Big Ten Conference to stop scheduling FCS Teams

By Kevin Kelley -

The Big Ten Conference will stop scheduling FCS teams for non-conference football games, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told WIBA-AM radio in Madison.

“The nonconference schedule in our league is ridiculous,” Alvarez said. “It’s not very appealing.” Alvarez went on to say that Big Ten officials have “…made an agreement that our future games will all be Division I schools. It will not be FCS schools.”

Alvarez did not mention when the conference would end the scheduling of FCS teams, but some are saying it could be 2014 when Maryland and Rutgers join the Big Ten.

If it is 2014, there will be at least 24 games against FCS opponents that will need to be canceled. Buyouts for those games could be as much as a few hundred thousand dollars each.

Although this is a bold move by the conference to enhance strength of schedule, it’s also a risky one financially as schools could struggle to fill out their home schedules. It will also hurt the FCS programs that rely on the paychecks from FBS schools to help fund their athletic programs.

The absence of an FCS team on the schedule could also affect bowl hopes for some Big Ten schools, since one win over an FCS team per season currently counts towards bowl eligibility.

Listed below are the FCS schools that each Big Ten team has on their future schedules (including Maryland and Rutgers):


  • 2013 – Southern Illinois
  • 2014 – Youngstown State
  • 2015 – Western Illinois


  • 2013 – Indiana State
  • 2014 – Indiana State


  • 2013 – Missouri State
  • 2014 – Northern Iowa
  • 2015 – Illinois State
  • 2016 – North Dakota State
  • 2018 – Northern Iowa


  • 2013 – Old Dominion
  • 2014 – James Madison
  • 2015 – Richmond
  • 2016 – Howard

Michigan State

  • 2013 – Youngstown State
  • 2014 – Jacksonville State
  • 2015 – Furman


  • 2014 – Appalachian State


  • 2013 – Western Illinois
  • 2014 – Eastern Illinois
  • 2015 – South Dakota State
  • 2016 – Indiana State
  • 2019 – South Dakota State


  • 2013 – South Dakota State
  • 2014 – McNeese State


  • 2013 – Maine
  • 2014 – Western Illinois
  • 2015 – Eastern Illinois
  • 2016 – Illinois State

Ohio State

  • 2013 – Florida A&M

Penn State

  • None


  • 2013 – Indiana State
  • 2014 – Southern Illinois
  • 2015 – Indiana State


  • 2013 – Norfolk State
  • 2014 – Howard
  • 2015 – Norfolk State


  • 2013 – Tennessee Tech

Comments (35)

Yeah, we can’t let App. State beat Michigan again, or the Dakota schools beat Minnesota any more…….

<<“The nonconference schedule in our league is ridiculous,” Alvarez said. “It’s not very appealing.” Alvarez went on to say that Big Ten officials have “…made an agreement that our future games will all be Division I schools. It will not be FCS schools.”<<

FCS Schools are Division I schools, it could be backfire within the selection comnmitee of the Basketball "March Madness.

Second, it could start within 2019, because there are not contract obligation to play the game. I gonna think, that a buy-out would be more expensive for the B1G schools.

Really glad to see this, although I don’t know if it’s practical. The 64 teams in the 5 major conferences will need 220 total non-conference games if the Big 10 does go to 9 conference games, and those games have to come from somewhere.
When Nebraska played FCS bottom feeder Idaho State last year, it was basically the Pro Bowl, where everyone quit when a runner got to the second level. The Athletic Department put out a statement that they tried to schedule a better team, but that team reneged on the agreement. They wanted to get out ahead of it.
Sadly, college football is stuck with bad non-conference scheduling:

Next move, Big Ten will lobby to remove the rule that allows one win over an FCS school to count towards bowl eligibility. Which would not be a bad thing!

I applaud the Big !0 for heading in the right direction, especially as a 4 team playoff is on the horizon. The Big 10 realizes that FCS games detract from strength of schedule, which will be a bigger factor when it comes to deciding the most deserving 4 teams to compete for a national title. There are 110 non Big Ten, but still FBS schools that can be scheduled for non conference games. We will see more teams like App. State, Delaware, and James Madison move up to FBS. Money is the only reason an FBS school played an FCS team. Level of Competition should be the determining factor.

