Jim Delany has a modest proposal. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
TO: Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors
FROM: Big Jim
DATE: July 23, 2012
RE: Expansion of powers
Greetings, fellow Big Ten power-brokers and decision-makers!
Big Jim here, with a few more ideas for your consideration regarding my powers vis-a-vis the Big Ten Conference and our membership. I know I already mentioned the idea of giving me effective veto power for hiring coaches, as well as the power to fire coaches when the situation has gone pear-shaped, but I spent the weekend in my den (or the "Jimhole," as the missus likes to call it), thinking about more ways for me to help this great conference of ours.
ITEM ONE: My title. I am confident that one of the primary reasons we experienced so much negative feedback re: the leaked discussions about investing me with hiring and firing powers was because my title is insufficient to represent my true position within this league and this sporting landscape. "Commissioner" is, frankly, a small-time designation, almost insultingly so for a man of my stature. Do you know who has "commissioners"? Public works boards and parks commissions, that's who. Jim Delany does not share the stature of a measly civil servant -- not now and not ever! (And before you deign to mention the NFL, the NBA, or MLB, I'd just like to point out that I had some very high-level conversations with Roger, David, and Bud at the ESPYs and they absolutely share my feelings re: titles. Just remember who tipped you off when you see the press release announcing Exalted Leader Roger Goodell in a few months.) Could Caesar have conquered the Mediterranean if he'd been a mere "commissioner"? Certainly not. Fortunately, I have a few ideas in mind for you to mull over before our next meeting: Generalissimo, Supreme Commander, and Divine Champion. Let me know how those strike you.
ITEM TWO: Stadium concession menus. As you know, my duties as Big Ten Supreme Commander (sounds good, right?) require me to attend sporting events at every school in the Big Ten, even Northwestern. I've been to a lot of games in a lot of stadiums, but there's been one constant in all of those experiences: the food we serve at the concession stands in the Big Ten is absolutely appalling. Stale pretzels? That reheated slop we call nacho cheese? Overcooked hot dogs? It's disgusting. We're the Big Ten -- the finest, most morally and intellectually superior conference in the entire nation. It's about time the food we serve at games reflected that -- it's time to take some of the millions of dollars BTN has been sending our way and invest it in premium, gourmet culinary options. Salmon risotto. Free range pan-seared chicken with balsamic vinaigrette. Filet mignon au poivre. Let those savages in the SEC have their deep-fried pork shoulder wrapped in bacon -- we're the Big Ten. We're the conference of culture and civilization and I decree that it's time that we ate like it.
ITEM THREE: Monitoring and modification of student-athlete behavior. I think we're all in agreement here: it's an unconscionable stain on our reputation and our cherished image when a Big Ten student-athlete runs afoul of the law. It's past time that we put an end to their drunken debauchery, their larcenous exploits, and their general carousing. I propose a simple solution: implanting each Big Ten athlete with devices to monitor their blood-alcohol and testosterone levels, as well as a GPS tracker to enable us to know their precise location at all times. Additionally, I think it would be wise to implant an electro-shock chip to allow us to modify their behavior. These devices should give us an optimum amount of control over the behavior of our student-athletes, with a minimal level of discomfort on their part. No longer would we have to wake up to troubling headlines about student-athlete misbehavior.
ITEM FOUR: Dress codes. In terms of dress codes, I want to emphasize that I am referring to both the uniforms worn by our student-athlete competitors in their pursuit of athletic glory as well as the non-sporting attire they wear away from their fields and courts of play. There was a time when you could tell a Big Ten man by sight: immaculately pressed shirt and slacks, Windsor knot, well-shined shoes, not a hair out of place. They were no less impeccably dressed on the field, either, with classy, traditional-looking uniforms without unnecessary and distracting adornment. Now Indiana and Minnesota change uniforms at the drop of a hat, Ohio State has been tainted by the touch of those grotesque Nike Pro Combat abominations, and even humble, respectful Michigan has fallen prey to the siren song of so-called progress. To say nothing of the fact that our spotlight athlete is famous for not even tying his shoes and wearing his hair in barely contained dreadlocks. This is a "Michigan man"? Fielding Yost is turning over in his grave, my esteemed colleagues.
Freedom of expression is all well and good -- for other, lesser conferences. It's past time that we put our foot down on this issue and get our student-athletes back to looking like the dignified, clean-cut gentlemen (and ladies) of yore. No more lounging around campus in sweatsuits and tilted baseball caps. No more piercings. (And, for God's sake, no more tattoos -- even setting aside aesthetic considerations, I think we can all agree after what happened at Ohio State that they're far too much trouble.) It would also be my preference to rid our beloved conference of foul facial hair -- as my honorable father once said, "Beards are for hippies, hobos, and Spaniards." -- but I am willing to be flexible on that point. The most important thing is that we retake our rightful place as the conference of sartorial splendor.
ITEM FIVE: Time machine. Finally, if it is too onerous to give me control over your hiring and firing decisions -- a stance which I continue to find unfounded and irrational, considering my peerless leadership and legendary record of decision-making -- then I would like to propose a compromise solution: granting me unlimited use of a time machine to fix your errors in judgment. We're all aware of the incredible progress made by the Chronal Manipulation department at the University of Chicago and, thanks to their collaboration with the space travel division of the Mechanical Engineering department at Purdue University, they now believe that they have the means to send a man through time. We must use this incredible power for good -- the good of the Big Ten. Just think of the possibilities: eliminating Jim Tressel before he could look the other way during that tattoos-for-memorbillia peccadillo, erasing Kelvin Sampson before he could even set one rule-breaking foot in Bloomington, or (of course) eradicating Joe Paterno and his weak-willed cronies before the heinous cover-up at Penn State had a chance to become entrenched. Ladies and gentlemen, we could rewrite the timestream to ensure that these blights upon our member institutions and our image as a whole never happened.
Yes, a few of the scientists at the University of Chicago have warned us about the dangers of sending a man through time or traveling back and altering the past, and how doing so could cause irreparable harm to the timestream, or even the complete collapse of the space-time continuum. But fear of spatiotemporal catastrophe is no reason for us to get cold feet now. So-called experts mocked us when we launched the Big Ten Network five years ago, but who's sitting on solid gold thrones and lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills now, I ask you? We are, because fortune favors the bold. And it is time for us to embrace boldness once again, to navigate the chaotic temporal seas and strike out against the hideous mistakes of history. Also, we could use this time machine to ensure that Les Miles takes the Michigan head coaching job (thus sparing Ann Arbor the depredations of the Rodriguez Era and damaging a key SEC rival) and that Nick Saban is killed in a "tragic accident" before he assumes the reins at Alabama. I think we can all agree that those decisions would be in the best interests of the conference.
Friends and colleagues, we stand at the precipice of greatness. We cannot shrink from this opportunity. We must strike decisively and emphatically, and that can only be achieved by granting me these few meager powers and responsibilities. I know that your wisdom will guide you to the correct and proper decision.
Jim Delany ("Big Jim")
Supreme Commander, Big Ten Conference
P.S. We could also use the time machine to kill Mike Slive's parents and prevent that monster from ever being born. I'm just saying.