Big Ten Discussing Nine or 10 Game Conference Schedule, Division Alignment & November Night Games

By Jason Priestas on February 11, 2013 at 5:47p
Beautiful, isn't it?

Big news from Chicago today as the Big Ten football coaches, athletic directors and administrators emerged from meetings that covered the possibility of playing a nine or 10-game conference schedule, realigning based on geography and opened the door for primetime games late in the season.

The addition of Rutgers and Maryland (and potentially others) has given the league an opportunity to revisit scheduling and the league has no plans to stick with the current eight game conference slate:

Moving to 10 would leave just two non-conference games on the schedule and may impact schools' desire to take on marquee matchups. Ohio State has been particularly aggressive on that front, lining up games against Oregon and Texas as Gene Smith attempts to position the program for the upcoming college football playoffs.

To his credit, Smith said schedule changes won't impact his approach to securing games fans want tos see:

Nine would seem to be the sweet spot from a flexibility perspective and is not unfamiliar territory with the Big Ten last playing nine-game conference slates in 1984. When Nebraska was admitted to the league in 2011, the Big Ten announced a move back to the nine-game format, but that setup was scrapped before it was implemented as a deal with the Pac-12 for non-conference games fell apart.

One concern with moving to a nine-game schedule is that teams would play five conference road games every other season, leaving little room for schools to host seven home games in a season, coveted for the money that configuration brings in. To do so, schools would have to schedule all three of their non-conference games at home and when your'e doing that, chances are you're not playing the kind of high level competition that would demand a home-and-home agreement.

Also on the agenda was the topic of realignment. Delany told ESPN that ongoing alignment talks have centered on geography with consideration for competitive balance:

Thankfully, the death of "Leaders" and "Legends" appears to be imminent (we hope), even if it wasn't discussed today:

Changing those awful division names has been rumored for some time now and we still insist that the addition of Rutgers and Maryland to the Big Ten is worth it on that basis alone.

The Big Ten is also open to primetime games in November, something Urban Meyer spoke at length about last week as sort of a recruiting equalizer between the conference and schools, most notably in the SEC, that can show off the full game day experience to prospective recruits under the lights:

All said, these are very positive developments for the league, and coming on the heels of the Big Ten issuing a statement reflecting concern over new recruiting rule proposals, Urban Meyer got exactly what he wanted to out of these meetings.


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kr66osu's picture

Finally talking some sense
I'd be OK with 10 conference games as long as the big non-conference games (Oregon, Texas, VT etc. are preserved). Also that tweet about November night games is great news!

ohiowhitesnake's picture

Night game against scUM would be great. I imagine it would draw bowl like ratings. 
My liver might not like it...the build up on that day would be huge!

I finally got a set of Gold Pants!

hail2victors9's picture

I love the idea, too, but your last sentence is probably the reason it won't happen.  Mark Hollis (MSU AD) and Dave Brandon (UofM AD) expressed concern for heated-rivalry games due to the "extra time" for people to get [intoxicated] pumped-up for a game, and the potential scrums that might break out if the opposing fan base is in town all day before the game.

Those who stay will be CHAMPIONS!

~Bo Schembechler

Yamosu's picture

13 game regular season?

kr66osu's picture

Isn't a 12 game season a league-wide rule or am I wrong? I've never really thought much about that, but if they go to 10 games I would imagine a 13 game season might have enter the discussion

Yamosu's picture

Ohio State played in that old kick off classic a couple times which is how we went 14-0 in 02.  They played 13 game regular season.
Personally, I think they should play a 6 month season.  Play a 20 game regular season.  Get 4 bye weeks.  Start the season second week of august and end middle of february.  Probably have to cancel valentines day on the off chance that it falls on a night football game.  Do the bowl games in March so that we can have some in the midwest/north/northeast.  Move college basketball back 2 months and start in January.  Then have March Madness in May.  Both begin with "Ma" so its really just changing a couple letters.
This would really help fill out my sports calendar and cut down on the dead time.  Then over the summer, just have a different sports illustrated swim suit edition ever month and recruiting to fill the void.
I'll start the petition.

BuckeyeNation's picture

I like the way your mind ticks YAMOSU!

