Lets be clear, conference expansion will help Iowa no matter what. The Big Ten will not do this if it is not financially superior than doing nothing. That said, there are scenarios that certainly favor Iowa relatively compared to its rivals. So working under the criteria that the school has to meet the minimum of Big Ten viability and benefit Iowa relative to the rest of the conference, I wanted to have a discussion about what the best scenario is for Iowa.
The theory of Relativity... has nothing to do with this.
Some assumptions I make.
1. The list of viable schools is: Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, Rutgers, Pitt, Maryland, Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Boston College. (No CycloneFanatic.com you did not make the list)
2. Close proximity to a recruiting territory produces a relative advantage compared to farther away teams. This advantage only exists when within driving distance.
3. Lack of membership in a premier conference makes it more difficult to recruit and to earn money.
4. Having an in conference member in a state makes it easier for all members of the conference to recruit there relative to conferences without a member in state.
5. Rivalry games are more valuable than non-rivalry games.
If the above is true, than it follows that any scenario that involves Missouri and Nebraska is by far the best for Iowa.
This gives us two new natural rivals and opens up the border state of Missouri to recruiting by giving us far more exposure in the state that we are closer to than any other school other than maybe Illinois. Nebraska and Missouri should see a decline in recruiting as they will lose exposure in Texas where a higher percentage of their recruits comes from. This means they have a harder time recruiting in Texas and must make stronger inroads in less familiar Big Ten territory. There for we gain two weakened rivals while strengthening our own recruiting.
A periphery impact on Iowa from this move would be the down grade of Iowa State. Taking these two will either start a chain reaction that causes the Big 12 to fold or will force them to add inferior new members. They would lose millions of dollars from the TV contract. They would potentially lose the automatic bid and good bowl tie ins as well. This would cause their facilities and coaching salaries to be less competitive and their recruiting efforts less effective relative to Iowa. For Iowa this means a rival that is easier to beat and a state that suddenly has only one BCS school in it. The same effect could be seen in Kansas where KU and Kstate may well be in the same boat. This doesn’t help us as much, but as we are among the closest B10 states to the weakened state of Kansas, our strength in the state should increase more relative to farther away in conference rivals.
Therefore the scenario that Iowa gains the most relative to everyone else is if Missouri and Nebraska join. If you are a big ten fan there is better scenarios, but if you are an Iowa partisan, this is our wet dream. But what about the other members? Their is no advantage to being at 13 teams, its either going to be 12, 14, or 16
Other candidates analysis after the jump.
I would rank the remaining candidates in this order Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Texas, Kansas, Rutgers, and Maryland.
Pittsburgh: This would probably not be very beneficial financially to the Big Ten, but it would strengthen a rival of Penn States making it harder for them to nab recruits in state, and hurt eastern teams more than western teams relatively in terms of recruiting while not opening up new recruiting grounds that would benefit them.
Notre Dame: This would add more money to the conference than Pitt without benefiting any of the other conference rivals disproportionately or greatly reducing our chances at conference titles (unless you think the last 10-15 years was an aberration for ND). However, I am skeptical of their long term value and fit with the conference, but again, from an Iowa perspective this would probably be a good thing. The impact on recruiting would probably be a slight relative loss for Iowa as Notre Dame, no longer getting exposure from a national schedule would have a harder time recruiting outside of conference. They would take more players out of Illinois/Ohio to compensate which is our bread basket.
Texas: If we are talking about the good of the conference, Texas is number one with a bulleted, gold starred, highlighted, flaming neon sign next to it. Texas would be overall very good for Iowa too, but not as good as it would be for the rest of the conference. The TV money would be amazing, and all Big Ten schools would find it easier to recruit in Texas, but we would not have a natural rival in Texas and would also be behind them in the Big Ten pecking order (I feel as though currently we are on par with Nebraska and above Missouri football wise). However not every Texas school is going to end up in a good conference. The dissolution or downgrade of the Big 12 (namely the Texas schools and OU) will make it easier to snag recruits from THE football state. Don’t get me wrong, UT will always have the pick of the litter, but if TTU, aTM, Baylor can not find a good home, their recruiting instate will suffer. If the Big Ten doesn’t get in Texas and the Pac 10 and or SEC does (by adding the aforementioned Texas schools or OU), the conference as a whole will suffer greatly. This would hurt Iowa in out of conference games and bowl games, but not in conference.
Kansas: The benefits are much the same as Missouri and Nebraska though the rivalry wouldn‘t be as good and the recruiting in the state wouldn‘t be as plentiful. Also adding them would eliminate the periphery effect of having the state of Kansas weakened, and would instead make Kansas more powerful in relation to KSU much like Iowa will be with ISU. Also Kansas recruits many players from Missouri, and have stolen many good players from Iowa (on the basketball side at least), leaving them out of conference that will not be as big of a concern long term as they will not have the resources to keep up. Besides, the word on the street is that KU and KSU are a package deal.
Rutgers, Maryland, and Boston College (in that order): Opens up new states to the Big Ten recruiting and could potentially bring the a lot of money/TV sets. They also are not elite football schools so again, would not usurp us on the pecking order. I assume that the new exposure on the East coast would benefit the eastern teams more relative to Iowa because they would play in their division and would be closer to home for recruits in those regions.
To sum up the Best Scenarios for Iowa:
One team joins: Missouri
Three teams Join: Nebraska, Missouri, Pitt
Five Teams Join: Missouri, Nebraska, Pitt, Notre Dame, and Texas.
Just for fun, the best scenarios for the Big Ten as a whole:
One team: Texas
Three teams: Texas, Rutgers, Maryland.
Five teams: Texas, Rutgers, Maryland, Nebraska, Syracuse/Notre Dame
Any scenario that includes Missouri and Nebraska is going to be an overall win for Iowa, therefore the recent rumors bode well for our future. Or at least thats what I think...
Also as a side note... can we call our rivalry with Missouri, "The Honey War" and have a beehive trophy?