Let's just get on with it.
The Big Ten should add two more schools beyond Maryland and Rutgers, then change its name to the Big Delany.
Commissioner Jim Delany is a smart, powerful man who knows the era of four 16-team superconferences is coming sooner than any of us wanted to believe. He also doesn't like getting snookered.
So after seeing the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference beat him to 14 members, don't look for it to happen to the Big Ten again on the way to 16.
Could the next expansion come soon? Heck, it might happen later this week with the way these things are now playing out in private.
The speculation is rampant — ironic, since Delany said the reason the Big Ten went secret this time after going very public with its search for a 12th member two years ago was the turmoil caused by prolonged rumor-mongering.
That's no comfort to league commissioners and member schools who hear that ACC school North Carolina (where Delany played basketball) and the Big 12's Kansas are high on the list of possible targets.
Is this corner barstool chatter?
Doesn't sound like it. Four BCS conference coaches and administrators I talked to Tuesday said they think the Big Ten is actively hunting for members 15 and 16, and mentioned the Tar Heels and Jayhawks.
When Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski worries aloud about the future of the ACC, you figure there is some fire behind the smoke. (I'll let you conspiracy theorists decide if Delany is purposely trying to damage the ACC to get back at new member Notre Dame, which has snubbed the Big Ten twice.)
Much of the conference expansion the past five years involved “legacy” football programs with big stadiums and full trophy cases. Case in point, Nebraska.
Now, it's about TV markets, growing population centers and demographic analytics.
“You have to decide on a strategy on how to position yourself for the next decade or half-century,” Delany said Tuesday. “It's a long-term play.”
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Other Big Ten expansion items to note:
>> Delany said division alignment is in flux, and that ESPN reports on Monday that Illinois would move from the Leaders to the Legends “had no basis in fact.”
Furthermore, geography could become more important in creating divisions. When Nebraska joined, the order of importance was: 1) competitive equality; 2) maintaining rivalries; and 3) geography.
>> Big Ten football coaches, hunkered in this week for regular-season finales, didn't want much to do with the expansion question.
“I'm not surprised at anything now when it comes to college football,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “But it came out of the blue to me.”
Fitzgerald's first coaching job was as a graduate assistant at Maryland. Penn State coach Bill O'Brien used to coach at Georgia Tech with current Maryland coach Randy Edsall. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio recruited the Washington, D.C., area when he was a Spartan assistant.
>> Nebraska has a long history of recruiting in New Jersey. Check the talent on this partial list of Huskers from that state:
Rich Glover, Daryl White, Tony Samuel, Mike Rozier, Irving Fryar, Charles Fryar, Paul Miles, Jeff Mills, Troy Branch, Doug Colman, Christian Peter, Jason Peter, Barron Miles, Jammal Lord, Joe Dailey.
>> A big reason for talk of the Big Ten going to 16 teams soon is to get new schools into the league and schedules drawn up in time for the league's next TV negotiation. Its current ABC/ESPN deal goes through the 2016-17 season, and is worth $100 million.
The key point to remember:
TV networks have tons of money to spend on college football. And all other major conferences have deals in place that extend into the 2020s. So Delany can sidle up to the bargaining table in 2017, show off his new market and demographic reports, ask for an outrageous sum and likely get it without breaking a sweat.
If the Big Ten had a feel-good story of the season, the runaway winner would be Purdue quarterback Robert Marve.
The senior out of Tampa, Fla., received a sixth year of eligibility after missing almost two entire seasons with ACL tears in his left knee. Fate was unkind as Marve tore that ACL again Sept. 8 in the fourth quarter of the Boilermakers' 20-17 loss at Notre Dame.
Season over, right?
That's what Purdue coach Danny Hope thought.
“We were under the impression he would never play football again,” Hope said Tuesday. “Surely he was at least done for the season.”
But Marve came to practice the day after the injury, took snaps from center to work on his footwork and told his coaches he was coming back.
Sure enough, on Oct. 6, Marve came on in relief against Michigan. And he has started the two games Purdue has won this month to remain eligible for a bowl bid. His statistics in eight games: 65.8 percent completions, nine touchdown passes, two interceptions.
No heroic medical measures are needed before or after a game for Marve.
“He hasn't had much swelling or a whole lot of soreness,” Hope said. “He has bounced back on Sundays fresh. He hasn't had hardly any complications because he doesn't have an ACL so there is nothing to get complicated.
“He's inspirational to us all. I really admire him for playing the game at the level he's a playing at with the injuries he has had. It is very unusual.”
Stat of the week
Iowa, which has lost five straight games and won't earn bowl eligibility, has sent out promotional material to tout 18 players for postseason honors.
Bits and pieces
Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti will miss his final game Saturday with a knee injury. ... Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said he's not worried about negative effects from wide receiver A.J. Barker's public rant for quitting the team. Barker claimed Kill verbally abused him and manipulated him during rehab for an ankle injury. ... Wisconsin middle linebacker Chris Borland, who sat out last week with a sore hamstring, will try to play this week. ... Only one Big Ten defender — John Simon of Ohio State at 15th — ranks in the top 30 nationally in sacks. ... Illinois averages eight plays a game in which it is tackled for a loss.
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