CHICAGO — In his opening remarks at the Big Ten media days, Commissioner Jim Delany officially announced new TV deals. The league finalized six-year contracts with CBS in basketball and Fox and ESPN for football and basketball, and an extended deal with the Big Ten Network now runs through 2032.
Big Ten Network is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
“I think it’s important to note that that company has been artistic, a financial success and a success in separating” the conference from others, Delany said.
Friday night blues
Delany acknowledged hearing grumbling over the conference’s decision to schedule a handful of games on Friday night starting this season.
The league announced last November that six games will be played on Friday night. Three of those are Big Ten matchups. Opponents don’t like the fact that the Big Ten is stepping on high school football’s traditional night.
“I think it’s fair to say there’s been push back,” Delany said.
Not all Big Ten coaches are fans of the idea, either.
“My history as a high school coach for 15 years is strong,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said. “It’s who I am, it’s how I started, and it’s been so many years. I think that’s a special night. I don’t like playing games on Friday night. I think that’s high school night.”
FCS allowed again
Delany confirmed the league has modified its rule prohibiting football games against Football Championship Series opponents.
Big Ten athletic directors had agreed to stop scheduling FCS opponents with the advent of a nine-game conference schedule. The reason given was that tougher nonconference scheduling became more important in the College Football Playoff system.
But Delany acknowledged that schools had difficulty scheduling in years when they have only four Big Ten home games. Delany said schools will be allowed to scheduled FCS opponents in those years when they play four Big Ten home games.
That would open the door for the Gophers to resume playing North Dakota State if they want.
Laurinaitis finds new career
Former Wayzata and Ohio State star linebacker James Laurinaitis has joined BTN has an analyst. BTN President Mark Silverman said Laurinaitis will co-host a weekly Ohio State show for SportsTime Ohio.
“James Laurinaitis had perhaps the best screen test I’ve ever seen,” Silverman said. “James came in and the intelligence, how thoughtful, well spoken, for somebody who literally just retired months ago, really blew us all away.”
Laurinaitis retired from the NFL in April after an eight-year career.
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