So the big eleven is expanding, maybe you hadn’t heard? Like a sorority girl in her first week on campus, the BCS conference is opening her doors and putting herself on display for potential candidates to salivate over. In typical soho fashion, the conference is inviting anywhere from 3-5 of the most well endowed suitors to enter her, initially anyway. But preliminary reports and speculation have suggested that this number may grow in the future.
Big Ten Conference Commissioner Jim Delaney spoke with ESPN last week stating, "the expansion process remains in an early phase" implying that the big Ten isn’t ready to put out just yet. "We’re not anywhere near the point of identifying and approaching prospective new schools" Delaney stated. Now this doesn’t sound quite like any of the co-eds I know, but I think the big eleven is correct here in taking time to evaluate the field. I mean Miami is attractive and all, but letting them in just because they look good on the surface is how the big eleven ends with an itchy rash and a burning sensation when urinating. But what about Nebraska you may be asking yourself? Yea, nobody wants to be seen with a fatty… Or how about last weeks alleged "leak" from a Missouri radio station that claimed the search was over and all that was left were official announcements and terms of agreement? Who doesn’t love blind speculation anyway? Of all the potential schools that fit geographically and could legitimately contend in the conference, there are only a few that have a realistic chance of penetrating their way into the big elevens heart. Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt, Maryland, Notre Dame, and Iowa State all meet the conferences criteria as far as academia is concerned. After all the big eleven is a classy bitch and she probably isn’t going to be seen with some uneducated yokel… cough ‘West Virginia’ cough… If you don’t think that academics will play a major role in determining who the big eleven ends up choosing, well… how’s the weather down there in Columbia anyway?
Out of all the schools mentioned as legitimate choices, it’s still up in the air as to which or how many will be able to woo the heart of the big eleven. In the opinion of many it will come down to a mix of strong (or at least competitive) athletics, making sense geographically, academic standards that will contribute to the already strong reputation of the conference, and a willingness to bend over and take it however the traditional big boys in the conference want it. So in that regard, things are looking up for the Cyclones. We’re used to being treated like a cheap escort and fit the bill in every criteria minus actually bringing more TV sets to their network. There definitely is some factors here working in ISU’s favor, particularly money tied to academics. Research grants, etc. are equally as appealing to a conference that prides their self on scholastic achievement as are TV dollars from athletics. So, maybe the world isn’t ending just yet for the Cyclone faithful? What if we are being seriously considered as a potential addition to the notches on the big elevens bed post? Maybe, just maybe we are one of the 3-5 throbbing young gentleman the big eleven has been waiting for now that expansion has become a reality?