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Bold, aggressive Big Ten leaves door open for more expansion

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren talks to reporters during an NCAA college football news conference at the Big Ten Conference media days, at Lucas Oil Stadium, Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS — Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren talked Tuesday about the conference being bold and aggressive as college sports goes through a period of sweeping change, and he left the door open for more expansion after adding Southern California and UCLA in the offseason's biggest move.

Warren's opening remarks to begin Big Ten football media days went nearly 15 minutes before he directly mentioned the two Los Angeles schools that will be joining the conference in 2024.

“Regarding expansion, I get asked every single day what's next? It may include future expansion," Warren said. “We will not expand just to expand. It will be strategic. It will add additional value to our conference.”

He added: “We are in a perpetual state of evaluating what's next for college athletics.”

Warren also said the Big Ten is finalizing a new media rights deal that will go into effect next year, with an announcement expected “sooner rather than later."

He dodged questions about what it could be worth to the conference but some projections have the Big Ten in position to pay out about $100 million in revenue annually to its schools in the coming years.

He did say USC and UCLA will enter the conference as full members with regards to revenue sharing. In previous expansions with Nebraska, Rutgers and Maryland, the incoming members received partial shares at first.

The West Coast additions will make the Big Ten a 16-member, coast-to-coast conference stretching from Maryland to Southern California.

“You're going to wake up watching Big Ten football and go to bed watching Big Ten football,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

For coaches, the prospect of making long road trips was not much of a concern compared to the benefits USC and UCLA bring.

“We recruit worldwide," said Fitzgerald, whose team opens the season in Dublin, Ireland, on Aug. 27 against Nebraska. “We have a huge alumni base in Southern California.”

Just a year ago at the first in-person Big Ten media days hosted by Warren as commissioner, the SEC dominated headlines with news that Texas and Oklahoma would be leaving the Big 12 for the Southern superconference.

The Big Ten's counterpunch came 11 months later.

“A lot of work we’ve done on any potential expansion, we’ve done multiple years ago,” Warren said. “We’re always in a perpetual state of analyzing the goodness of fit for any institutions that were coming to the Big Ten Conference.”

Warren said Los Angeles had the largest section of Big Ten alumni outside the Midwest.

“I thought it was a very smart move for our league to get out in front of any changes that might be happening around the country,” Nebraska coach Scott Frost said.

Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck summed it up succinctly: “L.A.! Are you kidding me? That's perfect.”

Those road trips will be a lot more complicated for the athletes in other sports that compete more frequently and not exclusively on the weekends. Especially for the West Coast schools that will have to hop at least two time zones to face any other conference member.

“We have built a Big Ten kind of readiness committee that we’ll activate here to start working with USC and UCLA to get ideas as far as what we can do,” Warren said.

“And what we’ll do is we’ll work through these next two years from a scheduling component to make sure that we create the environment that’s most healthy and holistic for our student-athletes, which is one of the reasons I’ve started the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee to be able to listen to them to say what’s important,” Warren said.

Warren reminisced about the days when his family would shop from a Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog and about the company's long history in and around Chicago. The third-year commissioner, who received plenty of criticism of the Big Ten's handling of the 2020 pandemic season, said he would not let the conference become an outdated business like Sears.

“Where expansion goes, I don’t know,” he said. “It is important for all of us in business to recognize that were in a time of change. I’m embracing change. I’m going to be very aggressive.”

Comments

Dirk Medema

Obviously, it’s a different conference, and a commissioner that’s been on the job for years, but it sounds a lot like what we heard from another conference commissioner - maybe unless a negative, err, alternative reality was somehow desirable.

It is interesting to get a glimpse inside the offices and what they’re doing through the years.

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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Michael Maris

B1G is waiting for the Golden Domer's to come to their senses........

Add ND and 1 more PAC University, the B1G will then close the Expansion DOOR.....

Stanford, Utah & Oregon all fit the B1G academic model synonymous with the B1G standards

Which PAC School will BEG the most???????

My bet is on Stanford.......

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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Robert Brock

ND will never join the Big Ten.

2 weeks, 2 days ago

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Rodney Crain

100% correct!

2 weeks, 2 days ago

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Rodney Crain

I used to call on Sears Corp. in Hoffman Estates, been to Eddie L''s office in Greenwich (their owner) a few times too, that is a horrible reference to make.

The B10 is keeping their options open in a conference teams are wanting to join. Big difference is he has his pick of the litter, so why not. Our rookie commish, mark the spot, is open for business with a store where no one is interested in shopping at.

If we sit tight we risk being on the outside looking for crumbs, again. I am not sure we have any other options.

Let's just hope our fool does not do any permanent damage. You know, like leaving a Mark on the carpet you just can't get rid of.

2 weeks, 2 days ago

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Jeff Coffman

I still don't understand the concept of "super-conferences". I thought most of these conferences thought 14 or more teams were getting worthless because they never played each other. Now we are up to 16.

I'll tell you, I like the 10 team conferences, but I didn't mind the 12. When it comes to the Big12, I think it is looking more and more like it survives and actually will be stronger than people surmise.

Wait until Texas gets mad that it is getting the same $100mm that Vandy is getting or that is gets stuck playing vandy every year.

2 weeks, 2 days ago

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Dirk Medema

Michael - Did you see Matt’s (?) article recently about the Big12 joining forces with the domers for a media deal? Allows them to remain independent, boosts our media presence/$ by creating the same dawn to dusk offerings mentioned above. Likely not $100M each but could be a nice increase.

2 weeks, 2 days ago

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Michael Maris

Dirk,

I did see that article.

The way things are trending, the B1G is positioning themselves to have a big portion of Notre Dame regular rivals within the borders of the B1G Conference. 1 exception is Boston College. Otherwise, Notre Dame will be playing teams that are not in Super Conferences.

2 weeks, 2 days ago

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Dirk Medema

Jeff - It will really be fun when Vandy starts beating the shorthorns the way we have. It will also be quite a change when their underachieving teams get an appropriate level of hype going into the season.

2 weeks, 1 day ago

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Dirk Medema

Interesting to read a column by Adam Rittenburg about Warren. Inspite of some recent glowing comments about his start as commissioner, others believe and Warren didn’t object, that things weren’t real smooth to start. It seems that facts and commentary on facts can be quite different. I think some call it spin. Is it because the author is dizzy or just blurring reality?

2 weeks, 1 day ago

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Rodney Crain

Hmm Warren has added USC and UCLA, that come with a huge media market. If our boy wonder, where did that Mark come from, can equal that in 2 years we will applaud.

That Warren struggled actually proves my point, that Marco Polo has at least an 18 month ramp up to get any results. Lucky for us there is nothing going on in the B12. Nobody is leaving, or joining. There is no critical media contract up for renewal either. Phew! We dodged a few bullets at least. Face it, he has no idea how to add value as a college commish.

All because a few folks on here buy the spin, love the hype without considering how difficult Magic Marker is going to struggle. He is not just a fish out of water hire, (cliches intended) he was a lazy wild swing hire. Right at a time when we needed somebody who knows how to steer the boat, we have Gilligan at the wheel.

Mistakes will/have been made. The first one was hiring X Marks the spot.

2 weeks ago

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Brad Watson

Big 12 should try and get ND...our league has no football blue bloods...they could be king ....also add Colorado and try to lure Nebraska back...Nebraska is a nobody in the Big 10...here they would be a major player....adding ND and Nebraska...the media contract could approach 100 million per school...those names are that big as far as eyeballs tuning in to watch...which is what it's all about.

1 week, 4 days ago

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