To: Jim Delany
From one Jim to another:
Granted, I am first a Notre Dame fan. But, as someone who has lived their entire life in Big Ten country and still watches plenty of its games, here are just a few thoughts on the final week of the football season:
- First and foremost, you have the most parity top to bottom, of any conference in the country. Congratulations on that. As we have seen this season, on any given Saturday, any team can (and has) beaten any other team in this conference.
- Second, do something about your officials. Please. I understand wanting to enforce certain rules at the beginning of the season. But last I checked, a pancake block doesn't constitute holding. The "dual possession" INT in the IU-Michigan game is probably one of the five worst calls of the season. And don't even get me started about the replay officals.
- Finally, the Big Ten conference is becoming an afterthought in the college football world. Your conference is slowly becoming the punch line to a few too many jokes by fans of the SEC and Big XII. Recruits are looking for sunnier shores instead of greener pastures. Down years (by traditional standards) for Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan (for the second straight year) will have that effect on the conference. In order to re-establish the conference as one of the premier ones in college football, I have established a simple plan for you:
- Extend the season so that it doesn't end the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving. Are you still stuck in the 1970's? Based on the 2009 schedules, only Illinios and Wisconsin play after Turkey Day. There are around 50 games scheduled for the holiday week, and only one features a Big Ten team. Do you see the problem with that?
- Based on Point No. 1, only two of your teams had a bye week during this season. Scheduling is not your friend, and even the most well-conditioned teams need a break. Please try to avoid this in future years.
- Add a 12th team. Seriously. This allows for a Big Ten championship game to be played the same day as the SEC, Big XII, and ACC championship games. Don't let the Pac 10 beat you to the punch while you can still negotiate TV deals. I wouldn't hedge your bets by showcasing this game on the Big Ten Network, either. I know you are waiting for that New York market to open up, but really your only options for that are Rutgers and Syracuse. Your other options include Missouri, Kentucky, Louisville, Pittsburgh and West Virginia. As a Notre Dame fan, I really don't think you have a shot there.
That is all I have. Above all, keep it simple and a few minor tweaks get you right back where you were 10-15 years ago. Thanks