Football

Warren: Big Ten can expand beyond USC, UCLA

27 Jul 2022 | 08:35

By RALPH D. RUSSO AP College Football Writer

INDIANAPOLIS – Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said Tuesday about how bold and positive the conference was as college sports went through a period of sweeping change and he left the door open. wider after adding USC and UCLA to the biggest move of the season.

Warren’s opening remarks to kick off the Big Ten football media days lasted nearly 15 minutes before he directly mentioned the two schools that will be participating in the conference in 2024.

“In terms of expansion, I get asked every day what’s next? It may include future expansion,” Warren said. “We are not going to expand just to expand. It will be strategic. It will add additional value to our conference. “

He added: “We’re in the midst of a regular review of 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 might be worth to the conference but some expect the Big Ten could pay around $100 million in annual revenue to its schools in the coming years. next year.

He said USC and UCLA will join the conference as full members regarding revenue sharing. In previous expansions with Nebraska, Rutgers and Maryland, new members received a portion of the shares initially.

The addition of the West Coast would make the Big Ten a 16-member seaside-to-coastal convention spanning Maryland to Southern California.

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

Fox will be the Big Ten’s top media partner for the next deal, but the federation has also spoken with ESPN, CBS, NBC, Amazon and Apple.

“This is not just an ordinary television deal of one unit. This will be future thinking. I want people 20 years from now to look back and go, “Wow, man, they were way ahead of the curve in that deal.”

For coaches, the prospect of doing long-distance trips is not as daunting compared to the benefits that USC and UCLA offer.

“We recruit all over the world,” Fitzgerald, whose team opened the season in Dublin, Ireland, said August 27 against Nebraska. “We have a very large alumni base in Southern California.”

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

Big Ten’s counterattack came 11 months later.

“A lot of the work we did on any potential expansion we did years ago,” says Warren. “We are in a state of regular coverage analysis for any organization that attends the Big Ten Conference.”

Warren said the LA area has the largest share of Big Ten alumni outside of the Midwest.

“I think it’s a very smart move to get our league out in the face of any changes that might happen across the country,” said Nebraska coach Scott Frost.

Minnesota coach PJ Fleck summed it up succinctly: “LA! Are you kidding me? Perfect. “

Trips will be a lot more complicated for athletes in other sports, which compete more often and not just on weekends. Especially for West Coast schools that will have to jump at least two time zones to face any other conference members.

“We’ve built a Big Ten readiness committee that we’re going to activate here to begin working with USC and UCLA to get ideas to the extent that we can,” Warren said. do.

“And what we’re going to do is we’ll be working over the next two years from the scheduling component to make sure that we create the healthiest and most inclusive environment for our student-athletes. us, that’s one of the reasons I started Warren said.

He also realized that reorganizing the conference could be costly for other leagues.

“If a conference is said to be on the brink, there is more to the problem than members leaving,” says Warren. “There are deeper problems. I’m not promoting conferences facing a crisis or going out of business, not at all. But I’ve been away from the NFL for 21 years. In the NFL, you win or you fail, and it’s not just on the field. I’m talking about business, operations. Either you have your fan base or you don’t. “

Warren reminisces about the days his family shopped from a catalog of Sears, Roebuck and Co. and about the company’s long history in and around Chicago. The third-year commissioner, who has received a lot of criticism for the Big Ten’s handling of the 2020 pandemic, said he will not let the conference become an outdated business like Sears.

“Where the expansion is going, I don’t know,” he said. “It is important for all of us in the business to recognize that these are times of change. There are two types of people in the world: They see change as a problem, or they see change as an opportunity. And I’m one of those individuals where when change happens, I get excited about it. And it’s really an opportunity for us to do a lot of the things that people have thought about, but maybe a bit discreet, to do.

“So I’m embracing change. I will be very aggressive. “

ROSE BOWL MORE DAMAGE

Playing in the Rose Bowl is the pinnacle of a college football career for those who have coached and played in the Big Ten for decades.

The Rose Bowl’s importance dwindled over the years as the postseason of college football evolved. The Big Ten’s latest expansion puts the future of Pac-12, the longtime Rose Bowl convention partner, in doubt and is another damaging blow to the Grandfather of All Bowls.

“You have to adapt,” former Wisconsin coach and athletic director Barry Alvarez said Tuesday. “When I entered the tournament, every kid playing in this tournament, your vision was to play the Rose Bowl and win the Rose Bowl.

“It’s not like it is now. It’s CFP. That is to reach the knockout round. “

The future of the Rose Bowl as a showcase game, which primarily features teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12 on New Year’s Day, was murky as the College Soccer Round climbed in the direction it seemed. is an inevitable expansion from the current four-team format.

“The Rose Bowl will always be an important part of the Big Ten,” said Alvarez, who currently works for the conference as Warren’s special adviser.

Now that the Big Ten have stolen USC and UCLA, it remains to be seen whether the Pac-12 will still be a major part of the Rose Bowl.

“I focused on the Big Ten,” Alvarez said. “As we expanded (in the early 2010s), I was really happy that we were able to add my alma mater, Nebraska, to our league. I know Nebraska in the Big Eight. There is no Big Eight. So everything changes. You have to go with the flow”.

Warren said playoff talks with other FBS commissioners will be held in September. Warren insists he is a staunch supporter of expansion, but he is among the newer commissioners. , who thwarted the early rollout of the 12-team format.

Alvarez said he’s not sure what the best number should be for the playoffs, but 8, 12 and 16 would be interesting, depending on the details of the format.

He also said the Big Ten should be ready to consider expanding its own postseason as the league grows to 16 teams with USC and UCLA.

Maybe a four-team Big Ten tournament instead of just a championship game?

“That’s something you’ll have to consider,” Alvarez said.

AP Sports writer Mike Marot contributed to this story.