TOM, I’m not sure I agree with your money statement. It’s only good money for the FCS team. The FBS team gets an easy win out of the deal, but likely takes a hit of several hundreds of thousands of dollars — paying the visiting FCS team as much as $1 million for the game and possibly reduced attendance/concessions.

The FBS teams do not take “a hit of several hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Actually, it’s quite the opposite. FBS teams pay FCS teams usually no more than $500,000. But they make $1-3 million for hosting the game (ticket sales, concessions, etc.).

Take away that extra home game, and there’s going to be a lot of athletic departments short of cash.

The Big Ten is nothing compared to SEC FCS scheduling. At least teams from the Missouri Valley, and others such as App State, might at least challenge a cold Big Ten team. The SEC schedules SWAC and other schools that wouldn’t even be competitive in the FCS playoffs….

I guess mighty Florida A&M will give Ohio State a battle. Beat and SEC team in the National Title Game or Shut the hell up!

sorry beat an SEC Team….Ohio State they tried twice,failed both times. Oregon, failed. Texas, failed. Notre Dame, that was just sad.

You may want to research a little before you make a blanket statement like this. Most FBS schools schedule teams that are in their geographic region. The FCS schools want to save as much of that paycheck as possible rather than spend it on travel.

SEC teams frequently play Georgia Southern, an FCS powerhouse and almost annual championship contender. But you don’t see GSU traveling across the country to play many games. It’s just not worth it.

Kendall, FBS teams are paid more for “pay games” than FCS teams. Make no mistake, Big 10 teams will still have “pay games”, but Akron (FBS) will charge more than Western Illinois (FCS). It is an interesting standoff in Middle America: The Big 10 has announced that it will not schedule anymore FCS games, while the MAC has announced that it will schedule more home and home games as opposed to playing “pay games” at larger FBS schools. It looks like MAC, Sun Belt, and Conference USA schools will be the targets for Big Ten “pay games”. The reason the Big Ten is making this announcement is because SEC teams have a habit of scheduling late season games against cupcake FCS teams. The Big Ten is challenging this SEC practice by making this announcement.

I agree. Though this could be a huge money gain for those conferences. This could hopefully lift the bottom rung of FBS up a bit hopefully.

I didn’t think about it in that sense, Tom. Makes perfect sense, now. And hopefully it will close the gap even a little.

I’m well aware of the SEC scheduling habit … spent 5 years in SEC country. Was never fond of going to see Auburn take on Tennessee-Martin or Alabama A&M in November. Northern Iowa would’ve been a step up …..

Kendall I agree with you.
I was at the Auburn/Alabama A&M game. It was sad. But why are the shots at only the SEC. Looks like Oregon enjoyed Tenn-Martin last year. All ACC schools schedule at least one sometimes 2 FCS schools each year. Oklahoma State makes a living out of it too…

it’s for the better… hopefully it sends a message and other conferences start doing the same thing. we don’t need to see anymore of these mismatches…

Methinks that the schools are starting to hear some rumblings from boosters who are tired of buying tickets to see a Michigan play a Delaware State or a Murray State at Wisconsin. But I do think there is a benefit of a Indiana or a Minnesota playing a FCS team as they really are years away from being a BCS Bowl type of team and should be able to schedule for wins. I think its the top tier of the FBS teams that really need to stop scheduling these games and be more willing to play on the road (hello Florida).Schools should be rewarded for a SOS like they were just a few years ago when Ohio State,Georgia and USC all went on the road to play quality teams. Its hard to look at Alabama as a real national champion when you spot a Western Carolina or a Georgia State on their schedule.

Jinzo will you say that next year if Ohio State wins it all with that win of FAMU on the docket? How about if Oregon wins the National Title…they do play Nichols State. I hate Alabama but damn Jinzo be real

If you want to complain about one of Alabama’s titles pick 1941. They lost to Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, finished 18th in the AP poll yet they claim that as a National Title winning team.

