CHICAGO — Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis were both available for interviews Wednesday morning, as the league’s ADs meetings wrapped up.
Some of the topics were repetitive from Tuesday’s discussions, but both had interesting things to say on a number of fronts, including bowl games and a critical upcoming year for MSU football.
Here are the highlights, followed by my take on the issue:
– The news of the day came from Delany, who added to the Big Ten’s evolving bowl situation by saying, with the next round of bowl tie-ins (beginning in 2014), one condition for the Big Ten’s affiliated bowls is they’ll have to choose five different teams over a six-year period. This, of course, is beyond the Rose Bowl, and it’s unclear exactly what those tie-ins will be. It’s obvious the New York Pinstripe Bowl and Holiday Bowl are part of a mix of what’s expected to be six second- and third-tier bowls.
My take: I think this will be challenging to do. But I do like that the Big Ten is trying to avoid “bowl fatigue” — a popular buzz phrase this week — for its fan bases. Even if this only partially works, it’ll force us to change the way we evaluate bowls, no longer equating a Capital One trip as more prestigious than any other.
– Hollis spoke about the seriousness of this upcoming season for MSU football. It should be noted, he was prompted to do so by a question that afforded almost no other response. What was he supposed to say? “Well, guys, we’ll do our best and see how it goes.” Still, they were strong words and I’m sure, by some media outlets, will be sensationalized. Here’s some of what Hollis said, when asked at what point 6-6 becomes unacceptable: “(If it happened again) there’d probably be a gathering of troops to ask why are we there two years in a row. … It is a very important season for Michigan State, no question.”
My take: Again, this was prompted and a probably unavoidable response. But it is important that MSU’s AD is on record with such urgency. It’s a starting point with him if this season were to play out poorly.
– Both Delany and Hollis addressed the league’s mandate to improve non-league football scheduling, as was discussed thoroughly Tuesday. Hollis said MSU was on track to meeting the objectives anyway, but does think, in some years for some schools, logistics will make the ideal schedule impossible. His concern, however, is that schools aren’t rewarded in the secondary postseason market for tough scheduling.
My take: If the new bowl model, beyond the college football playoff and premier bowls, is dictated more by the Big Ten and a forced rotation of teams, as it appears, this will take care of itself. Bowls will be taking the only team left they haven’t had in the last six years and who a school played and beat will matter less than what bowl game they haven’t been to.
– Hollis said bringing back the MSU-Penn State end-of-season football rivalry isn’t a high enough priority for him to make it happen. He also likes the idea of finishing the season in markets such as Minneapolis, Chicago and New York.
My take: I thought this had developed into a nice rivalry over time, similar to what MSU-Wisconsin has become more recently. Hollis sounded less impressed by it. While a MSU-Penn State finale seems like a natural fit in the new division setup, Hollis is right that there are greater priorities as everything unfolds.
– It doesn’t appear there will be divisions in basketball. Delany said there isn’t any appetite for it. Hollis later said he thought the league needed to pick up the pace in planning for basketball in this new 14-team schedule.
My take: I think basketball is the revenue sport most hurt by having 14 teams in the Big Ten. The Big Ten’s emphasis on the regular season makes it unique and better than other leagues. Some of that will probably be lost. The sport needs to become a greater priority. But the money is in football.
– In terms of the timetable for the release of the 2014 football schedule and the new bowl lineup, the schedule should come this week, the bowl lineup some time next week or the following week.
My take: Read a book, go to the beach, play kickball, spend time with your family and forget about this stuff until late July or August.
– Both Delany and Hollis said MSU was inactive in expansion discussions, other than Hollis joking that the Big Ten is going to add the University of Toronto.
Line of the day: “Gopher football is better with Bud(weiser).” — Columnist Drew Sharp during a discussion with Minnesota AD Norwood Teague about serving alcohol at games.