The Big Ten-SEC rivalry stretches far beyond the playing field. The leagues also compete in setting the agenda in college sports, whether it's ventures like expansion or shaping reforms and policy issues.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive outlined a four-part "agenda" Wednesday in his opening address at the league's 72-hour media day extravaganza.
Slive's proposals include:
Getting scholarships to reflect the full cost of attendance
Offering multiyear scholarships rather than renewable one-year grants
Increasing the minimum GPA for incoming freshmen in the 16 core courses from 2.0 to 2.5
The return of partial qualifiers, or Prop 48 cases. These athletes could be admitted to schools and allowed to practice on a limited basis, but they couldn't play until their academic situation improved.
A recruiting overhaul -- "It's time to press the reset button," Slive said -- that would allow more electronic communication (including social media), simplify the recruiting calendar and take steps to limit the influence of agents, runners and 7-on-7 teams.
Support for the NCAA's efforts to upgrade enforcement
Slive's comments certainly didn't go unnoticed at Big Ten headquarters in Park Ridge, Ill., especially by commissioner Jim Delany. As our colleague Pat Forde tweeted, "Slive got to bad leadoff, set agenda." Delany, meanwhile, gets his turn at the plate next week at Big Ten media days.
How will Delany and the Big Ten respond to Slive and the SEC?
Brian Bennett: Adam, I'm reminded of Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema's crack last month when asked about the SEC's decision to forbid graduate transfers. "I'm glad the SEC is now taking such a leading role in NCAA proposals," Bielema said with a smirk. "That’s a very entertaining thing for me to watch." And it is somewhat ironic to see the SEC take a leadership role in any kind of reform. But give the league credit for being out in front on some interesting ideas, especially in the case of multi-year scholarships and higher admission standards.
Delany and Slive are already on the same page when it comes to cost of attendance. Will Delany go along with the other proposals? The Big Ten certainly views itself as more high-minded than the SEC, so you know Delany will have to give his take on this matter. I see little objectionable here for the Big Ten other than partial qualifiers. Delany is a former NCAA investigator, so he should be in favor of enhanced enforcement staffs. But I don't think the Big Ten, no matter how much it may agree with some of these reforms, wants to be seen as the tail being wagged by that dog down south.
Adam Rittenberg: Brian, the Big Ten really started the cost of attendance discussion in May, so I don't think there's a need to play catch-up there. I can't imagine Delany would take issue with the academic eligibility proposals and the need to monitor recruits' academic progress throughout high school, not just at the end. Moving the initial GPA from 2.0 to 2.5 is probably a bigger deal for SEC schools than Big Ten schools. The Big Ten wants to eliminate oversigning, and like you, I don't think Delany will support the return of partial qualifiers as many see it as a tool for schools to continue to oversign. It'll be interesting to hear Delany's take on some of the other recruiting reforms Slive proposed.
The enforcement component is the big one for Delany. Not that he'll disagree with anything Slive said, but Delany once again needs to take a hard-line stance on enforcement after the Ohio State situation, like he did in early June. The enforcement process must be streamlined, and efforts to upgrade enforcement should be supported by the game's most powerful figures.
One thing is sure: Delany will have a response and most likely some new wrinkles to shape the agenda.