On Monday, we told you that Big Ten athletic directors would soon be deciding whether to move to nine or even 10 conference games per season beginning in 2014. There should be a lot of debate in their meetings over this topic. We want to give you a chance to vote on the issue.
Here are the possibilities, along with a few pros and cons:
Stay at eight: By staying at eight conference games, the Big Ten will give teams the ability to schedule four nonconference games and possibly play home-and-home intersectional matchups to help their strength of schedule component, which should factor heavily into the four-team playoff selection. Eight games also means a balanced league schedule of four home and four away games in conference play. However, with 14 Big Ten teams starting in 2014, there will be several years between meetings for teams in opposite divisions, which could affect rivalries in a negative way. And nonconference schedules are becoming tougher to fill out with lower-level conference teams demanding costly guarantees for a one-off road game.
Move to nine: The Big Ten would join the Pac-12 and Big 12 by going to a nine-game conference schedule. That would mean fewer gaps between seeing teams in the opposite division and a better chance to preserve rivalries. It would also leave teams with three nonconference games and the ability to schedule at least one strong opponent. However, a nine-game schedule also means half the teams would play five road conference games each year while the other half only played four. And in years when a program had five league road games, it likely would have to schedule three home nonconference games to get to seven for the year, which most schools need to meet their budgets. That could make it tougher to arrange attractive home-and-home series out of the conference.
Move to 10: Going to 10 league games solves the competitive balance issue, as each team would play both five road and home games in the conference. It would also mean more Big Ten teams play each other, and just about every rivalry could be preserved. But the Big Ten would be the only conference to play 10 league games, and its teams would suffer more losses as a result. Plus, with only two nonconference games, many schools would be shy about scheduling tough teams for those slots, especially since they'd need to play both at home to reach seven home games for the year.
Which option do you prefer? Vote now in our poll.