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Michigan State Football Roundtable: What Now?

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The fall 2020 season is not happening. What does that mean for MSU Athletics? Will there be a spring? Will there even be basketball now?

New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Michigan State v Wake Forest Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

It feels like just a week ago we did one of these on the new fall schedule. Oh wait, it was! The decision to pull the plug on the season already got yanked, and there are so many reactions and questions it raises. We do our best to ask the biggest and give you our best answers, along with a fun question or two at the end. Let us know your own thoughts as well in the comments.


COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 23 Michigan State at Rutgers Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Did the Big Ten make the right call saying spring or bust for fall sports?

Ryan: Yes, it was the right call, as painful as it is to say. The Big Ten’s handling of the situation and extended silence was maddening at times, but at the end of the day, safety of all involved — especially the unpaid student athletes — needs to be the top priority, and it was. How spring ball will actually be pulled off is another story, though. Although I have my doubts that a spring season is viable, I would rather have that option than have to wait until the fall of 2021 to watch my favorite sport. The thought that the Big Ten didn’t already have contingency plans in place for when the fall season was inevitably canceled, or “postponed,” is frustrating, though. There was plenty of time to figure out, at least in theory, what a spring season could look like —in practice it would obviously have more challenges. We’ll see what happens down the road.

Paul: Honestly, I have no idea and neither does anyone else. Sorry for the non-answer, but the decision to play or not play is likely the biggest high stakes gambling proposition that I have ever seen. Billions of dollars and people’s lives are at stake, and people in leadership positions need to make decisions based on incomplete data. It is all about risk management, which sounds easy, but is ridiculously hard. Personally, I am not sure that I would have pulled the plug just yet. Kick the can a bit farther down the road to buy time. It is never a bad idea to keep options open.

Austin: Tricky question. Did they make the right call by not playing in fall? Unequivocally, yes. Taking care of the athlete’s health and wellness should be paramount right now. However, if they play in spring that will essentially amount to asking players to play two full seasons in roughly nine months which flies in the face of the whole “health and wellness” bit. For now it’s a win, but this story is far from over.

Kevin: I am not sure there necessarily was a right call to be found. Should they maybe have waited a while longer before pulling the plug? Maybe. Then again the news coming out on some of the complications from COVID-19 seem to suggest full practices were too risky to continue before pulling the plug on the fall. Obviously college towns and budgets would hurt and businesses would close across the landscape due to crowd restrictions, but at least some cash-flow would have existed. Now that’s gone, and it also affects people’s health and well-being, too. In the end, I don’t think most anyone honestly expected a full fall season anyways, so probably better to have pulled the plug now and work on details for how to salvage something for spring if possible. Anyone talking about “bubble” notions that should have been used need to keep in mind these are student-athletes and football rosters are far too large to do so. Fall classes are in-person for some, and you can’t simply manage a bubble as a result. Come Thanksgiving when it is 100-percent online for almost all Big Ten campuses, a bubble scenario for basketball is actually feasible in my mind.

Sam: Yes. Student athlete safety is paramount. Erring on the side of caution always hurts in the short-term, and can frustrate in retrospect, but having college kids die or develop long-term health issues (possibly ending their dreams of playing their sport professionally) is not an acceptable trade-off given the league’s inability to develop an effective and safe plan to play fall sports.

Sheehan: I think so? Short answer: Yes, I think so. My one big hangup: Are they seriously still going through with thousands of students on campus? In dorms? Congregating in spaces from lecture halls (probably socially distanced) to house parties (I’d bet my mortgage those are NOT socially distanced)? If we are doing that whole song and dance and the schools feel that’s all safe, why/how isn’t football allowed to be played then? I’m going to need someone to hold my hand and explain that to me like I’m five.


COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 12 Big Ten Tournament - Michigan v Rutgers Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Did Commissioner Kevin Warren do the best he could or was this a bad start to his time as head of the Big Ten?

