Big Ten’s expansion further damages Rose Bowl’s status

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INDIANAPOLIS — Playing in the Rose Bowl was the pinnacle of a college football career for those who coached and played in the Big Ten for decades.

The Rose Bowl’s importance has been waning for years as college football’s postseason evolved. The latest expansion by the Big Ten puts the future of the Pac-12, the conference’s longtime Rose Bowl partner, in doubt and was another damaging blow to the Granddaddy of all the bowls.

“You have to adapt,” former Wisconsin coach and athletic director Barry Alvarez said Tuesday at Big Ten media days in Lucas Oil Stadium. “When I got into the league, every kid that played in this league, your vision was play the Rose Bowl and win the Rose Bowl.

“It’s not the same now. It’s the CFP. It’s get into the playoffs.”

The future of the Rose Bowl as a showcase game, mostly featuring teams from Big Ten and Pac-12 on New Year’s Day, was already murky as the College Football Playoff creeps toward what seems like an inevitable expansion from the current four-team format.

“The Rose Bowl will always be an important part of the Big Ten,” said Alvarez, who now works for the conference as a special advisor to Commissioner Kevin Warren.

Now that the Big Ten has poached Southern California and UCLA from the Pac-12, it remains to be seen if the West Coast’s Power Five conference will still be an important part of the Rose Bowl.

“I focus on the Big Ten,” Alvarez said. “When we went through expansion (in the early 2010s) I was really happy that we were able to add my alma mater, Nebraska, into our league. I knew Nebraska in the Big Eight. There is no Big Eight. So things change. You have to go with the flow.”

Warren said playoff talks with the other FBS commissioners will pick up again in September. Warren maintains he is a staunch advocate of expansion, but he was among a group of newer commissioners who stood in the way of early implementation of a 12-team format.

Alvarez said he is not sure what the best number should be for a playoff, but eight, 12 and 16 would all be intriguing, depending on the details of the format.

He also said the Big Ten should be open to considering expanding its own postseason when the league grows to 16 teams with USC and UCLA.

Maybe a four-team Big Ten tournament instead of just a championship game?

“That’s something you’re going to have to take a look at,” Alvarez said.


After winning the Big Ten West last season, all of Iowa’s returning assistant coaches received raises.

The smallest increase went to offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, head coach Kirk Ferentz‘s son. Brian Ferentz’s salary went from $860,000 to $900,000, according to The Athletic.

The elder Ferentz was asked if the offense’s lackluster performance – tied for 11th in the Big Ten in yards per play (4.67) — had anything to do with his son’s relatively small bump in pay.

“Not necessarily. I think he’s been compensated really well,” Kirk Ferentz said. “Bottom line … I feel like our staff, the numbers, there’s reasons for everything we do, and we have private conversations regarding that. I feel like the staff salaries reflect levels of experience, contributions to the program.

“As a head coach, it’s important to me that we’re able to keep guys, retain guys, and hopefully it’s an attractive place for them to work.”


Jim Harbaugh‘s return to Michigan after leading the Wolverines to a playoff berth and their first Big Ten title since 2004 was no slam dunk.

Harbaugh interviewed for the Minnesota Vikings’ head coaching job after Michigan’s season and ultimately was not offered the job.

While the former Michigan quarterback is back for his eighth season as head coach, both coordinators from last year’s team have moved on.

Mike MacDonald returned to working for Harbaugh’s brother with the Baltimore Ravens as defensive coordinator, and Josh Gattis took a job with Miami as offensive coordinator.

Harbaugh looked to the Ravens for another defensive coordinator. Jesse Minter was defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt last season after spending four seasons with the Ravens. Harbaugh said when he hired Macdonald before last season he had also considered Minter, who will run the same system that the Wolverines succeeded in last year.

“So I went back and talked to Jesse Minter right when Mike left, and just felt it was the absolute best thing for our team,” Harbaugh said.

To replace Gattis, Harbaugh looked within and promoted offensive assistants Sherrone Moore and Matt Weiss.

While the scheme could look a lot like last year, who is running the offense is the most intriguing question of the preseason for Michigan. Cade McNamara was QB1 last season with talented freshman J.J. McCarthy playing a complementary role off the bench.

There is no guarantee those roles will stay the same this season, Harbaugh said.

“Cade McNamara is going to be really tough to beat out for the starting quarterback job,” Harbaugh said. “J.J. McCarthy is going to be really tough to beat out for the starting quarterback job.”


Maryland coach Mike Locksley said receiver Dontay Demus Jr. was ahead of schedule recovering from a knee injury that cost him more than half of last season.

Demus had 507 yards and three touchdowns in five games before getting hurt.

Taulia Tagovailoa and the Terps still managed to have one of the most prolific passing seasons in school history, but getting Demus back to team with Rakim Jarrett could give Maryland one of the best combos in the Big Ten.

“Really, really impressed with how he’s returned,” Locksley said of Demus. “We do expect him, barring any setbacks during training camp, which we’ll do a good job of trying to protect him and get him to that opening game, but there is the expectation we’ll see Dontay Demus playing in the first game.”

The Terps open the season at home against Buffalo on Sept. 3.


After helping Minnesota win nine games in 2019, offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca left Minnesota for Penn State. He was fired after one season with the Nittany Lions.

