At a news conference held in a Google hangout, Commissioner Jim Delany welcomed Phoenix University Online by saying Big Ten presidents and chancellors were “giddy” and unanimous in their support.

“Maybe some people fear online education,” Delany said, in reference to the school’s lack of a physical campus, and, for that matter, sports teams. “We embrace the internets. Every one of them.”

They embrace it because of what Delany sees as a paradigm shift in college athletics, where a bigger conference means more fans, more TV viewers and more money. “We watched different networks – I mean conferences — move out of their region, expanding.” Delany said in the hastily arranged press conference. “So we added Maryland, which is in Virginia, and then Rutgers. Maryland’s what we call a two-fer: it’s like you crossed Boston with North Carolina or something. I don’t know; that’s just how I think about it. In the massive New York City media market, Rutgers football is second only to the Yankees, Giants, Jets, Mets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Liberty, Islanders, Globetrotters, Red Storm, Orangemen, and some thing called Psy.”

“All that television money, I mean, with all those teams and whatnot, it made us think: Are we vulnerable? What does ten mean? Hell, what does big mean? Great institutions, great demographics. We started to think: What are the possibilities? What is reality? What is what? We came to the conclusion: If there were opportunities, we should explore them. Regardless of the wisdom of doing so.” Delany then appeared to drink directly from a bottle of whiskey before wiping his mouth with his shirt cuff.

Delany said the talks with Phoenix University Online began about a month ago, resulting in Monday’s announcement. At first, Delany was reluctant, citing the Big Ten’s athletic history. But when PUO William Pepicello pointed out that the school had won as many national championships as Bo Schembechler, Delany warmed to the topic. According to him, “it’s just a good fit – they don’t graduate black athletes, either.” When Phoenix took the additional step of naming an athletic director, Delany was sold. “Once they named Punj…Punjuhmaob, whatever it is, I was on board. He had my router speed doubled in about ten minutes.” Phoenix has designated Khushwant Dhaliwal, formerly an “off-site administrator,” as its first Athletic Director.

When asked by writer John Walters, who appeared to be the only sportswriter capable of figuring out how to operate a Google hangout, about the fact that Phoenix doesn’t have sports teams, or even a nickname, Delany grew reflective. “This is a long-term play,” Delany said. “There’s no reason that Phoenix can’t be a prominent football program and compete with say Indiana, or Illinois. I mean, by like next week. They have great websites and great markets. That bird logo is awesome. And good logos make everybody better. We may add a bird to our network – I mean conference – logo. I don’t even know. In any event, we’re going to call them the Phoenixes for now. Bird logo – write that down.”

The Big Ten belied its name in 1990 by adding Penn State. Nebraska joined in 2010. Both football teams have seen their reputations diminish, but as Delany laughs, “they sure as heck cash the checks! Shoot, we all do!”

He’s clearly aware that some Big Ten fans believe their already diminished product has been further watered down. He ended the press conference by stating, “I know there is some ambivalence.” Delany continued, “and I know there may be some anger. How do you duplicate the magic of a mid-October Iowa-Michigan State game? You don’t. But I hope that over time we can embrace online students, that the Phoenixes can learn to be our partner and that together we can become much better than we are without – hey hold on a sec, I got some guy from the school of hard knocks calling me.”

A little humor by Buck Mulligan (2012-12-03 12:18:55)