Hayes: The Big Ten's hypocrisy was on full display at Media Days
Nick Saban gives the same simple speech to every player he signs, and every coach he hires.
I can deal with good news and bad news. I can’t deal with the unknown.
It’s time for some honesty in college football. Time to stop the disingenuous shell game and the outright deceit.
Time to stop the backstabbing and two-timing, stop saying one thing while executing another.
Time to eliminate the unknown.
“I’m absolutely floored by what I just watched,” an ACC athletic director texted me Tuesday.
There was Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren in Indianapolis, kicking off the league’s Media Days like a politician in an election year — shifting lanes and changing narratives and swimming in hypocrisy without a hint of shame or embarrassment.
Less than a year ago, he was humble and reserved, touting the virtues of “like minds and universities” while rolling out the shell game he called an “Alliance.”
He convinced the Pac-12 and ACC that together, they could stand up to the big bully SEC and do what’s right to save amateur heaven.
Only a funny thing happened along the way to holier than thou: The Wolf bared his fangs and claws and — tada! — he looked a whole lot like the big, bad SEC. Only much worse.
That was Warren Tuesday afternoon, saying the Big Ten had to be “bold” and “innovative” and “creative” — all while avoiding the obvious hypocrisy of mortally stabbing the Pac-12, its Alliance partner, stealing its 2 biggest brands (USC and UCLA) and leaving it to die on the vine.
Bold. Innovative. Creative.
Warren and the Big Ten are zeroing in on the future of college sports, and he made it very clear they wouldn’t stand around and watch again. Those days are long gone.
Not long after Warren’s speech, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told ESPN that he could see a 16-team Playoff develop.
I mean, the stones on these guys.
This is the same conference that, along with its Alliance pals, torpedoed a 12-team Playoff expansion mere months ago because things were moving too quickly, and player safety, and the future of amateur sports … and blah, blah, blah.
And everyone bought it.
That was Warren Tuesday, standing barrel-chested and not flinching. The ultimate politician.
“He knows what he said and what he sold a year ago,” the ACC athletic director said. “It doesn’t matter. He’ll just tell you another story.”
Warren now claims the Big Ten won’t expand just to add teams, that any future expansion must be a value add. Notre Dame is the biggest piece remaining on the board, but the Irish value their independence and are currently negotiating a new media rights deal.
Maybe Warren’s bold talk at Big Ten Media Days was a demarcation of sorts for Notre Dame. Here’s the line, here’s the deal.
The bus is filling up. Join now or else.
Or maybe, as multiple industry sources told SDS, the Big Ten really is interested in stretching its geographical footprint from New York City to Seattle, to Los Angeles, to Miami and back to the home office in Chicago. A true national conference.
There’s a reason multiple industry sources told SDS that Washington, Stanford, Oregon and Cal are balking at signing any new media rights agreement with the Pac-12 with an eye toward further Big Ten expansion.
The more the Big Ten shakes the expansion tree, the more there is panic in the streets. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said last week that his league will stay at 16 teams unless circumstances dictate otherwise.
Kevin Warren just opened up a can of the unknown.
There are 2 ways this ends: the Big Ten stays at 16, or we’re on our way to an NFL future in college football, complete with a 20-team AFC and NFC (Big Ten and SEC), a postseason tournament and a Super Bowl.
Bold. Innovative. Creative.
Deceitful. Disingenuous. And yes, destabilizing.
The ultimate politician delivering the unknown.