Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Academic Fit for the Big Ten

I still believe that Syracuse will have a tough time, long term, competing athletically in the Big Ten (if given the opportunity). However, Syracuse University can hold its own academically with the schools in that conference.

US News and World Report ranks Syracuse as #58 in the country. That puts Syracuse in the middle of the Big Ten, trailing Northwestern, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Penn State and Ohio State, but beating out Minnesota, Purdue, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State and new addition Nebraska. And really, the difference between #53 and #58 is splitting hairs, so Syracuse would be on par with Ohio State, Minnesota and Purdue.
For a point of reference, here is how other potential Big Ten schools ranked:

  • Notre Dame - #20
  • Maryland - #53
  • Pitt - #56
  • Rutgers - #66
  • UConn - #66
  • Missouri - #102
So any notion that Syracuse does not fit academically with the Big 10 is a false notion. Of course, it is not all about academics. Nebraska is at #96, well below the bottom standard previously set by the Big Ten at 71. However, academics should not be a reason the Big Ten would not invite the Orange.

Texas surprised me by not accepting the offer to go to the Pac-10. That keeps the Big 12 intact for now. However, minus two schools, the Big 12 is going to want to grab two schools from somewhere; those schools are not going to be coming from the Big Ten or Pac-10, nor likely the SEC. That does not leave too many conferences left to raid. The Big East should be keeping an eye on some of its Western members, and working proactively to expand now.

As I mentioned the other day, expansion could occur simply by having some of the existing members step up to Division I with their football. Villanova is almost there (I-AA) anyhow, and that would give the Big East a football team in Philadelphia. I'd be willing to over a position in the Big East to another school with a Div I football program, and jettison Notre Dame (unless the Irish want to bring in their football program, which would never happen).

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