Those of us hoping Jim Delaney's Wednesday news conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., would shed some light on the Big Ten's expansion process will just have to wait. Not so much.
As Delaney said, there were no "announcements" or "notifications" at hand Wednesday. Instead, the Big Ten commissioner delivered a rather pat and information-light news conference, confirming what most people already believed -- that the Big Ten was considering expansion, that its timetable was 12 to 18 months, that more than one team could be added, and so on -- without adding anything new. That leaves us exactly where we were before. Expansion could happen, but we don't know much more than that. Until it's formally announced, we probably won't.
In the meantime, the Big East is looking a little nervous. Many believe the Big Ten, if it expanded to 14 or 16, would poach at least a few Big East schools from the mix. Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse and Notre Dame are all frequently mentioned candidates. Some in the Big East believe such a realignment would cripple the Big East permanently, and while that reaction might be a little overheated, the conference does seem interested in keeping all 16 of its teams under the Big East banner.
How do you do that? You bring in former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue to get er' done:
Paul Tagliabue, the Commissioner of the NFL from 1989 until 2006, will serve as a Special Advisor to the Big East Conference to provide strategic advice on future television arrangements and other priority matters, Big East Commissioner John Marinatto announced. Tagliabue, who currently chairs the Board of Directors of Big East member Georgetown University, will serve the Big East on a volunteer basis.
"Few individuals have had as broad and deep experiences in sports as Paul Tagliabue," stated Commissioner Marinatto. "Paul's understanding of collegiate athletics and academics and his extensive experience and leadership of the NFL for 17 years will certainly be invaluable to the Big East Conference and its 16 member institutions."
Is that a bird? Is it a plane? Is it an older, less aggressively punitive Roger Goodell? Guess again -- it's Paul Tagliabue, everybody! He's going to save the Big East! (Cue Super Best Friends music and ... out.)
In all seriousness, Tagliabue's hiring and stated job description are not exactly difficult to analyze. The Big East is preparing to fight. The conference is desperately concerned about losing stalwart schools like Syracuse and Pittsburgh, and it's going to do everything in its power to make sure that doesn't happen. Including, apparently, hiring a former NFL commissioner. If the Big Ten was the NFL Players Association, the Big East would be in fantastic shape.