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Old 07-26-2007, 10:02 PM   #2
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Default Re: RUMOR:Big Ten Possibly Considering Expansion

Big Ten Network has conference thinking expansion — again

By Randy Peterson, Des Moines Register
The creation of the Big Ten Network means conference officials likely will discuss expansion again, Commissioner Jim Delany said Wednesday.

"I think we need to look at it in the next year," he said during a wide-ranging interview with Register reporters.

Adding a 12th team likely will be revisited because of the network, which is scheduled to launch Aug. 30, Delany said. An additional big-name university in a large television market means more exposure for the network and its sponsors.

"It changes to some extent how you think about it," Delany said of expansion. "The broader (the network) is distributed, the more value (expansion) has.

"We have eight states. With expansion, you could have nine."

Said Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz: "If it makes sense — if the right institution was interested — I think there would be consideration given."

The conference looked toward Notre Dame when exploring expanding to 12 teams in 1999 but the Irish chose to remain a football independent.

"There was great value there," Delany said of Notre Dame's national appeal. "There aren't many universities that produce that kind of value."

Rutgers and Syracuse could be universities at whom the Big Ten looks.

"Wherever," Delany said when asked about specifics. "With the network — there's a different element. It changes the dynamics."

In football, a 12th university could mean two divisions and a postseason playoff.

"Any television executive would do whatever they could to be able to air a game like the Big Ten championship," said Mark Silverman, Big Ten Network president. "It would be worth a considerable amount of value.

"Fans would take to something of that nature if it were in the best interest of the conference."

Coaches think otherwise, said Ferentz.

"I've not met anybody in coaching that really enjoys it," Ferentz said of the divisional playoff format.

"There's a lot of downside to it, in my opinion."

Among the concerns are playing an additional game and the potential of missing out on a BCS bowl if you lose the conference title game.

But expansion could also result in a large conference without divisions.

"I'm agnostic," Delany said. "I could live with two divisions and a championship game, but I think that has a tendency to devalue the season-ending game and have a negative impact on your losing team in season-ending games.

"I don't want us to tear ourselves apart over the structure of football for the sake of expansion."

Nor does Ferentz.

"If it makes sense — if the right institution was interested — I think there would be consideration given," he said.

Delany cautioned against rushing to add a 12th school.

"You have to build a network that has value first," Delany said. "You don't expand it until you have it built.

"Until we have a fully distributed network in the eight states, then you have a value and then you can look at expansion.

"Every time you make a major adjustment in the Big Ten, there's a gestation period. You have to allow one set of efforts to settle in, and then catch a breath."
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