an academic conference, which means they would want to raise that profile and not let it go down (which is why you never hear Missouri mentioned as a possible steal from the Big12).

  • Scott

    As much as I would love an Ohio team, none of them would help the competitiveness of theconference

  • Bridgecrosser

    ND was meant as a school for poor Catholic families to get a top education. Now they whore themselves out for top dollar and poor Catholic students from anywhere USA are not their priority.

    Every Catholic (especially Irish) that buys into this ND mystique should be ashamed for the disservice they’ve done to the poorer Catholics, all in the name of college freaking football.

    For that reason, ND football makes me want to PUKE. St. Ignatius, St. Eds – you too.

  • Denny

    How about we bring in an Ohio school that does have good academics?


    Yea, that’d be a good move.