CHICAGO — The Big Ten’s athletic directors meetings have turned into an organized annual media event here in Chicago. Partly because of the news that’s emerged in recent years and because, when it’s not organized, reporters tend to ambush unsuspecting ADs and coaches (see 2011 … I’ll take that elevator, Jim Tressel).
This year’s meetings here in Chicago don’t have quite the juice of 2010 (Nebraska joining the Big Ten) or last year (the beginning of the escalation of serious college football playoff talk), but there’s plenty going on.
Discussions about scheduling, bowl games and expansion were among the noteworthy topics of Tuesday’s post-meeting interviews with several of the Big Ten’s ADs. Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis and commissioner Jim Delany are scheduled to be available Wednesday afternoon.
Here are a few highlights …
– Non-league scheduling has been a topic in the two days of athletic directors meetings. The idea, according to Michigan AD Dave Brandon and others said, is to play “relevant” football in September and create more excitement early in the season. “Football can be pretty boring in September if all your teams are playing down (in) competition,” Brandon said. Brandon also believes it’ll improve the quality of football. Every AD seems on board with this.
– The 2014 Big Ten football schedule will not apparently be out Wednesday, despite Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez’s assertion that it would. The correction came out late Tuesday afternoon. The 2015 schedule, Alvarez said, is simply the 2014 schedule flipped in terms of who each school plays home and road. We’ll see if he’s at least right on that.
– The idea of the MSU and Penn State game becoming an annual end-of-season matchup again hasn’t been discussed, according to Penn State AD Dave Joyner, but is a possibility, and one I think makes sense. This Land Grant Trophy game had developed into a decent rivalry and worthwhile season-finale tradition, before being broken up when it wasn’t protected when the Legends and Leaders Divisions were set up. I’m curious to hear what Hollis has to say about it Wednesday. But Michigan-Ohio State, Maryland-Rutgers, Indiana-Purdue and MSU-Penn State would seem to be the ideal final week of the regular season for the East Division and Purdue.
– The Big Ten bowl lineup changes in 2014 and the league’s priorities for bowl games are changing, too. Brandon talked about his preference to move his program around and give student-athletes and fans different experiences. Beyond the Rose Bowl, he said, many of the second-tier Big Ten bowls don’t have much more luster than the next. Purdue AD Morgan Burke said there are likely to be a few surprises in the bowl lineup and how teams land in certain bowls will change to avoid repeats. The Holiday Bowl (San Diego) and New York Pinstripes Bowl both appear to be on the docket.
I’ll have a column on the familiar and acknowledged silence on expansion for Wednesday’s Lansing State Journal. Colleague Mark Snyder will have a piece on scheduling and bowl issues, also at LSJ.com.