University of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told the UW athletic board on Friday that the Big Ten Conference's recent expansion, which added Maryland and Rutgers, was done in part to keep Penn State from leaving the conference. He said Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was concerned if other conferences expanded into those areas, Penn State might defect some day.
"If the ACC or SEC would take those schools and expand up further, that closes us out on the entire East Coast," Alvarez said after the meeting. "That's something you look at down the road. You look out 10 years, we continue to lose population (in Big Ten states) and you look back 10 years from now and say, 'Oh, what happened? How did we get caught sleeping?'
"We could sit with these 12 and continue to be fine, but if there's expansion (elsewhere), there's potential for problems down the road."
Alvarez also said a third school wanted to be considered for expansion but was turned down for academic reasons.
Nine-game schedule ‘will be a topic’
Alvarez said expanding from an eight- to a nine-game conference schedule will be on the table when athletic directors meet in February. Athletic directors have generally been in favor of it, but coaches are opposed.
"That will be a topic of discussion," Alvarez said. "I think we need to revisit that. Now you have 14 teams in. We said all along when we made those divisions, they weren't etched in stone. Those are things we have to take a look at."
Alvarez will lend voice to playoff talks
Alvarez will be involved when discussions start about the makeup of the committee to select the four playoff teams starting in 2014. Those meetings will take place in California in April.
The Badgers handed out MVP awards to four players at their team banquet: senior running back Montee Ball and junior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis on offense and linebackers Mike Taylor, a senior, and Chris Borland, a junior, on defense.
The other winners: redshirt freshman fullback Derek Watt, Rookie of the Year; senior safety Shelton Johnson, Ivan B. Williamson Scholastic; senior quarterback Curt Phillips and junior running back James White, Wayne Souza Coaches' Appreciation; junior linebacker Ethan Armstrong and senior cornerback Devin Smith, Jay Seiler Coaches' Appreciation; senior left tackle Rick Wagner, the Tom Wiesner, given to a Wisconsin-born player whose loyalty, hard work, spirit and dedication are unselfishly directed to the team's success; sophomore guard Kyle Costigan, the Badger Power, which recognizes the player who performs at a consistently high level in the strength and conditioning program; junior running back Kyle Zuleger, special teams MVP; freshman defensive back Joe Schobert (defense) and redshirt freshman tight end Austin Traylor (offense), Scout Team Players of the Year; John Dettmann, longtime director of strength and conditioning, Captain's Cup.