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This is the best the Big Ten could do?

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Why the Big Ten’s hire of Kevin Warren underwhelms and does little to better position the conference within the NCAA.


We have some thoughts on Kevin Warren, the newly minted Big Ten commissioner set to take over on September 16th of this year.

Zuzu: So. This guy went to Grand Canyon University for undergrad... Sorry, but was it really that hard to find someone who can at least empathize with the P5, flagship state/public, land-grant experience by having gone to one?

Of all the people interviewed, the best they could choose was someone who has only dealt in the college scape of things via pointless roles on [/checks notes] the Board of Governors for GRAND CANYON UNIVERSITY, the Notre Dame Law School Advisory Council, a life member of the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors (why), working in a firm that specialized in representing universities that were charged with NCAA violations, and serving on the selection committee for choosing the Minnesota Athletic Director.

And so his only ties to the Big Ten are that latter point, and being on the University of Minnesota’s Medical Foundation Board of Directors, and U of M’s Medicine and Health Board of Overseers. How he got these roles as chief operating officer of an NFL team is beyond me.

Whatever. People in the money and decisions world and all that.

And so I understand the point of modern conferences is to make money. That's what Delany did, that's what this guy will do. However, at least Delany went to UNC, a school that has the tick marks I pointed out above that most B1G schools have. Perhaps I'm naive in hoping that a new commissioner would have at least lightly in the back of his head the idea of preserving that experience via his decisions; and that at the end of the day a Big Ten-like university's purpose is catering to a certain culture of student learning and young athlete development, with the latter also driving the boatloads of money for these leagues of university athletic programs. You don't get the latter without the former. I sure hope that Kevin Warren, someone who didn't experience the culture of the former, will be able to appreciate it when cultivating the latter.

What do I mean about "certain culture?" I'll leave you to fill in the deeper meanings based on your own experience, but I'll tell you that Rutgers applications and enrollment skyrocketed after joining the Big Ten. I believe the same would have happened if we joined any Power 5 conference. The culture that drove that. I sure hope Kevin Warren can at least appreciate it.

And does his career experience suggest he can successfully navigate the world of impending further conference realignment and TV deals? The biggest thing he did in his career with the Vikings was getting them their new U.S. Bank Stadium... do you guys think this translates to the needs of a conference commissioner?

Creighton: I’m a little more cynical than my Jerseyite counterpart. There was never going to be a situation where the league was looking for someone to preserve the Big Ten experience, work for the will of the fans, or even maintain and build athletic success. There were exactly 2 criteria that the new commish needed to fill:

  • Keep growing league revenue through any way they can
  • Bend over backwards to prevent college athletes from ever getting a cut of the millions of dollars they make for the league

An NFL executive was always going to be the logical choice to replace Delany as head of a league who’s only goal is to make money. The Pointy Haired Commissioner himself even eschewed values like “tradition” and “culture” to expand Big Ten influence eastward by adding Maryland and Rutgers. Not a single player on any Big Ten football roster was even born when Delany added Penn State to the league.

Whatever else you think the commissioner’s job is, know that his or her primary function will always be to win the yearly cash grab. That means negotiating for cable and streaming rights, bowl payouts, events like the Big Ten-ACC challenge, and making sure your athletes never wield so much power that they have control over the bottom line. Who better for that job than a COO from the NFL? Kevin Warren doesn’t represent change or an evolution of the commissioner role, he’s a continuation of the league’s thinly veiled financial goals.

Meet the new boss...


Same as the old boss?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    (36 votes)
  • 6%
    Nah, this is an upgrade.
    (22 votes)
  • 18%
    Nah, this is a downgrade.
    (58 votes)
  • 63%
    Too soon to tell, tbh.
    (203 votes)
319 votes total Vote Now