Big Ten Changes Discussed: MSU To West, No More FCS Games
By Marc Morehouse, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - If Big Ten were smart, it would have a news release ready to roll every time Barry Alvarez sat down for his radio show while league had issues in the air.
Tuesday during his weekly radio show on WIBA-AM in Madison, Alvarez said Big Ten officials have agreed to stop scheduling FCS opponents. The logistics of this, as in "when," are unclear, but the message is certain.
"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. It will not be FCS schools."
In 2013, Iowa will play Missouri State on Sept. 7. The Hawkeyes open with Northern Iowa in 2014 and with North Dakota State in 2016.
The Big Ten schedules past next season already have been blown up. It was likely a formality with Maryland and Rutgers joining the Big Ten in 2014, but Iowa's web page with future schedules shows next season and then just the non-conference games thereafter.
It's feasible that the Big Ten could buy its way out of future FCS games, but how likely would schools be able to find a replacement opponent that didn't cost $1.5 million for the game before 2014?
Alvarez also said geography will be a critical factor when divisions realign for Maryland and Rutgers. Alvarez mentioned a straight geographical breakdown of Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Illinois and Purdue.
He also mentioned, however, that Michigan State was lobbying to play in the West Division. In 2010, MSU athletics director Mark Hollis expressed a desire for MSU to be in the Chicago market, saying Northwestern "has a lot of value to Michigan State" and that he would like the Spartans and Wildcats to meet annually in the new format.
A straight geographical breakdown would put Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Indiana, Rutgers and Maryland in the East.
Alvarez had been forward about wanting to play Iowa and Nebraska on a regular basis. He talked about when the broke into divisions for the 2011 season that he and Iowa athletics director Gary Barta took heat for the Iowa-Wisconsin rivarly being interrupted.
"Neither one of us wanted it but somewhere you have to give. We were the ones who took it on that," Alvarez said on his show. "Somebody is gong to have to give a little bit but I think it breaks down well. It makes sense."
The Big Ten will play nine or 10 conference games starting in 2014. The eight-game format has been dismissed.
The other bit of news out of the Big Ten this week centered on NCAA recruiting deregulation.
The conference objected to three rule changes: The first would allow schools to hire additional staff, beyond the allowable 10 full-time coaches, that would focus solely on recruiting. The second would deregulate phone calls and text messages, allowing coaches to contact a prospect an unlimited number of time beginning July 1 after the prospect's sophomore year of high school.
The third would allow schools to send an unlimited number of mailings to prospects.
The Big Ten athletic directors and coaches didn't raise concerns with the removal of restrictions on how many coaches can recruit off campus at one time or the elimination of required materials a school must send to recruits, such as lists of banned drugs and the school's Academic Progress Rate data.
Beyond the statement, the Big Ten's actions have escalated to the process of sending official requests to override the NCAA's proposed ruling for unlimited communication with recruits, according to CBSSports.com.