As Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany yields the magic stick that could expand the Big Ten to include more teams, he is exponentially putting the conference at risk as well.
Listen, expansion at this point in time seems as inevitable as it is plausible. The conference wants to add more teams to make more money. It isn’t rocket science, but it also isn’t the simplest concept.
The two main issues simply revolve around how many schools Delany and company want to bring into the conference and what colleges they will actually be.
This is surely a hot-button issue not among Big Ten schools, but among the college sports world in general. Taking teams from other conferences—like the Big 12 or the Big East, for example—would add more to the Big Ten but would simplify those other conferences. That seems to be a main concern for commissioners of outside conferences.
In Big Ten meetings this week in Chicago, Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis admitted that he, as well as other athletic directors from other schools, are “cautious” about expansion because they aren’t sure how it will affect their program and their branding as a whole. It could be like shooting a gun blindfolded: hit or miss.
As expansion is constantly being discussed, it also puts other schools from other conferences in virtual limbo. Schools like Rutgers, Nebraska, and Notre Dame, among others, are constantly being discussed as possible transfers to the newly reformed Big Ten.
The main quip I have is that the entire process is being conducted on a whim.
While Delany strings along these other conferences’ schools, it seems like he is trying to pick and choose at his own volition, all while discounting the effects these rumors are having on those schools themselves. I understand it is a very lengthy and complicated process, but even rumors about possible schools adding to expansion could be handled in a mild-mannered way.
Whether eventual expansion will result in 12, 14, or 16 schools is just another major question in the equation. It is just another element in Delany’s master plan.
If only anybody knows the direction in which that plan is going.