Big Ten mulling major football changes: Here are some questions to consider
The Big Ten is considering a drastic overhaul to its football schedules.
The conference is considering cutting back to eight league games in 2023, according to The Athletic, in an effort to prepare for the anticipated expansion of the College Football Playoff and to launch the proposed Alliance scheduling pact with the ACC and Pac-12.
The conference has also put the elimination of divisions on the table, according to the report. If that happens, the expectation is each member of the 14-school league will have three permanent opponents and cycle through the other 10, home and away, every four years.
Here are some questions to consider:
How would the scheduling pact actually work? There is a balance issue in the Alliance — the ACC and Big Ten have 14 teams while the Pac-12 still has 12.
Would Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Iowa and Louisville be exempt from one leg due to their in-state rivalries with Big 12 and SEC programs?
Does Notre Dame fall into the pact as an ACC school?
How are these matchups set?
Are Ohio State, USC and Clemson going to want to play each other pretty much every year?
Is Penn State going to try to duck Pitt?
Those are just a few of the many questions.
Are seven-game home schedules still viable? If the schedule is an 8-2-2 format (eight Big Ten games, two games vs. ACC foes and two games vs. Pac-12 foes), that would leave each Alliance member with five home games, five road games and two open slots.
How exactly are all 40 Alliance members then going to find two home games each to get to the established business model of seven home games?
It’s going to cost each school millions to get Group of Five programs to agree to one-off games since they will have all the leverage with Alliance schools unable to offer return trips and loath to play two FCS opponents (try selling that to season ticket holders too).
Is the extra TV money from the Alliance games going to be enough to change the paradigm?
Why keep playing the Big Ten title game? In the last five years we would have gotten a Michigan-Ohio State rematch in 2021 and 2018 and the same Ohio State-Wisconsin game in 2019 and 2017 (the 2020 COVID-19 season was too messed up to project a full league standing). Is that going to help get more teams in the CFP when it expands?
Moreover, the Big Ten may make changes only to find out the CFP won’t expand until 2026 at the latest. And when it does, who knows what the new format would be.
The biggest question of all, still, is ... Why is the Big Ten aligning itself so closely with two inferior leagues? It makes no sense.
The Big Ten should be trying to go mano-y-mano with the SEC and getting ready to sign a new media rights deal that will make it rich beyond its wildest dreams. Not dragging itself down to join the cash-strapped ACC and Pac-12 while letting ACC commissioner Jim Phillips, the guy it decided to not hire as commissioner, lie on the tracks to hold up CFP expansion that would immediately get more Big Ten teams in the playoff.
For the umpteenth time, we must say Kevin Warren’s tenure as Big Ten commissioner has been full of strange moves.