Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Big Ten Schedule Will 'Bind' Conference

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Big Ten Schedule Will 'Bind' Conference

Article excerpt

Big Ten Septembers are loaded with quasi-exhibitions that frustrate TV partners and put casual fans to sleep.

For every Notre Dame-Michigan, there are 10 Idaho State- Nebraskas.

That's going to change -- as early as 2014.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said the status quo of eight conference games "is not even on the table right now." It will be nine or 10, with the decision to be made this spring.

"The thinking is we like to play each other, and those are not hollow words," Delany said. "We are getting larger [with Rutgers and Maryland], and we want to bind the conference together."

Conference officials are also discussing no longer scheduling football games against Division I-AA opponents.

The matchups don't do much to generate excitement for fans or TV networks. And the games might prove to hurt a teams' chances of getting picked to play in college football's four-team playoffs that will start in 2014 .

"We've made an agreement that our future games will all be Division I schools," Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said.

Illinois sports information director Kent Brown said Big Ten football-related topics also included reviewing the conference's divisional alignment.

A nine-game slate with 14 teams would create 63 conference games, a significant boost in inventory from 48 for a conference about to begin negotiations on a new TV deal. (The ABC/ESPN contract, worth $100 million per year, expires after the 2016 season.)

"The coaches and ADs met this week and the ADs will continue to meet in the coming months to prepare a proposal for the Council of Presidents/Chancellors to consider in June," Big Ten spokesman Scott Chipman said. "So, the process continues."

Big East

Two people familiar with the deal say the Big East is closing in on a six-year contract with NBC Sports Network for football and basketball rights that will pay about $20 million per year.

The Big East first has to go through the process of allowing ESPN, which currently holds the conference's football TV rights, to match the offer. …

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