What do you do when you have “lots of energy” and find your job “challenging and fun,” as Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany does? That’s right: You announce plans to retire in four years, as Delany reportedly did Tuesday. To which I say: Let the extremely prolonged farewell tour begin!
Delany, throughout his career, has been a force for change (and revenue generation) in college sports, popularizing conference networks, embracing realignment, and helping form the College Football Playoff. It’s fitting, then, that Delany would also revolutionize the concept of the sports farewell tour by leaking his retirement plans four years in advance. But what will the Big Ten’s member institutions give Delany for his retirement extravaganza? Here are some suggestions:
The sight of Urban Meyer despondently devouring pizza following Ohio State’s loss to Michigan State in the 2013 Big Ten title game remains one of college football’s most indelible, resonant images:
Despite looking sadder than Kanye West before a zip-lining adventure, Urbz was gracious enough to store a few slices in his freezer, presumably to be gifted to Delany during his eventual farewell tour. If the College Football Hall of Fame maintains its disgraceful refusal to enshrine this leftover pizza, it might as well take up residence in Delany’s small intestine. Delivery from Papa John himself.
Penn State’s legendary Berkey Creamery is the Big Ten’s premier frozen-dessert destination, featuring 100-plus flavors of homemade offerings. Among them: Arboretum Breeze (mint-vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips and raspberry swirl), Goo Goo Cluster (chocolate ice cream with chocolate-covered peanuts and marshmallow-caramel swirl), and Crazy Charlie Sunday Swirl (vanilla ice cream with peanut butter and chocolate swirl).
Well, given the news of Delany’s not-so-imminent retirement, the time is ripe for the creamery to introduce a new flavor to its impressive selection. Call it Delany’s Delight — ingredients include chocolate, caramel, marshmallows, and brownie bits (for the traditionalists), plus a gratuitous sprinkle of corn, crab cakes, and various street-meat specials (to celebrate the conference’s most recent additions). And to really win Delany over, this flavor will be infused with a heaping serving of frozen $100 bills. What else is the conference going to do with its $2.64 billion?
Despite Delany’s apparent belief to the contrary, there is no such thing as “too much ice cream.” Accordingly, Minnesota’s parting gift should be a half-eaten Dilly Bar from Dilly Bar Dan, the Big Ten’s most lovable sideline technician:
Any not-so-soon-to-be retiree could use some leisurewear, and there has to be a storage closet in Champaign overflowing with unworn merch from the 2008 Rose Bowl, in which the Fighting Illini, um, well, participated. (Let’s agree to disregard the final score.) I don’t know if Delany works out, but if he does, why not do so while honoring the enduring legacy of backfield tandem Juice Williams and Rashard Mendenhall?
Big Ten great and two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin should formally present Delany with a signed Rich Homie Quan 8-track (Delany hasn’t made the jump to CDs yet, much less a streaming service) to celebrate the Spartans’ triumphant 2013–14 Rose Bowl season. Well, unless Connor Cook snatches it away at the last second:
Former Wildcats quarterback Dan Persa’s ill-fated Heisman campaign may not have resulted in any postseason awards, but it did inspire the creation of Persa Strong dumbbells, which Delany can use to burn off the calories from all the ice cream he’ll be consuming. Given the existence of these dumbbells — Northwestern launched a Heisman campaign for Dan Persa! — you can’t tell me that Delany’s tenure as Big Ten commish wasn’t a rousing success.
With all this exercise, Delany better know how to stretch properly! Thankfully, calisthenics expert Tom Crean should be able to provide him with a personalized flexibility video, complete with a comprehensive guide of how to make ridiculous facial expressions:
Retirees take lots of vacations, and an all-expenses-paid trip with Mike Rice and Julie Hermann would be a great opportunity for Delany to unwind and discuss matters relating to New York City’s favorite university. Rice could whip basketballs at Delany as he attempts to sightsee, while Hermann could make fun of pregnant passersby. Circle your calendars for 2020!
Whenever I see a photo of Delany, I inevitably think, “Damn, that guy would look really good in some tight-fitting Under Armour.” As such, Maryland should give the commissioner a shopping spree with Under Armour CEO and famous alum Kevin Plank, who’s responsible for some of the ugliest college football uniforms in recent memory. For good measure, the Terps could even throw in free crabs for life, because no one would dispute that Delany is as much of a Maryland sports hero as Manny Machado.
Delany oughta be proud of his time as the Big Ten commish, and thus deserves to celebrate with a commemorative rap video — which is something Purdue students are great at making, just like bowl games:
It’s a shame that we, as a society, don’t do more to develop future Delanys. College sports leaders don’t grow on trees, and we need them now more than ever. That’s where Jim Harbaugh comes in. He could arrange a satellite camp tour for aspiring conference commissioners, all to pay tribute to Delany’s legacy.
Have these schools given Delany enough food? Because in addition to corn and Ndamukong Suh highlights, Nebraska’s chief export is chili-adjacent cinnamon rolls (no, seriously), which sound like something Delany would savor. Each meal could come with a stuffed replica of Bo Pelini’s cat, plus a special recording of Pelini’s leaked profane audio tapes.
Given its refusal to pay former coach Bret Bielema’s assistants a competitive salary, Wisconsin would probably choose to sit this out. In other words, Bucky Badger’s contribution to Delany’s farewell tour would roughly be equivalent to Gary Andersen’s contribution to Wisconsin football.
Instead of receiving a gift from Iowa, Delany could be forced to give something to Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz as part of his notoriously exorbitant contract, which includes a buyout that’s approximately equal to the GDP of a midsize country. Sorry Jim, you know the deal, it was a clause in my contract. When you announce your retirement, I get 10 percent of your pension.
Big Ten League Office
The Big Ten needs to get Delany something big. Something bold. Something meaningful. Well, here’s just the thing: a fancy certificate proclaiming Delany both a legend and a leader, authorized by Mark Emmert and archnemesis Mike Slive. (Note: This expires after three years.)