Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
After a quick trip to the mothership in Bristol, I'm back to Big Ten business today with the league's annual meetings of coaches and athletic directors. The meetings actually kicked off Monday, but since I'm a day behind, they're still worth previewing.
Several big-ticket items are likely to be discussed this week, including the biggest one, expansion. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany recently said the expansion issue is on "back burner," but it undoubtedly will be brought up by Penn State head coach Joe Paterno and others.
Here's what's on the menu this week in downtown Chicago:
1. Bowl lineup -- Five Big Ten's bowl agreements expire after the 2009 season, and the league likely will consider some changes to its lineup. The Capital One Bowl and Champs Sports Bowl are sure to come up this week as the Big Ten, along with the SEC, has legitimate concerns about Citrus Bowl Stadium and whether renovations will actually take place. Delany isn't the type to wait around for a renovation, and despite the Big Ten's recent performance in major bowls, the league remains extremely attractive to other games such as the Cotton Bowl.
2. Recruiting calendar -- Last year, Big Ten coaches floated a proposal that would add a two-week dead period to the summer recruiting calendar. This year, the coaches seem more interested in increasing their time on the recruiting trail. Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema told me last week that several head coaches want to get back on the road during May (only assistants can recruit right now).
3. Early signing date/official visits -- Like their colleagues around the country, Big Ten coaches undoubtedly will discuss an early signing date in recruiting. Bielema also mentioned that the coaches will debate whether to allow prospects to take official visits in May of their junior year of high school. Recruits currently can only take official visits during the fall of their senior year.
4. Rule changes -- New Big Ten coordinator of football officials Bill Carollo takes over this season, and he will discuss several ideas regarding rules, instant replay and officiating evaluation. Carollo wants to incorporate computer technology into the way coaches identify questionable calls and how the officials grade their own performances. An automated evaluation system should be a more efficient one. Carollo expects timing rules to be discussed, and the Big Ten will review its 2008 points of emphasis on safety and sportsmanship.
5. Expansion -- Paterno continues to bang the drum for a 12th member and a league championship in the Big Ten, noting that the league disappears from the national spotlight in late November and December. He will once again bring up the issue this week, and it will be interesting to see if the "snickering" he received in the past continues. Expansion might not be a hot-button issue for Delany, but Paterno remains an extremely well respected and influential voice, and he's not the only Big Ten football coach who wants a 12th team.
Check the blog throughout the next two days for updates from the Big Ten meetings.