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Football Mon Aug 02 2010

Big Ten will hold championship game in 2011

Discussion at Monday's Big Ten Media Day in Chicago focused on a conference championship game next year, dividing the conference into two division and the fact that Joe Paterno is still alive.

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Commissioner Jim Delaney said the conference should have a location for the big game nailed down in a matter of weeks. The Windy City is certainly on the short list of possible venues along with indoor stadiums in Indianapolis and Detroit as well as midwest football landmarks like Lambeau Field in Green Bay. The commish said the game might bounce around from year-to-year and they likely won't sign on for an extended deal at one location until after 2011.

Coaches at the media day also gave a giddy reception to newcomer Nebraska and their Athletic Director Tom Osborne.

Several teams, like Wisconsin and Iowa, said they were hoping to start a rivalry with the Cornhuskers. But the warmest reception probably came from the grandfather of the Big Ten, Joe Paterno.

JoePa was a spry 64 years old when he was in Nebraska's position, joining the Big Ten 20 years ago.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for not only Tom, but the University of Nebraska. So I think it's a really good addition to the Big Ten," he said.

Paterno also fielded a bevy of questions on his health and his ability to recruit at such an old age. One reporter went so far as to ask if Paterno was planning on dying before he retired. The coach was sick earlier in the year with a problem, as he described it, "slightly below the intestines."

Conversation got more pleasant from there and most of the day was spent discussing how the 12 teams would be split into divisions when Nebraska officially joins next September. Delaney said geography will take a back seat to upholding rivalry games and keeping a competitive balance. He also said he wasn't sure how further expansion would factor into those decisions.

For the time being, the conference will be holding steady at 12 but they plan to reopen the discussion when the regular season ends in December. No matter how big the conference gets, Delaney said Notre Dame won't be joining forces anytime soon. It seems if they do head in a specific direction, the conference will be reversing manifest destiny as they hitch their wagons toward the east in search of TV ratings.

Click here to check out full transcripts from all 11 coaches and Delaney's comments to the press.

 
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