Tuesday, February 12, 2013
B1G open to alliances for schedules, bowls
By Adam Rittenberg
The sting from the collapse of the short-lived Big Ten/Pac-12 scheduling alliance isn't totally gone for Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, but his desire to form partnerships with other conferences hasn't wavered.
Delany told ESPN.com on Monday that the Big Ten continues to explore possible affiliations with other leagues, both for bowl games and non-league scheduling. The Big Ten will be increasing its conference schedules to nine or 10 games, reducing the number of nonconference games by one or two per season.
"We would like to discuss [partnerships]," Delany said. "We were disappointed that the [Pac-12] collaboration didn’t work. Whether we're at nine or 10, there will be fewer nonconference games, but we hope the fewer are better improved in quality. We would be very energized to sit down with others who were interested in also upgrading their schedules to see how we could do that."
Delany points out that different Big Ten programs have different goals, whether it's competing for national championships or making bowl games on a regular basis. But the message from the league office to its members is to push themselves more in non-league scheduling.
"What we've got to do is upgrade," Delany said. "It doesn't make any sense to be playing people from different divisions with fewer scholarships [FCS]. It doesn't make sense for everyone to be playing Southern Cal and Texas, but there's comparability there that we could seek out. We're trying to find out ways that we can create fair schedules, good schedules, healthy schedules for our teams, our players, our coaches and our fans."
Creating healthier bowl matchups also is an objective for the Big Ten. One idea gaining steam is to increase the flexibility of the selection process by sharing tie-ins with other conferences.
The Big Ten continues to have conversations with other leagues and bowl games as it prepares for its next lineup -- beginning in 2014 -- one built around " keeping things fresh for the fans and for the players and for the bowls," Delany said.
"If you have someone who goes to the same bowl three years in a row, that’s problematic," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said. "Even two years in a row is problematic. So how do we change that model?"
The Big Ten has valued its alliances with the Rose Bowl in football and with the ACC in basketball. Other leagues like the Big 12 also are motivated to form similar partnerships.
"The problem with partnerships beyond two or three or four is everybody has different objectives," Delany said. "Simple partnerships are easier than multilateral partnerships, but we'll explore both."