Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.

Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.

Big Ten expansion? A closer look at North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia Tech

Posted by: Joe Christensen under The Big 10, NCAA Updated: February 20, 2013 - 3:14 PM

Once again, it’s time to talk Big Ten expansion. This is the tweet everyone’s talking about, from @insidemdsports -- a source that was out in front of the news when Maryland and Rutgers joined:

Big 10 talk buzzing again. #UVA being mentioned often as likely to join. Georgia Tech still in the mix. #UNC, the big domino, has an offer.

With an eye toward what this would mean for the Gophers football team, here’s a closer look at those three ACC institutions:

NORTH CAROLINA
2012 record: 8-4
3-year trend: 23-15
Coach: Larry Fedora (1 year)
Joined ACC: 1953
History vs. Gophers: The football teams haven’t played. North Carolina was on Minnesota’s schedule in 2013 and 2014, but Minnesota got out of those games by paying North Carolina $800,000.
Notable: North Carolina was ineligible for a bowl game last year and is on three year’s probation for improper player benefits under former coach Butch Davis.
Big Ten appeal: Stealing North Carolina from the ACC would be a coup, with the Tar Heels’ athletic tradition and the school’s academic reputation. It would expand the Big Ten’s footprint south and should boost the BTN's ratings in an expansive TV market.

VIRGINIA
2012 record: 4-8
3-year trend: 16-21
Coach: Mike London (3 years)
Joined ACC: 1954
History vs. Gophers: The football teams have met once, with Virginia defeating Minnesota 34-31 in the 2005 Music City Bowl.
Big Ten appeal: The football and basketball programs aren’t as strong at Virginia, but the academics sure are. With Maryland coming into the fold, the Big Ten already has a foothold in the D.C. market, and this would strengthen that.

GEORGIA TECH
2012 record: 7-7
3-year trend: 21-19
Coach: Paul Johnson (5 years)
Joined ACC: 1983
History vs. Gophers: The football teams haven’t met.
Big Ten appeal: The Yellow Jackets have played in a bowl game every year since 1997 and reached the Orange Bowl in 2009 after winning the ACC. So the football program is legit, and so is the school. But let’s face it, this is all about Atlanta, getting the Big Ten Network onto all those televisions. Not only would that be a boon for the conference financially, but it should help other schools recruit throughout the South.

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