Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany announced yesterday that a number of changes would be happening in terms of the conference’s strength of schedule approach to football. Not only would the number of conference games expand from eight to nine, but Big Ten teams would no longer play FCS opponents and would also have to have at least one non-conference game against a team from the Power 5. And it seems that everyone except the Big Ten’s football coaches were on board with the idea.
In fact, according to Fox Sports’ Stewart Mandel, none of the coaches supported those ideas.
It’s hard to argue with why the coaches voted that way. The Big Ten is probably right behind the SEC in terms of toughest and most competitive conference in the nation, and eliminating FCS opponents more or less gets rid of teams getting tuneup games early in the season to work out any kinks and shake off any offseason cobwebs. Also, extending the conference schedule to nine games and having one non-conference game against a Power 5 opponent, though good on paper, just seems like a recipe for even the top teams in the Big Ten suffering losses that could have been avoided.
Look at it this way. With the College Football Playoff Committee in place now, every single game counts. Tuneup games against FCS opponents give schools like Ohio State, Wisconsin and even SEC staple Alabama the boost they may need to keep playing well over the course of the season. It seems now that the Big Ten is eliminating that entirely simply for the sake of building stronger teams and overtaking the SEC as the most competitive conference in FBS.
The concept looks good on paper, but the coaches appear wise to how it may really pan out. More likely than not, it could result in some top Big Ten squads suffering shocking losses and finding themselves out of the playoff and, subsequently, championship picture.
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