The Big Ten meetings concluded in Chicago yesterday and unfortunately, Joe Pa and Jim Delaney didn't end up in a steel cage wrastlin' match over expansion of the conference. In fact, Paterno reversed his comments leading up to the meetings regarding the subject, probably realizing adding a 12th school has little, if anything to do with the football field.
While expansion isn't going to happen anytime soon, if ever, the idea of playing 9 league games is gaining momentum and will be looked at more closely as the conference prepares to set the schedule beyond 2012. Perfect math won't allow every team to play nine games, leaving one team with just eight, but hosting a lesser program is rapidly becoming more expensive and adding another B10 game will keep the money close to home.
If this becomes reality, conference officials can take the opportunity to add another bye week to the regular season, pushing The Game into the first week of December and reducing the layoff before the bowl season, making the conference championship game a moot point.
Another popular item is adjusting the recruiting calendar, allowing kids to start making official visits in June of their junior year. For some reason, the students aren't allowed to start making school sponsored visits until after they start their senior classes, but with coaches handing out promise rings earlier and earlier, this only makes sense. Gene Smith even threw out the notion of reducing the number of official visits from 5 to 3.
Keep an eye out as the Big Ten enters bowl game negotiations this fall, 5 of their affiliations expire after 2009. Economic problems have caused delay on renovations at Citrus Bowl Stadium, which host the Capital One and Champs Sports Bowls. The Cotton and Gator Bowls would love to swoop in and snag a B10 tie-in contract if the conference shies away from Orlando.
Though it was rumored last month after some time slots were announced, the Big Ten officially decided against any night games in November. The conference is slated for 12 primetime slots in the first two months of the season, but weather, safety and logistics makes it too tough to pull off after Halloween. This guarantees the Buckeye will start at Happy Valley in the sun for the first time since 2003.
And finally what would be a recap of the Big Ten meetings without a JoePa story. Adam Rittenberg sat down with the coach on Tuesday and came away with this beauty.
He also thumbed his nose at technology, wondering what "goggle" (Google) and "twister" (Twitter) exactly were and proclaiming somewhat proudly that he didn't own a cell phone or an e-mail account so that no one bothered him.
The baseball Buckeyes start B10 tournament action tonight at 7:05 against Illinois, who clobbered Michigan State yesterday, 16-5. The Illini were fourth during the regular season and lost 2 of 3 at home to the conference winning Bucks. Bob Todd won his fifth coach of the year award earlier this week, while Dan Burkhart was named POY and Alex Wimmers shared the pitcher of the year honors.
Meanwhile down in Athens, Georgia, the softball team is making their first ever appearance in the Super Regionals, starting a best of three series with the Dawgs today at 7pm. We don't pay too much attention to any type of softball around these parts, ever since they banned alcohol from our rec league, but props must go to the ladies for their effort this season in opening up their new home field.
In hoops news, Evan Turner is one of fifteen players invited to try out for the World University Games to be held in Serbia this July. The invites include 5 Big Ten players and the team will be coached by Bo Ryan.