Miller On: Rankings, Schedules

August 4, 2011

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

Thursday was a pretty decent topic day for College Football Nation.

First the Big Ten announced that it would be moving to a nine-game conference schedule. I gave a few opinions at this link, so I am not going to go back over that ground, other than to point out a quote from Nebraska AD Tom Osborne:

“I also think the Big Ten would like to have as much leverage as possible in television negotiations and of course if you have more games to offer, then obviously it should enhance the worth of the television package.”

As my friend Steve Deace is fond of saying, there are the reasons stated, then there are the real reasons. This, is the real reason the league made the move to nine games. The other reasons that might be tossed out there like ‘we like playing one another more and not less’, sorry Jim Delany but I am not buying that one.

When nearly every coach in the Big Ten is against moving to a nine-game conference schedule, yet you do it anyway, it’s not because you like playing each other. It’s about the money, and in this instance, the chance to air more programming on the BTN.

I am not against that in the least. Without the BTN in these ‘tough economic times’, Iowa’s athletics department would be having a real tough go of it.

The Big Ten’s TV deal with ABC/ESPN is up in 2016…they’ll probably sit down at the negotiation table in the next two or three years…those should be very interesting talks. This year, we have seen the end of ABC’s 2:30 kick exclusivity…that’s a big, big deal to the folks at ABC/ESPN. I can’t possibly know what the mood is like when Delany and ABC brass sit down in the same room, but I am guessing the Disney folks are feeling more than a bit pinched by the BTN, since they really don’t need them. Big Ten schools are nearly earning as much money per year from the BTN as they are from the ABC/ESPN deal. Two or three years from now, the BTN’s ad sales force will be just that much better at what they do.

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More inventory to sell, more dollars per school, less need for ESPN….Osborne hit this one on the head….

Earlier today, the first Coaches Poll of the year was released…here is how the Big Ten looks, plus Pittsburgh:

10. Wisconsin
11. Nebraska
16. Ohio State
17. Michigan State
25. Penn State
30. Iowa
31. Northwestern
34. Michigan
47. Pittsburgh

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As for which of these teams will be ranked the week Iowa plays them, I think the Spartans are going to get off to a slow start this year and Penn State is going to lose to Alabama in week two. Iowa doesn’t play Ohio State or Wisconsin, but I think Michigan has a chance to be in the Top 25 by the time Iowa plays them. Iowa may end the year having played just two or three teams that were ranked the week they meet on the field. Last year, they wound up playing six teams that were ranked the week they met on the field, with four of those teams being ranked in the Top 13 and one of them ranked 5th (Michigan State, who Iowa beat 37-6)

Oklahoma was #1 followed by Alabama, Oregon, LSU, Florida State, Stanford, Boise State, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M to round out the Top Nine. Texas checks in at 24, the only team ranked in the Top 25 to have had a losing record last year.

I think Penn State at 25 is even a bit of a reach. Arizona State is 26th, and that team was better than Penn State leaving Spring camp, but they are getting hit with injuries this summer. I think Iowa and Michigan are better than Penn State…

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Iowa gave the media a tour of its nearly completed basketball/wrestling/volleyball practice facility on Thursday…you can read about it here.

One common complaint among college basketball coaches in general is that once the season starts, their practice time is severely limited. Iowa has had that problem too, but worse in that the basketball team has had to share the court with the women’s basketball team and the volleyball team. That has caused some headaches and logistical problems, to where the hoops teams have had to practice at various gyms around town.

That’s also recruiting with one arm tied behind your back.

This facility helps Iowa catch up to most of the rest of its conference teams…evens that playing field a bit more, if you will. The challenge to rebuild the program is still a daunting task for Fran McCaffery, but this will help…

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