JayPa: Big Ten expansion will hurt rivalries

Jay Paterno might share a last name with his famous father, but the two men don't see eye-to-eye on some big issues.

Take politics, for example. Jay Paterno publicly supported Democrat Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election and has a photo of himself and the president, right above a picture of himself and his dad, on his Twitter page. Joe Paterno, meanwhile, is a staunch Republican and a friend of former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Paterno even spoke on Bush's behalf during the 1988 Republican National Convention.

Potential Big Ten expansion appears to be another subject of disagreement between the Paternos.

Joe Paterno has been the league's most powerful advocate for expansion, voicing his opinion even before the league began its expansion study in December. The legendary Penn State head coach thinks expansion will result in a Big Ten championship game, keep Big Ten football relevant into December and shorten the gap between the regular season and the bowl games.

Last month, Paterno said he wants to see the Big Ten add three teams to form a 14-team league.

Jay Paterno doesn't seem nearly as excited about the idea of a major three- or five-team expansion in the Big Ten.

In his weekly column at statecollege.com, Jay Paterno makes a good case why a major Big Ten expansion would "erode some cohesiveness and rivalries in the league."

A 12-team Big Ten wouldn't do much damage to the intimacy of a league, but a 14- or 16-team league is a different story:

With 14 teams -- and assuming that Wisconsin is in the other division the frequency with which we play them would decrease dramatically. In a 14-team league you would play six games within your division and two games against teams from the other division. After playing Wisconsin home and home in say 2014 and 2015, they would rotate off the schedule for either five or seven years. You would not see them until 2020 at the earliest.

In a 16-team league the math is even worse. Teams would play seven division games and only one team from the other division. So after playing a team in 2014 and 2015 you would not see that team until 2030. Not a great way to keep rivalries going.

Jay goes on to address one of my big concerns: what to do with Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan in division alignment.

It may also be unlikely that the Big 10 will put Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan all in the same division. They represent the three biggest stadiums, three biggest football revenue schools and consistently pull in the highest television ratings.

As a result one or maybe both of those teams may be opposite Penn State in the division structure and the frequency with which the schools play each other would decrease dramatically.

Those games have become rivalry games -- in fact the Penn State-Ohio State winner has earned the Big Ten’s automatic BCS bid every year for the past five straight years.

There are ways the Big Ten could ensure that some rivalries don't fall off the map, but Paterno's general point is a good one. Some series between teams would become less frequent.

Paterno's column makes me think back to the comments made by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany to a Chicago radio station in February.

"One of the great things about the Big Ten is we play each other a lot," he told WSCR. "If you play 30 basketball games or 12 football games and your conference gets too large, you don’t play each other a lot. So it becomes more of a scheduling relationship than it does as a conference with double round-robin basketball or near double round-robin basketball. … The larger you get, the less frequently you play each other."

Bottom line: Will it matter in the long run?