We talked about a potential nine- or 10-game conference schedule, expansion and a host of other topics in today's Big Ten Monday chat.
If you missed it, make sure to set your phone alarm for next Monday at 3 p.m. ET. In the meantime, here's the full transcript from today's session, along with some highlights.
Brian (Chicago): Does Derrick Green commitment change your outlook for Mich next year? Seems like he'll be able to contribute right away
Brian Bennett: Only a little bit. Green was a great pickup for Michigan, but will he be great as a true freshman? There's no telling. Unquestionably, the Wolverines need help at running back, so that's good. But for me, Taylor Lewan's return was the bigger reason to upgrade Michigan's '13 outlook.
Sean (Chicago): Brian,Is it a make or break year for Tim Beckman? I realize that he inherited a difficult situation in year one but the Illini were a disaster from start to finish. Does an encore of last year's performance send him packing?
Brian Bennett: I would say two years is too soon to judge a coach, but the timetable has sped up in college sports. Mike Thomas hired Beckman and will want to give him every opportunity to succeed. But if we see another season as bad as 2012, I'm not sure Beckman can survive that. The stadium would be empty and donations would dry up. Schools can't afford those types of things.
Nick (Upland, CA): Would a 10 game conf. schedule eliminate marquee non-conf. games because of the need to get the remainder as home games? How would that affect strength of schedule for playoff selections
Brian Bennett: That is the biggest issue, in my view. Lots of teams need seven home games to make their budget, so that eliminates the possibility of home-and-home series against good teams. The question is whether added inventory of conference games makes the TV contract so valuable that teams can overcome the loss of a home game. Still, 10 seems a little too radical right now.
Steven (Aurora, IL): I'm in favor of a 9 or 10 game league schedule. As an Ohio St. fan, I would prefer to see them play teams that are relevant. Even if B1G teams are down, at least we still have rivalries or meaningful pasts. Much rather see those games than UAB. Do you think that is enough to offset the loss of a home game though? I dont know...
Brian Bennett: More conference games is mostly a good thing, I think. The one thing I wouldn't want to lose are the fun intersectional games, like the ones Ohio State has scheduled coming up with Texas, Oregon, TCU. Those appear much more feasible with a 9-game sked than a 10-game one.
Matt (Ann Arbor): How much would a 10 game conference schedule hurt the conference in terms of getting teams bowl eligble? If I am Indiana or Minn I want to get my 4-0 or 3-1 non conference record and hope for 3 wins in conference. Also, beating up on eachother in conference and adding more losses to a team can not be good for rankings in the top 25. (This years big ten bball could be an example of that)
Brian Bennett: That's a great point. If you're a team like IU or Minnesota, you could schedule two nonconference cupcakes. But then you'd still have to go at least 4-6 in conference, which would not be easy at all. I would imagine those schools would not be in favor of a 10-game schedule.
Jeff (Between here and there, aka Central MO): With you wanting to know our questions about 9/10 conference games, here's mine. Obviously, the Strength of Schedule goes up. (unless you play IU and Illinois), then it's a wash, but, besides additional revenue for the athletic departments, what additional benefits do you see?
Brian Bennett: Well, the best thing about Big Ten football, in my view, is the traditional rivalries between league members. Playing each other more is a great thing. Let's face it: most of the schools' nonconference opponents are not that interesting. And with 14 teams, playing more league games means avoiding gaps where schools don't play each other for years.
Rob (Morristown, NJ): I'm not sure which AD brought it up recently, but I like the idea that all the teams in the Legends would play 5 away games one year and 5 home games the next, if it were a 9 game conference schedule, this would make it more fair for divisional races dont you think?
Brian Bennett: That was Northwestern's Jim Phillips, and I think that's a pretty good idea. I also like the idea of four home, four road and one neutral in theory but think it's probably too hard to implement. Either way, the league should try hard to keep things as balanced as possible if it goes to 9 games, which is where I think this is headed.