The Big Ten is once again considering expanding its conference football schedule. After scrapping plans for a nine-game conference schedule for a Pac-12-Big Ten scheduling arrangement, then having that arrangement fall through, the Big Ten is once again talking about going up to nine and possibly even 10 home games in football.
Big Ten athletic directors have been talking about the possibility and plan to meet next month in Chicago.
With the Big Ten already deciding to move to a nine-game conference schedule before the additions of Maryland and Rutgers, it seems inevitable that the league will move back to at least a nine-game conference slate.
The obvious drawback to a nine-game conference schedule is the unbalanced home/road split. In years where a Big Ten team plays just four conference home games, they'll have a difficult time trying to land seven home games with at least one marquee opponent.
Minimum seven home games, you say? Yes. Seven home games.
"Everybody has their own perspective and set of issues," Brandon told The Detroit News on Monday. "From Michigan's perspective, I go into those meetings with one strong, very strong belief that we need to play a minimum of seven home games a year. Whatever structure we come up with has to result in seven home games. If not, that's a huge negative to me."
"Most of us need seven home games in order to make our local budgets," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said. "Is there a way to overcome that? I don't know. We'll have to look at that. The conference is aware that it's an issue."
I'm of the opinion that the Big Ten will go to a 10-game conference schedule eventually. The money coming from the added TV inventory will simply be too good to pass up.
That leaves space for just two non-conference games a year. If the Big Ten goes all the way to 10, it would seem the only way a program will be able to host a Big Ten opponent going forward will be to join the conference (with few exceptions). The additional revenue generated from 7-14 extra conference games split 14 ways may be enough to overcome the loss of an occasional home game, but seven home game schedules will be the norm in the Big Ten; not the exception.
Either way it's clear that the Big Ten expanding its own conference football schedule will significantly decrease the number of opportunities for other BCS AQ schools to schedule Big Ten teams in non-conference play. That's (real) bad news for a program like Boston College.
For one thing, a move to 9 or 10 conference games calls into question the future of the Eagles' home-and-home series with Ohio State in 2020-21. The Buckeyes currently have non-conference home-and-homes with both BC and Oregon in 2020 and 2021. One guess as to which of those two programs gets bumped for the seventh home game against the MAC / FCS.
Any Big Ten conference schedule expansion also likely means the end of programs like Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State visiting the Heights. Gone will be the days of the Wolverines making a return trip to New England to face the UConn Huskies in a 40k-seat stadium (this year, September 21). This potential move will also make regional programs like Rutgers and Maryland equally inaccessible. For a program currently light on future home marquee opponents, a move by BC's closest geographic BCS AQ conference to 9 or 10 conference games makes it that much harder to schedule sensible non-conference opponents at home.
Hope Bates has a few good Pac-12 athletic directors' phone numbers handy.