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Thursday, May 17, 2012
B1G quiet on expansion, watching terrain

By Adam Rittenberg

CHICAGO -- Two years ago, Big Ten expansion dominated the discussion at league's spring meetings.

This week, the subject barely came up when athletic directors and others got together. The Big Ten presidents and chancellors announced in August that the league "will not be actively engaged in conference expansion at this time, or at any time in the foreseeable future, barring a significant shift in the current intercollegiate athletic landscape."

The shifting elsewhere has continued, and teams are switching leagues practically every day, but the Big Ten seems content to stay out of the realignment chaos. Iowa athletic director Gary Barta told ESPN.com the ADs spent "hardly any time at all" talking about realignment this week.

"We have a great 12," Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips said. "We have some really like-minded institutions, and I think everybody's more than thrilled about where we're at right now. Do you make sure you understand what's going on in the landscape? Absolutely. That's our responsibility. But right now, are we really, really pleased with where we're at? That's an exclamation point."

Most of the monitoring responsibility falls on Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who stated those in his position are "not doing their job" if they don't track issues like expansion, television deals and compliance issues. Since the Big Ten began realignment fever in December 2009, every other league in the FBS has changed in some way.

The Pac-10 became the Pac-12. The SEC has swelled to 14 teams, and the ACC soon will, too, unless Florida State heads for greener pastures.

"The tectonic plates underneath conference alignment are still hot," Delany said Wednesday. "... Clearly you're reading that some people who thought they were going in one direction, TCU, are now going in another direction. Some out West who thought they were going East are now maybe reconsidering that. You're seeing discussions. So what that tells me is the tectonic plates, there's still fluidity. Our position hasn't changed. We're very pleased with the 12 institutions we have. We're not in an active mode.

"But we're monitoring it."