- 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.”

AP: Many see the future of intercollegiate sports as super conferences. Do you see that coming?

JD: “We already have them. The Big East is a super conference. And the WAC was. But then there’s others that are smaller. I think you’ll see variations. I think the basic model’s probably at a dozen. And that’s the ACC, the Pac-10 and the Big Ten, and the SEC. But I think the Big 12 is going to be really comfortable at 10. … We worked with 11 quite well for 20 years. We’re cautious and conservative, try to be reflective. We’re up to 12 now. I know a lot of people write about super conferences, but we didn’t give a lot of thought to it.”

AP: The Big Ten has said that further expansion is on the back burner. When do you think the Big Ten might expand again?

JD: “To be honest with you, I know we’ll monitor the landscape as any good group ought to, every five years or so. We all read the papers and we all watch TV and we all watch our competition. But I will tell you this, the amount of respect or affection we have for each other is high and we really want to play each other more and not less. And so I think it’s more likely than not that we’ll be at 12 for many years.”

AP: Do you believe Notre Dame will remain an independent in football?

JD: “I do. I do. I think that’s their destiny. I take them at their word. We had some discussions 10 years ago. We really haven’t had any discussions with them since. … Their history has been independent and their destiny is as an independent.”

AP: Do you foresee any possibility at any time in the future that the Big Ten might favor a playoff system rather than the BCS and the current bowl system?

JD: “No. You wanted a simple answer to a simple question.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide