Considering Maryland signed a non-disclosure agreement as it plotted its move to the Big Ten last year, future power-conference expansion will be cloaked in secrecy if league officials can help it.
But generally, commissioner Jim Delany has kept his ADs and presidents informed of the membership process, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said.
That's why Smith says the 14-team Big Ten is “not doing anything right now” in the realignment game and hasn't had any substantial talks on such matters in recent months.
Georgia Tech, Virginia and North Carolina have been speculated as potential Big Ten targets ever since Maryland and Rutgers decided to join the league in November.
“I think you're going to have all types of rumors about us and the Big 12,” Smith said. “We're not doing anything right now. We'll sit and evaluate Rutgers' and Maryland's transition. We don't want to screw that up. Right now we're not aggressively pursuing anyone.”
In Rutgers and Maryland, the Big Ten has East Coast partners for Penn State. The persistence of conference realignment since 2010, coupled with the Big Ten Network's national cable reach, has many wondering if the league will eventually push for a full East Coast division that would mushroom the league to 18 or 20 teams.
Smith said talks among league officials don't look that far ahead.
“We don't sit and talk like that,” Smith said. “We look at individual opportunities. We don't say our end game is to have an entire East Coast. We look at each business situation as it presents itself.”
The Big Ten isn't the only conference to watch in realignment -- can the Big 12 stay at 10 teams forever? -- but other conferences certainly are discussing what Delany might do next.
Big 12 officials pointed out in a late-January meeting among athletic directors that the Big Ten, should it expand, would likely push for schools already included in the Association of American Universities -- in the ACC, that list includes Virginia, UNC, Pitt, Georgia Tech and Duke.