Big Ten expects title game in 2011

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany expects the league to hold a championship game next season, when Nebraska officially leaves the Big 12 and gives the Big Ten 12 members.

While he isn’t sure where the game would be played and if the site would rotate, adding one of college football's traditional powers in Nebraska next season positions the Big Ten to add a lucrative title game to the schedule.

At the league’s football media gathering on Monday in Chicago, Delany said he’d like to sell naming rights to the game, and that he has had discussions with representatives from potential host sites — including Chicago. With the season soon approaching, however, it will be difficult to make visits to potential host cities for the remainder of 2010. The league could name a city for scheduling purposes in 2011 and tour other cities for future games in the spring.

“I just think that selection, the philosophy, the economics around a championship venue may require more focused energy than we have right at this moment,” Delany said.

Delany also said teams will likely play nine conference games instead of eight in the future to help preserve rivalries.

“How quickly we can [expand the league schedule]? We can't do that in the next year or two. I'm hopeful we can make some progress for years three, four. Hopefully, it's not three or four, but it could be depending on the contractual commitments.”

The league’s most difficult task will be to determine how to align into two six-team divisions while maintaining long-standing rivalries, like Michigan against Ohio State. The commissioner hopes to have that resolved in the next 30 to 45 days.

“I don't know that we'll be able to preserve every trophy game or every rivalry game, but I can tell you that we're going to go through great lengths to make sure the traditions and the rivalries are respected,” Delany said. “I've seen other expansions where you expand your conference, you don't increase the number of games and play each other less.”

On the ever-so-popular subject of conference expansion, Delany said that while it remains a possibility, the league “is not actively involved” in discussions at the moment. He said the league will likely decide in December whether to look into it again.

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