The One Thing Of Importance From Big Ten Media Days
Most of it is platitudes and evasion, and what we did learn was mostly that decisions will be made in the future (there is a 30-45 day window in which divisional alignments will be determined) and that foregone conclusions are happening (Big Ten championship game).
Q. Jim, in order to preserve some of those rivalries and create appealing match-ups for television, do you anticipate going to a nine-game football schedule in the future?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: I do. I think that would be really helpful to us. I think there's a consensus among our athletic directors to do that. How quickly we can do that, we can't do that in the next year or two. I'm hopeful we can make progress in years three and four. Hopefully it's not more than that. But it could be depending upon contractual commitments. It would have to be modified.
But I think it would be really good. I think to play each other more is what our fans want, and I think that's what the athletes want. And to be honest with you, the nonconference schedules that we've seen develop as we've added a 12th member have not been good for I don't think the fan base nor have they necessarily been embraced like they might be embraced by the players. I think players want to compete. And I think fans like to see good competition.
So I understand why things happen that way, and I think a ninth game at this juncture would serve everybody's interests.
If Delany is willing to be that blunt about the average quality of the 12th game and the "consensus" amongst athletic directors a ninth conference game is less a possibility and more a thing that is definitively, if only eventually, happening. Because teams have full schedules for the next few years the date this would go into effect is probably 2013.
Coaches seem opposed to the move—Jim Tressel dropped a line about how he "worries about meeting payroll"* that will be someone's signature on MLive for the next 50 years—but screw those guys. I've written a lot about rising payouts for body bag games and an increasing desperation for television inventory combining to ease out this era of dire nonconference scheduling, but that was more in hope than expectation. Delany saying "this is happening as soon as possible" is a major win for everyone except the accountants of I-AA.
As a bonus, a nine game conference schedule will make the divisional alignments less of a hissy-fit kind of deal. You'll miss two opponents from the other division instead of three, making it impossible to entirely whiff on the M/OSU/PSU or the NU/Iowa/UW group.
*(Your conference payout doubles in five years and you're worried because you'll lose something under half a home game every year? Lawya, please.)