So much for life in the fast lane to Big Ten expansion. With the first day of the BCS meetings in the books, it appears that early speculation that the Big Ten may be ahead of schedule for Big Ten expansion may have been premature. All reports coming out of Phoenix indicate that the Big Ten will stick to their previously outlined 12-18 month schedule before finalizing the expected expansion.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany informed his fellow conference commissioners that the Big Ten would not stray from their original schedule, which should put some conferences at ease this week. The conferences most fearing Big Ten expansion would be the Big East and Big XII, but if the Big Ten is holding true to their word then those conferences would be safe for the time being. In order for the Big Ten to successfully expand they would be need to inform any potentially affected conference before extending an invitation to any university. If a targeted university was so inclined to leave their current home for the Big Ten they would need to apply for membership and be voted in by a majority of the current Big Ten members (a school must receive eight of eleven possible votes). A unanimous vote would not be required to join the Big Ten.
All eyes will be on Delany today as he is scheduled to address the media. Perhaps no commissioner has the cameras on him like Delany this week, as he is in position to be the face of the Big Ten as it prepares to set a dramatic domino effect in college athletics. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe and Big East commissioner John Marinatto will be paying close attention to Delany’s words.
Delany has mentioned that he will be as delicate as possible when the time does come for the Big Ten to hand out golden invitations. When the ACC raided the Big East there were some extra bitter feelings after the ACC left the Big East with little warning of the moves. If Delany has anything to say about it, the Big Ten will represent themselves in a much more respective way, although it will be tough for the Big East or Big 12 to be cracking many smiles when the exchange is made.
“I’ve gone out of my way, I’ve talked to conference commissioners,” Delany said to Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com. “I think they understand and they appreciate. Whether or not it plays out where everybody keeps their wits about them I don’t know. You have a choice of either being transparent about it or just doing it and hoping things fall together.”
Penn State’s president Graham Spanier said in a telephone interview with Sporting News that he does not expect to hear word on expansion from Delany this week. Spanier said that no final verdict was given to Delany after the recent AAU meetings in Washington D.C., in which each Big Ten institution was represented and conference expansion was discussed in meetings.
When it comes to Big Ten expansion, stay tuned.
More Notre Dame rumors
Dodd also draws out the much discussed potential of Notre Dame joining the Big Ten. It is not as out of the question as the Irish may lead you to believe. In fact, Notre Dame could essentially save the Big East. ESPN’s Big Ten blogger, Adam Rittenberg, suggests that Notre Dame still remains the top option for the Big Ten and if the Irish were to join the Big Ten then the conference could possibly stop with the expansion talk right there. But there is more to the Notre Dame scenario.
The Big East, fearing the worst, could use the Irish to their benefit. The Irish compete in most of their sports in the Big East, except for football. The Big East could issue an ultimatum to Notre Dame, demanding that they either join the conference on the football field or take their entire athletic program out of the Big East. The popular belief is that Notre Dame would never join the Big East in football, especially when they have turned down the Big Ten, and that move would leave the entire university stranded in no-man’s land. A jump to the Big Ten would then be even more logical for Notre Dame. If that were to happen the Big East would then receive a “promise”, as Dodd calls it, from the Big Ten that their expansion would hold at 12.
But could that stop the Big Ten from picking what they like form the Big 12 as well?
BCS ready for ESPN coverage
This coming season will see some change to the BCS, although it is far from what many college football fans are waiting for. This season will see the BCS switch networks, moving from FOX to the ESPN family of networks, including ABC. ESPN outbid FOX for the rights to broadcast the Sugar, Fiesta and Orange bowls. Of course, they already owned the rights to the Rose Bowl, which will jump from network coverage to the cable sports giant.
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