Delany: Big Ten talked seriously with several schools about expansion

CHICAGO -- Apparently the Big Ten exhausted several expansion options in the years before the ACC’s grant of rights pumped the brakes on conference realignment.

Commissioner Jim Delany told that his league entered confidentiality agreements with possibly six or more schools to protect conversations about conference membership.

Recent additions Nebraska, Rutgers and Maryland took up three of those spots.Those schools signed documents preventing them from publicly discussing their relationship with the Big Ten.

When asked about an exact number of schools involved, Delany said it was more or less than six. Whatever the number, the point was made: the Big Ten was aggressive about expansion.

The discussions were more serious than exploratory, said Delany, who declined to disclose the names of the other schools.

Despite league presidents announcing solidarity in December, the ACC remained a speculative launchpad for expansion raids because of Maryland’s departure in November, the Terrapins’ lawsuit with the league over a $50 million exit fee and Big Ten television revenue projections of more than $40 million per school per year later this decade.

Mentions of North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia persisted as message-board fodder.

But ACC commissioner John Swofford dropped a suplex on realignment by convincing his membership to relinquish television rights until 2026-27, the length of the ACC’s deal with ESPN.

In other words, nobody is leaving right now.

“It’s like people didn’t believe it,” said Swofford of his presidents’ statement late last year.

Now they do.

Several commissioners stated at last week’s College Football Playoff meetings that expansion conversations should simmer for awhile because of the ACC's move.

Including Delany.

"(Now) we could all use the opportunity to focus on what we have and what we're trying to build,” Delany said.

If realignment reignites, however, the Big Ten will already have done major legwork.


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