Big Ten Media Day - Jim Delany

Jim Delany

Oct. 25, 2012

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Q. How would you explain football and basketball right now?
JIM DELANY: Well, you know, first of all, basketball there's a lot of optimism about basketball, but not one game has been played. The only thing more unreliable than a halftime score is no score. But I think we've got a lot of programs in very good shape. We've got a lot of returning players. You know, I would say this is sort of a culmination of a build. We've been pretty good over the last three or four years recruiting good players, coaching good players, retaining good players, and so you know, we're going into the season with a lot of optimism.

I was with the coaches last night briefly, and they're feeling good and are loose, working hard. It's a good time of the year in basketball.

As far as the football is concerned, I didn't play it and I didn't coach it, so my insights into it are less. But I think we have programs in transition. We have new coaches at a number of institutions. We have multiple coaching staff changes at one institution. We have two institutions that are not eligible for postseason play. I think that creates issues. But they're both playing pretty well, actually. Penn State and Ohio State have had good years.

And so that's hard to know. I know that six years ago people sat around sort of questioning where we were in basketball. I was talking to Coach Beilein, and I said, how long have you been here. John said, I'm in my sixth year. And what was the buzz around basketball six years ago? He said, it wasn't as positive as it is today, that's for sure.

And likewise, if you go back six years we're playing a one two game, and buzz is around football, it's not around football, obviously, but I have confidence that I don't use the word cyclical because I think that's a little bit of a designation without any real meaning. It simply means you're going to have times where you're up and you're going to have times when you're down.

If you look over the long reach in football and in basketball, we're competitive. We're competitive with some of the best conferences in the country. We're not going to be the best in either sport every year. Some years we will and some years we'll be down a little bit. And I think that's the ride.

I think the good news is I think we've got the resources and the population base, the coaches that we're going to be in the mix. But some years we'll be up and some years we'll be down in both sports. I think history, at least in the 24 years I've been around, I've seen both and I've seen both in both sports.

I think that's just the nature of the world that we live in. It's highly competitive. You have to recruit students, you have to retain them, you have to coach them well. They have to improve, and then you have to do it in the context of not only Big Ten but outside Big Ten.

We play 48 football games, we play 128 non conference basketball games; that's one set of tests; then the postseason is another set.

I also think the world that we live in, global and national, comparisons are appropriate. They're apt. We want people to be interested, and I don't think 25 years ago people thought so much about conference versus conference, but today I think it's sort of on the tip of everybody's tongue in a way that it wasn't 10, 20 years ago.

Q. Where are you guys in the college football playoff planning now, and is there any chance it could come in a year early?
JIM DELANY: Is this pivoting towards football only questions? Loren at least gave me a basketball question with the football question, and you're now pure football (laughing). First of all, we went through a really intense spring and we came together on a model, three contract games and three access games. We're in the middle of an ESPN negotiation now. The contract games are pretty much bound. We've doubled the number of teams that can play for the championship. We have done it in the context of the bowl system. We've got a committee. We haven't figured out exactly the processes and the procedures. And we're working on revenue sharing, ESPN negotiations, and whether or not there will be a seventh bowl or not.

So those are sort of the outstanding issues. We've got a superstructure. We've got a committee in terms of concept. We've doubled the number of access points. We had basically two open spots in the old system, and now we've got 24 access games or 48 slots over 12 years, so that's a doubling of those spots. So there's more access, sort of more opportunity. There's no AQ; we've got a committee.

Yet we still have work to do. But I would say sort of by the 1st of the year everything should be sort of put together and all the knowns will be total and the unknowns will be eliminated. But right now we're still working through the process.

Q. So no chance a year early?
JIM DELANY: No, no, I don't think so. I mean, I think that the worst thing we could probably do is rush it and not have the committee done properly, not have the game bid properly. We've got the game, the semifinal games embedded in the bowl system and we've got the championship game bid, and we've got to sort of get up and ready on that, but I don't expect there will be there's no discussion it would be a year early.

Any basketball questions?

Q. A year like this, do you enjoy the conversation changing when it has been kind of a turbulent football season?
JIM DELANY: You know, I really don't have a problem with positive conversations, negative conversations. I live in the world of facts. It's the world we live in, not the world we want to live in, so I don't have any problem with our football season, I don't have any problem with our upcoming basketball season. It is what it is, and we've had great years, and we've had years where we weren't as competitive.

We're having a good race. We've got some good stories. I'm focusing on that, and I believe we've got the resources and the coaches that will move forward in a positive way. As we have in basketball we've had years in basketball where we wish we were better, but we keep playing. This is our 117th football season, and Loren, I don't know how many seasons you've been around for, but you've seen it. It does play out.

In a way it's hard to predict the cycle that you're in, but you have years where you have very strong runs and you have years where you don't, and you just live with that and you support your coaches and your players and be a good fan.

Q. After the conference tournament comes to Chicago this year, where do you see that tournament going in terms of location down the road?
JIM DELANY: Well, we're going back and forth I think for the next five years, so it's alternating between Chicago and Indy. We've tried both. We were here solid early, and then we split it between Chicago and Indy, and then we were in Indy solid, and now we're splitting it. So obviously we're experimenting. Different things affect the tournament. Obviously the economy affects the tournament and discretionary spending, in some years the quality of your teams and how good you are and how many good programs are sort of within driving. So there are a number of variables.

But we've been really pleased with Indy. We love Chicago.

Q. You've been involved in the past in some of the meetings on recruiting. Anything new going on in there?
JIM DELANY: There's no fundamental shift. There are challenges. A lot has been written about them. I think the NCAA is working over time to try to get their arms around some of the issues. I don't have any breakthrough ideas.

Q. What's your take on what everyone refers to as the agent-driven recruitments?
JIM DELANY: It's challenging, you know. I'm not in it on the ground. You only hear hearsay about it. There are huge challenges with the culture of it and I don't know what the answer is. I think it's challenging for high schools, colleges, young people. I don't think there's a quick fix. I don't think it's happened over night and I don't think it will be resolved over night.

I think it's a regulatory issue and a cultural issue. Recruitment has always been a challenge from the very beginning. It's always tougher today than it was twenty years ago.

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