Paterno says, "We could make money, we may lose money." You can only crunch numbers for so long, he adds, until "you go with what you feel in your gut. This is something you've just got to have a feel for. And it feels right."
Most of the Big Ten athletic directors hope that the presidents no longer share Paterno's gut feelings and that the movement to draft Penn State has lost momentum in the Council of Ten. Says Bay, "If all the information we gather suggests this would be a mistake, I hope we have the courage to back up. I hope we won't plow ahead just to keep from embarrassing a couple of people." Purdue president Steven Beering, once described by one colleague as "very enthusiastic" about the expansion, now says, "It is by no means a fait accompli." Also retreating are Duderstadt and Indiana president Thomas Ehrlich, who recently announced that he would follow the recommendation of his school's athletic advisory board, which consists of eight faculty members, three alumni and two students.
But Ikenberry remains confident that Penn State will come aboard. He says that back when athletic directors and faculty representatives held sway over the Big Ten, "nobody really knew where the buck stopped." Most of the presidents would now like there to be no doubt. As one person close to the dispute said last week, "For the presidents to back off now would be to hand the power back to the athletic directors. I don't see that happening." Indeed, for all the sound and fury coming from the ADs, coaches and faculty reps, the real power resides in the Council of Ten, soon—probably—to be the Council of Eleven.