Big Ten bloggers Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett will occasionally give their takes on a burning question facing the league. We'll both have strong opinions, but not necessarily the same view. We'll let you decide which blogger is right.
On Monday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby criticized the NCAA structure and hinted at big changes in the future. That followed similar comments by SEC commissioner Mike Slive and ACC commissioner John Swofford. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany will speak Wednesday afternoon at his league's media days in Chicago. So Today's Take Two is this: Will Delany join the growing chorus of criticism against the NCAA, and what should he say about it?
Take 1: Brian Bennett
Delany has probably been more supportive of NCAA president Mark Emmert than some of his other peers, but he has to feel many of the same frustrations as his commissioner colleagues. Like Slive, Delany is a big proponent of paying athletes an additional stipend on top of their scholarships to cover the full cost of attendance, and they are upset the NCAA has yet to approve that measure after both stumped for it more than two years ago. Bowlsby said Monday that commissioners of the five power conferences met six weeks ago and were unanimous in wanting major changes to the NCAA structure. It sounds like the major conferences are growing tired of a system where Ohio State and Nebraska have to share the same rules as Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas-San Antonio.
The threat of the power leagues breaking off and forming their own kingdom gives them leverage, although those conference don't really want to be in the business of putting on their own soccer and lacrosse tournaments. Still, this is clearly an organized assault on the NCAA by the most powerful leaders in college football, and I'd expect Delany to weigh in with his own concerns. He probably won't be as pointed in his comments as Bowlsby -- Delany tends to speak in carefully considered, lawyerly tones -- but as one of the sport's most influential figures, whatever Delany says on Wednesday will carry a lot of weight.
Take 2: Adam Rittenberg
I agree that with Delany, it's all about sifting through the jargon to identify what he really means. But there's no way the dean of the major conference commissioners is going to let his colleagues dominate the spotlight. Remember that Delany started the public discussion about increasing the value of athletic scholarships up to federal cost of attendance values more than two years ago at the 2011 Big Ten spring meetings, so we know where he stands on that issue. Emmert actually supports such an increase, but the NCAA's legislative structure gives the smaller schools the power to vote down such proposals. Delany will sense the momentum for major change and capitalize on it in his comments.
How much Delany directly criticizes Emmert and the NCAA will be fascinating, but I expect him to openly discuss the possibility of major conferences forming their own division underneath the NCAA umbrella. Delany knows exactly where the Big Ten stands as a revenue/branding giant, and with new TV negotiations on the horizon, he wants to put the conference in the best possible position going forward. It will be interesting to see if Delany, a former NCAA investigator, weighs in on the NCAA's enforcement woes that have put Emmert in the crosshairs. Delany was deferential to Emmert when the Penn State sanctions came down, but he can't be pleased with the recent mishaps in Indianapolis. Will he directly criticize Emmert's leadership? I doubt it. I expect him to skillfully express his concerns without being as forthright as Bowlsby with his critiques. It should be an interesting session and we'll be on hand to cover all of it in Chicago.