IOWA CITY – Jim Delany tackled a variety of issues while visiting the Iowa football team this morning.
The Big Ten Conference commissioner addressed Hawkeye players and was presented a chair in commemoration of his 25th year on the job by athletic director Gary Barta.
Then, Delany met with the media and shared his thoughts.
On conference expansion, across the college sports landscape:
“I think it’s pretty calm. People are really spending their time integrating and building.
“All of us have responsibility, now that most of us are in two regions, to build our conferences and build our fan base. We’re feeling really good about the growth and the recognition in the Eastern Corridor (with Rutgers and Maryland). We’ve got a relationship with the (New York) Yankees and we’ve got a lot of alums living in that corridor.”
On Iowa and Nebraska playing a football game the Friday after Thanksgiving:
“We like to use that Friday, if we can find a good game to put in it. Both Iowa and Nebraska have been willing to play it, and I hope they continue to stay flexible and open on it.”
The Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers will continue to meet on Black Friday though 2017, but Big Ten officials have been non-committal beyond that.
“I don’t really know where it goes in the future,” Delany said.
On the new, geographically-based divisional alignment starting next season:
“We just felt like, given the fact we’re all the way out East… that it was better to look at it from the perspective of geography. I still think we’ve got some pretty good parity. Depends on what five- or 10- or 15- or 20-year cycle you look at, to really measure that.
“I think the key thing is, we’re going to be playing more games against each other, and we’re going to be able to get more geographic identity. Hopefully, by playing each other more, we’ll be able to bind the conference closer.”
On Iowa’s recent struggles:
“Michigan had a drop off for a couple years, but they were the only major program in the country for 20-25 years, (that) won eight games every year. Southern Cal had gone down. Oklahoma had gone down. Texas had gone down…. All these programs that are located in either California or Texas or Florida – ostensibly, where all the great players are, where the population is growing – they’ve all come up and down.
“So I think sustainability is the difficult thing. It’s rare to see it, and I think Kirk (Ferentz) has done a fabulous job here. They have not won as much as they would like to in the last couple years, but I think he’s one of the great football coaches in the country. And one of the great leaders in the country.
“I’m sure that they’ll be more competitive.”
On the Big Ten’s first-tier television rights, with ESPN/ABC, which run through 2016-17:
“We’ll sit down and talk, probably in the fall of 2015 (for negotiations). But we’re talking to them all the time.”