SBD/Issue 154/Collegiate Sports

Tagliabue Critical Of Big Ten's Handling Of Potential Expansion

Tagliabue Says Big Ten's Expansion
Considerations Are "Very Disruptive"

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue Thursday had some "stern words for how the Big Ten is handling its potential expansion," according to Pete Thamel of the N.Y. TIMES. Tagliabue, who is working for the Big East Conference as an "unpaid consultant," said the Big Ten's expansion considerations are "very disruptive to everyone outside of the Big Ten." Tagliabue: "Everything outside the Big Ten is held in artificial suspension. The Big Ten looks at a bunch of choices and everyone else has to deal with the depreciating value and a ton of negativity. I hope there’s a better way. Otherwise it’s going to have a terrible negative effect on everyone other than the schools in the Big Ten." Tagliabue added that he "wondered both from a practical and financial standpoint if the Big Ten expansion would be worth it." Tagliabue: "At some point they’re going to overreach and get a big negative reaction out of Congress or someone else. You have to eventually tie your television to people actually watching and not just to television subscribers added up and totaled." Tagliabue also "wondered if the Big Ten expanding to the New York area by adding Syracuse and Rutgers would make a difference." Tagliabue: "Is Minnesota and Rutgers going to get a big rating on Long Island? Give me a break" (NYTIMES.com, 4/22). In Hartford, Desmond Conner writes hiring Tagliabue to help the Big East "be strong speaks volumes for what the league is poised to do" (HARTFORD COURANT, 4/23).

FEELING THE EFFECTS: In Boston, Mark Blaudschun writes the Big East, Big 12 and ACC are the conferences "most likely to be affected" by the Big Ten's "corporate raiding." Big East schools Rutgers, Syracuse and Pittsburgh and Big 12 schools Missouri and Nebraska "appear to be prime targets," and whether the Big East "can come up with a counter plan remains to be seen." Meanwhile, Blaudschun writes the SEC, "which owns the last four national football championships, knows who it is and what it is doing." Blaudschun: "If the Big Ten acts, count on the SEC to move aggressively to counter, with ACC teams such as Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami, and Florida State the most likely targets" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/23). ESPN.com's Ted Miller wrote "plenty of 'haves' ... are concerned" by the Big Ten's possible expansion. Miller: "Notre Dame and, say, Oklahoma certainly aren't going to be left behind. But they may have to alter their present course, their own strategic vision." Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe said, "It would be negligent not to be concerned. You have to plan for any kind of contingencies. We've been highly active internally about what might change in the college landscape and how we position ourselves" (ESPN.com, 4/22).

JOINING THE PARTY? In Orlando, Andrea Adelson notes "lost amid all the Big Ten expansion talk at the BCS meetings this week in Arizona was this little nugget: the Mountain West Conference could become an automatic qualifier" to the BCS in '12.  BCS Exec Dir Bill Hancock told ADs and conference commissioners they "should keep an eye on the MWC."  Hancock: "If they meet the threshold, they'll be the seventh." There are six automatic qualifying conferences right now: the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and Big East. The Mountain West "has had a representative in a BCS bowl game three times, including the last two seasons" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/23).

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