I was born in 1982. The Big Ten was ten teams and one of the best in the country. The Big Ten Conference has always been one that expects its recipients to play by the rules of the game, but also excel in the classroom. The Big Ten Conference was one that played the game the way we were taught as kids. Whether it is football or basketball, the game was coached and taught for the fundamentals to lead the athlete. All of the other conferences were playing catch-up to the Big Ten. The other big conferences would have flash, but never had the consistency.
Then in the early 1990’s, Penn State was added, which gave the Big Ten Conference eleven teams. At the time most fans didn’t see why there was a reason to expand, because this would throw off the schedules. Basketball was playing home and away with each team, which gave every team a 20 game season and no conference tournament was necessary. I am not positive how the football schedule was impacted by the expansion of Penn State, except that now each team plays all but 2 schools in a season.
Most recently, every conference is looking to expand. We have teams and conferences that are looking to get into a conference that will best suit their players, fans, and coaches. But above all, it comes down to the money. When the Big Ten Conference could not reach an agreement with ESPN on television contracts, they decided to form their own network called the Big Ten Network. Since then, nearly every conference has taken that next step to gain the most exposure they possibly can. The University of Texas has their own network, which caused a few schools in the Big12 to leave last season (Missouri and Texas A&M). Now the Big 12 has 8 teams and the Big 10 has 14 teams.
No longer are the conferences of the NCAA concerned about playing by the rules of society and NCAA sports, but are most concerned with how much of the money they can get back from television rights. College football brings in so much money that basketball has taken a backseat in the formations/additions of these conferences.
But, we now live in a society of joining up. Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh teamed up. Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash teamed up. Nebraska teamed up with Big Ten. Now, Rutgers and Maryland are teaming up with the Big Ten. We live in an ever-changing society and sports is just as active. How will this change the Big Ten Conference? We don’t know yet, but I know that this isn’t the same conference that I grew up watching in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
In my opinion, Penn State has been a great addition. In my opinion, Nebraska has even been a great addition and I believe they fit the mold of the old-school Big Ten teams. Time will tell if Rutgers and Maryland will follow suit of the classic Big Ten schools that play by the rules and are also concerned about the fundamentals and the "right way."