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Big Ten Exploring Nine, Possibly Even 10-Game Conference Schedule

Get ready for more Big Ten Football. First, the conference agreed to play a nine-game schedule. Then, the B1G reached a short-lived but never implemented agreement with the Pac 12. Now, the conference appears to be back on the nine conference game bandwagon. Athletic directors are even floating the idea of playing 10.

“As the conference expands, it would be unfortunate if a student-athlete came to the University of Michigan, played in the Big Ten Conference for four years and never even got to play or compete against one of the schools in the conference,” Brandon said. “That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. As the number of institutions has grown, I believe we should take a look at at least moving to nine.”

“I would like to go to nine or 10,” Smith said.

As with the Big Ten not so subtly hinting at moving Michigan and Ohio State into the same division, expect this to happen. It is a television move. The Big Ten already signaled its conversion. More conference games means better inventory, both in depth and quality. Not coincidentally, the Big Ten will be negotiating a new first-tier rights package and leveraging BTN on to cable.

It is also a competitive move. Strength of schedule will influence the upcoming playoffs. Nine-game slates outweight eight-game ones. Seventeen Big 12 and Pac 12 programs played a tougher 2012 schedule than the toughest Big Ten one, Nebraska. Lumping the two factors together, the question is whether adding the 10th game (and balance) hurts teams more than it helps.

For fans, this reduces the probability of big teams scheduling home and home meetings. Those seldom happen with an eight-game schedule. This is better teams playing one another more often, alas this also means Big Ten teams playing one another more often.

[Photo via Getty]

 

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