Edit: I lack reading comprehension skills.
This Week's Obsession: How Big Ten is Your Schedule?
Michigan's history in the Big Ten is full of win
If you've been away for a month, meet our new regular feature, a roundtable of sorts where we have the MGoStaff answer questions about stuff on the fan mind. With the future Big Ten schedules getting announced I thought I'd use this week to pull the one we had to cut (for space) from the HTTV Roundtable, wsg Craig Ross, author of The Obscene Diaries of a Michigan Fan. The schedule (home games in bold):
9/24: @Craig Ross School of Obscure Historical Facts About Michigan/3:30p/BTN
10/1: ACE ANBENDER AGRICULTURAL*‡/7:30p/ABC-ESPN
10/8: ---bye week---
10/15: @ Seth Fisher School of Arts & Letters*/3:30p/BTN
10/22: @ College of Blue in South Bend*/TBA/BTN
10/29: MATHLETE UNIVERSITY*†/3:30p/BTN
11/5: @ Heiko Yang College of Medicine and Constraint Plays*/12:00p/BTN
11/12: BRIAN COOK COLLEGE OF SNARK/12:00p/ABC-ESPN
* Big Ten Game
‡ Night Game
And the question:
How many conference games do you think are ideal?
Seth: Let me throw out some stats. Since coming back to the conference in 1918 Michigan has won 69.5% of its conference games, and 72.2% of its nonconference games. If you narrow it down to games since Bo and take out the bowl games those numbers are 76.8% of Big Ten games and 76.5% of non-conference games. Michigan tends to beat Indiana just as regularly as it does its MACrifices, so for us at least it's not a big deal to add conference games. For the record…
Nine conference games in a 13-game season is 69.2% of all games. Ten of 14 (including the B1G championship) is 71.4% of the season. So nine is technically the same proportion we're used to.
Ace: I’d like to see the Big Ten eventually move to ten conference games so there’s home/road balance, fewer crummy non-conference games, and enough cross-divisional games for us to remember that, yes, Wisconsin is in fact in the same conference as Michigan. Nine is fine for now, though, and moving to ten wasn’t much of an option with programs locked into future non-conference games.
Craig: There is no ideal under the current no-conference-at-all hoo-haw. Like Curly, I prefer to be burnt at the stake (as opposed to having my head chopped off) because a “burnt steak is better than a cold chop.” So, I guess I vote for 10 with two meatball pre-season games. Nine is a joke. 5/4 then 4/5? That sucks. And we get to play Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin three of every seven years? Some years a team in the East may not see any of the three? And another team might see all of them?
Mathlete: Ideal for what is the question? If Michigan is continuing to schedule mediocre Pac-12 teams there probably isn't a ton of difference between 8 and 9 games, unless Wisconsin or Nebraska is the extra game and they are having an up year. The ninth game probably helps Michigan and OSU the most in the conference since in any given season they are most likely to have the best team and the more games the less likely a team makes a lucky run at a title. In terms of national championship it all depends on how the other conferences react. I have my doubts that anyone will give real weight to a Big Ten team that plays a nine game slate versus another conference that plays eight. So if the Big Ten is one of few it's probably a slight negative. If a bunch of other conferences are doing it then its probably a benefit to the Big Ten because the middle and bottom of the conference is typically not as good as others. Especially compared to Bob Stoops' Big Twelve, their bottom half is national championship caliber.
The final question is how do teams schedule non-conference. If this is an excuse to schedule three cupcakes then its probably all a wash. If teams are still pushing for at least one quality game then it's at least a bonus for season ticket holders.
Seth: Ten. Unlike Dave Brandon I can live in a world where Michigan has just seven home games per year, especially if I'm trading an $85 UMass ticket for a road trip to Evanston or Madison. I admit that under such circumstances Indiana might never see another bowl game, but I don't care. Scheduling real opponents is only going to become a tougher challenge as other leagues expand their conference games and crack down on any Vanderbilts who might be undermining their marketing. This probably messes with Notre Dame's need to maintain two of their "odds be great" rivalries, but sending their echoes back to bed is not our concern. Right now it's a major coup just to get a date with Oregon State or Cincy; if it's all the same why can't we just ask out Iowa?
Brian: At this point? 12. If Michigan's going to actually play a big name, then I guess ten. To me that means getting the ND series back or actually scheduling home and homes with power programs again. None of this neutral site/Arkansas business.
why did seth get to respond twice? not fair.
Seth IS BiSB and Heiko (Who IS Misopogon, who IS Blue in South Bend).
Which is really confusing, because I could have sworn I have met all three of them. But I may be part of the problem.
I'm also RDT/
I am definitely in favor of 10 games, and I think that's where we're headed, especially after we add two more teams. But in place schedules will prevent that transition (to 10 game) for probably another half-decade or so, and I guess I prefer nine (rather than eight) in the meantime.
I like 9 as long as it results in more marquee ooc opponents, if not then 10 would be nice. Even if it involves more neutral site games, I would rather see them play games against the other big schools than a 10th conference game but if Michigan vs Utah or Arkansas or any of the other mid/low tier BCS teams is the best that comes from a 9 game schedule I'd rather see them play 10.
I guess I'll be "that guy" who disagrees with the majority. I prefer as few conference games as feasible because I want to see Michigan's schedule have variety. Lots and lots of variety. If that means more cupcakes thrown in the mix to have some facinating marquee matchups - so be it. I don't like playing the same teams over and over and over, unless they are true rivals.
10 conference games, yes. Good work boys. Let's push that proposal.
Assuredly, there will be a bit of "variety" in 10 conference games Variety, in the form of more-occasional games with B1G West schools Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Northwestern, etc.
