Pitt TRUE Freshman Phenom Dion Lewis was one of the nation's best RB's in 2009
Rumors have been swirling around the internet over the weekend, particularly on message boards like Pantherlair.com and PantherDigest.com, that Pittsburgh will become the 12th member of the Big Ten Conference.
Supposedly, Pitt’s athletic department officials held closed door meetings with all student-athletes this past week to speak with them abut the impending move to the Big Ten. That led to Panther athletes posting this information on there Twitter pages and was quickly erased.
From everything I am hearing, or reading, is that Pittsburgh will formally announce that they will accept an invitation to join the Big Ten on Thursday, February 4.
This does come as a surprise since it was just back on December 15 that the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors said “that the timing is right for the conference to once again conduct a thorough evaluation of options for conference structure and expansion. As a result, the commissioner was asked to provide recommendations for consideration by the COP/C over the next 12 to 18 months.”
That was just over a month ago. That would lead me to believe that school officials from the University of Pittsburgh, in a preemptive strike, sought out an invitation to join the Big Ten fearing that the COP/C might select another Big East member, which only has eight schools that compete in football. The Big East has already been raided once when the Atlantic Coast Conference snatched up Virginia Tech and Miami in 2004, followed by Boston College in 2005.
Another thing worth noting is that there is a small window of opportunity from when expansion talks began in December until the Big Ten could get a 12th member into the conference in time for the league to conduct a championship football game for 2012. And it’s clear that the main reason for expansion is to have a Big Ten championship game in football.
Also something I like to point out is that the University of Pittsburgh is a member of the American Association of Universities, a prestigious group of leading research universities that all 11 current Big Ten members are a part of, though they really are not outside of the current footprint of the conference which really doesn’t bring any new television markets.
If this rumor is true, does the Big Ten stop at 12?
There have been several schools thought of as other viable candidates to be conference members. The list seems to be quite long, too, and it includes: Rutgers, Syracuse, Connecticut, Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas just to name a few.
Does the Big Ten expand to 14? 16? Only time will tell.
If Pittsburgh moves to the Big Ten, this will definitely make the Big East the Big Least in football, if it isn’t already. The Big East would have to look to add a member from Conference USA or possibly Temple to give the league eight members again just to keep their status as a BCS conference.
As for Pittsburgh joining the Big Ten, they will give a boost to the two big revenue generators, football and men’s basketball, though Panther fans say that leaving the Big East to join the Big Ten in basketball is a huge drop-off. I don’t see it that way. Sure, it’s easier to get 16 teams ranked as oppose to 11, but from top to bottom, the Big Ten is as good as any other conference in hoops.
Just have to wait and see.
Article written by Matt Barker