On a day which saw the Big Ten's coaches take an ostensibly sanctimonious stand against new recruiting regulations which haven't been understood very well by the football following public (nor perhaps the league's coaches), some even bigger news came out of the league's annual football coaches meeting in Park Ridge, Illinois just outside Chicago. After talking to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, ESPN's Adam Rittenberg has unearthed some rather sea change evident news about the future of the Big Ten conference.
Per the horse's mouth, the Big Ten has given the firmest signal yet they may not be done expanding, with Delany acknowledging there's legitimate momentum/support amongst the coaching ranks to move towards a "9 or 10-game conference" slate. Delany specifically mentioned almost no remaining support for the existing eight game model. This could not only have ramifications for higher caliber non-conference games on the docket for the Buckeyes (Oregon and Texas amongst them), but could also signal, especially with a potential 10-game league schedule, a move sooner rather than later towards adding additional teams to the league. Should the league move to the larger league format, that could mean the squeeze for any additional high caliber non-conference road games (unless the forthcoming playoff proves it beyond a necessity). Expect more MAC-tion in the interim, however.
For those wishing for the death of Leaders and Legends (or at least the hodgepodge make up of the divisions), it seems likely you'll be getting your wish. While the branding of the two divisions was "the last issue" that would be addressed, Delany acknowledged geography is the primary focus for the forthcoming divisional realignment after the league adds Rutgers and Maryland. He did emphasize a need for competitive balance, but if nothing else, somewhat more of a north-south or east-west alignment seems like it can be expected.
Delany also mentioned the likelihood of an increase in more September conference games. Typically only one week of conference play finds its way into the first full month of the college football season, or depending on the the calendar falls, sometimes two. But with the SEC having conference games as early as weeks one and two, based on Delany's comments, expect a move towards more league player and earlier.
Finally, perhaps most exciting of all to the football going public, Delany expressed little-to-no reservations about the possibility of playing additional night games in November for the league's member schools. The coaches (and fans) both seem to want them, and given the SEC's wealth of night games at the juncture in the season, it could have promotional multiplier effects for the league. Could this mean an Ohio State-Michigan game underneath the lights Thanksgiving weekend in the future? Either way, those attending the games, be it rivalry or otherwise, better bundle up.