College Football 2014: Big Ten Conference to Add FCS Southern Illinois?

Big Ten to Add an FCS School in Near Future?

3/26/14 in NCAAF   |   Tyler_Waddell   |   426 respect

Big Ten Conference commissioner Jim Delany has been an active member of the recent college football Blog Photo - College Football 2014: Big Ten Conference to Add FCS Southern Illinois?landscape change, adding East Coast schools Rutgers and Maryland to participate in all sports starting this upcoming fall.

Illinois state Senator Michael Connelly (R-Naperville) thinks Delany should consider adding another, if not more.

“There have been discussions with people like the president of the University of Illinois and he’s been very receptive to it,” Connelly said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’ve talked about some of the criterion we’d have to look at to expand and have suggested that maybe (Southern Illinois) would be a good spot as it’s near St. Louis and with all the TV contracts it would give them something in the vicinity.”

Connelly is also interested in having a state university joining the Big Ten, meaning Illinois State (and probably a few others) would be considered in the legislation.

According to the report, Senate Bill 3526—the proposed measure—would explore the possibility of establishing an existing Illinois public university as another Big Ten university. The bill passed the Senate Higher Education Committee on March 19 and will be called for a Senate vote soon.

“This is something that has been under the radar but is now getting a much stronger drum beat,” Connelly said. “I’ve got three kids that are college age and we know that there are a lot of kids with 34 ACT scores and high class rank that are rejected by the University of Illinois and wind up going to places like Kansas and Indiana and other states. Michigan has Michigan and Michigan State — two Big Ten public schools — and we thought why not do a feasibility study to see if we could do the same?”

From a football standpoint, this wouldn’t have much relevancy. But if we’re picking between the two, Southern Illinois is little more sensible, as it finished 7-5 (5-3 Missouri Valley Conference) in 2013 and has five conference championships since 2003. Illinois State went 5-6 (4-4 MVC) and hasn’t won a conference title in over 14 years.

Neither have fared well against FBS competition recently, but Illinois State did throttle Eastern Michigan 31-14 in 2012. However, the Eagles fall in comparison to members of the Big Ten, even in its current watered down state.

The commission’s report would be due to the General Assembly by Jan. 1, 2015, so even if the legislation comes to pass and an agreement is made, it likely won’t be until the 2016 college football season—or even further down the road.

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