What’s next for Big Ten? Commissioner Kevin Warren talks about possible expansion and college football playoffs

INDIANAPOLIS — Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren told Action Network that there are “a handful of schools” besides Notre Dame that would add value as future members of the Big Ten.

The schools being considered by the Big Ten, sources told Action Network, are Notre Dame, Oregon, Washington, Stanford, Cal, Miami and Florida State. Warren would not comment on specific schools as potential members.

“When I say add value: value is important, but I’m just looking at fit,” Warren told Action Network on Tuesday during Big Ten Media Days. “An adjustment has to be there academically, has to be there sportingly. All of these things are really important. There are a handful of schools that could potentially add value to us, but I’m so focused right now that we welcome USC and UCLA to our conference in 2024 with open arms.

Warren said he was proud that USC and UCLA are members of the Association of American University (AAU), but also said that being an AAU member is not a requirement for a future potential member.

“Literally every non-SEC Power Five conference school has reached out to the Big Ten,” a source said of schools interested in joining the conference. “College presidents, athletic directors, senior administrators, etc.”

As for the schedule and the number of teams the Big Ten will add, that is unknown.

“It could be two months to two years,” another source said. “There could be an odd number, and there is no specific number of teams.”

In his opening statement to the media on Tuesday, Warren didn’t shy away from talking about the Big Ten’s future plans.

“When it comes to expansion, I get asked every day, ‘What’s next?'” Warren said. “This may include future expansion, but it will be done for the right reasons at the right time with our student-athletes, academic and athletic empowerment at the center of all decisions we make regarding any further expansion.

“We’re not going to grow just to grow. It will be strategic. This will add extra value to our conference and provide a platform for even our student-athletes to be placed on a larger platform so that they can build their careers but also have the opportunity to grow and to learn from an education and from an athletic point of view.

“Where is the expansion going? I do not know. There are two types of people in the world: they see change as a problem, or they see change as an opportunity. And I’m one of those people who, when a change happens, excite me.

Since USC and UCLA announced to the Big Ten on June 30, Warren said he has not spoken to Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff. Warren said his office was planning a call for him with Kliavkoff after Friday’s Pac-12 media day.

The announced “historic alliance” between the Big Ten, the Pac-12 and the ACC did not even last a year before the Big Ten attacked the Pac-12 for USC and UCLA.

“We’re in a five-year period of transformation,” Warren said. “It’s only because these are some of the stages of transformation that we won’t know until we come to a conclusion. I think over the next two years it will calm down – movement between conferences How many are there How many are not The structure will become clear.

If the Big Ten adds more Pac-12 teams, the Big 12 could pursue Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah from the Pac-12, sources said. Warren said he has developed a close relationship with new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark.

Ironically, the Warren and Yormark leagues could pull Pac-12 teams. So if the Pac-12 were no longer a power league, a key question immediately jumps to mind: Could the Rose Bowl really pivot to a Big Ten-Big 12 game in the future?

As for Warren’s “five-year transformation period,” he doesn’t know how many power conferences will remain.

“That’s a question that remains to be seen,” Warren said. “Think about how much more we know today than a year ago. So think a year from now. It will become crystal clear as to which is best. The market will dictate where things should settle.

A Big Ten coach has an idea of ​​how these things will work out.

“We know how it ends,” the coach said. “Twenty or more teams in the Big Ten, 20 or more teams in the SEC. A TV show on Fox. One on ESPN. Just like the NFL. And then you have your Big Ten-SEC playoffs for the college Super Bowl.

“Then teams with six wins will play in a Tampa Bowl, teams with seven wins will play in Orlando. This is where we are heading.

Regarding the future of the college football playoffs, Warren said he 100% supports an expanded playoff, but favors automatic offers for the Power Five conference champions.

“There should be some difference for conferences that win their conference championships,” Warren said. “There must be a reward for winning the conference. Our student-athletes are so focused on the season, I think that’s important. They have to get some credit for that. That makes the end of the regular season really important.

Warren added with an expanded playoff, whether it’s eight, 12 or 16 teams, that “I never want to get to the point where a committee has chosen (all the teams) who go to the college football playoffs. “

Last week, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said the SEC would “be fine without QA (automatic qualifiers)” regardless of the size of the playoffs. The SEC has always said it wants the top-ranked teams in the playoffs and doesn’t favor automatic qualifying for conference champions.

When I spoke with Warren, I asked him if he noticed the not-so-subtle photos taken at the Big Ten by SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey last week. Sankey referenced that SEC members are in “contiguous states” and “there is no sense of urgency in our league. No panicking in reaction to other people’s decisions. We know who we are. We are confident in our collective strength.

Warren said he noticed Sankey’s remarks.

“I did,” Warren said with a laugh. “Greg and I were both well trained by (former SEC Commissioner) Mike Slive (Slive hired Warren at Notre Dame Law School). I know Greg’s head is wrong.

A Big Ten athletic director echoed Warren’s philosophy regarding the Big Ten’s future.

“It’s chess, not checkers,” said a Big Ten athletic director. “We have to do what is best for us. The old days of college athletics are over. The ladies are over. The old days of college athletics are over. It’s a company.

I mentioned to Warren that it was obvious the Big Ten weren’t kidding anymore. The league will do what is best for the Big Ten Conference.

“We’re not kidding,” Warren said. “That’s how we got into this position. I don’t want to be Sears and Roebuck.

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