Ryan: It was an impossible situation for Warren, especially so early into his tenure. This is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” kind of thing. You either move forward with the season and take responsibility for when athletes, coaches, staffers, students, family members, etc. get sick — and we also now know that COVID-19 is linked to further health complications that have been discovered in Big Ten (and other conferences’) athletes — and then inevitably have to deal with a shut down or delay later into the season, anyway. Or, you shut everything down now, take away the fall season from those athletes and coaches who have worked so hard to get to this point in their respective careers, potentially put local businesses in college towns at risk of going under and lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, which likely forces each school to lay off or cut athletic department staff positions.
There are pros and cons on both sides, but my opinion remains that this was the right call and protecting the health and safety of all involved — and severely decreasing the potential spread of the virus — is the only correct answer in this case. Keep in mind most college rosters have upward of 120 players, 15-20 coaches (with grad assistants, analysts, etc.) and even more support staff members. Colleges are spread out all over the country, and a “bubble” situation isn’t really possible, given the amount of people college football teams carry, and the fact that students need to be on campus. There are simply too many logistical challenges to go ahead with the season amidst a global pandemic that is still raging on with no end in sight. There is just too much uncertainty on the medical side. Hopefully things are figured out by the spring

Paul: I do not envy Commissioner Warren’s position in any way. He stepped into close to an impossible situation. Being a leader means making the tough decisions and sticking to them, even if you don’t have all the information that you want. I think that he did his best. Sometime in 2021, maybe we will know if he was right or wrong.

Austin: Man, talk about a rough first year on the job. The only thing Kevin Warren could have done differently was wait for the PAC-12 to announce first so as not to attract the spotlight so intensely, but given how outspoken the leaders of some of his premier programs were I’m not sure that was a real option. Warren did what needed to be done and protected his integrity in doing so.

Kevin: I give him credit for having one miserable setback after another to start his tenure. However, the amount of rumors flying everywhere with no comment seemingly whatsoever from the Big Ten headquarters was more than just frustrating for fans. He did not show a great handle on what was obviously a huge controversy among member schools, but I am not sure even Jim Delany’s iron fist would have done that much better.

Sam: He did a perfectly fine job I guess? I am still bemused that they were apparently completely unable to develop any sort of effective plan as a conference in the preceding five months. Given that inability, he seems to have done the best he could. Who knows. The real test will be the winter sports and spring sports. If they prove unable to sort those out, then it will have to be looked at as a failure. They have had the time. The science and protocol strategies are pretty clear, and football is by far the most unwieldy of all the sports due to the size of the roster and staffs.

Sheehan: I’m sitting here wondering what he would’ve had to do in order to give him a “good” grade, and I’ve got nothing. So, with that said, to me he seemed kind of set up to “lose” right off the bat. It was a no-win situation.


Purdue Boilermakers v Michigan State Spartans Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Gut feeling: can MSU cut just personnel with the impending financial hit or will sports programs be cut in the coming months, too?

Ryan: The staff cuts are inevitable at this point. I think MSU wants to avoid having to cut athletics programs if at all possible, but I could easily see that being a reality. With an estimated loss of $80-$85 million in direct revenue if the football season isn’t played, per Bill Beekman, there are going to have to be tough decisions made. I don’t want to speculate which sports could get the axe right now, but football is king and the revenue it generates each year is the sole reason a lot of these other smaller athletic programs — that sometimes even lose money — are even able to have a team year-in and year-out. It has always been that way. The economics side of everything is not my expertise, though, so I shouldn’t be looked at as a source of knowledge here.

Paul: That is hard to say without understanding the details of the financial realities. I could understand putting some sports on pause (like not covering scholarships for a year?), but making more permanent cuts seems shortsighted. I don’t believe COVID-19 is here for the long haul. The scientific community will beat it, sooner rather than later (signed, your Chief Optimism Officer.).

Austin: I like to think that it’s possible to simply not have seasons for certain non-revenue sports rather than simply folding the program. Yes, MSU is going to lose out on millions in annual revenue but (fingers and toes crossed here) this will be the only time that happens and everyone will be able to return to the field next fall as normal. But expecting that is foolish, at this point. No way around it, this is going to be a tough few months in East Lansing.

Kevin: Tough say that in part may depend on whether a spring season can actually happen still. With a truly massive deficit facing the full university on top of huge lingering costs from the Nassar victim payouts (just to be clear, I am not criticizing those pay outs, by any means, nor would I, just saying they have a lingering financial cost to the university and that’s something accounting talk needs to factor in) it is unclear how they could fund everything they have now. Then again, they’re, ethically at least, obligated to honor scholarships for programs they cut so they still need to fund those scholarship at least. I’d need longer in the accounting books to have a guess, and I’m not a CPA or anything after all. However, I am not going to be surprised if we see cuts coming to how many sports teams MSU fields.

