After observing OSU Wednesday practice at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Delany praised the Buckeyes, as well as the university at-large, for their rebound from the NCAA investigation and eventual penalties that resulted in the 2012 postseason ban.
As you might expect, Delany hedges his bets when it comes to prognosticating about the college football season to come, saying, "I'm not going to put any onus on any team."
But as OSU is less than thee years removed from the tattoos-for-memorabilia scandal that rocked Buckeye Nation, there appears to be little doubt in his mind that head coach Urban Meyer's Buckeyes are now dealing from a desirable position on several fronts.
"I think Ohio State has not only stabilized but it is on a strong trajectory forward," Delany said. "The case was an unfortunate case. People made some mistakes but, you know, I was always so confident in the leadership at the institution. The president, the athletic director, the faculty (and) Board of Trustees did everything right. They reported what they knew when they knew it. There was no delay in that. … They've got a new coach in Coach Meyer who has been successful every place he's been."
Delany also had high praise for junior quarterback Braxton Miller, calling him one of the great storylines of 2013.
"Braxton Miller – fabulous player, and he's surrounded by a great group of players," Delany said.
Miller is among the preseason favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. Miller was also voted the league's Offensive Player of the Year in a media vote this preseason hosted by Cleveland.com.
Success in 2013 for Miller, Meyer and the rest of the OSU squad will likely be defined as winning a national championship. That's a challenging proposition when you consider the Southeastern Conference's current streak of seven consecutive national titles.
On the matter of bridging any perceived gulf in talent and ending SEC dominance in college football, Delany preferred to emphasize the Big Ten's national success across all sports as opposed to focusing solely on football, saying he'd take a title from any Big Ten team, regardless of the sport.
The Buckeyes, ranked No. 2 in the USA Today preseason coaches' poll, would seem to have as good a chance as any team at restoring the Big Ten's championship success, and Delany acknowledged that it's a program with lofty expectations.
"The Buckeyes, I'm sure, have high expectations for themselves, but that's why they play the games," he said. "Hey, if a Big Ten team wins a championship, it would be great in any sport. This team is highly ranked but I think the coach would tell you that their expectations are probably higher than any fan or pundit or poll."
Delany, now in his 25th year as conference commissioner, visited OSU Wednesday as part of a preseason tour of Big Ten campuses. He was presented with a helmet featuring 25 Buckeye leaf stickers by the team as part of its morning practice.
2013 marks the final year of the Bowl Championship Series before the college game moves to a four-team playoff system, and Delany said he isn't happy to see the BCS go. During a short reflection on college football's 15 years in the BCS system, Delany highlighted its positives while also acknowledging that it's natural for something like the four-team playoff to emerge.
"Don't forget, if it's the Rose Bowl, the BCS – I have a partnership. I don't criticize a partner; I try to grow the partnership. That's why the Rose Bowl is where it is, because the Big Ten (and) the Pac-12 have stood behind it and built it. So, that's why it's integrated into the playoff," Delany said. "(The BCS) took a lot of criticism but it brought college football to another level. The controversy, the enthusiasm, the passion that it engendered, I think, led to the four-team playoff. It was evolutionary."
With the additions of Maryland and Rutgers in time for the 2014 fall season, the Big Ten will swell its ranks to 14 member schools. The conference remains alert, Delany said, but more new additions do not appear likely anytime soon.
"We're really happy where we are. We're working full-speed on integration for 2014 of Maryland and Rutgers," Delany said. "We're working hard to build friendships and relationships in the east. I'll be spending a lot of time out there. It's a very high priority for us. We did, I think, a great job of integrating Nebraska and I think we'll do well out in the eastern corridor. … I think we're positioned well for the 21st century."