In a late September interview with Ohio State’s student newspaper, athletic director Gene Smith was very emphatic that the Big Ten, after adding Nebraska a couple of months earlier, was out of the expansion game.
“We’re done with it [expansion],” Smith told The Lantern. “We’re finished. The only thing that would cause us to look at it further is if someone contacted us. So, we’re not going to go out and say we’re thinking about expansion.”
Ahead of a meeting that could determine what direction, if any, the conference takes on the expansion front, Smith’s counterpart at Michigan has a slightly different take on the situation.
“We’re in a really good place,” Michigan AD David Brandon told AnnArbor.com. “Having said that, if I were a betting man, I’d say there’s more change ahead and more expansion ahead. That review continues and discussions continue, and there’s still possibilities out there.”
The next set of discussions and further review will take place at the next meeting of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors later this month, where the conference’s powerbrokers, a Big Ten spokesperson told the website, are expected to decide whether to pursue further expansion or conclude the process. Brandon once again reiterated that he expects the pursuit of further expansion.
“We’ve accomplished a lot of what we needed to accomplish,” Brandon said. “I know I’m happy, but not that we’ve kind of digested that, we’re still in the same mode of looking at the bigger picture and seeing if there’s more we can or should do.
“That’s far from a guarantee, but I’d say there’s a higher likelihood there’s expansion in the future.”
In other words, the meetings that will take place in the next week or two will determine whether it’s all quiet on the Big Ten expansion front for the foreseeable future. Or whether we’re in for another offseason of wild speculation, half-assed rumor and WTF innuendo like we were just a few months ago.
If I were like the betting man Brandon alluded to, I’d put my money on everybody needing to buckle up and strap in, because it’s going to be another one of those offseasons.