One thing you can say about this year’s Conference Expansion season: There is never a dull moment. Or shortages of humor.
We continue to follow the seemingly never-ending saga of the Big 11′s attempts to turn itself into the Big Teen. ‘Guiding Light’ thought it had a long run.
It had been thought resolution had been reached a while back with the flurry of news reports that invitations to join the Big ? had been extended to RUTSgers, Missouri and Nebraska along with the open-ended one to Notre Dame unless they had not. Afterwards, Big ? commish Jim Delany hastened to claim that those reports were nonsense unless they were not. Big Jim said in an e-mail to current Big ? members that any previous e-mails inviting any school to collect $20+ extra-large from now on were from some African prince and not the Big ? .
That settled, Delany then headed to the annual Big ? meetings of those in the conference who will not have the final vote and began proceedings by asking those assembled, “What’s new?” Told that the hope was that he might answer that question, Delany responded with, “ME? Whatever gave you that idea?” Informed that, well, he did with his constant hogging of all available media time with his constant chatter about expansion, Delany instructed the media to pay no attention to what was said in the media. The Big ? boss said no decisions concerning expansion had been reached, even whether the conference should expand at all.
That settled and after the laughter died down, Delany then claimed that he had noticed that people were abandoning the Rust Belt for warmer climes and he though the Big ? should, too. Any expansion, said he who continually claims he is saying nothing, would look south. The response was immediate, especially from Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, who cried, “What?” Told that, no, Big ? expansion would not include Florida or LSU or any of the other SEC teams he can’t beat in the MNC game, but that the southland Delany had in mind was centered around Austin, Texas, only slightly mollified Tressel, who whined that he couldn’t beat Mac, either, but did manage to lose by a closer margin.
Also heard from was Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez. RichRod claimed that Big ? expansion was of great interest to him, ranking just behind 1]saving his job and 2]keeping his Wolverines off of NCAA probation. The former coach from the Hills said that he saw ‘great value’ in adding teams from the Li’l E, especially since he had a track record of beating them with much greater frequency than has been seen when he goes up against Big ? teams.
Delany’s expressed desires to move conference offices to somewhere warmer than Chicago were not lost on those considered locks during previous media balloons floated. At RUTSgers, AD Tim Pernetti, busy having his staff white out the word ‘East’ following the ‘Big’ in all departmental stationery, reacted with, “Huh? Does he mean South Jersey?” Told that, no, Delany had in mind a parallel somewhat south of intersection with the Jersey Turnpike and brought up to speed on what had happened in nearby Syracuse after Orangeperson AD Jake Crouthamel had spray-painted ‘ACC’ to the top of the Carrier Dome during a previous Conference Expansion season, Pernetti wandered away and was last heard mumbling ‘New York City market’ to himself over and over.
Out in Missouri, AD Mike Alden took time out from overseeing the scraping up of the ‘XII’ from the basketball floor while grabbing his crotch and exclaiming, “Expand this, Beebe,” to ask, “South? What the….Does Quantrill count? I’ve got to talk to my Chancellor and Governor about this.”
Amid all of this hilarity, Delany continued to emphatically state that he had nothing to state and all of those media reports linking most everybody to the Big ? were just that, media reports. He told reporters hanging on his every non-word that he was just whistling ‘Dixie’ and they were welcome to join him at the upcoming Big ? presidents’ hoe-down for either beer and brats or brown liquor and Texas-style barbecue, or maybe shots of Irish whiskey. At the moment, he didn’t know what would be served and it might take another year or so to figure it out. In the meantime, he was going to go practice his roping skills at Rancho Cortez.
And so all of the backroom wheeling and dealing, media trail balloons and loony message board posts continue. It is great fun to observe the soap opera. It is even greater fun to watch it from a safe and secure perch, unlike the most recent Conference Expansion season that actually accomplished something. As the chatter about the new ACC television contract indicates, it is highly likely that the ACC will continue to sit this one out.