Sam: Gut: they will find a way to keep all the sports — I am looking at Tom Izzo’s and Mel Tucker’s salaries and thinking “there is a way to save sports right there...” Brain: the university will find a way to cut costs and be ruthless. Membership in the B1G requires 20 sports, I believe, expect the university to remain eligible for membership.

Sheehan: I think they’ll find a way to not cut any sports. Yes, MSU will be losing money like every university, but I just (maybe ignorantly) figure every Big Ten school has a Scrooge McDuck vault full of cash. Maybe that’s naive thinking, but I don’t necessarily think MSU will be decimated on their bottom line long term because of this.


U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Will there actually be a spring season for fall sports or will that get the boot?

Ryan: I can’t predict the future, but I will say I think the plan to get to a spring season is sincere and the effort will be mighty. There is a lot that has to go into this, though. I have so many questions and very little answers. First and foremost, will we be any closer to an effective COVID-19 vaccine (I’m guessing probably not), or will the spread have at least slowed down by then? Will more testing be available? What happens to the other fall sports besides football, does each postponed sport get a spring season, only some or none? On the football field, will games be played indoors or outdoors (indoors could enhance the spread of the virus, but outdoors would have weather challenges)? What happens to the winter or spring sports (delayed or running simultaneously)? How many players will opt out and prepare for the NFL Draft? How many games are going to be played and will there be rule changes? How will injuries or even just general wear and tear from the season affect the players for the following campaign? What kind of eligibility will early enrollees from the 2021 class have? What happens to the 2021 fall football season (delayed as well — how can you play two seasons back-to-back)? I have many more questions that I won’t continue to bore you with here, but figuring all of this out is going to be difficult to say the least. The good news is there is six to eight months to get a plan in place and be prepared for all situations.

Paul: I believe that I said last week I felt 80 percent sure that some form of football would get played eventually. I think that I will back that off to maybe 60 percent for football in the spring. A lot can happen on the vaccine and treatment front in the next few months, and once there is a breakthrough, everything changes. I still have faith that at least a partial Big Ten season gets played.

Austin: I have the utmost confidence in the fact that if they can play, they will find a way to. But personally, I hope they don’t. As much fun as it sounds, asking kids, at least in football, to play two seasons in 9 months is borderline criminal. If they were getting paid? Maybe this is a different story. But they are still “student athletes” for the time being and I don’t think you can tout player safety in the fall and ask that of them in the spring. The answer is to give all athletes an extra year of eligibility and expand roster sizes for the next 4 years.

Kevin: First off, this is for every fall sport. How do you have cross country in the spring when so many of the athletes participate in track and field? How many players opt out of soccer now because of the pro-deadlines? I also remember when I was reading through and reporting on the COVID-19 guidelines a few years ago . . . I mean last month though it feels like years, and it explicitly mentions factors such as

Training should occur outdoors.

How on earth do you do that in Michigan in February? Even in March? Or anywhere in the Big Ten footprint, really? Between all of that, roster impact of the NFL, and the wear and tear of turning around and playing in the fall of 2021, I don’t actually believe we will see a real spring season. At best maybe we see a shortened mini-season that ditches cross-division games. It beats nothing, but I just don’t see this being a real prospect. As for other sports, I expect many of them will not occur because they just simply do not fit in the spring schedule with an ability to field a full roster or be held in a Midwest “spring.”

Sam: There will be some sort of spring season for at least some of the fall sports. I am not sure if football will be one of them, but I could envision a world where NCAA football happens in the spring with curtailed seasons and no real national champion.

Sheehan: This is tough, because I would love to say that everyone sees what has to be done for spring football to happen and will follow accordingly. But I also know people have made this whole thing some weird political crusade, aren’t taking any part of this seriously and also just like to point fingers instead of take accountability. That won’t change in the next few months. So, in a perfect world, yes spring football happens. But in reality where there’s too many jackasses in the world, no way.


Michigan v Michigan State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

What about winter sports, will they occur or start on time? What’s your best guess.

