As scheduling talk continues to swirl in college football, I asked you, the Big Ten fan, to craft an ideal schedule for your team. You considered elements like number of conference games, neutral-site games, FCS opponents and number of games against other power-conference foes.
The response, as expected, was strong.
Here's the first set of schedule ideas. I'll post more Friday.
Brian from Seattle
Big Ten games: 9
Nonleague plan: Two of these against Group of Five teams or others that have recently finished the season in the Top 25. As a Nebraska fan, I'd enjoy seeing teams such as Missouri, Texas, Georgia Tech, Stanford and Florida.
FCS games: No. These games are only worth watching if your team is playing them. Even then, I can barely watch these games.
Neutral sites: Not preferred. Nebraska is not close to any major venues as the closest is Arrowhead (Stadium) in Kansas City which is a significant drive away. This leads me to prefer non-neutral sites as the value of a neutral-site game is not extremely high. I'd say this is not viable until Nebraska reaches (and is accepted) as a year-to-year top-10 team. That way a neutral-site game could take place at a high-profile venue and garner attention and traveling fans. This could include places such as CenturyLink Field, Soldier Field, the Superdome, and the Meadowlands.
Ben from Chicago
Big Ten games: 8. Give my Wolverines their six East Division matchups and two crossovers against top-tier West opponents (let's say Wisconsin and Nebraska).
Nonleague plan: All four against power-conference opponents. As a vengeful athletic director, I'll schedule games that offer chances at redemption. We'll start with these stingers: Alabama ('14), South Carolina ('13), Texas ('05) and Oregon ('03). And, of course, we'll stagger them throughout the season. No easy wins on my schedule. Still, I'd take a meaningful win over an easy one any day. And I'd rather earn a playoff bid than coast into one.
Ben's dream schedule: W1: Texas W2: Penn State W3: Indiana W4: South Carolina W5: Michigan State W6: Rutgers W7: Wisconsin W8: Oregon W9: Maryland W10: Nebraska W11: Alabama W12: Ohio
Jeremy from Columbus, Ohio
Big Ten games: 9
Nonleague plan: I'd like to play two Big 5 opponents. One game is a revolving rivalry with three super heavyweights (for example: OSU, LSU, Texas, and Oregon in a rotating series--each team plays one of the others every year, so after six years every team will have played the other three both home and away). The second game is a home-and-home with any other big school, much like we do now. For the final game, I'll allow one home game against an FBS school from Ohio.
Neutral site: Only in specific cases. All regular season neutral-site games should be eliminated unless the two schools are close to each other, and the site (Florida-Georgia in Jacksonville is OK; Alabama-Michigan in Texas, not so much). For OSU, that would mean no neutral-site games except maybe a home-and-neutral with Cincinnati at the Horseshoe, and then Paul Brown Stadium.
Jay from Birmingham, Ala.
Proposed schedule model: Nine Big Ten games, one nonleague game against Big 5 opponent and two nonleague games against other FBS teams.
Neutral-site games: No
Rationale: This model ensures seven home games annually in Happy Valley. The Big 5 opponent would alternate home/away based on years with 4/5 conference home games. I'd love to see ACC and SEC teams, specifically Pitt (twice every four years) and mixing in Virginia Tech, Louisville, Miami, Florida State, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, LSU, Syracuse. Might even include West Virginia if they get their act together. The other, usually American/MAC, will be guarantee games, such as Temple, Connecticut, Cincinnati, USF, UCF, East Carolina, Massachusetts, Marshall, Buffalo, etc. Is it too much to ask Rutgers and Maryland to schedule us a MetLife and FedEx/M&T at least once every four years? Hopefully, that will placate the neutral-site/NFL stadium crowd.
Craig from Duluth, Minn.
Big Ten games: 8
Nonleague plan: One home-and-home game against a decent "Group of Five" Conference foe (Syracuse, California, TCU, etc.) and three games against FBS non-power conference foes (ex: San Jose State, UNLV, Air Force, Colorado State). The noncon games should be with foes that are within an easy drive of an airport that connects directly to MSP or DLH airports. Since I like to travel to fun places, the game with UNLV could be an annual event as far as I'm concerned.
Neutral-site games: Assuming anyone would be interested in playing us at a neutral site, one such game every four years would be plenty. That would give each student who goes to the Minnesota an opportunity to travel to such a game.
FCS oppponents: I am not opposed to FCS opponents occasionally. Lord knows we haven't been good enough lately to take them for granted as "sure wins." But they don't really excite the fan base.
Louie from Too Close to Ann Arbor
Big Ten games: I am OK with nine. Ten is OK, also.
Nonleague plan: One Michigan "Directional" school from the MAC. It will be impossible to hold the "two in our house, one in yours" that Hollis tried to set up but we should keep playing them. Notre Dame every year, and if they won't, as often as possible. It is a great rivalry and historically been good for both schools.Every other nonconference game should be Group of Five.
FCS opponents: No.
Neutral-site games: Extremely mixed feelings as a season ticket holder (44th year). They bring great exposure but it is hard on the fans. If you look at last year: travel to the championship game, $$; to the Rose Bowl, $$$$; and an early season trip to Atlanta or Jerry's World, $$$. It would really make it hard to try to make a conference away game once in a while. If it is the only way to get high visibility opponents like Texas, Alabama, or Notre Dame, we should do it.