Move to the Big Ten does not mean step down for Missouri

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 2:29 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 12, 2010
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A map of Big Ten and Big 12 stadiums in relation to MU's Memorial Stadium. Click on a dot to find details about each stadium.

COLUMBIA — Since the Big Ten Conference announced in December that it would be looking into expanding, many have speculated that MU will be the 12th Big Ten team.

The interest in expanding the Big Ten stems from an NCAA bylaw (c) which states that a conference must have at least 12 members to stage a championship football game. The Big Ten has 11 members, and adding one or more football-playing schools will allow the Big Ten to tap into a well of football cash. A conference championship game each December would bring in anywhere from $5 to $15 million. The Big 12 Conference earned $11.1 million for the 2007 Big 12 championship football game between Missouri and Oklahoma in San Antonio.

Factoring in the subscriber fees for the Big Ten television network gained by tapping into Missouri’s television market, estimated to be seven million people strong, a Missouri-to-the-Big-Ten move could mean a seven-figure per year revenue increase.

On Monday, WHB/810 AM radio in Kansas City reported, using anonymous sources, that the Big Ten had extended initial offers to MU, Nebraska, Rutgers and Notre Dame. All four schools have released statements denying they had received official offers.

Until the Big Ten announces it is, or is not, expanding — an announcement that could come next week, next month or next year — gossip about a possible Big Ten-MU hook-up will continue.

What if MU does go to the Big Ten? As a member of the Big 12, MU is among the athletic elite. Texas and Oklahoma have athletic departments that dwarf even the largest competitors. Would the level of competition in the Big Ten be a step down for MU? A step up? After breaking down the stats, looking at some of the most important barometers of athletic success, it is an even comparison. While the minutiae of the stats might differ, the big picture is still clear: whether Missouri is playing in the Big Ten or the Big 12, the Tigers are playing on a equally high level.

Conference comparisons:

  • Like the SEC, Big 12, ACC, Big East and Pac-10, the Big Ten sends their conference champion to a BCS bowl game every year. The Big Ten has also sent a second conference member to a BCS bowl game as an at-large bid all but three times. A BCS bowl berth was worth $17 million last season. No conference has sent more teams to the BCS than the Big Ten.
  • The Big Ten and Big 12 have gone head to head four times in BCS bowl games. Both conferences have won two games, though the Big 12 has won the last two matchups.

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