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Big Ten Considering A 9- Or 10-Game Conference Schedule

big-ten-logojpg-ec9abb28100a4921Excuse us while we bury the lead, so to speak…

Readers of this site know that we’re in favor of a nine-game conference football schedule for SEC teams.  (Short of that, we’re for eliminating divisional play altogether).  There are basically four reasons why we believe the SEC should consider adding a conference contest for each football program each season:

 

1.  We’re tired of having to waste time writing about the Presbyterians, Jacksonville States and Furmans of the world.  Those games are meaningless — unless the SEC team loses — and fewer and fewer fans are turning out for them.  Apparently many of you are tired of wasting time (and money) and those cupcake games, too.

2.  The SEC takes a lot of hits nationally for what’s seen as a sub-par non-conference slate.  That might not matter under the current BCS system, but when a selection committee takes over and starts handing out playoff invitations it could.  If there are any biased members on that committee who want to see the national championship get spread around a bit more often, those people could use schedule slights as a way to keep multiple SEC teams out of the four-team playoff.

3.  We understand the business side of conference expansion, but tradition should still count for something.  In growing to 14 schools and keeping an eight-game schedule, the SEC has chosen to put in place a system that will prevent cross-divisional foes from seeing other very often.  How many SEC fans in the East Division will miss out on a chance to see a star like Johnny Manziel play against their favorite teams?  How many times will fans from Auburn get to visit a traditional rival like Florida?  Eight is not enough if you believe every conference team should see all its rivals over the course of a decade.

4.  Finally, there’s more money to be made from playing more conference games.  Hey, we said we understood the business involved.  That’s why we’ve consistently said that a nine-game league schedule will someday be adopted.  Whether it’s ESPN paying for better games or the conference making sure it has more content for its new SEC Network, it makes dollars and sense to expand the in-conference football schedule.

 

Now pleasee don’t give us the “It’ll make it too tough to win a national title” argument.  Nick Saban’s winning titles left and right and he’s the most outspoken proponent for a nine-game schedule.  When the league added an eighth game and a conference title game in 1992, coaches and fans pulled their hair out with fear.  Alabama immediately went undefeated, grabbed the national title, and the SEC has been on a roll ever since.

Why bring this back up today?  Back to the headline — CBSSports.com is reporting that the Big Ten is discussing schedule growth.  Nine games remains the more likely stopping point, but a 10-game plan is in the mix.  There had been talk of the ACC considering a 10-game schedule as well before it decided to stop at nine.

But the Big Ten has more motivation than the ACC to add league games.  That motivation is green and it comes by way of the Big Ten Network.  When a Big Ten team plays a football game in the home stadium of another conference’s team, that game’s television rights are owned the by home team and its conference.  But add another Big Ten versus Big Ten game to the schedule for 14 teams and you have seven more football games for Jim Delany to sell or put on his own network (to drive up subscriptions and subscriber fees)… regardless of where those seven games are played.

Prepping to launch its own league-owned network in 2014, you can be sure Mike Slive and the SEC’s presidents are paying attention.

 


14 comments
Paris10
Paris10

Kentucky would never play in a bowl again!

Without Western Kentucky, A MAC school and a Division AA they can't win enough to get to Nashville or Birmingham!

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @Paris10 If Kentucky needs to schedule three cupcakes to go bowling, why exactly do they deserve to represent the SEC in a bowl game, again?

DaveinExile
DaveinExile

People wanting to find fault with the SEC to spread playoff wealth will find that excuse somewhere, be it scheduling or some other B1G/P12 concoction. If you're going to schedule 9, do it because it makes sense for your league, not because conferences stupid enough to schedule a MAC weekend need to change the subject when they lose half those games.

 

JepH
JepH

Florida and Georgia would simply lose way, way to much money in a nine game SEC.  Both Florida and Georgia need at least seven home games every year to support their budgets (and the local economies of Gainesville and Athens).  The problem with a nine game SEC schedule for both Florida and Georgia would be that 1. they both play a mandated in state rivalry game that is a home and away series (Florida State and Georgia Tech) and 2. they play an annual game in Jacksonville which eliminates another possibility for a home game.  That means that every other year either florida or georgia would have only six home games and depending on how the sec schedules lined up might only even have five home games (although I imagine the SEC would plan around that contingency to prevent it from happening)  Texas A&M would have a similar problem if Texas would ever get over it and schedule them again because of the Southwest  Classic in the Cotton Bowl against Arkansas.  (They may already with SMU, I don't exactly know how important that series is the A&M or its fans)   I doubt that the SEC wants to seriously injure (and likely anger) what are two of the most important and powerful members of the conference.  Unless the SEC invites both Ga Tech and FSU (which is not going to happen) I imagine that a nine game conference schedule would be a complete non-starter for the Gators and Dogs, that is unless of course they are granted some other concessions, of which I can't even speculate they would be.

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @JepH Setting aside the annual game in Jacksonville, they each just need their 5home conference schedule when they are away to their (at present) ACC in-state rival, and 4home conference schedule when they are home to their ACC in-state rival. That' plus two payday games is a 7 home game season. Then presuming the game in Jacksonville is better for both schools than playing home and home over two years, that means that 6 homes game plus one annual neutral site game is better for them than 7 homes games.

 

If the annual game in Jacksonville is a net money loser compared to a home game in alternate years, then don't schedule it.

