- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Later today, the Big Ten will issue a statement acknowledging that the expansion issue has moved from the back burner to the front burner. Nothing is imminent, but the chances of expansion are stronger now than they were six months ago.
There's clearly growing support for a 12th team among the league's football coaches, most notably Penn State's Joe Paterno. And Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez made it crystal clear Friday that the league's athletic directors also see the need to expand.
But what about the Big Ten presidents? They wield the most power in this debate, and they're the folks to whom league commissioner Jim Delany ultimately answers.
Ohio State's E. Gordon Gee, one of the more powerful presidents in the Big Ten, said Monday that he sees the need for a 12th team in league, which would create a conference championship game like the SEC, Big 12, ACC and others.
"We have to be thoroughly modern and realize the world has moved on, and having a playoff for the Big Ten championship makes sense," Gee told The Columbus Dispatch. "I'm not planting a stake in the ground on that issue, but it's something we now need to tackle."
Columnist Rob Oller points out that Gee opposed the addition of a 12th regular-season game back in 2006. Gee still staunchly opposes a playoff in college football.
But he recognizes the urgency for the Big Ten to expand, and the conference office does, too.
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