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Delany: Big Ten 'inactive but alert' on expansion

Delany: Big Ten 'inactive but alert' on expansion

NEW YORK (AP) The Big Ten's guideline for conference expansion is ``inactive, but alert.''

The league unexpectedly transformed the landscape of major college sports again last month when it announced Rutgers and Maryland would be joining. As usual with conference realignment, the move triggered others and speculation more could be coming.

``I would describe our position as being inactive, but alert,'' Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said Thursday after he appeared on a panel with Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive and Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco. The discussion at the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum was sponsored by SportsBusiness Journal.

``Monitoring the landscape is overused so we're trying to figure out what's the most apt way to describe where we are,'' Delany said. ``One hundred percent moving toward integration of the 14 (members). With schedules, branding and divisional alignment.

``We assessed staying where we were, and thought there was some risk to that long term,'' he added. ``We also understand that there's risk when you expand because you could get brand dilution.''

The Big Ten's move tipped the dominoes that led to the Atlantic Coast Conference turning to Louisville to replace Maryland.

Losing Rutgers and Louisville forced the Big East to add Tulane as a member in all sports and East Carolina for just football, then Conference USA had to make moves to replace those two schools.

Slive said the SEC doesn't feel compelled to react to the Big Ten's latest expansion. He said he sensed that after Notre Dame announced in September it was moving from the Big East to the ACC, while keeping its football program independent, the shuffling would stop.

``I think each of us have to understand what our own respective needs are,'' he said. ``I did think we were probably stable for a while. My reaction was more that there's not as much stability as I thought there was.''

``We're comfortable at 14, but I would never say never. That doesn't mean we're active. If your foundation and philosophy is, when leave I want the SEC to be better than when I came, and ensure its financial future, its competitive future. Any thought about going beyond 14 would relate to whether or not it would enhance those two things.''

Aresco said the Big East is trying to stay prepared for anything. The conference has undergone a massive overhaul in the past two seasons and is trying to re-invent itself as a coast-to-coast, 12-team football conference, with Boise State and San Diego State entering next season. The Big East is also trying to land a new television contract. The negotiations were stalled when Rutgers and Louisville announced they were leaving. Aresco said they have started up again.

``I'd like to see consolidation finally take hold so people can begin to build on what they have,'' he said.

``It's not an enjoyable part of the job, dealing with (realignment),'' he added. ``In the end we have to go about our business. We don't know whether there will be a period, a long period, of stability. No one knows.

``Uncertainty isn't good. We decided we're going to move forward. If something happens down the road, you adjust. We think the model is a viable model.''

The SEC doesn't have a problem with stability. The conference has been working on launching its own television network, similar to what the Big Ten and Pac-12 have started.

Slive said he hopes the league will have an announcement about the network in January.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

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USA Today Sports Images

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Michigan star Moe Wagner after his workout with the Wizards.

Chris and Chase Hughes also gave their impressions of the first prospects to come in for pre-draft workouts, including which guys are most likely to be Wizards. One of those prospects is a point guard and a likely first round pick. Chase and Chris explain why that's not a crazy idea, even considering the presence of John Wall on their roster.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

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Associated Press

Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

The NFL has passed two major on-field rule changes in the last two months. One, the rule that prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact with another player. That one passed during the spring meetings in March but it was just recently clarified. The other one changes how kickoffs are executed. 

Both rules, designed to make the game safer for the players, could have a major impact on the game. And the Redskins are still a little unclear about how to handle them. 

Safety D.J. Swearinger is one of the Redskins’ hardest hitters. After saying that the helmet-lowering rule, which is outlined in some detail in this video from the NFL, would not affect him because he hits low, he wondered why he was even wearing a hard hat at work. 

“I’ve got a helmet on, but I can’t use it or hit nobody with it, might as well take the helmet off if you ask me,” said Swearinger following the Redskins’ OTA practice on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, coach Jay Gruden had not yet been filled in on the details of the helmet-lowering rule. He said that the team will sort it out over the three and a half months between now and the start of the regular season. 

“The lowering of the helmet, I don’t know which ones they decided to go with, so we’ll see,” he said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about bull rushes and they’re trying to obviously protect the players, but we’ve just got to be careful.”

Gruden said that special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to meetings to help hash out the kickoff rule. What they ended up with looks a lot like another special teams play according to the player who will be executing the kickoffs. 

“It looks like they’re trying to make it more like a punt,” said kicker Dustin Hopkins. Among the similarities are that the kicking team will not be able to get a running start as the kicker approaches the ball. They will have to be stationary a yard away from the line where the ball is until it is kicked. 

The league probably will be happy if the play does more closely resemble a punt. The injury rate on punt plays is much lower than it is on kickoffs. 

Some believe that this change will lead to longer kickoff returns. Gruden didn’t disagree, but he said that he needs more information. 

“I think without the guys getting a running start, number one, it could be,” he said. “I think it’s just something I have to see it before I can really make any judgments on it.”

The new rule prohibits wedge blocking meaning that you are unlikely to see any offensive linemen on kickoffs as they were used primarily to create or break wedges. 

“I think for the most part, you’re going to see more speed guys,” said Gruden.

The Redskins will start to wrap their heads around the new rule during the next three weeks, when they have their final two weeks of OTAs and then minicamp before the break for training camp. Gruden said that they will continue to work on it in Richmond. He said that the joint practices with the Jets and the four preseason game will be important for sorting out just how the team will implement kickoffs. 

The best way to handle it might be to just let Hopkins pound the ball into the end zone every time. Last year 72.5 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. He could have had more touchbacks, but he occasionally was told to kick it high to force a return with the hope of getting better field position. But if the rules lead to longer returns it may not be worth the risk. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- OTAs: Practice report: Smith sharp
- Injuries: Kouandjio out for the season

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.