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With an announcement from the Big Ten that the conference will look into adding a 12th team, both Athletic Director Bill Martin and Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez commented about the possibility.
“It’ll be up to the president,” Martin told AnnArbor.com Tuesday. “I think we’d all be open-minded about it. And, again, I think it gets back to the right fit that does make sense.”
In a press release, Rodriguez expressed a similar attitude.
“I am in favor of the Big Ten exploring all options to make the league stronger, whether the decision is ultimately made to expand or not,” Rodriguez wrote. “We should be proactive in examining the college athletic landscape and I’m pleased that our conference is looking for ways to make the Big Ten better. I am behind the decision to expand if it fits with the ideals of our conference.”
The Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors hasn’t seriously entertained the idea of expansion since 2003, and the conference hasn’t accepted a new member since Penn State joined in 1990.
Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, Minnesota football coach Tim Brewster and Wisconsin Athletic Director and former football coach Barry Alvarez have voiced support for the addition of a 12th team.
Such a move could make way for the Big Ten to split into two sub-conferences, similar to the Big 12, SEC and ACC. The split would also allow the Big Ten to hold a championship game to determine which team would earn the conference’s automatic bowl bid.
A number of schools have been the subject of speculation regarding the 12th position, most notably Notre Dame, which was seriously considered in several of the conference’s past expansion efforts. Further possible candidates include Pitt, Syracuse, Rutgers, Missouri and Nebraska.