Kevin Warren doesn’t even have his name officially on the door as the incoming Big Ten Commissioner and yet there’s already talk surfacing about Jim Delany’s successor taking over for another successful, if controversial, commissioner. Namely, that would be Roger Goodell in a return to the league where Warren recently departed as Chief Operating Officer for the Minnesota Vikings.
Per The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan, several influential figures in NFL circles have long thought Warren has the chops and resume to assume the top gig a little over five years in the pro version of the game after spending time getting his feet wet leading at the collegiate level:
Those with close ties to the NFL view him as a future commissioner and expect the Big Ten to be only a steppingstone, not a final stop. The incumbent NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, has had the post since 2006, and his current deal runs through March 2024. While Goodell has not said this is his last contract, most assume that’s the case (a spokesman, Joe Lockhart, said so in December 2017, though Goodell has repeatedly rejected that he has made any decision on that score).
Warren, 55, is “one of those handful of people that are in the NFL right now that could very well be considered as a future commissioner,” said Marc Ganis, a sports consultant with close ties to Goodell. “Whether it’s the NFL or another league, he is a meaningful candidate.”
Big Ten fans (and probably Delany himself) have to both cringe and be excited over the fact that their new leader is held in such high esteem by America’s biggest sport that one of the oldest and most respected conferences in the game would be considered a “steppingstone.” Only time will tell but we’re sure a story of this magnitude is bound to be discussed at least a little bit with conference media days kicking off in the middle of July.
Warren’s hire was nearly universally praised when it was announced to much surprise in early June but that kind of tune might change if he bolts back to the pros after just short stint in the high-profile gig. Being a college conference commissioner is typically a job that carries with it longevity, which might be something that the Big Ten’s outgoing leader might want to remind his successor at some point between now and the Rose Bowl.