Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany announced at media days earlier this month that his conference will mandate its schools to stop playing FCS teams and schedule at least one team from another power conference each year. The Big Ten is also moving to a nine-game conference schedule.
These are the new battles that conferences are waging, jockeying for position in moves that improve their chances of getting in the College Football Playoff and (as always) make more money.
That’s really what it’s all about, really. The money. It always is.
Alabama’s Nick Saban has it right, actually. He believes all power-5 teams should play only power-5 teams, and I’m right there with him.
The SEC schedule is rampant with at least one opponent on each team’s schedule that would look more appropriate in an Easy Bake Oven than in front of 100,000 fans in the stands and millions more on ESPN2.
Very few power-5 teams have non-conference schedules that are worth their salt from top to bottom. TCU was commended for including Minnesota on their schedule both last year and this year. Really? Add North Carolina and Washington to it and then we can talk. Not to pick on TCU though; Baylor’s non-conference slate makes TCU’s look like murderers row.
I’ve had the answer for years on this and I’ll even share it with the NCAA for free. First off – all of the power-5 schools need to agree to turn their schedules over to the NCAA. No more scheduling opponents that work well for you; we’re going to even the playing field (literally).
Next – every conference needs to mandate a 12 or 14-member league, as well as a nine-game conference schedule. The SEC, for instance, plays eight. Not enough. Yes, I know you guys play in a big-boy league, but Western Carolina at Texas A&M in week 10 isn’t going to cut it.
Now for the fun part. The non-conference schedule for every team will be decided by weighted lottery, and on national TV each spring. You want some money? I guarantee a ratings bonanza with this televised schedule-pull.
The top-third of the teams in each conference’s respective standings from the previous year will each be placed in a bin and drawn out, two-by-two, guaranteeing match-ups the next fall that will be both intriguing and competitive. How would you like to see Ohio State play USC next month? Alabama-Baylor? How about Florida State-Michigan State? The same will go for the middle-third and the bottom-third teams to create match-ups. Even Vanderbilt-Indiana and Texas Tech-Washington State (yes, please) bring a ton more intrigue than the Red Raiders hosting Northwestern East Carolina. Each team will play three other power-five teams, one that finished near the top of the conference standings, one in the middle, and one near the bottom.
Imagine if Auburn had to play a non-conference slate this fall of UCLA, North Carolina and Illinois. Or Texas vs. Arizona, Mississippi State and Wake Forest. TCU could face Oregon, Tennessee and Maryland.
Of course there would have to be many rules and tweaks to make this method as fair and even as possible, but you get the idea.
If the schedule was selected this way, it would increase interest, and of course, more money. Put the lottery on national TV and it would be one of the highest-rated shows of the year. Well, at least better than Florida vs. New Mexico State. Maybe.