Friday, August 01, 2008

Our supreme overlord speaks: Jim Delany interview with ESPN

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany (pictured here speaking during Big Ten media days) enters his 20th season collapsing naysayers' throats with his mind eating small kittens and terrorizing Japanese cities at the helm. His accomplishments are plentiful: he's added Penn State as the 11th member, negotiated several lucrative TV contracts, alienated an entire conference and its fan base, crushed all who opposed the BCS, kept non-BCS conference teams from getting their piece of the lucrative BCS pie and hammered big corporate cable companies into submission with the Big Ten network. ESPN writer Adam Rittenberg sat down with Jimbo and asked him the same watered down questions every reporter asks picked his mind. Here is Part I and Part II.

Highlights of interest to me (after all it's all about me damnit).

He mentions gender equity:

I've always been pleased to see the level of commitment our schools have to [gender] equity. At one time we were 71 percent male, and today we're near 50-50

But then tosses out this little nugget in an answer to another question:

We've grown women's opportunities, we've gotten better at other sports, we've won championships in other sports. But the fact of it is, they're going to have to pay their way, and that means healthy football and healthy football means winning football.

So it's good from a PR perspective that women have equal opportunity in sports but bad from a financial perspective. If having a near 50-50 split is so necessary for a healthy sports environment why are the "other sports" not being supported? Why is it we're force feeding sports that no one cares about down the throats of the consumer, is it all just in the name of gender equality? The real problem I have is schools are not necessarily growing women sports to meet equality criteria but shrinking men's sports to get to the magical 50-50 mark. Women's opportunities are not always growing but rather men's opportunities are sometimes dwindling.

Big Ten scheduling is just fine thanks:

Everyone talks about TV, but the turnstiles are what drives the revenue, which is what drives the athletic department. Michigan is already playing an away game every other year (at Notre Dame), Ohio State is as well. Penn State historically has, but not recently. In my heart of hearts, I'm the guy that's largely behind the (ACC/Big Ten) Challenge, I'm the guy that's largely behind the Big Ten-SEC bowl games. They weren't here before. I'm the guy who wants to play the SEC, the Big 12, the Pac-10. So if anything, I could be accused of overscheduling, not underscheduling, but our schools are going to be the ones who determine what's best for building their programs.

Translation – I like the big matchups but the schools need money. Kind of a copout if you ask me, and he's spinning it to make the schools look good but I'll give Delany a pass on this one because there really is nothing he can do when it comes to member schools scheduling patsies *cough* Costal Carolina *cough*. The problem of too many cupcakes will never be addressed until fans get fed up with watching crap OOC games and stop buying tickets (like I did this season – just sayin').

Along those same lines when asked about the Big Ten's negative perception nationally:

To be honest with you, we've run up some pretty impressive records, but if you're not playing people, you're not going to get the credit, and I don't think necessarily that you should.

Finally I'm in total agreement with something Jimmy says.

And since I like to bang the playoff drum quite a bit, when asked about a playoff in the next 10 or 15 years Delany had this to say:

When I was 30, I saw the next 10 years pretty clearly, and at 60, I don't see the next five years as clearly. Maybe that's why there's a visionary out there who can tell you what's going to be there in 15 years.

This is particularly interesting to me because the #1 hurdle to a playoff has always been the Big Ten because of Jim Delany, but for him to admit, however vaguely, that in the next 10 to 15 years there might be change in the system it speaks volumes of the pressure playoff advocates are putting on college football. Maybe there is a dim light at the end of the tunnel, but it's a loooonnnng tunnel.

The rest is pretty bland stuff about his legacy, number of bowls, blah blah blah. Feel free to read on, but the rest isn't worth mentioning in my mind. One thing is clear though, until Delany retires (like JoePa he expects to be around the next 5 years) don't expect much to change in the Big Ten or BCS.


jd said...

"in my heart of hearts"
what the hell does that mean? is jim implying he has a heart? multiple hearts, like a worm?

"the turnstiles drive the revenue". i don't necessarily agree. lucrative television contracts, a strong alumnus base, and sponsorship drive the revenues of the big 10. of course, this might be a chicken and egg scenario.

nice pic, but i would have gone with the emporer himself.

Galen said...

nice pic, but i would have gone with the emporer himself.

DAMN! You're right!

Sir Putts-a-lot said...

PSU has played an away out-of conference game every other season for as long as I can remember. Just as many as OSU and UM.

Miami: 1999
USC: 2000
UVA: 2001
Nebraska: 2003
Boston College: 2004
ND: 2006
Syracuse: 2008
Alabama: 2010