 

Under the new playoff system, they are going to have to pare it down to two cupcake games anyway, so may as well have the extra home and home series in-conference where it makes money for everybody from the coming SEC Network.

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

 @JepH I think you accurately posit the issues AS THEY STAND TODAY. However, if the SEC goes to a 9 game schedule, and I am a Gator, I think UF and GA could turn this into a win / win. Any negotiation with the SEC for a 9 game schedule is going to have to take that into consideration. And, if the schedule starts to hurt either schools local economy, there will be a hue and cry to change both games to home and home. Likely or possible? Don't know, but with the tv money a 9 team schedule is going to generate, something has to give.

 

As of today, you are exactly correct. The Swamp holds over 100,000 and its hard enough to get a ticket as it is. You take away one home game, and the alums are going to go nuts and the lottery for tickets could be such that a freshman at UF might have to travel to an away game just to see the team play in their first year at school. That sucks.

 

On the SWC, the Ags were pretty po'd this year about the new contract to extend the series a few more years. However, its important to the A&M budget because they make more money off it on a game by game basis than they do a home game. That does not help the local economies, but since A&M and Arkansas extended the SWC contract for over a decade, I think the schools will do what it takes to ensure their survivability first. Arkansas loves it, puts them in Dallas, which is where they need to be to recruit.

 

A&M is expanding Kyle Field to over 100,000, they are not going to schedule an agreement with Texas that would put them in Dallas THREE times in a year (SWC, SMU and Texas). Not hardly. And from what I understand, Texas' AD pretty much has said not until 2020 will the teams meet again. So, if you believe what AD's say, it ain't happening. Of course, that is just the truth today......

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

I'd be thrilled if the SEC went to 10 games.  They already need 9, but 10 would even things out.  More quality games is better all the way around.

RoadTrip
RoadTrip like.author.displayName 1 Like

On some things like conference expansion you wait unless you know who you want, they are available, and it can be done reasonably smoothly. On other things you set the bar. This is one of those things. It is mind boggling to me this has not already been handled. 9 games in the SEC is a no-brainer. Will have to study the divisional play elimination suggestion.  

Seanbo
Seanbo like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I love the bogus argument that schools need 7 home games to balance their budgets.  Doesn't that argument end in 2014 when schools get playoff money, a bigger TV contract, a conference network, and Champions Bowl money?

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @Seanbo10 conference games is not an option for the SEC with locked out of conference rivalry games in place for several schools, so that can simply be set to one side. For 9 conference games, 7 homes games per season is straightforward: schedule two cupcakes at home, and have the OOC home and home contest at home in the year you have 4 conference home games and away in the year when you have 5 conference home games.

 

Either neutral site games are better financially than a home and home series, making 6 home _ one neutral site "better than 7 home games" or else don't schedule the damn thing.

 

No longer scheduling 3 cupcake games is a transition that schools with Championship playoff ambitions are going to have to make in any event. Teams without Championship playoff ambitions (in football) can still schedule 3 non-AQ games in pursuit of bowl game eligibility, and alternate between 7 and 8 home games. May as well make those FormerBigEast, Conference-USA, Sunbelt and MAC schools, since that's who they'll likely be playing if they make a bowl.

DanHogan
DanHogan like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @Seanbo All these school admins use that kind of phrasing.  The better version would be "maximized" revenues.  It's technically true if you assume they plan on spending what they can take in maximally.

Seanbo
Seanbo

 @DanHogan

 Shoot, in that case, why not just play 7 conference games then you could get 8 home games.

Schools should also notice that attendance is declining for the games against inferior opponents.

MoKelly1
MoKelly1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

I, for one, will wait and see what really happens with the Big 10. If I recall, in 2011 the Big 10 said they were going to a 9 game schedule after they added Nebraska. They would go to 9 games in 2017. But wait. That idea got scapped when the Big 10 made their big announcement that they would have a deal with the PAC 12 to play each other. But wait, the PAC 12 deal fell apart. So, the Big 10 was back to the status quo.

 

But wait, now the Big 10 s discussing a 9 or 10 game schedule. So, the Big 10 began this talk back in 2011 aiming for a 2017 start. Now we are in 2013 and they are once again discussing a 9 or 10 game schedule.

 

I'm not sure these guys are all on the same page.

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @MoKelly1 Obviously the big stadium schools wanted 8 home games to maximize ticket revenue, and the weakest schools want a number of games against the Little Sisters of the Poor to maximize their chance of going bowling, while schools in the middle of the Big Ten want to maximize their average number of home games against the marquee schools, so its both ends against the middle. However since the big stadium schools are looking at scheduling one fewer cupcake game and one more home and home contest against a mid-level AQ conference opponent, doing that against a Big Ten opponent and keeping the money in the BTN is more attractive.

 

10 games seems like framing the question so that 9 conference games seems like a compromise. Instead of asking the question, "ok, stay with 8 or move to 9", its asking the question, "stay at 8, move to 9, or move to 10?". There are six "western" schools (UNL, IA, MN, WI, IL and NW) that want to be in a Western division but several of them will want to play what are going to be the marquee schools in the Eastern division as often as possible. They'll want 10 games and as few locked cross-division games as possible.

 

Get a minority of schools each pushing for 10, 9 and 8, and "voila", 9 is the compromise result.

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