It is a perfectly ridiculous notion that we would scramble to find ourselves games with schools like San Diego State, Oregon State or Florida Atlantic... and skip Nebraska, Wisonsin, Iowa, Northwestern, etc... when we could easily schedule a ready-made games with some of our historical rivals from the B1G West.
This, by the way, ought to be Notre Dame's fate. That with a 10-game B1G conference schedule, Purdue and MSU could let their ND contracts lapse. We've got a 12-team conference. There's plenty of football to be found within that conference. Let Notre Dame try to find service academies, teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and perhaps some rugby team from Ireland, to fill out their schedule.
If the big TEN is going to have 14 teams, then at least play TEN games!!
No but srsly, 10 games in conference would be a malee. Doesn't matter if it is two more in conference "cupcakes." You see teams show up flat against in conference cupcakes every year, and if you have more chances for upsets like that, then I am all for it. A team to go 10-0 in Big Ten play would be remarkable. It would be something this conference could hang its hat on, and would be a statement to the SEC to grow a pair.
I want to see Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa more often. I want to play for the Jug more often. The more games in conference the better.
Nine conference games per year works for me as long as a few things happen.
The first is that there is at least one major non-conference opponent on the schedule each year. WIth Notre Dame off it for at least a decade, it's going to be important for Michigan to have a strong program or programs to replace them. I believe the series with Arkansas (2018/9) was put in place prior to ND cancelling the series while the Virginia Tech home-and-home (2020/1) announcement is more recent. In the near term, that leaves openings for 2017 and 2022 and beyond.
The programs that I'd like to see UM play and are likely to be available because they don't have annual non-conference rivalry games in place (such as Florida-Florida State) include Texas, Oklahoma, LSU, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Miami-FL. They're all high profile opponents with the majority of them with big stadiums/home crowd sell outs (the Hurricanes are the exception to that list) that should draw a lot of preseason publicity.
The second item concerns the other non-conference games. I have no problem with the first one being a "warmup" with a MAC-level opponent, but that third game should be with a higher level opponent. Cincinnati in 2017 fits that bill, i.e., a program that would be somewhere in the middle third of the Big Ten. Brigham Young (which is also on the future schedule) would be another such team.
The final prerequisite would be what appears to be happening starting in 2016, i.e., regularly scheduling top tier opponents between the two divisions. I fully expect we'll see Wisconsin abd Nebraska on Michigan's conference schedule on something akin to a two years on/two years off rotation. The other five teams from the western division (Northwestern, Iowa, Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota) would then rotate through the other two annual schedullng slots. Perhaps something like this for the western division opponents:
Years 1/2 - Nebraska, Iowa, Purdue
Years 3/4 - Wisconsin, Northwestern, Minnesota
Years 5/6 - Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa
Years 7/8 - Wisconsin, Purdue, Northwestern
Years 9/10 - Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois
So what would a hypothetical 2017 schedule look like if, say, Tennessee agreed to a home and home with UM for that season and 2022 and the game with the UC Bearcats remained unchanged. Per the Big Ten's announcment, Michigan would host four conference games in the odd numbered years. (N = Non-Conference, E = East, W = West)
9/2 - WESTERN MICHIGAN (N)
9/9 - CINCINNATI (N)
9/16 - @ Tennessee (N)
9/23 - @ Maryland (E)
9/30 - NEBRASKA (W)
10/7 - Bye
10/14 - @ Purdue (W)
10/21 - MICHIGAN STATE (E)
10/28 - @ Iowa (W)
11/4 - @ Indiana (E)
11/11 - RUTGERS (E)
11/18 - @ Penn State (E)
11/25 - OHIO STATE (E)
You might notice that this season only has six home games. This would actually be consistent with what Michigan may be doing because the major non-conference games on the schedule (Arkansas, Va Tech) has those teams playing in Ann Arbor during even numbered years (2018, 2020). Since UM will be hosting five B1G games those years, it means we could see alternating seasons of eight and six home games on the future schedules.
The schedule above has four major programs on it (Tennessee, Nebraska, Penn State, Ohio State), three to four teams that would be in the 'middle third" of the Big Ten (Cincinnati, Iowa, Michigan State and perhaps Rutgers/Purdue), a couple of lower level B1G programs (perhaps Rutgers/Purdue, Indiana, Maryland) and one non-conference warm up game (Western Michigan).
Given the four-team playoff set up, the strength of schedule in that lineup would very likely be enough to get UM into a four-team playoff if they went undefeated. It certainly wouldn't hurt them if they had one loss either (depending on the timing of the loss).
2018 would then hypothetically look like this (Arkansas is currently scheduled as the season opener):
9/1 - ARKANSAS (N)
9/8 - MIAMI (OHIO) (N)
9/15 - HOUSTON (N)
9/22 - MARYLAND (E)
9/29 - @ Wisconsin (W)
10/6 - Bye
10/13 - NORTHWESTERN (W)
10/20 - @ Michigan State (E)
10/27 - MINNESOTA (W)
11/3 - INDIANA (E)
11/10 - @ Rutgers (E)
11/17 - PENN STATE (E)
11/24 - @ Ohio State (E)
You can't shorten the HTTV roundtable....that's the best part!
I squeezed out two pages from Elkon's article (it starts a bit abruptly but gets to the point way faster) and two pages from the roundtable to get in an extra article from Dooley on one of Michigan's greatest kickers...
Was for a two page spread of that picture, it was all worth it.
We should be playing heavy hitters from other conferences for home-and-homes. It is exciting to see Big Ten teams challenge other conferences. Why should we be insular, and why make our few non conference matchups against cupcakes? A single cup cake suffices, and with Maryland and Rutgers we have more borderline cannon fodder. Everyone here needs to stop being so scared of big games.