Speculation is running rampant for who the next possible teams to join the Big Ten could be. With Oregon and Washington in the fold now to move the Big Ten to an 18-team conference, much discussion can be had about who’s next.
What ultimately is a problem is the amount of money it’d take to poach an ACC team. That would be costly for all involved. The ACC has an extensive grant of rights agreement that is in effect through 2036. It includes the ACC keeping media rights for those teams’ home football games as well as a reported $120 million exit fee.
Geography and money clearly aren’t much of a problem a problem given the conference’s westward expansion and the money that’s at stake, but where will they look to expand next?
Let’s take a look at the Top 8 potential additions:
- Clemson – There’s not a bigger brand at the moment that could be willing to move than Clemson. The Tigers are the only non-SEC team to win a national championship recently. They would bring a solid athletic department to the conference as well and travel isn’t terrible from the midwest to South Carolina. From a financial standpoint, Clemson would more than likely be one of the few schools able to afford the exit fees. Adding Clemson would be huge financially as the amount of big games would significantly increase and couple that with their playoff acumen and it’s a recipe for success. Of course, their threats of moving could all be for leverage in the ACC, but at this point, anything is possible.
- Florida State – The Seminoles have always been opinionated and that’s no different with the conference carousel. ACC teams are clearly not thrilled with their media rights deal and the lockdown it has the schools in. They’ve also made it well-known they’re willing to move if the right opportunity exists and let’s be real, that’s not going to be cheap. For many college institutions it seems as though money grows on trees, so cost might not be an issue at this point. Athletically speaking, the Seminoles bring a quality football program that could contend for the College Football Playoff with its expansion. The basketball program is also a good addition and of course, the Florida market is an area the Big Ten will want to get into as well.
- Stanford – Stanford is a great academic institution with solid athletic programs. Much like Cal, its also on its own little island with all of their Pac-12 friends heading out. The Cardinal would be another positive addition and their football program would fit in well with the Big Ten. There’s been success, but not much recently, though with the landscape of college football that could change. With Stanford, Cal would assuredly join them and that would then make six teams on the west coast for the Big Ten which could help largely with scheduling. Stanford is desperate and eager to find a home. It wouldn’t be a hard sell at all if the Big Ten is interested.
- Cal – The Golden Bears sit on their own little island right now in the Pac 12 with Stanford. Adding Cal would add an athletic department that is solid in multiple sports and is eager to get to greener pastures. Typically, the Golden Bears would be lower than No. 4, but with the rapid fall of the Pac-12, they’re looking for a home and that’s what puts them higher on this list. They also couple with Stanford and with them both looking at bolting, it’ll be a solid package deal.
- Miami – The South Florida market is untapped by the Big Ten at this point, but it would add another large television market to a conference that already has a strong footprint in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles. The Hurricanes have had a historically good program despite some down years as of late. They too have a solid basketball program and would definitely be a welcome addition to the conference in both sports.
- North Carolina – Not traditionally a football power, but the Tar Heels have a program that’s on the rise and one of the top quarterbacks in the nation in Drake Maye. While Maye probably won’t be there if a move was made, the impact he’d have had on brand of North Carolina football would be seen. It also helps the Tar Heels are a premier program in other sports, especially basketball. A bolster to an already solid basketball conference would be beneficial come March. They are also a package deal with Duke.
- Duke – The football program has had some good years recently, but a move to the Big Ten for the Blue Devils would largely be because of basketball. Adding Duke to a conference that features Michigan, Michigan State among others would add money to be had on the basketball front which is seemingly forgotten at times in all of this transition. Packaging the Blue Devils with North Carolina would be a no-brainer.
- Virginia – Regionally, the Cavaliers make sense. Only a few hours of drive time away from Big Ten schools such as Maryland, Rutgers and Penn State makes Virginia a very solid candidate and couple that with their success in basketball and it becomes a really quality addition for the Big Ten. Of course, if the Hoos are added it would be no surprise if Virginia Tech or another ACC team were to be added to protect the possibility of a regional rivalry.
Their Own Category: Notre Dame
Notre Dame is, well, Notre Dame. They are sitting in South Bend, Indiana, with some wine and their feet up as they watch this drama unfold. They are independent and have no affiliation, but do have a TV rights deal with NBC and are affiliated with the Big Ten in hockey and the ACC in other sports not football.
While geographically the Fighting Irish make complete sense from a Big Ten perspective, right now, it makes sense for Notre Dame to just sit back and watch this dumpster fire unfold from the comfort of Indiana.
Honorable Mention: Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech