It's hard to argue that Notre Dame wouldn't be the best addition to the Big Ten, but Nebraska is an excellent consolation prize.
The Cornhuskers have a great football tradition and a loyal fanbase that fits perfectly in the Big Ten. Nebraska immediately becomes a natural rival to Iowa and Wisconsin and with Barry Alvarez's ties to the Cornhuskers, it should be a very competitive and fun rivalry for decades to come.
I've long thought that 12 teams is perfect for the Big Ten. I don't think it needs to be a "super conference" of 16 teams, but if the conference can still nab Notre Dame then I would be okay with finding another school to cap the conference at 14 teams.
What seems to be ignored a lot in all the conference expansion talk is the impact it will have in other sports. Nebraska is an awful basketball school and while that worries me, the football impact is great enough to warrant its addition to the Big Ten. Notre Dame has a pretty good basketball program, but if Rutgers were to join the Big Ten, it would really water down a great basketball conference. The last thing I want is for the Big Ten to become the Big East with great teams at the top and awful teams at the bottom.
Pittsburgh still seems to make a lot of sense to me. The Panthers have a great basketball program and play in a big enough market to increase the reach of the Big Ten Network.
But again, if Notre Dame wants to stay independent, I hope the Big Ten stops right here. Two six-team divisions in a 12-team conference is perfect. One of the biggest problems we had with spliting up the conference into East and West divisions is that Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State would all be in the East. The addition of Nebraska helps fix that problem because it brings a load of talent to the West. Let's take a look at how the divisions might stack up:
For the record, Lincoln, Neb. is a seven and a half-hour drive from Madison and the only problem I have with the Cornhuskers joining the Big Ten is that they have almost the exact same jerseys as the Badgers.
I think we can handle that.