No, Missouri Is Not A "Done Deal"; Also, the Big East May Be Suicidal

We had to roll our eyes this morning when we saw over at Rock M Nation that KOMU--the (student-run) NBC affiliate in Columbia--was reporting that Missouri's move to the Big Ten was "a done deal." We're not mad at Rock M, of course; if someone's breaking news like that, you owe it to your readers to pass it along, even if you think it's a bad report (see our reaction to KCJJ's report that Lickliter would be resigning for health reasons last month).

No, the real laugher is that KOMU's "source" on this was an ESPN podcast, in which Scott Van Pelt, Bruce Feldman, and Pat Forde discussed Big Ten expansion. Let's even do KOMU a favor and forget the fact that nobody in the course of that conversation ever even approaches confirming the move. Here's what KOMU was assuming: that someone at ESPN was sitting on the first big break of expansion news, but decided to bury the news in the middle of some podcast. And hey, no offense to any of the three panelists, but ESPN would never treat a big story like that. Ever.

KOMU has since retracted, of course, and we're back where we started, and where we've been since the BXI even announced plans to expand in the first place: square one. This brings the media's track record in breaking any new information on Big Ten expansion to roughly 0-423. Really, there are exactly three sources of information to trust when it comes to getting any information on the Big Ten's plans:

  1. The conference itself
  2. An official statement from a school's athletic department
  3. Just kidding, there is no number three, it's just those two

So when Tom Freaking Dienhart tweets something like this:

Big Ten expansion buzz has league adding Mizzou, Nebraska, Pitt, Rutgers and Syracuse and splitting into four, four-team divisions. / The Big Ten divisions: Syra, Pitt, Rut., Penn St.--Mich., Wisc., Mich. St., Mnn.--Ohio St., Pur., IU, Ill./North.--MU, Iowa, Neb., Ill./NU.

It's not that Dienhart is necessarily incorrect, it's that he's working off no good information. He's either A: guessing and passing it off as "buzz," B: listening to someone else who's guessing and passing it off as "buzz," C: just plain ripping off mgoblog and passing it off as "buzz." There is no reason to listen to him or anybody else doing this.

So while we're not going to shut down Big Ten expansion talk here--it's still a fascinating topic, and we'll gladly talk about who should be invited--we're not going to deal with anonymous rumors any longer. Based on the role the media have played thus far, if someone tells a newspaper that Team X or Insert University Here is all but confirmed to join the conference, and they won't even attach their name to the rumor, we must assume it's completely false until proven otherwise. I've known drug addicts that were more reliable than the Tribune.

Now, as for people actually going on the record, there was a very interesting piece by the Norwich Terrier Bulletin (terrorist fist jab: ESPN's Big East blog), saying that--per UConn coach Randy Edsall--the rest of the Big East football coaches are sick of Notre Dame's schtick:

Q: Should a football ultimatum be given to Notre Dame soon?

A: I think that’s something the powers that be are discussing in terms of the strategies that they’re looking at to be proactive rather than reactive.

Note: In a question-and-answer session with the audience, Edsall said the football coaches have been asking the conference to deliver an ultimatum to Notre Dame to come into the conference for football or get out entirely for the last two years. He added that, if as speculated, two teams leave for the Big Ten, "the Big East is all done."

Now, there's no telling whether the conference is going to act on that suggestion, but if it does, you can write Notre Dame to the Big Ten in with pen. After all, as independent as they like to be on the gridiron, the rest of their sports are going to need some serious support--opponents, TV deals, you know, the stuff that comes with conference affiliation. And wouldn't you know it, there's a conference that's willing to take on those Notre Dame teams and has its own massively revenue-generating network and will let Notre Dame play Michigan and Michigan State and Purdue all they want! What are the odds on that one??

ESPN speculates that perhaps practically handing the Big Ten Notre Dame like that will sate the conference's hunger for Big East teams (since there's no chance in Catholic hell that the Irish acquiesce to an ultimatum like that from the Big East), and that the Big East's survival may very well depend on such a deal. As it stands, after all, the conference can't stand to lose a football school, much less two or more. 

That strategy backfired pretty spectacularly on Neville Chamberlain (this analogy makes Jim Delany Hitler, of course, so let's not pursue it that far), though, and it's unlikely to do the Big East any favors. After all, if the Big Ten is handed a piece of leverage like Notre Dame, it can practically name whatever other expansion schools it may want. Syracuse and Pitt? Done. Nebraska? All aboard. Texas and Texas A&M? Gladly. The Supreme Court? Hey, you wouldn't know it by looking at him, but Scalia can ball. Filthy post moves. The point is this: if you give the Big Ten Notre Dame, it's like giving a hobo money. It only makes you a giver and it doesn't solve anything. So give us the Irish. Give. GIIIIIIIIVE.

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