Report: Nine-Game Schedules for the Big Ten are a Go, New Divisions Possible Next Week

By Jason Priestas on April 19, 2013 at 4:56p
Jim Delany doing paperwork. We see you, Gordon Gee.

The Big Ten moving to a nine or 10-game conference schedule has been a foregone conclusion for a while now. In February, conference commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN that the Big Ten wanted to increase the number of league games and that the conference would study both options.

According to a CBS Sports report, the league is set to make the change to a nine-game schedule, beginning in 2016, a formality:

As early as next week, Big Ten presidents and chancellors will vote on and likely approve a nine-game league schedule starting in 2016, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told

A 2016 start allows Rutgers and Maryland a two-year transition and Big Ten membership time to plan non-conference scheduling before adding a league game. The chancellors also could vote on divisions, which reports will be a geographic split starting in 2014.

Alvarez said he believes the nine-game vote will be a formality and wasn't sure of the exact date but thought it was next week, early May at the latest. has left a message with a Big Ten official for clarification on the date. The league's spring meetings take place May 13-15 in Chicago.

The nine-game option has always been considered the safer choice. The Pac-12 and Big 12 already play football under such a model, while no other conference plays a 10-game schedule.

The move to nine games also leaves more room for league teams to schedule marquee intersectional games that will become more important in the playoff era as computers, pundits and everyone you know is trying to compare the strength of one conference against another.

Along with the vote for the nine-game schedule, league presidents and chancellors will also likely vote on new Big Ten divisions, realigning the Big Ten geographically. Under such a plan the Big Ten will have an "East" and a "West" division, although the actual division names have not been finalized.

UPDATE: The Big Ten will jettison "Legends and Leaders" for "East and West." It should not have taken three years to come to this conclusion.

EAST: Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, and Indiana

WEST: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Purdue


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Hello_Heisman's picture

Not sure how some of you guys feel, but I don't like the 9 game schedule at all.  Unbalanced home/road schedules every year in the conference will suck.  I say keep it at 8 until they actually bring 2 more programs in know....are actually good at football sometimes (here's looking at YOU, Texas and Oklahoma).  Then at that point, make it a 16 team conference with 10 conference games and be done with it.

60% of the time it works.....every time

MN Buckeye's picture

I prefer the 8-game conference schedule for the same reasons HH mentioned.  If we go to 10 conference games, then another regular-season game might be in order, but that is another topic.

BME_Buckeye's picture

I think he was being sarcastic... Lol! 

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.


luckynewman13's picture

I am not a fan of the unbalanced schedule, but 9 games looks likely at this point.
Wasn't there talk of neutral site games to balance the scheduling? Could B1G teams be looking at a 4 home games, 4 away games, and 1 neutral game each year?

Bucksfan's picture

I'm a huge fan of this move.  Balanced home vs. road schedules don't ultimately matter.  What matters is how good your schedule is.  Adding one more conference game will automatically improve that for everyone in the conference.  Plus, now that every division will have 7 members, an 8 game conference schedule would only allow you to have 2 slots left for interdivision games.    A 9 game schedule allows for 3, and therefore a higher turnover.
Any schedule where we play one less MAC school is a win in my book.

buckeyedude's picture

Any schedule where we play one less MAC school is a win in my book.

State Penn and TTUN would thoroughly agree. They don't want Toledo on their schedule anymore, because they have trouble beating them.

And this from the NY Times, September 2, 2003: "PSU is no match for Toledo. 24-6."



Bucksfan's picture

As an alumnus that would need to fork over, oh, about $1000-1500 to fly back to Columbus to watch a football game, I need a little more intrigue than Miami (OH).  As a result, I haven't seen the Buckeyes in person since the Rose Bowl, despite having tickets to one of those early games in each of those years.
Even looking at the conference as a whole, playing 3-4 cupcakes each season has done absolutely nothing to help the B1G's prestige.  It means more teams go to bowl games that they end up losing.  And the risk of losing to those teams, as you elegantly pointed out, makes it even worse.

millertime2011's picture

Jeez. Every time I look at those new divisions I think they're fake. I get balance of power was the reason for the last one and people hated it, but you've gotta try a little. Even just putting Michigan state in the west with Indiana AND Purdue in the east. 

Jason Priestas's picture

The big takeaway here is that Legends and Leaders are in their death throes.

BuddhaBuck's picture

That's what I was going to comment about.... #BeatMeToIt

Don't text while driving.

FitzBuck's picture

+ 1 for megaman avatar.

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

Buckeyeneer's picture

I know things work in cycles, but OSU, TTUN, and PSU all in the same division makes this look a little unbalanced.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

luckynewman13's picture

don't forget Michigan State
I agree, as of today this looks really unbalanced. 
This makes the most sense to me:
EAST: Maryland, TTUN, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Purdue, and Indiana
WEST: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Michigan State
MSU and TTUN get a protected rivalry. And I guess our protected rivalry would be Illinois? Wisconsin? I would prefer Wisconsin, even though I kind of love the Illibuck trophy.

