CHAMPAIGN — Earlier in his endless college career, Illinois offensive lineman Alex Palczewski took a class on the history of the Big Ten.
“One section was just learning about the media rights,” the sixth-year senior said Thursday afternoon. “And just realizing the effects when Rutgers and Maryland got added, how crazy those media rights were.
“I had an idea when we added USC and UCLA this media deal is about to be through the roof.”
Palczewski was right. The new deal, announced Thursday morning, will average more than $1 billion annually over seven years. It starts in 2023 and runs through 2030.
“We’re going to be the conference,” Palczewski said. “There are going to be national champions from here. I’m excited to see how it’s going to be in five, 10 years.”
Back to the class, Palczewski still has the book at home in Mount Prospect.
“They teach you about the original seven schools.” Palczewski said. “Everyone that came in. I knew nothing. I knew the University of Chicago used to be in, but I learned about how they were a powerhouse and they were all that.”
Of course, Palczewski got an A.
“I had to,” he said. “It would be a bad title to have a Big Ten football player fail the class.”
The class dealt with the league up to the hiring of current league commissioner Kevin Warren. Two years after being criticized for the Big Ten’s on-again, off-again stance during the 2020 COVID-19 season, Warren is definitely uber popular now. Making the schools a bundle of cash adds to the new-found love for the former NFL executive.
Though he went to school at Mount Prospect, not far from the Big Ten headquarters in Rosemont, Palczewski didn’t grow up a fan of the league. Or of college football.
“I didn’t even know college football was a thing until my junior year of high school,” said Palczewski, who was just named an Illinois co-captain for the upcoming season. “Not a lot of people know that. I’m a son of immigrants, so I played soccer originally.”
Palczewski went to a career fair his junior year in high school. Iowa had a stand and on its pamphlet, a picture of Kinnick Stadium stood out to Palczewski.
“I was like, ‘What?’ I didn’t know college football could get like that. It was like a full stadium,” Palczewski said. “That seemed like something I wanted to do.”
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