Ryan: I am more optimistic about winter sports, such as basketball, because there is still time to figure it out, however a delay seems imminent. Using basketball as an example, the roster sizes and coaching staffs are a lot smaller, which lowers the risk of spread, however, basketball is a contact sport which requires athletes to be right up in each other’s faces, and play must be done indoors. I think the NBA has provided a blueprint on how to play the game effectively — the pros have run into very few obstacles since the restart. That said, there isn’t really an option for a bubble for NCAA teams — unless you can do conference-only bubbles, with constant testing and online distance learning in a matter that won’t disrupt the student-athletes’ education or services/needs that can normally only be found on campus. All of that, plus the many other challenges that would entail, sounds easier said than done, though. I would anticipate starting some time in 2021. I could see the non-conference being eliminated and playing a full Big Ten slate. But who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky. As far as the other winter sports go, it will likely be dictated by what is decided about basketball, similarly to how football was the main focus of the fall sports decision.

Paul: I think that a Big Ten-only basketball season, starting in January or maybe February is more likely than not. I could also see a potential short non-conference season played in a bubble. For example, a six-team round robin made up of teams from different leagues, but co-located. Picture MSU playing games in Chicago or Indy for 2-3 weeks against Western Michigan, Cincinnati, Butler, Loyola-Chicago, and Southern Illinois. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Austin: If the PAC-12 is any indication, I don’t think we see any collegiate sports in the Big Ten until January 2021. Again, if they can, they will. But it’s hard to imagine the US being safe or coordinated enough for that in just over three months.

Kevin: MSU basketball normally starts the season with a jet setting schedule that would make a flight attendant blush. Okay, fine friends of mine who are flight attendants, I exaggerate a tad. However, I just don’t see the non-conference happening, let alone “on time.” I think it will probably be more likely we see a start closer to new year’s and a move to conference only schedules. Boy will that make for messy bracket seeding! Also, hoping we have a fun hockey season as well even if Munn isn’t going to get the shiny renovation anytime soon it really needed.

Sam: No way winter sports “start on time.” I do think that we will get a solid set of seasons though, they may just be starting in January or February in some cases and running later into the spring/summer than they usually do.

Sheehan: I’m more confident on basketball than most I think. The team size is about a fifth of the size of football. You can realistically start in January, which should be enough time to get a plan in place. That’s four months to figure something out, and you’ve got a world-class lesson in what can/cannot be done with this whole football mess. What’s that plan, exactly? Not sure — that’s up to the conference commissioners that have a cushy job 98 percent of the time to decide. Welcome to the two percent of the time your job is actually tough. Go earn those paychecks, fellas.


Is the Big Ten going to be looking for a new member in the coming days/months/years given Nebraska’s posturing? After nine years in the conference, were they actually a good fit and will anyone truly miss them?

Ryan: Nebraska can really calm down with this “holier than thou” act any time it wants. If the school honestly thinks it can break away and do its own thing this season, and still remain a part of the Big Ten Conference moving forward, it has another thing coming, according to Commissioner Warren. I understand the desire to play and look into alternative options, but the audacity to not only blatantly ignore the advice of the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, but to want to downright defy it, is disheartening to say the least. I don’t personally have have anything against Nebraska, but at the time I thought Nebraska was a bit of an odd fit with the Big Ten, and I don’t necessarily believe that to be the case now, but the Cornhuskers haven’t really brought any relevance with them during their tenure in the league. Nebraska should stop acting as if it hasn’t benefited in many ways, including financially, from being a member of the BIG. At the end of the day, however, I think this is all talk and expect Nebraska to stay put in the conference.

Paul: Nebraska is perhaps the most delusional school in the Big Ten not located in Ann Arbor. I think that they were brought in due to some left-over 1990s nostalgia, and now everyone either forgets than they are here or wonders why they were invited in the first place. They literally add nothing to the conference. They provide no recruiting benefit, no TV revenue benefit, and they have achieved virtually nothing in the revenue sports since they joined in 2011. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Huskers. You were dead weight since the beginning.

Austin: I have one word for Nebraska - BAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIII! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, ya losers! Nebraska never made much sense to me as an addition in the first place. They were at BEST the third most prestigious program in the third most prestigious conference when they came aboard, brought no real recruiting area into the fold, brought no large TV markets into the fold and essentially were JV Michigan in terms of expectation vs results. Worst of all, they were red. THERE IS TOO MUCH RED IN THE BIG 10!
So, no I will not miss them.

