The ups and downs of the college football season don’t leave teams much margin for error as is. The Big Ten’s move to nine conference games shrinks a team like IU's margin even more.
This means one less non-conference game for Big Ten teams, and IU Coach Kevin Wilson knows the change brings with it some positives.
Another conference game means another competitive match-up for fans to get excited about. It means another chance for players to showcase their skills and for recruits to see what the program has to offer against Power Five teams.
But Wilson also sees too much parity between the various Division I conferences and their schedules.
“I think we play in, if not the toughest bracket, it’s one of them. The Big Ten East,” Wilson said. “We then couple that with the toughest formula. So, our conference champion is going to play nine games, going to play a crossover BCS for 10 games and then play a championship game. So they’re playing 11.”
The Atlantic Coast Conference schedules eight conference games before the conference championship game, and while Virginia may have scheduled Oregon to give the Cavaliers nine regular season games against major conference teams, Boston College has no major conference games outside of the conference.
The Big 12 Conference, like the Big Ten, has nine conference games. But, teams like Baylor and Texas Tech can still open up with FCS opponents and no conference title game awaits them at year’s end.
Penn State Coach James Franklin is not a fan of the parity either. With the College Football Playoff selection committee having to take so many different variables into account when choosing the playoff participants, the process becomes too subjective in Franklin's eyes.
“It should be consistent,” Franklin said. “If you’re going to have a college playoff, and you’re going to have a selection committee come up with the college playoff teams, everybody should be judged based on the exact same criteria.”
Players from around the conference didn’t show much care for the policy change during the Big Ten’s media days, consistently referring to it as just another game and opportunity to play against top-flight competition.
Minnesota Coach Tracy Claeys even mentioned being in favor of a move to 10 conference games, saying it would even out each teams’ number of conference home and away games and still allow two non-conference games for teams to schedule what they want.
It’s unlikely Wilson would be in favor of such move, as he already sees the move to nine as possibly doing the Big Ten more harm than good.
“All we do by adding a ninth game is we’re guaranteeing a 7-7 week,” Wilson said. “So, you’re guaranteeing for your conference, if that was normally a 10-4 week or a 11-3 week, you just guaranteed three or for more losses for your conference. It is going to probably equate to a few more 5-7 teams, which is probably going to hurt us with some of the bowls, and for us that’s pretty challenging.”