Notes from Big Ten Media Days

Here are some notes of perhaps some of the more pertinent information from Big Ten Media Days today. Much of it relates to the comments of Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany who expanded a little more on the expansion talk and, of course, Nebraska.

Been watching Big Ten Media Days, and it's been kind of funny how often expansion talk still comes up, even on the doorstep of a season which has nothing to do with a year from now. Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema continued his speech about liking the idea of Nebraska as an annual rival, while coaches like Iowa's Kirk Ferentz voiced that geographically, it made sense. But he would defer the ultimate decision to the divisions to those who will actually be making them.

On to Delany, a few key notes in regard to some of the hot-button issues:
  • In regard to division alignment, he said that a decision on that could come in weeks, not months
  • He said the same thing in regard to the location for a championship game as well as the picking the network which would cover it
  • And the logo, something I am sure everyone is waiting on eagerly, should be a reality around that time frame as well.
  • In regard to continuing expansion, Delany said that right now the focus is on Nebraska and getting them completely acclimated as a member of the Big Ten. But he didn't rule out the possibility that they could still add some teams. There was an initial thought in regard to this expansion process that the panel which participated in coming to any sort of decision, would study expansion for 12-18 months. The addition of Nebraska was escalated due to some decisions Nebraska had to make early on. But Delany said that the study continues in regard to adding more, and that they are still just six months into that recently projected time line.
  • On the Big Ten Network telecast of Delany's speech they threw up a table off to the left indicating the miles from Nebraska to each of the locations in the Big Ten. This is how the table read:
  • Iowa - 301 miles
  • Minnesota - 431 miles
  • Wisconsin - 495 miles
  • Illinois - 518 miles
  • Northwestern - 547 miles
  • Purdue - 621 miles
  • Indiana - 637 miles
  • Michigan State - 725 miles
  • Michigan - 745 miles
  • Ohio State - 815 miles
  • Penn State - 1,087 miles
  • Following the first question posed to Delany from the media, he indicated that in a conversation with those member institution's presidents that we may not hear anything official in regard to potentially expanding beyond the 12 teams until December.
  • On traditional rivalries already within the conference such as Michigan vs Ohio State, Delany said that this particular match up was key. But he did say that the divisions of the teams would first, be logical in regard to competitive balance, but second, that it would be conscious of the rivalries that exist in the conference right now. Delany estimated that there were as many as 15 trophy games within the conference at this time.
  • One particularly interesting note is that Delany said he observed of some conference expansions that when they took place, teams within those conferences played certain teams less. Nebraska vs. Oklahoma would be one good example, though, Delany himself cited no specific teams. But he did say that teams who join a conference do so because they want to be in it, and the conferences wants them in as well, So, the idea should be to play teams more, if possible. So, to that end they are looking at adding a ninth conference game, which could potentially take the non-conference slate to three instead of four. That's something he said probably wouldn't be able to happen right away.
  • Back to divisional alignment, competition balance, preservation of rivalries and geography are the main criteria, Delany said. He said all the date will be evaluated in regard to national titles, bcs games, conference and non-conference won/loss records, sagarin rankings, etc. He said the appropriate time frame to measure from is when Penn State joined in 1990 to now.
  • On potentially rotating the location of a championship site, Delany said that it first starts with establishing the divisions. After that it's about locating a site. He said there is no time right now, that being in the next two to three months, to visit all those potential venues. There was a thought of picking one for now and then evaluating the potential locations at a future date.
  • Delany said that there is a thought about divisional alignment not necessarily applying to all sports. He wasn't sure how much it would benefit basketball, for example. So, there is a chance that while there will be an alignment for football, that alignment isn't necessarily going to apply for all the other sports at each of the respective institutions.
  • When asked about the potential of Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State all being in the same division, Delany said that the consideration after evaluating all the data would be to as realistically as possible, make each division as equal as possible to the other. So, if the data supported it, the placing of these programs would be done in a manner that would give them the best balance between the two.
  • In regard to a potential name change of the conference, Delany said that the Big Ten is the Big Ten, regardless of the number of teams in the conference.
  • Delany also offered this little tidbit: He recommended Dan Beebe to be Commissioner of the Big 12. Delany said that he was the Commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference, and following him was Beebe who was there for there for over a decade.
  • Another question was asked about Notre Dame being a potential player in potential expansion, and he said he didn't see them as a player at all.
  • Here's another interesting tidbit in that a reported asked about Nebraska's status as one of the winningest programs in Division 1-A history and about the decision which was made to include them as a member of the Big Ten. The reporter asked if the study of Nebraska was more a result of what's happened from the early-90s on and not what they did for their entire history. Without hesitating Delany said "Nebraska has won three national championships in that time frame. So, they have been pretty good in that time frame and they were pretty good before that time frame."
  • Back to the conference make up and the proposed nine-game conference season, the drawback seems to be when you look at the math, that each team could have five away games with only four at home. Each team would then have to make those up during non-conference if they had a goal of seven home games each year. Delany said that there are a number of teams which are now scheduling home-and-homes with high profile teams. Penn State goes to Alabama to play on Sept. 11 this season. Delany continued and said that they would work with those institutions which schedule these games, and there could potentially be a rotation between member institutions of the conference so that in those years where these schools play away, they could potentially have five games at home against four away during conference play. It's one of the interesting situations which from a financial perspective, could be a considerable factor as division alignment is considered and for future scheduling. Nebraska has home-and-homes scheduled in the future with Miami, Tennessee and UCLA, just to name a few.

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