Sunday, April 28, 2013
More reaction to Big Ten realignment
By Brian Bennett
More reaction to the Big Ten division alignment and nine-game schedule is rolling in. Check it out ...
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez (to ESPN.com)
On being in the West: "I love the regional aspect of it. And that was our No. 1 priority this time. It's good for us. I like the fact that we keep our natural rivalry with Minnesota. I like the fact that we have Iowa back on the schedule every year. Same with Nebraska. We've got our border war games, along with Northwestern and Illinois. So I'm very pleased with it."
On whether West Division teams get Eastern exposure: "Especially since we're going to go to nine games, I think we'll have plenty of exposure on the East Coast. Plus, the Big Ten Network will get picked up in those areas, in New Jersey and Maryland."
On whether he thinks there's balance between divisions: "I do. Don't forget we won the league the last three years in a row."
On future scheduling: "It's going to be a little more difficult to manage, because every other year you only have four conference home games. All of us like to work off a seven-game home schedule for budgetary reasons, so it's something we've got to deal with. I think it's a good thing, and it's good for our fans because I think it strengthens our schedule, and that's one of the things we wanted to accomplish. [Scheduling] gets a little trickier. I kind of have a feeling that neutral-site games may come into a play a little bit more.
On moving forward now: "It was very difficult to get your schedule worked out. So now we can work on scheduling through the league, and it will allow us to really get aggressive with scheduling down the road."
On decision-making process: "I thought it was a good process. We really have a very good group of directors who work hand in hand and keep the conference in mind. We all want to do the best thing for our conference. Everyone cooperated. It wasn't exactly what everyone wanted, but in the long run, I think everyone's pleased."
Indiana athletic director Fred Glass (to ESPN.com)
On competing in the East Division: "We're in the Eastern Time Zone and tend to look more east and west. I think our fans tend to look more east than west, and I think they relate more with the Michigans, the Ohio States and Penn States than they do with the Minnesotas, the Wisconsins and the Iowas. We're in a division with teams our fans most like to see and our players most like to play against: Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State.
"We think, from a recruiting perspective, we've got an advantage. We can go into living rooms and say 'Hey, in our division, you're going to be playing year in, year out against Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State.' We've embraced it and are excited about it."
On scheduling: "With the five-four split [on league home/road games], we've got to be very mindful to keep in that sweet spot of seven home games. But we've already had challenges with that. This year we've got eight, and we've had six, so it's moved around. We'll do the best we can on that. We haven't backed off of playing quality nonconference competition, and we won't do that as we go forward. We're very supportive of dropping the [FCS] teams and committing to playing a BCS quality team [in the nonconference schedule]. I think it will improve the quality of conference play and hopefully how we do in postseason as well."
On being in what looks like the tougher division: "We're obviously in what's being perceived as the division with traditionally the strongest football powers. ... We're in the Big Ten because we want to play tough teams. You look around for wins, and they're hard to come by. The relative strength separating teams is increasingly incremental. We're glad we're in the big boy division, and we're going to embrace that."
On the voting process: "I would say everybody came to the table with a can-do attitude, very collegial. That doesn't mean there weren't some issues we had to work through and even some disagreements. But it was never acrimonious. For me, it was a very positive experience.
On protecting rivalries: "One cool aspect is that I think it's very understandable by fans, and I think that's very important. The other thing is it protects rivalries, which I think is the lifeblood of the conference. We lost a little bit of that when we split up along what we perceived to be competitive divisions. This enables us to preserve those sort of by osmosis, and I think that's a really good thing for everybody."
Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis (to the Detroit Free Press):
On being in the East: "I’m excited about the opportunity and I’m looking forward to it. I think [recruits] are going to look at it very positively, the chance to come to Michigan State and play in big games every year. And I think our fans will look at it that way, too…
"Coach [Mark] Dantonio often talks about seeing the glass half full, and it’s very true in this case. We have a great opportunity before us, and that’s how this entire athletic department is looking at it. We’re viewing this as a positive."
On 2016, when the Spartans are scheduled to play Alabama and Notre Dame: Everything’s under review. And don’t overreact to that, because I think [the Alabama series] is safe. We want to play these games, we’re not shying away from them. … But this is a challenge."
Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke
"We looked at lots of data and discussed multiple options. The East/West split seemed to make the most sense as long as the Bucket game [with Indiana] was protected. It is just easier for everyone to remember. In addition, we have taken steps to enhance scheduling by adding a ninth conference game beginning in 2016. This will create some challenges to nonconference games already scheduled and we will be working on this issue in the days ahead."
Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman
"We are supportive of this option for Big Ten Conference football divisional realignment. It is the best option, and it will serve us well. One important feature is that it allows every football student-athlete to compete against every other conference team at least once in every four-year period."
Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst
“Commissioner [Jim] Delany and our conference chancellors and presidents have taken a strong and positive step in aligning the Big Ten Conference football divisions based on geography, in addition to implementing a nine-game conference schedule in future years. These changes will have a positive impact on our great university, football program and Husker supporters. We are excited about playing more conference games closer to home and the ability to continue to schedule seven home games on an annual basis.”
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini
“First and foremost, our focus is on continuing to prepare for the 2013 season and the current divisional setup and schedule. Looking down the road, the Big Ten is such a deep and balanced conference that any way you divide the teams you are going to have two competitive divisions. Geography seems to be a logical way to determine the divisions, and it should allow for easier travel for our fans. The nine-game conference schedule will help improve the strength of schedules across the board in the Big Ten, and I think everyone anticipates strength of schedule being a key component for choosing teams to participate in the new playoff system.”