USMCBUCKEYE82's picture

I'll sign that petition! Now I motion the nomination for you to become the acting NCAA president and sports mind of the century. These next couple of months outside of March are painstakingly hard until baseball really picks up. College BBall is good but I'm not the type that can watch games outside of tOSU and a handful of others. The NHL is hardly ever televised like it should be, unless you pay big bucks for it. I'm not taking from the Horseshoe(football tickets) fund to pay for Center Ice.

mitchjacobsen01's picture

This is the best news I've heard from Delany and the B1G offices in a long time.  More night games, fewer cupcakes, geographical divisions.  It's almost too good to be true.

Estrada's picture

Fewer cupcakes in total, but I'm sure teams like Wisconsin will schedule 3 cupcakes (or 2, depending on if the B1G moves to 9 or 10).

USMCBUCKEYE82's picture

Some would argue Indiana teams especially, but there are quite a few cupcakes within our own conference.

BoFuquel's picture

If your game isn't prime time it's irreevant to the national media.We must get away from these noon game for TOSU.They are bringing us down to the level of The Li'l Eleven.Why not go to full conference schedule and keep all the money,and we could make Delany the highest paid CEO in the world.WOW what a status symbol that would be for The B1G.GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

btalbert25's picture

I wouldn't like a 10 game league schedule.  The B1G has already screwed some future non conference clashes with their failed PAC 12 agreement.  We had to drop Georgia because of that. 

Riggins's picture

More night games, please!  Or at least afternoon-to-night games.  Noon games are such a snoozer.
Geographically aligned divisions sound good.  Death to Legends and Leaders.
9 division games are a must.  I'd be fine with 10, but I want to continue to see a marquee out-of-conference game on the schedule like Texas, Oklahoma, etc. 
The B1G needs to start league play earlier regardless.  Nobody in other parts of the country even even tunes in to watch us during the month of September with most of our teams playing MAC schedules for the first four weeks.

45has2's picture

There are and will continue to be enough cream puffs in the B1G for The Ohio State University to schedule marque OC match ups. Only ttun TRIES to keep up with UFM on the recruiting trail. Who needs Toledo, BGSU, Ohio & EMU when you have Iowa, Illinois, Purdue, Mary Land & Minny Sota? None of which cracked the top 45 in recruiting this year. If you want to be the best you have to play the best. True or not, the B1G has a reputation as a weak conference. Therefore, good OC wins are going to be more critical to make the four team playoff.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

theobi's picture

East: Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Maryland, Rutgers, Indiana, Purdue
West: Michigan State, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota
I think this has good competitive balance and makes geographical sense. Add a nine game conference schedule and some late season night games against Wisconsin and Penn State and I will be very happy.

45has2's picture

Re: Night games. The networks decide who plays when. And given that the 4 letter network is also the SEC network, guess which conference is going to continue to get preferential treatment? How to partially counter that? Play big time OC games.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

Jason Priestas's picture

That is largely true, but keep in mind that there's a three-letter network based in Chicago that would love to air primetime Big Ten football games 12 Saturdays a year.

btalbert25's picture

If ESPN had a chance to put Ohio State and Michigan in primetime as opposed to Florida and Auburn or something like that, ummm yeah they'd put them on primetime.  

45has2's picture

They have had the chance every year since 2006 and have chosen not to do so.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

Hoody Wayes's picture

Preferential treatment? You're presuming ESPN/ABC will continue to broadcast B!G games.
With the new college football regular season television deal yet to be inked, expect CBS, NBC and FOX (the BTN's broadcast infrastructure and host of the B1GCG) to super-size their portions.  

Northbrook's picture

If 20 teams makes sense dollar wise you can do 4 pods of 5, play everybody in your pod and one other, and have a 9 game conference schedule. Rotate which other pod you play each year. Plays hell with traditional rivalries though unless they are in the same pod.

johnblairgobucks's picture

would you then (with 20 teams) have a Big 10 Conference Semi-Final between Pod winners then the following week have the Big 10 Championship?  Is that allowable under current NCAA rules?

btalbert25's picture

Honestly, the B1G, PAC, and SEC could all go to 20 teams, do the POD system and do a conference "Final Four" where all the POD winners duke it out for the conference championship.  Those 3 conference winners go to the national final four and you either have an at large berth or the remnants of the old conferences and independents form a 4th 20 team conference that has a POD system too. 
That would basically give us a 12 or 16 team playoff, and it would satisfy those who want conference championships to mean something as well as satisfy those who want a playoff. BAM, problem solved. 

