- Associated Press - Monday, December 13, 2010

COLUMBUS, OHIO (AP) - A question-and-answer session with Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany about the conference’s future, the conference’s new divisional names and logo and just what’s in store for Notre Dame and the BCS:

AP: Ever been kidded because the name of the conference has remained Big Ten despite having first 11 teams and now 12?

JD: “A lot of it is in good fun. I came to the Big Ten in ‘89, we added Penn State in ‘90, we added the new (trade)mark around ‘90 or ‘91. I, for one, thought it’d be natural to explore different and new names. We actually went through a process of reviewing new names. The reality was our presidents, our athletic directors and our faculty 20 years ago, and I will tell you there’s not one athletic director, one faculty member, one president (who was in favor of a name change). The people who are here today feel exactly like the people who were here 20 years ago.”

AP: When it came to the new division names, did you consider just naming them _ as so many have suggested _ after iconic players or coaches from the past?

JD: “We’ve got a treasure trove of great people who’ve helped us create and establish the traditions and the values that we have. We couldn’t ever arrive at honoring two individuals in that way. And so, to use a football metaphor, we punted on that.”

AP: Some might say that the division names the Big Ten has chosen _ Leaders and Legends _ are bland, and there’s nothing distinctive or unique about them, that they could pertain to any conference.

JD: “All of these things will engender discussion, from the addition of Nebraska, to the selection of a television partner to the selection of where the inaugural (championship game) will occur, to the divisional structure, who’s in what division. We want to engage our fans. All I can tell you is that we thought long and hard about what not to do. We thought harder about what to do. I think there’s a calculation here we’re trying to tie ourselves to our history and to also project forward by marrying the teaching aspect and the learning aspect that we think are inherent.”

AP: When it comes to the trophy names, there must have been a huge volume of names to consider and winnow through.

JD: “Hundreds of individuals.”

AP: Now that the divisional alignments for football have been out there for three months, do you have any second thoughts about the setup, and have some within the conference expressed disappointment in where the teams are?

JD: “No, not really. There’s a lot of support for the way that it’s set up. I would say that the only noise that we had was because we didn’t go East and West, we weren’t able to get the amount of competition between Wisconsin and Iowa and Wisconsin and Nebraska that a geographic distribution would have allowed us to do. But if we had gone that way, I think we would have fallen short of the first principle, which was competitive equality.”

AP: Do you foresee a time when the divisional alignment will be re-evaluated and tweaked if there is an imbalance between the two divisions?

JD: “We certainly didn’t set it up to change it. I doubt whether or not a five-year competitive record would be sufficient justification to go back to the drawing board. I think if you look at it 20 years from now and it was out of kilter and it had been out of kilter for a decade, some future administration might look at it. … Twenty years from now, maybe the world will be different. And maybe it’ll be time to take a look. But we certainly didn’t set out thinking we were going to be tweaking this on a five- or 10-year basis.”

AP: You’ve been commissioner for almost 22 years. Do you think of retirement? How long will you continue as the Big Ten’s commissioner?

JD: “As long as I’m relevant, as long as I’m enjoying it and as long as the people I work for think that I’m contributing. I really haven’t given it a lot of thought. It’s really not about tenure, because I’ve really never been one to count the number of years I was here. I’m sort of more interested in the projects we’re working on and whether or not we’re successfully pushing projects forward.”

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