I hope Jim Delany was as horrified at this development as Indiana bloggers ("absolutely disgusted") and yrs truly were:
The November 20, 2010 game between Penn State and Indiana will switch locations from Indiana's campus in Bloomington, Indiana to [The Stadium Formerly Known As Jack Kent Cooke] in Landover, Maryland. [TSFKAJKC] is home of the NFL's Washington Redskins.
The stadium in question is about four hours from State College. It's eleven hours from Bloomington. Indiana just sold a home game for three million dollars. And Penn State got one for free.
This sort of thing has a long tradition in college football—Michigan State didn't play a home game in their series against Michigan until 1948 and didn't start equitable home and homes until a decade later—but died out at about the same time segregation did. And nobody wants to bring that back, hmmmm? [/sportstalkradio argument]
Let's stipulate that schools have the right to do whatever they want with their nonconference schedules. The effect on the rest of the conference is minimal there, mostly limited to "you scheduled who and they did what to you?" Feel free to insert your favorite recent humiliation there: The Horror, Iowa State, USC, Louisiana Tech, etc.
Once we start talking about conference schedules, though, people have a right to bitch. Every team is playing for a conference championship. The schedules need to be as equitable as possible. Yes, playing eight games against ten opponents naturally inserts some wobble in average schedule difficulty. Creating protected rivalries enhances that. (Would you rather be Michigan State (Penn State and
Ohio State Michigan [ed: whoops lol] every year) or Purdue (Northwestern and Indiana).) But in both cases everyone has agreed to the potential imbalance and decided that the alternative—years without The Game or I-AA snackycakes—is worse.
Not so with Indiana's decision to sell a home game, which benefits exactly one team, has been approved by no one, and compromises the integrity of the league schedule. It also sets a dangerous precedent. No Big Ten team has been so craven since balanced schedules became commonplace. A rundown:
- Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa, and Minnesota have never scheduled a neutral site conference game.
- A few teams did so back in the stone age but not since. Michigan hasn't played a neutral site conference game since they lost to Northwestern 2-3 in 1925, and that was in Chicago. Illinois played home games against Ohio State in Cleveland in 1944 and 1942. Purdue did the same in 1943.
- A few teams have moved games to neutral sites without giving up at least the appearance of a home game. Indiana played a neutral site game against Penn State in 2000 and against Illinois in 1984, both in Indianapolis. (They did sell a home game to Northwestern, also in 1925. Northwestern won 25-0, their only win of the season.) Ohio State moved a 1991 home game against Northwestern to Cleveland. Northwestern has a fair number of games listed as "@ Chicago, IL," which Evanston is basically a part of.
- Aaaand there's one bizarre outlier I didn't remember: Wisconsin gave up a home game to play Michigan State in Tokyo in 1993.
That's it. No modern-era Big Ten team has ever agreed to move a conference game to a location almost three times closer to the road team than the "home" team. No one has ever moved a conference game out of state with the freakish exception of that Tokyo game. Even that game was a decidedly neutral site, which TSFKAJKC will most definitely not be in 2010.
The Big Ten should shoot this down, and do it soon. This is the I-A equivalent of forfeiting a conference game so you can get paid by Michigan. Insert some bylaw that says any attempt to move a conference home game out of state or to a point that's closer to the nominal road team than the home team must be approved by the league first, and look very sternly at the Indiana administration when you do.