Riggins's picture

Makes too much sense, so it'll never happen.

btalbert25's picture

I know!  Honestly, with the POD system if there were 4, 20 team conferences it'd almost be an 80 team playoff.  You could play a couple high profile non conference games still and losing wouldn't kill your season, but every conference game would be extremely important because you want to win your POD.  Also, SOS would be important because  you will probably use some sort of ranking system (BCS) as one of the tiebreakers for the POD rankings. 

741's picture

For the pods to survive they must eat the humans.

cplunk's picture

No, pods are not allowable under current NCAA rules. At one time they were (the WAC used them), but current rules specify that if you wish to have a championship game, you must have at least 12 teams and they must be split into two divisions of equal size.
The MAC has actually been in violation of the equal size rule, but the NCAA has remained silent and taken no action.
l'm a big fan of pods, but they have issues. Either you just take the best two teams for your champ game, regardless of pod (obviously controversial), or you have to have multiple levels of playoff (not allowed, and don't expect additional games being allowed anytime soon). Also, if OSU and TSUN aren't in the same pod, no rivalry game each year. And if they are in the same pod, how is that competitively balanced?

btalbert25's picture

Four 20 team superconferences, would be able to do whatever the hell they want is the thing.  If they want to come up with something different they could, and what would the NCAA do about it?  

Northbrook's picture

Yeah, that would be the way to go. Allowable? I don't think so but we tell the NCAA what is allowable if the money is right or we dump them.

scc8t's picture

With a 10 team schedule I think you are going to have at least 5 to 8 teams that struggle to be bowl eligible. Best to keep 9 and see how it goes for a few years. 

OldColumbusTown's picture

Going to the 10 game schedule makes the most sense from a fair and balanced standpoint. I know that means 6 and 7 game home schedules depending on the year, non-conference schedule, but I think this is one way where the premium priced games comes into play. A school like Ohio State could make up for a lot of that lost one game revenue by having one or two premium priced games. You lose out on concessions, apparel, etc, but they could make a lot of it back.

Nutbuck1959's picture

UFM give the other coaches reruiting lessons yet???

Northbrook's picture

Uh yeah he just gave them a lesson but most failed their final exam. 

Hockey Buck's picture

Just have the Indiana's, Illinois and Purdue's of the world sell their home game for a "neutral" site game to raise back the lost scratch.

MN Buckeye's picture

Why night games only in November?

BuckeyeUte's picture

I believe that under current regulations night games are allowed from September to October, but night games are currently not allowed in Novemeber... It doesn't make a whole lot of sense??? 

DetroitBuckeye's picture

First off, I would be a huge advocate of additional conference games.  The biggest problem as this article mentioned is the home and home situation.  Still though I do think that more conference games means less cupcake games and more big time matchups because teams will want to get their primetime games in especially if the decision is made to go to ten games. Secondly, if the decision is made to allow night games in november I think that it is an absolutely fantastic thing.  I think playing a night game late in the year in a place like madison, minnesota or happy valley with potential weather interference would be pretty cool.  I probably want the night games thing before anything else.  

razrback16's picture

Yeah, I personally would prefer 10 conf. games if 8 isn't an option. Then for the non conference we schedule a mid-major to open with like Colorado, Pitt, etc. and also a heavyweight for week 2 to prep for conference play.

acBuckeye's picture

If we increase the conference sked, better go to 10 games. Bucks can sked one cupcake, and one heavyweight home-and-home each year in OOC. I'd be happy.
Please change the division names, and make them East-West based. The more conf. games you play, the less competitive balance matters.
The night games aren't that big a deal to me. I'm cool with playing more night games, but i'm old school in the sense that I prefer The Game to stay at noon. Nothing like waking up and only being a few hours away from kickoff to the greatest game in sports. Plus, if that game was moved to primetime, i'd have a nervous breakdown having to wait. But if it did end up being a primetime matchup most years, i could live with it, just not my preference.