When Barry Alvarez talks Big Ten realignment or items related to shuffling the league layout, you had better listen. I wrote about this a few weeks back in this item and word out of Madison on Tuesday underscores why it’s the case.
According to this report, Alvarez said the league’s schools have agreed to no longer schedule teams from FCS programs. For Iowa, this would mean their occasional games against Northern Iowa. For Northern Iowa, that means fewer chances at paydays like the two they received last year for playing at Wisconsin and Iowa.
“The nonconference schedule in our league is ridiculous,” Alvarez said on WIBA-AM. “It’s not very appealing. So we’ve made an agreement that our future games will all be Division I schools. It will not be FCS schools.”
While I agree with Alvarez that scheduling FSC opponents on nearly an annual basis is weak and to use his word, ridiculous. Here is the rundown of the number of FCS opponents that Big Ten teams have played over the last seven years:
Penn State: 5
Nebraska: 5 (including the last four years in a row)
Michigan State: 3
Ohio State: 2
You’ll note Wisconsin has played an FCS opponent every year but one out of the last seven, more than any Big Ten champ during that time. I guess it truly does take one to know one.
Alvarez also said a few other things on his radio show of importance. He reiterated that the new DIvisional Alignment will likely come down based on geography and that Michigan State was lobbying to be in the Western Division. Alvarez said that if it were geography it may make sense that Purdue is in the West, as they are the farthest West of any of the schools east of the state of Illinois. But Michigan State wants to keep their foot in the Chicago recruiting game so they are making a pitch.
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But you can likely write this down in pencil:
That leaves Indiana, Purdue and Michigan State.
Back on January 31st, I made my prediction of what the divisions would look like as follows:
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I believe this is how it will all shake out. Also, the league is certainly going to expand to at least nine games for their conference schedule come 2014. That is all but a certainty based on some recent Jim Delany comments. The only debate will be if the league goes to nine or ten conference games.