A few big pieces of information to pass along on this Thursday afternoon. First of all, the Big Ten will go to a 9-game league schedule starting with the 2017 season.
Per the Big Ten press release:
Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten announced today that conference football programs will move to a nine-game Big Ten schedule beginning with the 2017 season.Three teams each from the Legends Division and Leaders Division will feature five conference home games during odd-numbered years, while the other three schools from each division will host five conference contests during even-numbered years. The 2017 schedule will include five conference home outings for Iowa, Michigan State and Nebraska from the Legends Division and Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State from the Leaders Division. The 2018 schedule will feature five Big Ten home games for Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern of the Legends Division and Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin of the Leaders Division.The Big Ten will return to a full nine-game conference schedule for the first time since the 1983 and 1984 seasons. Eight of 10 conference schools played nine-game schedules during the 1981 and 1982 seasons, while two of 10 teams featured nine-game schedules from 1971-72 and 1977-80.The 116th season of Big Ten football kicks off with prime time home games for the defending Big Ten co-Champions, with Wisconsin hosting UNLV on Thursday, Sept. 1, and Michigan State facing Youngstown State on Friday, Sept. 2. The conference’s remaining 10 teams open action on Saturday, Sept. 3, including Nebraska’s first official game as a member of the Big Ten. Conference play will begin on Saturday, Oct. 1, and will feature divisional play for the first time. The champions of each division will meet on Saturday, Dec. 3, in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game to be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and televised by FOX Sports. The winner of the title game will earn the Big Ten Championship and a chance to play in either the Rose Bowl Game or Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.
I will admit that while the new 9-game league schedule will add a bit of complexity when it comes to the rotating 5 and 4 game home league games a year, I like it because it will add Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana or Purdue to the schedule and probably eliminate Eastern Michigan or the another MAC equivalent game.
As you know, last week Dave Brandon came out and said this...
"I don't believe we can or should go on the road for nonconference games when we can put 113,000 people in our stadium. It's, financially, the right thing to do. It's the right thing to do for our fans, in terms of their ticket packages. And we're going to alternate with Notre Dame, so we're going to have one game on the road every other year. So the rest of those games, I would like to have at Michigan Stadium."
That's all fine and great if you're happy with Toledo or EMU or an FCS school on the schedule until the end of eternity...which I'm not. Frankly, I'm all for doing things the right way in terms of being financially responsible, but not when it takes away a possibly exceptional home-and-home contests such as Texas, USC, Arkansas, etc. Don't try and sell this idea as it being the best thing for the fans. Its not. Ticket packages be damned. We've never had a tough time filling the stadium before...and if you bring in Florida State or Oregon, we won't have a tough time filling it then either.
Not a fan.
Also worth noting is that the Notre Dame game is a road game for us on even years...exactly the same years we'll be heading on the road for 5 league games. Further proof, if you even needed any, that playing Notre Dame every year is bad for everyone...except Notre Dame.
Also released today is the top 25 coaches poll [HT: DetNews].
1. Oklahoma (12-2)
2. Alabama (10-3)
3. Oregon (12-1)
4. LSU (11-2)
5. Florida State (10-4)
6. Stanford (12-1)
7. Boise State (12-1)
8. Oklahoma State (11-2)
9. Texas A&M (9-4)
10. Wisconsin (11-2)