While the coaches were guilty of a lot of your typical coach-speak — interjected with humor and frivolity too, though — the heavy hitters at the first day of Media Day were certainly Bill Carollo (the Big Ten Coordinator of Officials), Mark Silverman (The Big Ten Network President) and Jim Delany (the Big Ten Conference commissioner).
Carollo and Silverman were two of the most interesting guests of the entire two-day process, and when Delany wasn’t busy talking about expansion and the Big Ten Championship Game (coming to you live from somewhere in December of 2011!), he had some nuggets as well.
Some of the more interesting tidbits below the jump.
By Paul Schmidt
That the three non-coaches speaking at the even were the most interesting was at least mildly surprising, because it would have made sense that they would have been PR flacks; nothing could have been further from the truth. In fact, all were candid and had quite a bit to say, and in the case of Delany, said quite a bit when saying nothing as well. Some of the best:
- My favorite nugget of the entire day came from Silverman, when he spoke of how the Big Ten Network impacts recruiting, especially in non-revenue and Olympic sports. “The interest level from a national standpoint where women’s volleyball programs, soccer programs, field hockey, can offer potential recruits on the West Coast, the South, the Northeast, the opportunity to see their son or daughter play sports, which they never really would be able to have elsewhere, has a much bigger impact than I personally would have personally realized,” Silverman said. “And by now utilizing new technology and being able to increase the amount of games we do show on the network, it’s just a great degree even more so how we can add to the value of those sports.”
- Did you know that the Big Ten Network does not show non-conference road games? It’s a media-rights issue, but for the first time, they will air a non-conference road game, with Indiana heading to Western Kentucky. “We were blown away that that game was not going to be televised and that we had an opportunity where the existing rights holders were going to be OK with us airing the game, and we were able to air it in a window where we weren’t airing a game already,” Silverman said. “So a lot of things fell into place to air that particular game.”
- Did you ALSO know that, in the officials’ replay booth, their replays were NOT in high definition? You, in your home, have more and better technology than someone who could be deciding the football game. That has changed for this season, however, as Carollo says they have upgraded the stadiums around the Big Ten. “The men have all been trained on that and we have another training session coming up here in Chicago next week,” Carollo said.”So not only is it the technology ?? I’m not making any excuses on the errors we made on replay last year on technology. But certainly it will improve the game. It will improve our accuracy as well as speed up the process in the replay booth.”
- What is one of the biggest things that they are trying to bring to the Big Ten officials? Consistency. “We are working closely with David Parry, the CFO, as well as Rogers Redding, the rules editor, trying to get consistency in the officiating program,” Carollo said. “Consistency, I mean we call it the same way in the first quarter as well as the fourth quarter. If it’s a holding in September, it should be a holding in January. That’s the idea and that’s what coaches are asking us to do, is be more consistent.”
- The NFL is experimenting with the position of the umpire, moving him from around where the linebackers are to the offensive backfield, and the move is designed to be safer for the umpires. Carollo said the Big Ten is not heading in that direction, at least not initially, but will be investigating just how much of an affect this positioning will have on the umpire’s ability to do his job.
- Delany has been the Big Ten Commissioner for TWENTY TWO YEARS! That’s really a remarkable run, and the things he has done to promote and increase awareness about the conference in his tenure is nothing short of amazing. He has been the driving force to turn the conference from a stodgy, old-school power to a forward thinking conference that people want to be a part of. He deserves a lot of credit for that.
- I don’t believe he gets that credit because of the expansion issue, and his “inability” — like it is his fault or something — to bring Notre Dame into the conference. They aren’t coming, they will never come, and it doesn’t matter what Delany or anyone else says. However, his constant stance that the conference is on a 12 to 18 month window looking at expansion — a time frame they have been on since he became the Big Ten Commissioner — is somewhat humorous and a little annoying.
- Delany doesn’t really care what the NCAA thinks about expansion. “To be honest with you, I think their dog in the fight or stake about whether an institution desires to be in another conference or that conference desires to have a member that wants to join it, I don’t think it’s an NCAA matter at all,” Delany said. “I think it’s a matter between an institution’s desire to compete against certain institutions and to collaborate with other institutions.”
- Given that the question from above also asked about whether Delany looked at the well-being of other conferences as he looted them — And that he completely dodged answering that question — it would seem that Delany also doesn’t care much what the other conferences think of him as he takes their schools. An interesting stance given just moments earlier he was talking about how he and Big XII commissioner Dan Beebe were close friends and great colleagues and someone he respected very much.
- The Big Ten, her name ain’t a changin’. “I think the Big Ten is the Big Ten regardless of the number,” Delany said definitively.
- No decision has been made on division alignment, at least not one that will be made publicly. It will be made public in 30-45 days. Speculate all you want, but it doesn’t sound like they have any clue how to equitably divide this thing up yet.
- One of the things on Delany’s docket that he needs and wants to spend more time on soon, however, is the Big Ten Championship game and its location. “One of the things we’ve got going is we’re trying to do these divisionals, trying to move forward with the transition, trying to identify a championship site and then dealing with the rights to the game,” Delany said. “I have not given — we haven’t had a lot of discussion, and I haven’t given a lot of thought. Obviously I’ve talked to people who represent different cities and different venues. Some indoor, some outdoor. To be honest with you, I’m not sure whether in the next 90 to 120 days we’re going to have the time to do what I would describe as a fair due diligence process to visit a half dozen venues.”