The Big Ten will hold its annual spring meetings this week and there’s no shortage of items that might be on the agenda.
As the conference’s athletic directors convene at Big Ten headquarters just outside of Chicago they’ll be joined by senior women’s administrators and women’s basketball coaches as they cover a wide array of topics.
Commissioner Jim Delany will be there as well, just a couple of months after the news of his retirement became official. The Big Ten announced in March that Delany will be stepping down at the end of June in 2020, ending a run of 30 years at the helm of the conference.
While there is sure to be continued discussion as to who will replace Delany, that won’t be the priority over the next couple of days. Here’s a look at what some of the hot topic will be:
CFP and scheduling
After missing out on the four-team College Football Playoff for the second straight season and seeing the conference champion left out for the third year in a row, it looks like the Big Ten’s stance on playoff expansion could be changing. Originally, Delany was never a fan of the any sort of playoff but has openly supported it since its inception in 2014, shutting down any expansion talk.
But after being kept from the field again after the 2018 season, Delany told The Athletic it was time to “discuss structure issues with colleagues.” Much of the Big Ten’s concern has been the belief that conference championships are losing importance when it comes to the current four-team format, something that might be reinforced under an expansion.
How it all relates to the fact scheduling among the Power Five conferences remains inequitable is likely to be discussed, as well. Currently, the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 all play nine conference games while the ACC and SEC play just eight each. It came up a couple of weeks ago at the Pac-12 meetings when commissioner Larry Scott said his teams don’t prefer to make schedules easier. “Our schools do not singularly focus on how do we skate through as easily as possible,” he said.
Listen to some in college sports and it might seem like transfers have become an epidemic. There have been studies, however, that show that transfers in a sport like college football have remained fairly steady over the past 15 years.
But a few things have brought transfers back to the forefront – the new “transfer portal” and the fact it seems waivers are being granted fairly regularly, allowing players to transfer without sitting a year. Graduate transfers don’t have to sit, but any other transfer has to apply for a hardship waiver to be immediately eligible. There have been several high-profile cases, and the most notable locally and probably even nationally, was quarterback Shea Patterson's transfer from Ole Miss to Michigan. That set the wheels in motion for many that have followed.
The NCAA recently adopted a few smaller changes to transfer rules, including voting down a plan that would have penalized a team if it took a graduate transfer and that player didn’t earn a graduate degree within two years. But any big changes don’t seem imminent. As for the transfer portal, it remains the buzz word these days as more than 500 Division I men’s basketball players were in the portal within a week of the end of the NCAA Tournament.
The major conferences will see their latest bowl agreements come to an end after this season, and there have already reportedly been some changes to the Big Ten schedule. Of course, the conference will remain affiliated with the Rose Bowl, but from there, just about anything is possible.
According to a report from Brett McMurphy at the Stadium, the Holiday and Gator bowls will no longer be connected to the Big Ten, but the Las Vegas Bowl and the Belk Bowl, played in Charlotte, N.C., will join the lineup. Remaining in the mix will be the Music City Bowl, and the Outback Bowl will have a Big Ten team when it’s not in the Orange Bowl. That agreement used to be in place with the Citrus Bowl. How that agreement will be affected remains to seen.
Other bowls that have been part of the Big Ten lineup include the Armed Forces, First Responders, Quick Lane, Pinstripe and Redbox.
Other items that could come up during the two days of meetings include any reaction to the conclusion of the latest federal trial surrounding corruption in college basketball – no Big Ten team was directly implicated in any wrongdoing – as well as the recent proposed rule changes in college basketball, including moving the 3-point line back.
Also, as more states continue to legalize sports gambling, the affect it could have on players and programs will continue to be discussed. Earlier this month, the NCAA announced it had rescinded a policy that prohibited championship competitions from being held in states that allow single-game sports betting.