Big Ten Expansion: What It Means for the BCS Busters
The Big Ten has set its sights on expansion. At the moment, the number of teams and the teams themselves have not completely been identified. Some experts have said the Big Ten wants to expand to 16 teams, and have named just about everyone from Texas to Rutgers and everyone in between the two.
So far, all the talk is about the expansion of the Big Ten, SEC, and Pac-10. These conferences will be expanding into “super-conferences” as they swallow up the ACC, Big East, and potentially the Big 12. Notre Dame, as usual, is also included into the expansion talks.
If—or when—all this expansion takes place, it will drastically change the BCS landscape, potentially taking the six BCS conferences and reducing them to five, or even four conferences.
As usual, the main motivator is money and more publicity, which equals even more money.
Left out of all these talks are the so-called BCS busters such as Utah, TCU, and Boise State. These teams, if left out of the expansion, could face a very bleak future.
Respect is hard earned for these teams now; it will get harder if the expansion takes place.
Boise State, TCU, and Utah—and even Hawaii—have all had their chance to impress during a BCS bowl game. Utah beat Alabama and Pittsburgh, while Boise State beat Oklahoma and TCU. The Horned frogs lost their one and only BCS game to Boise State last season, 17-10. Hawaii did not fare any better, Georgia blew them out 41-10 in its Sugar Bowl showing.
The wins over Alabama and Oklahoma give some credit to teams playing outside of the BCS conference, but not enough to get them into the BCS title game.
The Negatives of Expansion for Non-BCS Teams
Winning BCS games gets these teams one step closer to getting into the big game, but with the creation of these “super-conferences” that will change quickly.
The biggest knock is that the schedules are too weak to get serious consideration for non-BCS teams. Boise State has gone out and scheduled Virginia Tech this season, but would that continue to happen if Virginia Tech was part of a Big East/ACC conglomerate?
Doubtful to say the least.
Teams do not want to play these BCS busters now. Why would that change? Especially when the conference schedule is going to become that much more difficult to navigate by adding more teams to their respective conferences.
This scheduling change will reduce the BCS busters’ chances of being seen in marquee non-conference games throughout the season, giving voters and analysts less exposure to them.
This reduces conference and team prestige, financial opportunities, and championship appearances.
Kyle Whittingham, the head coach at Utah, does not seem to optimistic about the expansion either: "Unfortunately, there is really nothing we can do."
These teams sit on the sidelines and hope their name gets called, when the BCS conferences expand and go looking for teams.
The Positives of Expansion for Non-BCS Teams
If Notre Dame is absorbed into a conference, along with the consolidation of the six conferences into five or even four, there may still be a silver lining for the BCS busters.
Currently, the rule states that only two teams from each conference may be eligible for a BCS bowl game.
That being said, consolidation of at least one conference would free up a BCS spot, and adding Notre Dame almost assures that the freed-up spot will go to one of the non-BCS teams.
If the BCS conferences slip down to four, then two spots are potentially freed up.
This will only hold true if the BCS rules do not change along with the expansion of these conferences. Currently, there are 10 BCS bowl spots available, including the championship game.
It would not surprise anyone to see the BCS alter the rules allowing these “super-conferences” to have the potential of three teams in a BCS bowl, if their ranking was high enough.
Just like Coach Whittingham said though—there is not much these BCS busters can do about it.