I thought this was an interesting perspective from Rittenberg's PAC-12 counterpart.
PAC-12 Opinion on playing 9 conference games (instituted in 2006)
It's a bad idea that should only be needed if we expand further. For a twelve team conference with a CCG, eight conference games is optimal.
On the flip-side, this is also maybe why the PAC-10 has decent bowl records often...
could be the fact the Pac-10 for the most part has pretty bad bowl lineup - as in the bowls they are slotted to play in. With the Big 10, either the 2nd and 3rd place or 3rd and 4th place teams are playing pretty solid SEC teams. With the Pac-10, they almost never have 2 teams make the BCS so the conference champ usually goes to the Rose Bowl, I think 2nd place goes to the Holiday Bowl and then 3rd place and down start going to mid-level bowl games.
Only 4 PAC 12 teams went bowling last year (Arizona St played 2 FCS opponents and USC was on probation). Those teams went 2-2. (Big East 4 of 6, SEC won 5 of 10, ACC 4 of 9, and, Big 12 and Big Ten 3 of 8). Overall, the PAC 12 was average to above average in percentage, but certainly below average in terms of participants.
7 PAC 12 teams went bowling in 2010. Those teams went 2-5. (SEC won 6 of 10, Big East won 4 of 6, Big Ten won 4 of 7, Big 12 won 4 of 8, and ACC won 3 of 7).
The lack of an additional cake game in the OOC hurt the PAC 12 last year. Then again, the PAC 12 does have Wazzou and, now, Colorado.
Looking at the last two years only (I didn't look back any further), the Big East has actually been the most consistent, yet only plays 7 conference games. Note that teams in the Big East tend to play at least one BCS OOC opponent each year.
I am amazed the Big Ten did it. It means fewer Big Ten teams will go to bowl games and unbalances the schedule.
What’s more, it means that you can never have 8 home games again (as Michigan does this year, and did two years ago). It also means that Michigan’s two remaining non-conference games (aside from ND) will probably always be terrible.
Obviously Delany and some of the ADs were concerned about body-bag games like Wisconsin vs. Austin Peay, but no one forces them to schedule like that.
Don't most schools end up losing money when they go to bowls? If anything, the 9 game conference schedule will just keep shit teams from playing in shit, unattended bowl games that end up costing them money.
Assuming the bowls exist, most teams would prefer to attend one. You don’t see many schools turning down bowl invites. Although you and I might not watch those bowls, it is a perk for the players and their fans, and it helps with recruiting to be able to say you played in the post-season.
Most athletic departments lose money (not just on bowls, but overall), but they feel the intangible benefits are worth it. I have no idea how to measure that, but there is probably some truth in it, or else why would they be doing it?
Yeah, it is great for the fans- I cannot deny that. But, it is not great for the schools that have to foot the already at-a-loss football program the money.
And I would think the reason they are doing it is because it would look really bad to turn down an invitation, regardless of the bowl's prestige.
Again, these are just my opinions/inferences but I think they are well founded and not implausible.
This doesn't matter for schools in major conferences. All Big Ten bowl revenue, post-expenses, is shared equally among member schools, and the profits from the BCS bowls and Capital One easily outpace the losses from the minor bowls. So even if a school like Northwestern nominally loses money on its bowl trip, it will come out ahead after all the bowl receipts have been shared.
Bowls aren't just a boon for fans. They offer programs the equivalent of another spring practice, and for players they're a nice reward for the season. Teams aren't going to turn them down.
I think this might actually help the Big 10 nationally. First, the Big 10's mid-level teams generally don't play a great non-conference schedule (in my opinion) next to an average PAC 12 team, so the extra loss is mitigated somewhat. One of the Big 10's biggest problems with national perception is that it's teams tend to travel well and attract viewers in a way even the SEC can't match (Big 10 fans have to stay in town for bowls due to travel distance). This causes them to be matched up with better teams all the time, which means more bowl losses and worse perception.
If OSU or Wisconsin loses one more game last year, they probably don't make the BCS and play Alabama in the Citrus, a much better matchup. MSU plays...MSU, Michigan plays offensively challenged Florida and so on. Maybe they still lose all those games, but they're all much more competitive.
OSU and Wisconsin would have still gone to BCS bowls. The bowls can pick whomever they want as at-large teams long as they're in the top 12 and are 9-3 or better. OSU and Wisconsin's large fanbases were the draw, not necessarily their won-loss records. The Big Ten is pretty much guaranteed two BCS teams every year we have two eligible, which inevitably means everyone else goes up a notch. That won't change even if we have nine conference games.
Also, while our schools may play weaker non-conference schedules than the Pac-10's (I'm not sure that's true, but let's assume it is), I don't think that can be said vis-à-vis the SEC or ACC. Those conferences' schools routinely feast on four cupcakes in September. On the whole I don't think our conference's scheduling practices are much out of the ordinary.
I for one look forward to more games against Wisconsin and Penn State instead of the directional schools. This will also establish more balance in overall stength of conference schedule. This is good for Michigan considering the automatic game against OSU. Not so good for Sparty and Indiana.
Better football games, tougher competion, better bowl match ups, and less chance of winning the division without playing the top teams. I see nothing but positives for 9 conference games and could not care less about national perception.
I think that if the Big Ten goes to say 16 teams, they'll push up the conference games to 10. then everyone is pretty much guaranteed 7 home games a year. 5/5 in conference and the other 2 MAC probably. ND would be part of the B10 at that point so everything still works with rivalries and you'd have 5 teams to rotate with within the conference. I like it. Sometime in the future I could see it happening.
If I'm paying for tickets, I'd rather see a big-time game against another BCS conference opponent than a extra game against Indiana, Northwestern, Illinois, or Purdue.