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Big Ten expansion, student support, JoePa & Twitter

BY BRENDAN STILES | JULY 28, 2009 7:07 AM

CHICAGO — Discussions about conference expansion and the addition of a ninth conference game were at the forefront of Big Ten football media days on Monday.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany described the discussions regarding the addition of a ninth Big Ten game for teams as “alive” but said there isn’t a clear majority on whether it should be done.

One concern he has is with what may happen with scheduling nonconference rivalries, such as one Iowa has with Iowa State.

Another sticking point involves the revenue that schools make in having seven or eight home games in a season instead of just six.

“By losing a home game and going from eight to nine games, you actually lose four home games in an eight-year period,” he said. “It has a profound effect on budgeting, and you’re got to figure out exactly how you’re going to manage that.”

As for expansion and possibly having a championship game, Delany said there has been a lull in discussions, drawing parallels with the days before the Big Ten finally had a men’s basketball tournament as do other major conferences.

The commissioner admitted his own reluctance in making the idea a reality.

“I understand. We’re out of the mainstream for that week to 10 days, and I don’t think it’s good. But I don’t think by itself is the reason why you would go forward,” he said.

Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster supported adding a 12th team to the league.

“Playing into December, adding a team and playing a championship game, in my mind, would be a very positive step for our conference,” he said.

Big Ten’s national image critiqued

Officials also addressed the distinct differences between the Big Ten and other major conferences, such as the SEC.

The Big Ten’s 1-6 record in bowls last season was well-documented, and coaches found themselves responding to the statistic defensively.

“I don’t know that anyone in this conference has an inferiority complex,” Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. “But it is something that we take very, very seriously. Every time we line up outside our conference, obviously, we’re representing ourselves and our institution, but we’re representing this league. That’s important to us.”

Lynch seeking student support

Indiana head football coach Bill Lynch seemed to have taken a page from Iowa men’s basketball coach Todd Lickliter’s playbook from last January, going to fraternities and sororities across the Bloomington campus to drum up support for the Hoosiers as Lickliter did for the Hawkeyes.

“The sororities were a lot better than the fraternities,” Lynch said jokingly. “It was kind of a goodwill tour of going out and also listening to them about what we can do from a game day experience that would interest them and have them come to games.”

JoePa in the spotlight, again

Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno skipped offering opening comments and went straight to fielding questions from reporters when he walked to the microphone.

The most laughter of the day came when Paterno, with the longest coaching tenure in the Big Ten, was asked to defend Penn State’s scheduling of eight home games. In his response, the 82-year-old cracked a joke about Twitter.

“For me to get up here and worry about what people think about our nonconference schedule, hey, you guys have got to talk about something,” he said. “The fans have got to put something on those — what do you guys call those things? Twittle-do, Twittle-dee? I haven’t got the slightest idea what you’re looking at, either.”


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