Big Ten Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren as well as coaches and select players from each school will gather inside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Tuesday and Wednesday for the annual football media days. Amid another summer of groundbreaking news — in this case, the addition of Southern California and UCLA — there will be plenty to discuss.
Warren will open the event with a 45-minute news conference at 10:15 a.m. where he’s expected to answer questions ranging from the Big Ten’s newest additions, the College Football Players Association, name, image and likeness and potential schedule formatting changes.
Nebraska coach Scott Frost, Maryland’s Mike Locksley, Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck, Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, Indiana’s Tom Allen, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh will also address the media on Tuesday before breaking off into separate podium sessions later in the day.
Locksley, who will be entering his fourth season with Maryland, will be joined by quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, wide receiver Rakim Jarrett and cornerback Jakorian Bennett.
On Wednesday, coaches and players from Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin and Illinois will speak.
Here are the most pressing topics likely to be discussed:
USC and UCLA join the mix
A year after Texas and Oklahoma stunned college athletics and shook up conference alignment once again after they announced they will soon leave the Big 12 and join the Southeastern Conference, USC and UCLA followed a similar path by announcing they’ll depart from the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024 to create a superconference that spans coast to coast.
The decision sent shockwaves throughout the sports world and will likely cause yet another domino effect for years to come. It also made people question the current NCAA model of athletics.
The Big Ten might not be done, however. Warren will likely address the possibility of more schools joining the conference and the reason for adding two West Coast programs despite the majority of the Big Ten schools residing in the Midwest and Northeast.
College Football Players Association
Led by Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, Big Ten players reportedly have had discussions with Warren about the changing landscape of college sports and how it impacts student-athletes. No Maryland players were part of those discussions, according to a team spokesperson.
Clifford released a statement Friday, saying, “In the last 90 days, the [College Football Players Association] presented interesting ideas to me and my teammates with the goal of joining their college football players association. However, at this time, I along with many players are committed to working at the campus and conference level to address complexities of collegiate athletics for student-athletes.”
The CFPA was founded in 2021 to make sure college football players are organized to have a collective voice in the decision-making within their sport. However, executive director Jason Stahl said the CFPA doesn’t classify itself as a union.
According to ESPN, Stahl spoke with Warren about having a representative on each campus who advocates for players during medical situations or other disputes, post-football health protections and players receiving a percentage of the media rights revenue.
Name, image and likeness — again
NIL was a major talking point during SEC media day last week. Alabama coach Nick Saban said he is for players creating value for themselves but thinks there should be guidelines to protect the competitive balance.
“The advent of collectives has created a way for third parties to make contributions to marketing organizations, who can create opportunities for players, which I think is a good thing,” he said. “When it’s used in recruiting and players start making choices based on promises made in name, image and likeness, I don’t think that’s a good thing. I think there needs to be transparency on how all that’s done. I think there needs to be some protection for players when it comes to people who represent them.”
Expect Big Ten coaches to answer questions regarding their school’s approach to NIL and how it has impacted college sports more than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court sided with college athletes in a decision that struck at the NCAA’s definition of amateurism.
Schedule format changes
According to the Athletic, Big Ten administrators have discussed dropping from nine conference games to eight beginning in 2023. They have also discussed the possibility of ending divisional play and instead schools would play three opponents annually and cycle through the other teams every other year or two.
In June, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced a new football schedule model starting in 2023. Under the new model, each team will play three primary opponents annually and face the other league teams twice during the four-year cycle, once at home and once on the road. It will also eliminate the Atlantic and Coastal divisions and all 14 schools will compete in one division.
BIG TEN MEDIA DAY
Tuesday, 10 a.m.
TV: Big Ten Network