The Big Ten Mans Up: No More FCS Schools on Its Schedule
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The Big Ten Conference has just taken another step to better position itself in college football's brave new world.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez confirmed that Big Ten schools will stop scheduling BCS teams. This is the logical move to follow the recent announcement by commissioner Jim Delany that the Big Ten Conference schedule will increase to nine (and possibly ten) games per season.
With these actions, the conference is well under way in its effort to bolster the programing for its own television network, which is already the leading reason why the Big Ten is the richest organization in college sports. A fourteen-team menu allows it to arrange more strong match-ups -- or should we say better branded match-ups? -- which will undoubtedly draw more viewers and add more revenues to a till that doesn't have to be shared.
Furthermore, the Big Ten is counting on more league games to enhance its teams' strength of schedule rankings, which will be so vital when the new football championship playoff system debuts in 2014. There will only be four spots in the bracket to start, but to many observers, it's a foregone conclusion that this will expand to eight teams sooner rather than later. The Big Ten plans on having worthy at-large candidates to accompany its titlists when that happens.
This dual strategy is not without its land mines. Still, give the Big Ten credit. In a radically-changing landscape, adaptation is a proven way to remain relevant. It's also how the rich get richer, which also has far-reaching repercussions.
Now, FCS schools must look even more to the likes of the SEC to offer themselves as cupcakes for paychecks that help keep their athletic departments afloat. How successful they are at that will no doubt be inversely proportional to the stronger viewership at the Big Ten Network.