CHICAGO -- Conference expansion was among the hot topics at the Big Ten football media days on Monday, and Illinois coach Ron Zook and Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald were excited about the impending addition of Nebraska.
“Yeah, from my standpoint, whatever is better for the conference is better for Northwestern,” Fitzgerald said. “And I trust in the leadership in commissioner [Jim] Delany and directors of athletics and presidents for the direction of where our conference is going.
“I'm excited. I think initially my quote was as long as we expand like we did with the beast from the East in Penn State, I'll be excited more so as a fan and as a former player in the Big Ten. And commissioner Delany was able to do that with Nebraska. So it's going to be exciting. Change is in the air, and who knows where that’s going to go. But I trust in the leadership and look forward to seeing where things are going to go in the future.”
Zook agreed that Nebraska was a perfect addition.
“I think obviously because of the Big Ten Network, expansion was inevitable,” Zook said. “I think it's great when you bring a school like Nebraska into the conference. All it does is make it that much a better conference, obviously competitive. You bring in a great program, a program that's got a lot of national attention.”
Zook also said he was all for a conference championship game.
“And I think probably the championship game is inevitable,” Zook said. “I’m probably a little bit different than the other coaches. I know when I first came to the Big Ten, we had just started playing the 12 games. And there was a lot of discussion why are we playing 12 games, and it's hard on them. Now we're talking about playing 14. But I think because of obviously what it means to the Big Ten conference financially, and of course the exposure, I don't think there's any question there will probably be a big championship game.”