Yesterday, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany made waves across college football when he announced that not only will the Big Ten schedule nine league games, they have to schedule a Power 5 opponent, and they plan on not allowing teams to schedule FCS schools starting in 2016.
"Everybody agreed," Delany said. "We have the nine conference games. We have a commitment to schedule an intersectional game. We have a conference championship (game). And we have the commitment to play only (Football Bowl Subdivision) opponents.
Delany points to a few reasons for this shift away from FCS schools, both of which Boston College fans have echoed for years. One, he wants to put together a more competitive schedule, which makes sense since FCS schools are usually not competitive against FBS schools (but don't tell Michigan that). Secondly, he is eliminating FCS scheduling because better competition draws more fans. Looking at the big picture, eliminating FCS schools will increase ticket sales and revenues for the school and fan interest will rise, something important to a sport that has seen sagging ticket sales recently.
This decision has multiple ramifications for Boston College and the ACC. Sports always seems to be a "monkey see, monkey do" creature. Will ACC Commissioner John Swofford and the commissioners among the Power 5 see this ruling as tea leaves for the changing landscape of college football? If Big Ten teams are going to get a leg up on the playoffs due to a more robust strength of schedule, will the other Power 5 conferences eliminate FCS games as well? It would only take one year when an FSU or Clemson loses out on the playoffs by a sliver of a point, that their AD's will raise hell and changes may come. Looking ahead this ruling appears to be one that other conferences may mimic. So for those fans out there that want FCS games to go away, rejoice, the end may be near.
Secondly, Boston College is still looking for opponents for 2016. Currently they do not have a Power 5 opponent lined up, and as we have mentioned numerous times, the options are slim. This ruling could actually be a blessing in disguise for Athletic Director Brad Bates who now has some options to fill the schedule. The article mentions that 8 teams currently have FCS schools scheduled for 2016, and Delany will not make teams reschedule these games. But there are two teams that do NOT have a Power 5 opponent that BC now can reach out to:
Maryland Terrapins: Former ACC foe, would be a decent matchup, but fans here never came out in droves to watch the Terps. The Eagles battle Maryland for multiple recruits so it might be a good idea in terms of getting a game that recruits can see.
Purdue Boilermakers: Once a solid football school, they have fallen on hard times of late. Again probably not a team that is going to sell tickets.
Are they best options? Probably not. Mind you this also doesn't rule out any Big Ten squad that decides to back out of an FCS game. But they are certainly better than another Maine/Howard slate. Let's see if either names get bounced around as options for 2016.