There is little certainty in life. One seems to be this: The Big Ten will continue a nine-game schedule.
“For the foreseeable future,” Purdue University ad Mike Bobinski said. “I don’t see any change at all. I mean, I just don’t know. … There are a lot of good reasons not to, not to change nine.
In 2016, the Big Ten changed from 8 leagues to 9 games. But with the turmoil in college football and the unknowns maturing, now doesn’t seem like the time for change.
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“I think you want to always focus on what you think we collectively think is the best structure and arrangement in the Big Ten,” Bobinski said. “Everyone looks at it through their particular lens, and you know it’s natural, that’s human nature. What does that mean for the rest of us at Purdue or other schools in my chair?
“But I think our job is, in a way, not just to protect your own interests, but to position the league as a whole as possible. I think we had a great job in Phoenix[during the college football conference earlier this month]. One thing that comes out is that there are a lot of moving parts now.”
It continues as big questions hang over the sport. Now is not the time to make hasty decisions.
“The SEC will scale up (with Oklahoma and Texas in 2025),” Bobinski said. “They’ve been in eight conference games for a long time. A lot of speculation, I think is correct, coming out of their conversations, it’s not where they’re going. They’re going to have nine or maybe even ten. So, I think nine is for sure when you have 16 teams. If you only play eight games, you can’t even see half a league.
“I think there are a lot of things that make us say maybe we don’t need to rush things out and just start thinking about how we might want to position ourselves in the future. I think that’s our goal when we start to understand more about what the environment will look like , get ready. Then, we can take whatever action is best for the Big Ten.”
Last August, the Big Ten joined forces with the Pac-12 and ACC to form what was described at the time as a “collaborative approach to the future development of college athletics and scheduling.”
But the union offered nothing of substance. And, of course, any idea of the Big Ten schools remaking their non-league schedules to work in the ACC and Pac-12 schools — or falling back to an eight-game league schedule to accommodate non-conference games with the ACC and Pac-12 — seems to be stupid.
“(The league) is not dead,” Bobinski said. “We’re still going to work with these alliances because we have a lot of the same ideas and values and philosophies. But I don’t know you’re going to see anything substantive in terms of your schedule because you don’t have a lot of room in your schedule to come Start guaranteed matches against other leagues.”
Of the league’s Big Three, the Big Ten has the most reason to be cautious.
“It sounds good in concept,” Bobinski said. “If there’s more space and flexibility, yes, that sounds great. But at the end of the day, I think, by everyone’s estimates, the Big Ten is in terms of adjusting our plans and schedules to fit them, we A bigger risk than the other two leagues.
“We’ve deliberately slowed things down. Everyone understands. They all understand. They all understand that we’re doing a lot more than they do now, in terms of media rights deals and other things.”
The Big Ten is closing in on the denial of a jaw-dropping TV deal expected to begin in 2023 that could be worth a record $1 billion per season.
One dynamic the Big Ten could change in the near future: the elimination of the East-West sectoral structure. If this happens, a new meeting scheduling model may need to be developed.
“We have an experienced scheduling consultant working with us, which is great,” Bobinski said. “And he can name every option you can imagine. So we’ve looked at a couple of things, two protected (opposed). Three protected. I don’t think anyone chose either because it was the best And we haven’t decided not to play in the division. It’s still in the exploratory and conversational stages.”
There may be a push to allow schools to visit and host each of the Big Ten over a four-year period.
“It’s important to see as many teams as possible in your league,” Bobinski said. “That’s one of the reasons there’s no division, that’s you have the opportunity to rotate all the teams in the league more regularly. That’s probably the most compelling thing to me, that’s the opportunity you have in your stadium See other people, you can visit, take your team to play in environments they don’t normally see.
“People may go through their entire careers but never compete with certain schools and never see their campuses or all that stuff. So, I think it’s worth thinking about. Is that a reason to act? It remains to be seen, but I think it’s certainly worth thinking about.”
Another dynamic that could affect future schedules: Big Ten expansions.
“I think the only way you can expand is if you have potential alliance members that can add value and push the needle in a real way, in a substantial way,” Bobinski said. “Again, we’re in a very good position in the Big Ten. We don’t need numbers for numbers’ sake.
“But if there are potential league members with the ethos of the Big Ten, the academic profile and the strength of the institution, they bring sports, football, basketball that add real value, I think anything is possible. But at the moment There hasn’t been much activity on this front.”