Big Ten to expand to Nine or Ten-Game Football Schedule

By Kevin Kelley -
Jim Delany
The Big Ten will expand to a nine or ten-game football schedule. Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten has been discussing moving to a nine or ten-game football schedule, but now it’s pretty clear how many conference games they won’t play: eight.

After a meeting with head coaches and athletic directors at Big Ten headquarters on Monday, commissioner Jim Delany said that an eight-game conference schedule is “not even on the table.” Nine and ten-game conference schedules are the only options being discussed.

“We like to play each other, and those are not hollow words,” said Delany. “We are getting larger and want to bind the conference together.”

With Maryland and Rutgers set to join the conference in 2014, the Big Ten will have 14 members. Expanding the conference schedule will allow teams in opposite divisions to meet more frequently than under an 8-game schedule.

But the move to a nine or ten-game slate apparently won’t happen until 2016. Several Big Ten schools have most or even all of their future non-conference games set for the next couple of years and it would cost the schools a lot of money to cancel.

The conference will likely make their final decision at their next meeting in Chicago during the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament (Mar. 14-17).

Of course, the big question now is nine or ten games? A nine-game schedule would be unbalanced, providing five home and four away games for half of the conference, and four home and five away for the other half each season.

This model is currently used by both the Big 12 and Pac-12. However, the Big 12 only has ten schools, so a ten-game schedule is not an option.

A ten-game conference schedule is intriguing due to its balance and additional conference match-ups which could, in turn, provide more television revenue. The downside is the loss of another non-conference game.

Sure, it’s one less cupcake on the schedule. But it also makes scheduling the two non-conference games more difficult. Most teams want and need seven home games each season to fund their athletic programs. If Big Ten teams are playing five conference home games, most likely the two non-conference games are going to be “buy” games consisting of opponents from the MAC, Sun Belt, etc.

That could hamper the future of home-and-home series against big name schools. For now though, one school will keep their future marquee games.

“We’re going to hold onto those,” Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith said. “That’s what’s going to cause us in a 10-game conference scenario to have some challenges with having six home games. If we move to 10 conference games, in a normal situation, I’d just buy in two games every year. Then I wouldn’t have a problem. But we’re going to maintain our philosophy of playing those type of [bigger nonleague] games, whether it’s nine or 10.”

The Big Ten also announced today that they will not impede schools from scheduling night games in November. There is no policy against night games that month, but the last one was played in 2008.

Football Schedules

Comments (13)

Half the conference is cupcakes, so technically by playing 9 or 10 conference games is weakening their strength of schedules.

There just using it as an excuse to not play big out of conference games, and get embarassed.

The Big 10 has sunk down to the 4th best conference.

There are weak teams in every conference, yes, even the beloved SEC, as shocking as that may seem. Did you forget Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee? That doesn’t include a mediocre Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

Keep in mind every SEC team played an FCS opponent last year – some more than one. Very few SEC teams played big out of conference games. When you play in a BCS conference you simply don’t need to play tough out of conference games.

I hope it’s 9 and not 10. As a PSU fan, we still have a lot of out of conference rivals that we stopped playing or play infrequently and I would hate to lessen the chance of those happening (Pitt, Syracuse, West Virginia, Boston College). I also wish the B1G would soften their stance on November out of conference games, particularly on the last weekend (ACC & SEC do it, would love to see Penn St. end the season against Pitt every year). I had read if Georgia Tech joins the B1G they may have to move the UGA game to earlier in the season, which in my opinion would ruin the rivalry.

What stance? Several B10 schools have played OOC games in November in recent years. Northwestern & Illinois come to mind.

This would not be happen because, then the B1G will not have enough winning teams for their bowl games, and with no big games against the “Big 12”, “SEC”, “Pac-12” and the “ACC”, they will not be ranked high in the polls.

Only the big german companies like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and VW, they all made the big money in WWII.

Big Ten is trying to ban the practice of playing FCS opponents. Apparently they don’t want another Appalachian State-type upset.

Personally, I think it’s time to go to 13 games and I like the idea of the Big Ten playing 10 conference games. The more in our conference, the better. If we can move to 13 games, then 3 out of conference games is plenty. There’s no need for us to be playing 4 of them now as it is. Chances are we’ll be going to 16 teams soon anyway, and maybe more?