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Chicago may make run at title game

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Teddy Greenstein
July 14, 2010
— The perceived favorites for a 2011 Big Ten championship football game are Indianapolis (Lucas Oil Stadium) and Detroit (Ford Field).

But don’t take that to mean that Chicago would not vie for it.


Soldier Field general manager Tim LeFevour told the Chicago Tribune on Monday that if and when the game is announced, his group “absolutely” has interest in hosting it.


“We’ll take a very strong look at it and put together a proposal,” said LeFevour, a second cousin to Dan LeFevour, the Bears draft pick and former Central Michigan quarterback.


Commissioner Jim Delany said after welcoming Nebraska to the Big Ten last month that he “presumes” that a conference title game will be created, but that the league had not scouted possible venues.


Indiana University athletic director Fred Glass since has told the Indianapolis Star that “I don’t think there is really another choice” than Lucas Oil Stadium, which will host the 2012 Super Bowl.


Officials in Detroit, Minneapolis (the Metrodome) and Cleveland (Cleveland Browns Stadium) also have said they would bid on the inaugural game.


David Gilbert, president of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, told The (Ohio) Morning Journal that he expects the game to be rotated among cities and that non-domed stadiums should not be ruled out. The game likely would be played on Dec. 3, 2011.


“This is not SEC football,” he told the paper. “This is Big Ten football. The weather is part of the game.”


Soldier Field has experienced a college football renaissance since the 2007 Northern Illinois-Iowa game played to a sellout crowd of 61,500. The Huskies are slated to play Wisconsin at Soldier Field in 2011 and have a rematch with the Hawkeyes there in 2012.


LeFevour confirmed that Notre Dame and Miami would like to meet at Soldier Field as early as 2012.


“We’re still working on the details on that,” he said.


The majority of Big Ten football coaches and athletic directors seem to favor creating a league title game, which could bring in roughly $15 million per season and likely would be aired on ABC/ESPN, which sources said would have an exclusive negotiating window.


Penn State coach Joe Paterno has pushed for it so the Big Ten doesn’t “go into hiding” while leagues such as the Southeastern Conference hold title games. It was the basis for why Paterno lobbied for expansion in the first place.


One public dissenter has been Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke, who told ESPN.com that a Big Ten title game could hurt bowl-game attendance for the losing team. But Burke still predicted that the game would be formed.


One other potential negative: fewer at-large berths to BCS bowl games. The Big Ten has landed two teams in the BCS for five straight years, the longest streak of any conference.



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