PAC 12

Ranking Big Ten expansion candidates: Best fits to join conference in college realignment

Jeremy Cluff
Arizona Republic
View Comments
Could the Big Ten add more schools in college expansion? College writers have thoughts on who the conference should add as college conference realignment continues.

The Big Ten is set to add USC and UCLA from the Pac-12 in expansion for the conference.

Could it add any other schools in college conference realignment?

Speculation and rumors continue to run rampant for the Big Ten, and several schools that could potentially be targets of the conference.

Several sites have ranked potential candidates to join the conference, should it decide to expand.

Take a look at who those sites say are the best options to join the Big Ten in conference expansion.

More:ASU's Michael Crow slammed for 2019 Pac-12 comments amid college conference realignment

More:Ranking Big 12 expansion candidates: Best fits to join conference amid college realignment

Buckeyes Wire: Notre Dame, Oregon, Washington best candidates for Big Ten expansion

The site listed Notre Dame as the No. 1 option for the conference in expansion, and then included Oregon, Washington, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Pittsburgh, Stanford, California, Arizona and Colorado in its ranking of schools likely to join the Big Ten.

Phil Harrison wrote of Arizona (and Arizona State): "Arizona joining the Big Ten is low on the list, but it is intriguing when you consider it’s a new market to get into and Phoenix is booming. Arizona State would make more sense for that reason, but it is not an AAU member."

More:Ranking Pac-12 expansion candidates: Best fits to join conference amid college realignment

Hawkeyes Wire: Notre Dame, Florida State, Miami top expansion options for Big Ten

The site ranked 25 potential candidates to join that conference, and led off with Notre Dame, Florida State and Miami. Clemson and Oregon rounded out the Top 5. ASU was No. 17 in its ranking.

Josh Helmer wrote of ASU's candidacy: "For teams that aren’t currently in either the Big Ten or SEC, Arizona State actually enjoyed a top-25 average TV audience over the 2015-19 seasons. That’s encouraging for their candidacy. ASU would bring in the Phoenix market, which ranks No. 11 nationally."

More:ASU, Arizona not among Pac-12 schools being evaluated for Big Ten expansion, report says

Athlon Sports: Notre Dame, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Duke best fits for Big Ten in expansion

The site had those schools at the top of its rankings for expansion in the conference. It put California, Kansas and Stanford in a "second tier."

Steven Lassan wrote of Oregon's potential fit in the Big Ten: "The Big Ten now has a national conference that spans from coast-to-coast. So why not add even more to the western portion of the conference? Oregon would make a ton of sense as a potential addition with a passionate fanbase and track record of winning at a high level."

More:Pac-12 has been 'fractured' by Big Ten, Big 12 conference realignment, expansion chatter

Nittany Lions Wire: Notre Dame, Oregon, Washington, Arizona among top options for Big Ten realignment

The site listed 17 candidates for the Big Ten in expansion, with Notre Dame being the ideal fit.

Kevin McGuire wrote: "Notre Dame is the biggest exception to the Big Ten’s ideal list of expansion candidates. The Big Ten has twice pursued the Fighting Irish over the years, but to no avail. Make no mistake, however, Notre Dame is an academic institution that is on par with those members of the AAU and would be one of the most natural fits into the Big Ten if the school opted to join the Big Ten. Notre Dame may not be the national draw it once was, but the school now sees so many of its traditional rivals in the Big Ten. The mere threat of not being able to play them on a regular basis could be one of the factors that tips the Irish off the edge of football independence."

More:Pac-12 conference realignment: ASU's Michael Crow, Arizona's Robert C. Robbins could be key

Sporting News: Notre Dame, North Carolina, Oregon most attractive schools to Big Ten in potential expansion

The site had Notre Dame No. 1, North Carolina No. 2 and Oregon No. 3 in its ranking of potential candidates to join the Big Ten. Washington, Stanford, Kansas and California rounded out its list of seven schools.

Mike DeCourcy wrote of Washington: "If you’re already on the West Coast with the two LA schools, would it make sense to bring in UW and Oregon as a package? Seattle is the nation’s No. 15 market. With those two, the Big Ten would be closely represented in 15 of the top 35 markets in the nation. UW is still rebuilding in the two high-revenue sports, but each has a track record of consistent success. If this were to happen, including in combination with Oregon, it would be the least surprising and most logically defensible move the Big Ten could make now."

More:Pac-12 football TV ratings: Ranking teams by viewership amid conference realignment rumors

On3.com: Stanford, California could be intriguing for Big Ten

Anthony Broome wrote of the Pac-12 schools: "The Big Ten’s biggest splash of this group would come from Oregon and Washington, who are the best football/basketball combo of the bunch. It would also extend the conference’s reach up the entirety of the west coast and plant their flag in the pacific northwest. Stanford seems like another good fit given the Big Ten’s emphasis on academics. This would be a popular choice among the conference presidents. California checks a lot of boxes, too."

More:Pac-12 Conference, leadership slammed amid USC, UCLA Big Ten negotiations news

Fansided: Big Ten could add Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Stanford

Of the Cardinal's potential candidacy to join the Big Ten, Ryan Kay wrote: "The Big Ten, as mentioned many times before, values academic standings of universities that they are thinking of adding more than any conference outside of the Ivy League. The Cardinal have a strong football tradition and have had success on the football field, so if the Big Ten were to add Stanford over Washington and Oregon, don’t be surprised."

More:Are Pac-12 schools ASU, Arizona a package deal in college conference realignment?

Last Word on Sports: Big Ten should pursue Oregon, Washington, Utah, SMU

Drew Crabtree wrote of Utah potentially being an option for the conference: "At this point, there are four former Pac-12 schools in the Big Ten. They could end there, but it would make more logistical sense to make it five (more on that later). Utah has been an up-and-coming school of late. Prior to 2011, Utah was a Group of 5 school, dominating the Mountain West. As a school, they have 24 National Championships, most recently this past year in Co-ed Skiing. The Utes have won four of the past six titles in the sport! For football, Utah has made its presence known. The last time we saw them, they lost a Rose Bowl classic against Ohio State. In their history, they have 25 conference titles (RMAC eight times; Big Seven five times; Skyline five times; WAC twice; MWC four times; Pac-12 once, in 2021)."

More:Big Ten's Kevin Warren: More conference expansion may be coming, TV deal close

Reach Jeremy Cluff at jeremy.cluff@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jeremy_Cluff.

Support local journalism: Subscribe to azcentral.com today.

View Comments