Kevin: Well, after I made this question, I sure am wondering what on earth happened with Ohio State today as well. Ryan Day throwing a hissy-fit over the fact his team won’t likely have a shot at a national title this season is sad for them and all, but why should I be sympathetic after the NCAA tourney was cancelled. It sucks for the athletes, fans, and lots of financial bottom lines, sure. But you are a member of the Big Ten so act like it.
Well, Gene Smith finally got around to making the phone call to media clarifying they aren’t trying to play a fall season now after all.
Having said that about Ohio State now, the collective “F-you” from the Husker fan-base has been less than pleasing to see as well, not just for the hubris. While I write for Corn Nation covering their basketball team and am married to a Cornhusker fan, almost a decade into this relationship they are feeling more and more like an odd fit with the conference. While Maryland and Rutgers are by no means loved either, there has always felt like there is a lot of underlying animosity from many Husker fans toward the conference. I get they are more of an “independent” program from their history with the Big 8/12 and all, but they spent decades prior to joining the Big Ten making fun of the conference, have never really bought into some of the long standing traditions the conference values (and no I don’t just mean the Rose Bowl), and have spent the last decade generally lamenting how much they miss their old conference foes and don’t care about their new ones.
At least Rutgers and Maryland embrace their long-standing animosity with Penn State to have some kind of fit with opponents. Nebraska can’t even do that with Iowa because the Hawkeyes are “beneath them.”
I don’t entirely fault the Huskers for missing their old rivalries (even if Oklahoma wasn’t exactly an annual game after Big XII realignment) as I certainly miss our own annual Notre Dame game for example. But they just don’t seem happy here beyond the paychecks, and they don’t seem to want to actually adjust to life in the Big Ten fully. So while I doubt anything comes of this in the end, and I am not actually rooting for them to leave, I don’t think it would end up being a bad thing for both sides if it did happen. Again, I don’t see this being a real thing in the end and it is maybe just posturing for donor support or something because Lincoln really does rely heavily on seven home games each season for a lot of businesses.

Sam: I would miss them from a basketball perspective because I enjoyed them during Tim Miles’ tenure and I am excited to see Fred Hoiberg get the program rolling (which I think he will). Overall? No. They don’t feel like a B1G team to me really, but I have no clue and no real feelings from the perspective of other sports.

Sheehan: Nebraska is just Northwestern with a drastically lower SAT score average and dramatically higher sense of delusion. They had one cute foray in the Big Ten Championship Game a while ago and have been scrapping for D-tier bowl games ever since. They’re an automatic W in basketball. When naming Big Ten teams off the top of your head, they don’t appear in the first 12 teams you think of. No one would miss them, because no one would even realize they left.


Quick Lane Bowl - Pittsburgh v Eastern Michigan Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Pretend for a moment Nebraska decides to leave. Who should the Big Ten pursue or should they pursue anyone? Do try to avoid the usual suggestion of Notre Dame, please.

Ryan: Honestly, if Nebraska leaves, and Notre Dame is off the table, I wouldn’t mind just keeping the other 13 schools — one less school you would have to split revenue with. I mean if Rutgers were to leave too, I don’t think anybody would care...or notice...no offense, Scarlet Knights. But if we’re throwing location out the window — which isn’t likely during these times — and looking at schools that could bring additional buzz in terms of marketability, viewership, attendance, etc., that would be competitive and would help generate more revenue for the conference, Texas and Oklahoma would bring a lot of good fortunes to the conference based on their fan bases, TV deals and recruiting prowess. If location is a stipulation, the options would likely include lower tier schools such as Cincinnati, Pittsburgh or even an SEC bottom feeder like Vanderbilt — Nashville isn’t that far away. Tennessee would be interesting, too.

Paul: If I consider that an “ideal” team would be geographically contiguous, add a new TV market(s), and contain fertile recruiting territory, I am going to go with Missouri. It is sort of still in the Midwest, and I could see the benefits of adding the St. Louis and Kansas City markets to the existing Big Ten/BTN footprint. It would sort of stick it to the SEC, but they are not overly competitive in either basketball or football. I will go with the Tigers today (but my answer may change tomorrow)

