Starting in 2016, Big Ten football scheduling is going to change drastically. Not only will the conference schedule extend from eight games to nine, but schools will no longer play FCS opponents and will have at least one game per season against a team from one of the Power 5 conferences.
Stuart Mandel of Fox Sports reported the news on Twitter, having taken a picture of what appears to be a Powerpoint presentation from Big Ten media day.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany pointed out that independent schools like Notre Dame and BYU would count towards meeting the Power 5 opponent requirement, as conferences like the ACC and SEC recognize both programs as such. In a report by Kevin McGuire of NBC Sports’ College Football Talk, Delany’s philosophy was further explained.
Delany stressed the focus on improving overall strength of schedule for the Big Ten, and this philosophy would seem to address that in the years to come. While many Big Ten teams already have games scheduled against other power five conferences, having it be a requirement offers more attractive games for fans and the all more important television partners. With the Big Ten media rights set to expire coming up, rolling out this scheduling strategy is also a wise business decision.
It’s definitely a great idea on the Big Ten’s part, as watching the conference’s teams absolutely slaughter lesser opponents like Florida A&M and Western Illinois was starting to get old and tired. This way, the competition is ramped up and more games count, especially with a nine-game in-conference schedule and the requirement that teams play at least one Power 5 squad annually. This will allow the Big Ten to keep up with the ever-competitive SEC, and hopefully bring the conference more national titles in the future.
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