After the Pitt fiasco a few weeks ago I promised myself we weren't going to chase any more Big Ten expansion rumors until something definitive was reported. So while hints and quotes from anonymous sources may not be a bastion of credibility, at least this is coming from a legitimate news source not named "twitter" or "Bleacher Report".
A source with ties to the Big Ten said that while most people’s attention has been trained on the conference stealing Missouri, the Big Ten has engaged in “preliminary exchanges” with a much bigger fish from the Big 12.
“There have been preliminary exchanges between the Big Ten and Texas,” the source told the Journal-World on Wednesday. “People will deny that, but it’s accurate.”
So what to make of this? Maybe something, maybe nothing. I'm sure the Big Ten is going to reach out to a lot of schools over the next year to gauge their interest in joining the conference. We will probably hear rumors leak out from discussions with Pitt and Missouri as well. Jim Delany will want to know who is interested before he goes to the league presidents with suggestions, and he's not going to tender an offer to a school without feeling them out first. So let's not get too excited or outraged over this.
But since it's a slow news day in the early stages of a boring offseason, let's discuss the merits of this idea. Would I like to see Texas in the Big Ten? As a Penn State fan living 90 miles from Austin, you betcha. Y'all are welcome to come tailgate in the grotto with me if that happens. But I'm not getting my hopes up.
Opening up the state of Texas to the Big Ten Network would generate millions in revenue for the conference. While the attraction of epic battles between Texas and the members of the Big Ten sure do look appealing, let's peel back the dollar signs for a minute. How practical would this be for other sports? Getting from Austin to places like Happy Valley and Ann Arbor isn't easy. You're talking a four hour plane ride each way. Jumping in for a weeknight basketball or volleyball game is going to create some hardships for the student athletes. I also think the Big Ten university presidents may have some heartburn over Texas, who doesn't exactly light up the scoreboard in graduation rates when compared to Penn State and other Big Ten Schools.
Ultimately, I would love to see it happen, but I doubt it will. I think geography is going to be a stumbling block for the university presidents who actually worry about things like student athlete well being and graduation rates.