Austin: Fine, no Notre Dame in this response. They’re an ACC school anyways.
The first thing the Big Ten should do is dump Rutgers and pretend that never happened. . Maryland can hang out because they at least bring SOMETHING to the table with DMV football recruits and a good basketball program.
So with Nebraska and Rutgers gone, that clears two spots and I would use them to swing for the fences.
My first two calls would be to Oklahoma and Texas, preferably on the same call. The Big 12 is nothing without them and opening up yearly crossover games with some of the most well represented programs in the country would be a ratings bonanza for all involved. There’s always the Longhorn network to contend with, but this isn’t about practicality, this is what I, a dumb person, would do. This would also really stick it to Nebraska which I am all for.
Still not likely but slightly more practical, I’d consider calling Kentucky and Tennessee next. They’d never leave the SEC, but in this world they instantly would take a much more prominent place within a major conference and should be able to have instant success in both Football and Basketball. Regionally they also make a ton of sense.
In all likelihood, I think you’d have to look hard at the group of Cincinnati, Louisville and Pitt. They fit the geographic footprint, two of the three have built in major rivalries and none would be the type of liability that the previous batch was in either major revenue sport.
Sleeper would be West Virginia. Solid programs in both revenue sports and makes sense geographically. Plus more Huggy Bear and a reason to go drink Moonshine in appalachia. Nebraska for West Virginia straight up, who says no?

Kevin: Notre Dame has had almost a century of courtship and finally joined for hockey a few years ago. After that they are fully vested in the ACC for everything but their five game contract for football, COVID-19 seasons notwithstanding. All of that is to say let’s drop the narrative that they are ever worth trying to get to join the Big Ten and move on. Breaking up is hard to do, but this long distance flirting affair needs to end. If we simply replace Nebraska then I’d say let’s go for Pitt from the ACC to piss off Penn State fans. In so doing maybe MSU moves to the west and we lock-in MSU-UM as a guaranteed cross-over to go with Indiana-Purdue.
If we’re going full-on 16 team super conference realignment then let’s add in Cincinnati and maybe West Virginia (ignoring both school’s AAU academic shortcoming). If not any of those three, then I would say maybe try for Missouri, though maybe not the most exciting sports addition, or Iowa State to laugh at Iowa fans. Under no circumstances should we consider Texas who is toxic, way outside the footprint (even more so than Rutgers), and would not get along well at all with how the conference conducts itself historically. I also just dislike Oklahoma, they’re not AAU, and sue me for liking teams that actually play defense. Plus same footprint issue. I would also object to Kansas, because as much as I would love laughing at them no longer winning conference titles every season, I don’t want to bring in those cheating scumbags. Virginia Tech would be an intriguing option, but seems far fetched they would ditch the ACC even for oodles and oodles of cash (which isn’t likely to exist right this moment even for the Big Ten given the state of college athletics).

Sam: I will be answering this exclusively from a location and basketball perspective and start off with a few options: West Virginia (Big XII), Louisville (ACC), Pittsburgh (ACC), Cincinnati (AAC), Memphis (AAC), Missouri (SEC), Vanderbilt (SEC), and Saint Louis (A-10). Again, I have no clue how any of these teams would look from a football perspective (maybe all would be fits in terms of competitive level?). But from a basketball perspective, and a location perspective, all of them seem like great fits for a number of reasons. WVU fits the brawler mentality, and I like Huggins, generally. Louisville has a great history, competes well, and would add a great rival-option for Indiana (they also play a faster brand, which is good!). Pittsburgh has a better history than current team, but it has a solid direction it’s heading in and it would give them a lifeline to get out of the cellar of the ACC (also they DO seem like a good fit for football). Cincinnati offers another Ohio team, they have a great program with great history too. Memphis would be fun because of the added hype that Hardaway and that program’s history would bring and they would similarly reasonably expand the recruiting footprint of conference (and add another host site for the conference tournament). Missouri would be awesome, even if the program is not the tops right now: the Illinois rivalry would be back on, in full, and be must-watch TV every year. Vanderbilt (though about as far-afield as the current geographic fringe of the conference) would offer a fun fit: it would get the conference into Tennessee as a recruiting bed, it would offer a great city to visit, and it has a great academic reputation so that aspect of the fit would be clear. Finally, Saint Louis (I’m guess the worst football fit), would be awesome. Gets us into a great city, great program, another host-city option for the B1G tourney, the soul of Rick Majerus should be in the B1G and should be out their haunting and taunting coaches who could not hack it at his level.

Sheehan: West Virginia seems like a great cousin to MSU. Solid at basketball, flashes of football greatness every once in a while and that fanbase looks like they love to get down. TAKE ME HOOOOOOME. COUNTRY ROOOOOOOOAD. TO THE PLAAAAAACE. I BELOOOOOOOOOONG. WEST VIRGINIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.