CHICAGO (AP) -- Meeting this week to discuss future expansion plans, Big Ten presidents and administrators have laid out a broad plan to grow their conference into the next decade. That plan, set be released to the general public in the coming days, encompasses schools from financially critical regions of the country, and in a first for conference expansion, different eras.
From the beginning, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney has strategically position his conference towards television markets that would expand the reach of the lucrative Big Ten Network. To do that, the conference is set to invite a total of five schools: Notre Dame, Rutgers, Missouri, Nebraska, and the 1945-1946 Army Black Knights.
Notre Dame is the bell cow of expansion, delivering a national fan base of Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Rutgers, long the doormat of college football, has experienced a resurgence in the past few years and is an attempt at cornering the massive New York metropolitan area. Missouri and Nebraska, both current Big 12 members, increase an already strong presence in the American Midwest. The surprise in this list, the 1945-1946 Army Black Knights, has been on Jim Delaney's radar now for some time.
"They were real superstars back then," said Delaney from the ballroom of the Drake Hotel in Chicago. "National Championship winners in 1945, and Heisman Trophies in both 1945 and 1946 with Mr. Inside [Doc Blanchard] and Mr. Outside [Glenn Davis]. They bring a real cachet to the league."
That cachet was not easy to come by, considering the version of the Black Knights invited played their football more than 60 years ago. "It wasn't easy," explained Delaney," because of the space-time continuum and all. Back to the Future made it look easy, but it really, really wasn't. Once we found that wormhole, though, it was all downhill from there." In fact, researchers at the University of Chicago, secretly employed by the Big Ten for more than a decade now, have been working diligently on the dynamics of time travel in an effort to aid conference expansion.
Details of how television contracts will operate in a time when there were only three channels is difficult to understand. In all likelihood, the Big 10 Network will dominate over the existing networks of NBC, ABC, and CBS, considering it is broadcast not only in HD, but also in color.