It's the 2014 Big Ten Media Days, and BHGP has sent correspondent Neigh Leman to Chicago to cover the proceedings. Neigh Leman is a horse. Adam is not happy about this because Adam doesn't think horses should do journalism. Nonetheless, he's been overruled, so here we are. Neigh Leman's thoughts and observations have been transcribed herein. We cannot vouch for the accuracy of anything Neigh Leman says; to repeat, he is a horse.
Today's Big Ten Media Days were the first with new members Maryland and Rutgers, an historic day for all humans and equines in attendance. There have been many reasons given for why Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany added the Terps and Scarlet Knights to the conference -- about 44.5 million reasons per school, if reports are to be believed -- but there is something more sinister at work here. Something even more steeped in tradition than Big Ten football. Something only a horse would notice. Something with funny hats.
Maryland is home of the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of horse racing's Triple Crown. Rutgers is supposed to give the Big Ten New York, home of the final Triple Crown race, the Belmont Stakes. Today, I asked Jim Delany the question: Is he trying to acquire horse racing?
"Of course I am," said Delany. "I thought that much was obvious."
The draw of horse racing for the Big Ten and its television network is self-explanatory, according to the longtime commissioner. "The Triple Crown has everything we want: It's been around since the 19th century, it provides two hours of programming for 90 seconds of action, and it's over by early June. It's basically Big Ten baseball."
Horse racing provides other incentives, as well. "I think the horse racing model is perfect for us. Millions of dollars in revenue flow to the venues, the horse owners, and the coaches, while the horses compete for the love of the sport and the long-term life lessons it offers."
Delany also praised recent changes in Big Ten and NCAA regulations, potentially providing unlimited food and long-term health care to players. "The NCAA has wisely agreed to allow players to have as much food as they desire, and the Big Ten is quickly moving toward providing both short-term and long-term medical care to current and former players. Free food and health care puts our players on equal footing with horses, a standard renowned across the world as the height of player care."
When later asked about the Northwestern union case, Delany again circled back to the Triple Crown. "I've never heard of horses forming a union. Every vote on such a union has been unanimous against it." Delany did not mention that horses are naturally inclined to vote "neigh" to just about anything.
The Big Ten has not yet made a play for a Kentucky school, which would complete the Triple Crown. Louisville, which hosts the first leg of the Triple Crown, joined the ACC this year, while Kentucky is a longtime member of the Southeastern Conference. "While Kentucky's football pedigree matches perfectly with the universities we have recently added," Delany said, "we'd feel terrible killing off SEC basketball."
"As for Louisville, the Big Ten isn't interested in commuter schools," he said. "That is, unless that commuter school is within 150 miles of like a billion television sets."