SilverBulletNYC's picture

I don't like the 9 game schedules. It will weaken us as a conference with more losses. It could also cost us a home game every other year. I just don't understand this move. Also, it makes no sense to have Michigan State in our division. They should move to the other division to provide more balance. 

The South will NOT rise again!

BTwrestle04's picture

New divisions aren't balanced at all. Will be just like the old Big 12. Dumb.

OSUinFl's picture

The Big ten needs to add 2 more schools. Then we can 4 team pods.

OSUinFl's picture

Jim Marshshall wrong way touchdown.

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

Under that division plan, OSU and the school up north will never play in the Big Ten championship game. That's just wrong.

Mike Honcho's picture

In fairness they'll still be able to tout the game will be for the right to go to the B1G Championship game. However, it'll be tough to get up for back to back to back games. Michigan/B1GTitleGame/BowlGame. It'll be tough to go 3-0 through that stretch no matter how good you are. 

SilverBulletNYC's picture

Sweet 16: M!chigan
Elite 8: B1G Championship Game
Final 4: Playoff semi-finals
Championship Game: Playoff final

The South will NOT rise again!

BME_Buckeye's picture

You wanna play Michigan twice? I can stomach The Game once, but twice, unless we win both, is hard enough to deal with. Once is good enough with me. Go Bucks, beat Blue!

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.


Hello_Heisman's picture

My thoughts exactly. My blood pressure can only take one Michigan-OSU football game/year.  Can you imagine, as a fan, if your team wins the first matchup but then loses the rematch for the B1G title the very next week?  How much would that suck?

60% of the time it works.....every time

BME_Buckeye's picture

Not a huge fan of the nine game model for three reasons.

  1. Extra games create a gain in revenue for some schools and loss for others. If you're a school like Indiana, losing revenue could hurt their athletic department but benefit another department who is hosting Indiana. Just an example...
  2. Extra game, weakens SOS. Unless your not OSU or Michigan, playing another Illinois like school will weaken your SOS. I think it might be more advantageous to stick with the eight game model then schedule xxx amount of games needed to boost your SOS. If you're a team like Wisconsin and are fortunate to get OSU and Michigan on the schedule because of the nine game model, more props to you as your SOS goes up!  
  3. Makes getting the number of teams to a bowl game much more difficult if they don't have that extra cupcake. For a team like Indiana or Minnesota who could benefit from a cupcake to get to bowl game, playing another Big Ten foe could severely drop their chances of post season play. 

My solution to this problem would be give the Big Ten teams 4 years to get their shit together*, win lots of OOC and bowl games then move to the nine game model. This way, playing a Illinois or Indiana like team doesn't drop your SOS, those schools get better and increases their chances of getting to a bowl game. However, there is no way to combat the loss/gain of revenue from an loss/gain home game. 
*The Big Ten is only as strong as its weakest link....

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.


brandonbauer87's picture

I don't like the 9 game conference schedule. In doing so you guarantee 6 more losses for members of your conference. The B1G already has a perception problem, this does nothing to help that. Just let Indiana beat up on Indiana State once a year. 

4thandinches's picture

Why do I feel we are going to be going through this whole process again shortly?

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

E2Brutus's picture

It seems no one will ever be completely happy with any decision the conference makes but you have to admit they did listen to the fans. Geography being the sole division of teams, legends and leaders are no more! The nine game thing may hurt every other year but I think overall the best thing as these kids get to play all the teams in the conference before they graduate. This is the shitty side of mega-conferences - but it's all about the money.'s picture

Our strength of schedule will be incredible. And the championship will be a layup after beating UM and PSU and MSU on the way.
Welcome to the B1G Maryland and Rutgers  -- you will never play for the championship. 

buckeyedude's picture

+1 for the Jim Morrison icon.
And I agree with your comment also. ;)



Brutus Greyshield's picture

I think this sets up well to make Nebraska (or Wisconsin) the B1G's Georgia. Nebraska and Wisconsin should play near the end of the year and the B1G schedule makers should (and likely will) set up the schedule so that those two schools routinely play the weaker schools from the East. That will increase the odds of West sending an 11 or 12 win team to the conference championship game.

Likewise, Ohio State and ttun will routinely play the weaker teams from the West. They key for the conference to maximize the chances of one of having a team (or two) make the playoffs is to have a really polarized distribution of wins and losses (i.e. no middle class, no parity). We want as many undefeated teams as possible going into the last week of the regular season--the ideal would be to have four (i.e. OSU, ttun, Neb, Wisky all at 11-0 and playing one another in the last week which would set up a battle of unbeatens for the conference crown. That's not likely to happen, but everything should be done to increase the odds of it happening and thus increase the odds of having at least three or four 10+ win teams in that final week.

The ideal strategy is simply to make a habit of having the three best teams of each division play the three worst teams of the other division. 

The SEC has been doing this for years.