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INDIANAPOLIS ― Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren opened Big Ten media days with the announcement that former Wisconsin head football coach Barry Alvarez will be a Big Ten football special adviser.
Alvarez, a former assistant coach at the University of Iowa from 1979-86 before serving as Wisconsin’s head coach for 16 years and director of athletics for 18, will assume his new role on Aug. 2, helping the conference navigate the changing landscape of college football.
“I trust Barry and we look forward to working with him on relevant football-related issues and building upon the strong relationships we have with the College Football Playoff, our broadcast and bowl partners, as well as our member institutions and student-athletes,” Warren said.
How the Big Ten will respond to Texas and Oklahoma possibly joining the SEC
The Houston Chronicle reported on Wednesday that both Texas and Oklahoma have reached out to executives about joining the Southeastern Conference, causing spiraling predictions and speculations on the impacts of conference realignment.
The Big Ten added Nebraska from the Big 12 in 2011, followed by Rutgers and Maryland in 2014. The Big 12 lost both Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC in 2012. The departure of both Texas and Oklahoma would shrink what is already the smallest Power Five conference, which currently has 10 teams. Both the Big Ten and SEC have 14 teams while the ACC has 15 and Pac-12 has 12.
On Thursday, Warren had little to say on potential conference realignment and noted that Alvarez will play a role in consulting on any changes.
"These are the kind of issues that we all will be dealing with here for many years and in the future,” Warren said. “From where we sit, we're always constantly evaluating what is in the best interest of the conference."
‘No regrets’ on last year’s decision to cancel, restart football season
The Big Ten initially decided to cancel the 2020 football season in August, but drew criticism when it went back on that decision a month later with a plan to resume with a conference-only schedule in October.
"If I had the chance to do it all over last year, I would make the same decisions that we made,“ Warren said. ”Maybe the communication wasn't as clean and perfect at times, but all in all, last year was a year of gratitude and was a very very complicated time in our lives."
COVID-19 moving forward
There is currently no universal conference policy on COVID-19 procedures moving forward and Warren said not to expect one until mid-August. He plans to collect procedures individually from each school, emphasizing that approaching the virus will be a decentralized decision.
“We'll finalize our policies to make sure that we pressure test it as much as we possibly can and then we'll make sure that we release it to everyone in the media and in the public,” Warren said. “But we will have that done prior to our first game 37 days away from today.”
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