In recent days, the landscape of major college football changed in a massive way with the move of both USC and UCLA to the Big Ten Conference. It the latest move by the league that is trying to keep pace with the Southeastern Conference, who added Oklahoma and Texas last year for the upcoming seasons.
In the chess contest between both conferences for who can be the top league, there is one thing that Big Ten can do to solidify the top spot and put a nail in the coffin of most other leagues: expand to 20 schools with the addition of Clemson, Florida State, Miami and Notre Dame.
It’s a move that makes sense for the schools involved and the conference for three reasons.
First, the move to add the Trojans and Bruins last week expanded the Big Ten’s map of schools across the entire width of the United States – now spanning from California all the way to the New York area. Adding both the ‘Canes and ‘Noles would expand the conference the entire length of the country from north to south and truly make it the most expansive one.
Second, it would completely end the SEC’s hopes of being the premier conference when it comes to expansion. Yes, the Sooners and Longhorns coming in is good – but if the ‘Canes, ‘Noles and Tigers aren't available, who are the best teams left? Duke, North Carolina, NC State and Virginia Tech from the ACC? Houston and Baylor from the Big XII Conference? If that’s the best left, the SEC is in trouble.
Finally, in recent months there have been reports of the Big Ten looking for a new television partner to broadcast football games starting in the 2024 season. That’s where Notre Dame, in addition to being a traditional college football power, becomes valuable due to its contract with NBC Sports. Having the choice of games including Ohio State-Michigan, FSU-Miami, Notre Dame-USC and even Miami-Notre Dame might be tantalizing for the Peacock Network to sell to advertisers.
Whatever happens in the world of college football conference expansion, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the ACC - the current home for both Miami and FSU - is on the wrong side of the equation and its name programs need to look for a way out to save themselves. From the problems launching its own TV network to the blunder of partially bringing in Notre Dame, the ACC is right now a second-string league.
Quite frankly, the Big Ten is more of an attractive option because at this point the SEC doesn’t need Clemson, FSU and Miami as much as fans of the programs might think. It’s a conference that has won the last three national titles and already has the Sunshine State covered with the Florida Gators, who has one of their largest alumni bases in Miami-Dade County.
The expansion rollercoaster does prove one other thing: now is the time where Dan Radakovich, the athletic director at Miami, and FSU athletic director Mike Alford need to be the best of friends and work together on a move. The ‘Canes and ‘Noles need to be a packaged deal for whichever conference saves them.
The reality is that the world of major college football is changing – and if the ‘Canes and ‘Noles don’t find a new home soon, they are going to be on the wrong side of the equation. The best result has them joining forces with two other longtime foes and creating a coalition the Big Ten can’t say no to.