The Big Ten has the reputation—fair or not—of being stuck in the past. However, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has been progressive about conference expansion and stipends for athletes.
But when it comes to the Big Ten Championship Game, conference presidents and chancellors are taking an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality.
The conference announced Thursday that the football championship game would continue to be held in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium through the 2021 season.
Via ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, Delany explained that the football championship game is still in its relative infancy. Thus, expanding the site outside the traditional geographical footprint isn't a priority—yet.
We're not at the stage of experimentation with respect to indoor quality, the centrality of it; it's a new event. We've been cautious in trying to grow it, trying to understand it. We always thought it will be central. By the time we’ll finish up [the agreement], it will be 11 years there.
After 11 years we’ll figure out how successful it’s been, how much it’s grown, whether that kind of alternative venue makes sense. But at this point, we're building it, stabilizing it, creating a great brand around it, making it as accessible as possible.
Delany's logic makes sense. While relocating the conference's basketball tournament to Washington, D.C., in 2017 is a clear sign the Big Ten is moving East, it's not forgetting its origins. Furthermore, Indianapolis is a good city, one that's more than capable of hosting an event like this.
The travel is doable too. The conference title game takes place one week after the end of the regular season. Unless divisions have been locked up ahead of time, there's not a lot of room for extensive planning from a fan's perspective. Since there are only two teams involved, the location needs to be as accessible as possible.
Keeping the location centralized in an area where it can, for the most part, be reached by driving or short flights is a reasonable call. Really, only Maryland and Rutgers are at a geographical disadvantage here.
Of course, there are other neutral-site locations in Big Ten territory that could host the game: Minneapolis (with its new stadium), Detroit and Chicago are on the short list.
Keeping the game inside is another good idea, even though the idea of it all is very anti-Big Ten. Although Chicago has received consideration before (via ESPN's Rittenberg), playing indoors provides teams and fans with ideal conditions.
Yes, sub-freezing temperatures and snow is football weather—when you're watching the game from the comfort of your climate-controlled home.
This isn't to say the site won't change down the road, but the Big Ten has found a site that works. The SEC found one with Atlanta, and the Pac-12 recently moved its title game to Santa Clara, California.
To deviate from what works isn't on the agenda for the Big Ten. Nor should it be.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand.
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