Big Ten leaders 'haven't had conversations' as realignment heats up

Austin Wardabout 2 months
Aritcle written by:Austin WardAustin Ward


Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith indicated realignment conversations haven't happened. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

INDIANAPOLIS — The next round of realignment appears to be underway, but the Big Ten apparently isn’t ready to enter the fray.

While multiple reports have indicated that Oklahoma and Texas are preparing to make a move and could actually land in the SEC in relatively short order, the leadership of the Big Ten has not had any conversations about making any additions of its own.

Multiple sources indicated to Lettermen Row that the league has been aware of the potential dominoes in motion for several weeks, but Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith confirmed on Friday morning that there have been full-conference discussions about how the Big Ten would respond to the shifting landscape.

Gene Smith-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith addressed realignment discussions on Friday. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

“Not yet,” Smith said. “We haven’t had conversations, we’re not overreacting, it’s not who we are. When we expanded, the whole world [was supposed to] blow up, and it didn’t. Right? When we added cost of attendance, the whole world was going to blow up — and it didn’t. We added NIL and the whole world was going to blow up and it didn’t. We just have to pause, study, learn, do what’s right for us. But we haven’t had conversations about that move collectively.

“I really am not surprised, really not. Who knows what else is being talked about anywhere else in any other conference. I can see how they probably got there, but I’m not surprised anymore. I’ve been doing this too long. I kind of get it a little bit.”

The top chess pieces in the Big 12 appear to be moving quickly, and it appears there might not be time for much patience during this critical summer for the future of college football.

NIL legislation, Supreme Court losses for the NCAA and College Football Playoff expansion were already on the table as critical issues across the nation. Now the conference shuffling can further complicate the situation moving forward for the Big Ten and every other major conference.

“We’re at an inflection point in college athletics,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said on Thursday. “So, whether it’s Name, Image and Likeness, whether it’s the Alston Case, whether it’s potential College Football Playoff expansion, whether it’s schools from one conference joining another conference, these are the kind of issues that we all will be dealing with here this year and for many years in the future.

“That’s the world that we live in right now. I know from where we sit we’re always constantly evaluating what’s in the best interests of the conference. It will be interesting to see … how that evolves and where it lands.”

That plane already seems to be in the air. The Big Ten, though, is still on the runway.