Now, after spending last season at West Virginia, the 56-year-old has been reunited with the Golden Gophers – and much of the supporting cast he helped lead to nine wins in 2019.

Quarterback Tanner Morgan and running back Mohamed Ibrahim are both returning for their sixth season, and coach P.J. Fleck believes getting the band back together could lead to another big season in 2022.

Fleck isn’t alone.

“Kirk wanted to know how that would affect the kids, and I wanted to know how that would affect the kids,” Fleck said, calling the rehire an easy decision. “I said, of course you might have to answer some questions in your first team meeting, but that will be easy after the first five minutes, and he did. I know we’re excited to have him. Tanner’s really excited to have him.”

Morgan threw for 3,253 yards and 30 touchdowns, both career highs, and had just seven interceptions in 2019. Ibrahim rushed for a career-best 1,160 yards in 2018, also under Ciarrocca.

Georgia extends contract for AD Josh Brooks, plans two new football practice fields

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ATHENS, Ga. – On the heels of a second straight national football championship, Georgia has rewarded athletic director Josh Brooks a contract extension that ties him to the Bulldogs through at least 2029.

The athletic association board, wrapping up its annual spring meeting Friday at a resort on Lake Oconee, also announced plans for a new track and field facility that will free up space for two more football practice fields.

Brooks’ new contract will increase his salary to $1.025 million a year, with annual raises of $100,000.

The 42-year-old Brooks, who took over the athletic department in 2021 after Greg McGarity retired, called the Georgia job “a dream for me” and said he hopes to spend the rest of his career in Athens.

“I am extremely grateful,” Brooks said. “I got into this business 20-plus years ago as a student equipment manager. My first job at Louisiana-Monroe was making $20,000 a year in football operations.”

The Georgia board approved a fiscal 2024 budget of $175.2 million, a nearly 8% increase from the most recent budget of $162.2 million and the sign of a prosperous program that is flush with money after its success on the gridiron.

The school received approval to move forward with its preliminary plans for a new track and field facility, which will be built across the street from the complex hosting the soccer and and softball teams.

The current track stadium is located adjacent to the Butts-Mehre athletic facility, which hosts the practice fields and training facilities for the football program.

Georgia lost a chunk of its outdoor fields when it built a new indoor practice facility. After the new track and field stadium is completed, the current space will be converted to two full-length, grass football practice fields at the request of coach Kirby Smart.

“He wants to find efficient ways to practice, and there is a lot of truth to the issues we’ve had with our current practice fields,” Brooks said. “There is a lot of strain on our turf facilities staff to keep that field in great shape when half the day it is getting shade, so that has been a challenge as well. For our football program, it is better to practice on grass fields than (artificial) turf, so to be able to have two side-by-side grass fields is huge. It makes for a much more efficient practice.”

The new track and field complex, which will continue to be named Spec Towns Track, will also include an indoor facility, the first of its kind in the state of Georgia.

Iowa AD Gary Barta announces retirement after 17 years at Big Ten school

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa athletic director Gary Barta will retire on August 1 after 17 years at the university, the school announced Friday.

Barta, 59, is one of the longest-tenured athletic directors in a Power Five conference. He was hired by Iowa in 2006 after being the AD at Wyoming.

An interim director will be announced next week, Iowa said.

In September, Iowa hired former Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz to be deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, putting her in position to possibly succeed Barta.

“It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve in this role the past 17 years,” Barta said in a statement. “This decision didn’t come suddenly, nor did it come without significant thought, discussion, and prayer.”

“That said, I’m confident this is the right time for me and for my family.”

Iowa won four NCAA national team titles and 27 Big Ten team titles during Barta’s tenure. The women’s basketball team is coming off an appearance in the national championship game and the wrestling team is coming off a second-place finish at the NCAA championships.

Barta served as the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee in 2020 and 2021.

He faced heavy criticism over more than $11 million in settlements for lawsuits in recent years alleging racial and sexual discrimination within the athletic department.

Lawsuits filed by former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and associate athletics director Jane Meyer led to a $6.5 million payout.

Iowa had to pay $400,000 as part of a Title IX lawsuit brought by athletes after it cut four sports in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the agreement, Iowa reinstated the women’s swimming and diving program and add another women’s sport.

Iowa added women’s wrestling, the first among Power Five schools to compete this year.

A lawsuit brought by former football players alleging racial discrimination within the program was settled for $4.2 million last March, which prompted state auditor Rob Sand to call for Barta’s ouster.

“Gary Barta’s departure is a long time coming given the four different lawsuits for discrimination that cost Iowa more than $11 million,” Sand posted on Twitter.

The university did not allow taxpayer money to be used for the settlement with the former players.

Barta led Iowa through $380 million of facility upgrades, including renovation of Kinnick Stadium, the construction of a new football facility, a basketball practice facility and a training center for the wrestling teams.

Under Barta, Iowa has had just one head football coach (Kirk Ferentz), women’s basketball coach (Lisa Bluder) and wrestling coach (Tom Brands). All were in place when he arrived.

Barta has also come under scrutiny for allowing Ferentz to employee his son, Brian Ferentz, as offensive coordinator. To comply with the university’s nepotism policy, Brian Ferentz reports to Barta.