In 2010, expansion dominated the Big Ten landscape. In 2011 and into 2012, turmoil at Penn State and Ohio State overshadowed everything else. More expansion then followed at the end of 2012.
There are certain themes that tend to blanket the Big Ten for certain time periods. This year, it has been money.
Although the Northwestern player unionization push could change the financial strategy schools take toward their cash-cow football programs, investment continues to rise. Minnesota recently approved a substantial raise for head coach Jerry Kill, who just completed his third season. Gophers fans awoke Thursday to some more exciting news, as the Star Tribune reports that construction on a football practice facility will begin in December. But the report has since been refuted here and here.
Minnesota's practice facilities have been a sore subject for some time. They're very outdated, and while TCF Bank Stadium is a gem, the Sunday-Friday facilities are more important for coaches, players and particularly recruits, who look to be impressed on their campus visits.
It remains to be seen what Minnesota will do. Lou Nanne, who chairs the fundraising project to generate $190 million for the athletic program, said the facility won't be $70 million, as the Star Tribune had reported.
While Minnesota's situation remains fluid, many Big Ten schools are making football investments:
Iowa will open a new 76,000-square-foot operations facility in the summer.
Penn State hired coveted coach James Franklin and will pay him $4.25 million annually.
Michigan State awarded substantial raises to coach Mark Dantonio and several of his assistants after its Rose Bowl run.
Northwestern's long-awaited lakefront football facility received the green light for construction, which likely will begin early next year.
Michigan (Doug Nussmeier), Ohio State (Larry Johnson and Chris Ash) and Rutgers (Ralph Friedgen) made key investments for assistant coaches.
Michigan's $9 million renovation of Schembechler Hall will be completed next month.
Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen received a $300,000 raise, in part because he received NFL interest after his first season in Madison.
It will be interesting to see how football investments evolve in the Big Ten, which is bringing in record TV revenues and soon will have a new deal.