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Commissioner talks issues affecting conference, MSU

April 27, 2009

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany spoke to the media earlier this month about a variety of topics. Here’s what he had to say:

Question What did you think about the MSU men’s basketball team’s run to the Final Four?

Jim Delany I was disappointed that they lost but very excited about their run to the championship game. They played great. They played a great Southern Cal team and a great Kansas team and two No. 1 seeds. … North Carolina was a very good team and if they had any weaknesses, they resolved them. Many people didn’t think they were a very good defensive team, but they played very good defense against Michigan State.

Q What are your thoughts about the Big East and the Big Ten conferences in basketball?

JD My only qualm was I thought we deserved all the teams who got into the tournament. Some people thought maybe we were overrepresented. I thought Penn State showed exceptionally well for a team we thought should be considered. Last year, Ohio State was one of the last teams out and they won the NIT. This year, Penn State was one of the last teams out and they won the NIT. We never said we were the best conference in the country. We’re a very young conference with a very young group of players, and our coaches did a good job.

Q Do you think the Big Ten football programs are getting the same bad rap?

JD I don’t necessarily think so. I do think that there are points in time when, if you don’t win the championship, you aren’t regarded as great. I think there’s something between great and bad, and it’s called very good. We had good teams. We had two top 10 teams, we had five teams in the top 25 and we’re playing the best of the best. I don’t want us to stop playing really good teams; I want us to play the best bowl games we can play. I love playing in the (Bowl Championship Series) and the Rose Bowl. Sometimes that means we’re not going to do well. This year, we had games we could have won but didn’t. Michigan State played well against Georgia. Texas and Ohio State were neck-and-neck games. My point is you want the players and coaches to play against the best competition. They want to do it and the fans want to do it. Sometimes you’re going to come out on top, sometimes winning games is a pretty good outcome … Over a period of time we’ve won a couple of national championships and played for a few more. Does that mean every year we have the best conference? No. Sometimes we do, and sometimes we don’t.

Q Is there anything that would change that stance of opposing a college football playoff?

JD If our schools want to change, I reflect our schools’ position. It’s not a moral issue, it’s a best-judgment issue. The best interest of the schools is the best interest of college football. This is college football. It’s not AAU football. It’s not NFL football. It’s not 1-AA football. When I was in the Ohio Valley Conference in the ’80s, we played in a 16-team playoff. And to be honest with you, it was not very good.

Q What are your impressions of the new MSU facilities?

JD I know they have a new soccer stadium and baseball stadium and those are all steps in the right direction. It’s great that athletes have a great place to play football and basketball here and athletes are being so well served. It’s real state-of-the-art stuff that will be very attractive to athletes in the future as well as the ones who are here now.

Q Is that something schools need to keep doing well consistently?

JD You do need to do it. Facilities are an important part of recruitment. If you want to play at the national and regional level, you have to compete with facilities. We’re fortunate that people do come to our games and watch them on television, so the resources have been there to build. A lot of these facilities have had to be addressed
and really made able for the next 50 years. It’s really an advertised kind of investment.

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