Big Ten athletics directors are meeting in suburban Chicago this week, offering an opportunity for them to reveal how out of touch they are with reality.
Or just lie to avoid looking like they don’t care about anything but pursuing more money they don’t really need.
Anyway, this catchy headline will allow you to come to either conclusion:
Having watched these people operate for quite a while, I find either possibility really credible.
Commissioner Jim Delany is very fond of extolling the virtues of what he believes until he needs to believe something else, at which point he rarely hesitates flipping.
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with changing one’s mind to adjust to changing times and new facts, but Delany has a tendency to cast aspersions on things before embracing them, which can create some questionable juxtapositions even outside of the league’s new second home, Washington, D.C.
After years of insisting 11 was a good number of teams for the Big Ten and dissing conference championship games, Delany has since expanded twice and added a title game, which takes some of the shine off of the numerous historic rivalries he used to brag made his conference unique.
When the Big Ten Network was formed, he said it was in large part because the league didn’t want to be forced by ESPN to play non-Saturday games.
Now his network, which drove that foolish second expansion few really seem to have wanted, is justification for doing just that. The glut of games (many unappealing thanks to the watering down of the league) just won’t fit on Saturdays anymore.
If only this could have been avoided!
(Expect Delany to come out with a plan for student-athletes to unionize and become regular university employees any day now.)
Delany shouldn’t need to tell anyone the Big Ten playing football on Friday nights is a bad idea, though. That should be pretty obvious.
Nonetheless, the OHSAA has provided some evidence, saying attendance for Saturday night playoff games lags behind Friday nights and suggesting Ohio State football (and college football in general) is at least a large part of that.
I suspect Delany is quite aware of this reality but doesn’t care because there was money on the table.
As I’ve said before, I love money — give me capitalism or give me death - but the league and its schools already have more than they know what to do with, as evidenced by how they spend a lot of it.
The same is not true of high school athletics programs that need football gates to pay the rest of their bills...
At those same meetings, Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith voiced his concern about an early signing period for college football creating unintended consequences.
“I personally think you’re going to see people making earlier and earlier decisions and [feel] pressure a whole lot earlier,” Smith said. “It’s like we have in all the other big sports. I’ve got Olympics sports kids sitting in my office who don’t have a driver’s license.
“And it just bothers me that we keep moving this back and when, in my view, we ought to be moving it closer to a team where they’re getting a little bit older, when [there’s more] the sum of all our experiences and see different things. You hope you’d make better decisions and we’re seeing kids making decisions a lot earlier than I think they should be making them, and we’re a part of that. I’m saying we’re a part of that, too.”
There may well be some negative effects as yet unforeseen, but Smith’s concerns seem much more tailored to a preseason signing period, which is not what has been proposed.
I agree letting players sign before they play their senior season is a bad idea for the reasons Smith laid out.
However, the December date looks like a good compromise for kids and colleges who are confident in their decisions and want to avoid another six weeks of the hustle.
The rest can keep their options open until the beginning of February.
And putting aside the completely irrelevant Olympic athletes example, I should point out we’re already about 10 years into the earlier decisions trend even though signing day has not moved in that period of time…
Also breaking yesterday: The Game is moving to Fox.
As traditional as I am, I don’t have any real strong feelings on this as long as Ohio State-Michigan remains an afternoon — preferably high noon, so to speak — game.
Although Fox Sports is a directionless company with a terrible brand, I find most of the complaints about their broadcasts also apply to ESPN.
I guess we’re just going to make this a full college football version of the daily column because a has-been rock band trolled Ohio State fans over the weekend.
This is a brilliant move because it got people talking about the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who much like Michigan football were awesome in the 1990s but haven’t had the same commercial success since shortly after Jim Tressel became Ohio State’s head coach.
One thing I haven’t learned yet is if RHCP treated Columbus fans to their rocking version of “Love Rollercoaster,” which of course is a cover of a hit by the Ohio Players (although Brady Hoke apparently prefers “Fire”).
Have a great Tuesday!
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