Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, speaking Tuesday night on his radio show, said the Big Ten ADs have agreed to stop scheduling FCS opponents [formerly Division I-AA] in the coming years.
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
"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 [FBS]. It will not be FCS schools."
Alvarez didn't say when Big Ten teams will stop playing FCS opponents. Several FCS teams are on Big Ten schedules for 2013, including Tennessee Tech, which visits Wisconsin on Sept. 7. It's highly unlikely any of these games will be cancelled.
The earliest we'll likely see changes is 2014, although several FCS teams have contracts to play Big Ten squads. Appalachian State, for example, opens the 2014 season against Michigan at Michigan Stadium, where the Mountaineers notched their historic win in 2007. The elimination of FCS games could be gradual depending on the contracts already signed.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN.com this week, "What we've got to do is upgrade [non-league schedules]. It doesn't make any sense to be playing people from different divisions with fewer scholarships." Delany was referring to FCS opponents.
The FCS schedule ban should be welcome news for all Big Ten fans. No one likes seeing Big Ten squads beat up on completely overmatched foes, or suffer embarrassing losses like Michigan did against Appalachian State. There are few if any pluses to these games.
It will be interesting to see if other leagues -- looking at you, SEC -- will follow the Big Ten's approach and only play FBS opponents.