Delany talks bowls, byes and a longer season

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

CHICAGO -- Five of the Big Ten's bowl agreements expire after the 2009 season, and not surprisingly, the league has received heavy interest from possible new partners.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is in discussions with 11 or 12 different bowls, including the five current tie-ins -- Capital One, Outback, Valero Alamo, Champs Sports and Motor City -- that expire after the season.

"It's a great thing to have competition," Delany said. "The incumbents that we have, we have them for a reason, because they do their jobs so well. But it's really important to understand, from a television perspective and a revenue perspective ... it's got to be the right mix."

Delany identified Texas, Florida and California as three states where the Big Ten needs a strong postseason presence because of its national alumni bases. The Texas Bowl is looking to cement conference tie-ins for 2010 and beyond and would give the Big Ten a second game in the Lone Star State.

The Big Ten's relationship with the Rose Bowl remains as strong as ever, though a change in the Rose Bowl's selection criteria could keep a Big Ten team from playing in Pasadena once every four years. The Rose Bowl is now required to take an eligible non-BCS team if it loses the Big Ten champion or Pac-10 champion to the national title game.

The policy would only take effect once during the four-year BCS bowl cycle.

"There was pressure on us to make that change," Delany said. "The Sugar Bowl has had a couple of [non-BCS] teams and the Fiesta Bowl has had one. We believe very strongly that the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions should always be in the Rose Bowl if they're not playing for the [national] championship. ... That opportunity is still there, but there was a desire by others to see us share that."

Most Big Ten coaches who spoke Monday advocated a longer regular season to shorten the prep time for bowl games, in which the league has struggled in recent years. While Delany reiterated his stance on expansion -- not happening any time soon -- he seemed more open to teams playing regular-season games later.

One possibility is the addition of a second open week during the season, which would push games into the first weekend of December.

"On the issue of the schedule and the bye dates and playing games that late, it's probably worth a discussion," Delany said. "We've never had that before. There's not a rule about that. People have gone to Hawaii. We've never really questioned that. There's some coaches and athletic directors who feel more strongly than others about the need to play games late in the year to stay sharp.

"It is a trend."