May 15th, 2013 02:15 PM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: Big Ten, FCS, recruiting, SEC
Big Ten leaders are trying to be proactive when it comes to scheduling in the soon-to-dawn age of a college football playoff. The league has already decided to use a nine-game conference schedule beginning in 2016. In addition, the Big Ten has decided to put down some new guidelines for its schools when it comes to their non-conference scheduling options: no games against FCS opponents and at least one game each year against a team from one of the other major conferences.
Readers of this site know that we are in favor of the SEC doing the exact same thing.
With the Big Ten holding its annual meeting this week, a number of Big Ten personalities opened up about their league’s push to toughen up its scheduling:
“We want to get out of the business of scheduling games that feel like scrimmages to our fans… Football can be pretty boring in September if you don’t create great contests. We don’t want to be boring. We want to strengthen the schedule to create more excitement early in the season…. Yes, you’re going to take a few losses, but, ultimately, you’ll become more competitive.” — Michigan AD Dave Brandon
“It’s a little more difficult (to draw fans) with 60-inch TVs and the price of concessions and having to wait in line to go to the bathroom. We have to do our part for the in-game experience, but who we’re playing is also (important).” — Illinois AD Mike Thomas
“We collaborate a lot. If we’re looking for a game, does somebody know about one? Let’s say somebody had a team on their schedule, but for whatever reason, they needed to move the game. Maybe you call Purdue and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got X. You looking for a game?’ And maybe you trade-off. It’s kind of a co-op. We work together and try to help each other schedule.” – Penn State AD Dave Joyner
For those who missed it, Michigan coach Brady Hoke also got on Notre Dame’s case this week for “chickening out” of future games against his Wolverines.
The Big Ten’s moves to beef up its scheduling — and its loud talk of doing so — should aid Jim Delany’s league moving forward.
First, playing teams from the other major conferences guarantees — in most cases — home-and-home contracts. That will result in Big Ten football getting exposure in the West and in the South where the population is booming. Population growth has slowed or stalled in the Big Ten footprint, a point that Delany himself has made when explaining his conference’s decision to expand. Big Ten teams visiting the Southern or Western states should help on the recruiting front. With its own talent pool drying up, there couldn’t be a better time for the league to take its show on the road. And even when Big Ten teams host teams from the ACC, SEC, Big XII or Pac-12, they will still get attention from prospects in the ACC, SEC, Big XII and Pac-12 regions.
Second, going public with its scheduling plans — and doing so very loudly — will help create the perception that the Big Ten is a leader when it comes to non-conference scheduling. When a selection committee for the new College Football Playoff convenes in 2014, strength of schedule is supposed to be an A-1, top-shelf consideration. The Big Ten’s self-propelled image as a tough schedulin’ league coupled with a committee that will likely want to bring in teams from all over the country could help Delany’s schools gain invitations.
The old quote attributed to Muhammad Ali comes to mind: “I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.”
For SEC fans rolling their eyes at our thumbs-up to the Big Ten, keep in mind that the Big Ten currently makes more money than any other conference while also maintaining the best academic reputation. All while dealing with a growing talent gap produced by its location in an area of the country that’s being passed population-wise.
SEC fans might not like Delany, but he and Larry Scott of the Pac-12 are progressive, strategic-thinking conference commissioners who must be taken seriously. Each has made more money for their leagues than anyone thought possible without the benefit of seven BCS titles in a row. The SEC leaders should take note of what the Big Ten is doing now (as well as keeping an eye on the marketing-minded Scott to the West). You can be sure that Mike Slive is paying attention.
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