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Published: Friday, 7/27/2007

Big Ten mulls adding 1 team to conference


DES MOINES Big Ten officials will likely discuss expanding to 12 schools to accommodate the new Big Ten Network, commissioner Jim Delany said.

The network, which is scheduled to launch Aug. 30, would benefit from an additional big-name university in a large television market, Delany said.

I think we need to look at it in the next year, he said in an interview. He offered no specific candidates.

The broader [the network] is distributed, the more value [expansion] has. We have eight states. With expansion, you could have nine, he said.

In football, a 12th school could mean two divisions and a postseason playoff. That s an appealing concept to the startup network.

Any television executive would do whatever they could to be able to air a game like the Big Ten championship, said Mark Silverman, Big Ten Network president.

Coaches think otherwise, said Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz.

I ve not met anybody in coaching that really enjoys it, Ferentz said of the divisional playoff format. There s a lot of downside to it, in my opinion.

Among the concerns are missing out on a BCS bowl by losing the conference title game.

Delany said expansion would not guarantee the Big Ten would create an extra game.

I could live with two divisions and a championship game, but I think that has a tendency to devalue the season-ending game and have a negative impact on your losing team in season-ending games, he said. I don t want us to tear ourselves apart over the structure of football for the sake of expansion.

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