Great move by the BIG10 going forward. The NCAA sould ban any wins against FCS schools going towards eligibility for bowl games. One thing that I cant stand is seeing any team having 8 home games and only 4 away games. With the playoffs coming in 2014, this seriously needs to be addressed by the NCAA. Every team should have 6 home and away games. I dont want to hear about budgeting for 7 home games either. If that was the rule, you would literally have a level playing field. Also, it should be a requirement of every Bcs school to have at least 2 bcs schools on their nonconference slate 1 home & 1 away. The BIG 10, BIG 12, SEC, ACC, PAC-12 & Notre Dame need to stop being agraid of playing each other in big hames during the season. Whatever happened to the attitude that bobby bowden had in the 80s when he said – I’ll play any school at any time and anywhere as long as we do a home & home.

Finally, to spice things up if you play in a bowl game, why not raise the stakes of the game and have the winner of the bowl game gain home field advantage against the same team they beat in an automatic bowl rematch on next years schedule. That would ensure every year that there would be a rematch of the national championship game every year. That never happened even once during the bcs.

Smoke and mirrors. A scheduling move designed to make the conference look stronger on the ESPN sports ticker. It’s not like they’re going to start scheduling regular non conference games against the likes of the SEC or PAC12. They’re just going to fill in the holes with the doormats from the MAC, Big East, and CUSA. Beyond that they’re jeopardising the relationships they’ve built with the regional FCS schools they’ve been accustomed to playing. I’m thinking that like everything else in college football this all boils down to money and the new television deal the B1G is looking to score in 2017.

Very much smoke and mirrors.

There’s a huge difference between scheduling an FCS team like Appalachian State or Northern Iowa vs. scheduling someone like Savannah State or Morgan State.

App State or N. Iowa are much better opponents than, let’s say, New Mexico State, Eastern Michigan or UNLV. It’s not as simple as FBS > FCS.

Id like to see what college basketball does with the acc/big 10 challenge in hoops. Simply have all 14 teams play each other based on last years standings alternating divisions in each conference getting home field: wouldnt this be more exciting than seeing mac schools or sun belt school matchups.

BIG 10 Legends division at ACC Coastal division would be:
Nebraska at North Carlina
Michigan at Miami, FL
Northwestern at Georgia Tech
Michigan State at Syracuse
Iowa at Virginia Tech
Minnesota at Duke
Maryland at Virginia

ACC Atlantic Division at BIG 10 Leaders Division
Florida State at Ohio State
Clemson at Rutgers
Louisville at Penn State
NC State at Wisconsin
Pittsburgh at Purdue
Wake Forest at Indiana
Boston College at Illnois

I agree, this is an easy way to avoid trying to fill up a schedule. Have B1G play SEC and Big 12 play PAC-12 on the condition of them expanding to 12 teams. ACC can play the Mountain West since once they get raided and dropped back down to 12 teams. It would be a fun cross-country match-up each year, maybe even have it be the first or second week of the season.

How do you account for the fact that most major conference teams want 7 home games and 5 road games?

I just thought about this, could this be the big 10’s way to to get 2 teams in the playoffs? They could use this to argue that they have a stronger overall schedule then the SEC? While a school like Louisiana Monroe could be equal (in some eyes) to Texas southern, the big 10 could try to parley this into better seeding in the playoff system.

Bill, mathematically if all FCS teams are dropped from all FBS schedules, hypothetically there would be a huge ripple effect. No longer would major FBS programs have 8 home games because the FCS pool of teams to schedule from wouldnt be available. Also, if that was the case, FBS schools would be exclusivelly be only scheduling from other FBS schools. So what you would have is a domino effect of 6 home games and 6 road games unless some idiot program from the MAC allows themselves to schedule themselves 3 away games against BCS teams. That would be the only scenario where any FBS school could actually have 7 home games. That is the mathematical affect, one that hasnt been realized by really anybody and youre not going to see many lesser FBS schools put themselves at a competitve disadvatage in having 7 road games just to receive a big payout from lets say Ohio State. All FBS schools if they exclusivelly only play other FBS schools in non conference would have to adjust their budgets accordingly for only 6 home games. There is simply no way around the equation if other teams from lets say the MAC forfeit a home game nonconference wise.

I guess this means that Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota , Indiana, and Purdue will be kicked out of the B1G