Big Ten: We'll Work With You, FCS

By Marc Morehouse, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Now this is the offseason.

Spring football is over. The next real touchpoint for Iowa football is the Big Ten media days in Chicago on July 24 and 25. The first game is Aug. 31. We're looking at about 75 days before it Big Ten football comes alive in our daily lives and on your TV screens.

We are in the "horse latitudes."

From the About.com geography section: Between about 30° to 35° north and 30° to 35° south of the equator lies the region known as the horse latitudes or the subtropical high. This region of subsiding dry air and high pressure results in weak winds. Tradition states that sailors gave the region of the subtropical high the name "horse latitudes" because ships relying on wind power stalled; fearful of running out of food and water, sailors threw their horses and cattle overboard to save on provisions. (It's a puzzle why sailors would not have eaten the animals instead of throwing them overboard.)

Major deserts of the world, such as the Sahara and the Great Australian Desert, lie under the high pressure of the horse latitudes.

I'll try to make this a daily deal, except for vacation weeks.

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Iowa Thinking

The Big Ten has decided to cut out FCS schools from scheduling. Several conference schools have games set up and are now in the "try to get out of it" mode.

The Big Ten announced last week that it would begin a nine-game conference schedule in 2016. The FCS part didn't make the fine print. It was more of an "oh yeah," and, thus, the status of these games remains murky.

Iowa is down to play Northern Iowa in 2014 and 2018. It has a game scheduled against Illinois State in 2015 and North Dakota State in 2016, the year the nine-game conference schedule kicks into gear.

Iowa athletics director Gary Barta last Monday responded to the FCS question in this e-mail:

"With the addition of Maryland and Rutgers, the changing of Big Ten Conference divisions, and the college football playoff format, Big Ten institutions have been involved in discussions involving the strength of schedules among member schools," Barta wrote. "Commissioner Delaney announced yesterday we will move to nine conference games in 2016, and, beginning that same year, will also focus on playing more 'comparable' opponents and BCS level teams.

"The 5-4 home/away Big Ten schedule rotation allows for us to continue our series with Iowa State uninterrupted. Currently, we are scheduled to play Northern Iowa in 2014 and 2018. The new parameters would not allow us to play additional games in the future, but we'll work with the conference to see about keeping the two games already scheduled."

And that's where these games sit. North Dakota State is two-time defending FCS champion. NDSU head coach Craig Bohl told the Fargo-Moorhead Forum last week that the Big Ten is the only FBS conference to ban (too strong of a word?) FCS teams. A North Dakota athletics official last week confirmed that no final decision has been made.

There is no timetable for a final decision, but, as always in college football scheduling, sooner rather than later is in play. The buyout for the North Dakota State contract is $250,000 for Iowa.

If you think this is an easy deal for Barta, consider that he was an option quarterback for Bison football squads that won Division II NCAA national titles in 1983, 1985 and 1986.

Big Ten Linking

– The Big Ten Network's Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina discuss the league's QBs.

My "off the top of my head" top three: 1) OSU's Braxton Miller, 2) Northwestern's Kain Colter and 3) (tie) Nebraska's Taylor Martinez and Michigan's Devin Gardner.

– Iowa QBs were off limits as far as hits went during the Hawkeyes' spring game. A few schools in the Big Ten had QBs in play.

Whatever the policy is at Minnesota, there was a noteworthy crash between DE Theiren Cockran and No. 2 QB Mitch Leidner. (From Gridiron Gold.)

"I haven't heard about it, but I will soon," Cockran said after the game.

The National Daily

– Don't worry, I don't get the hashtag ban on the field of play, either. This is the NCAA becoming its own blackhole and crushing itself into nothingness.

The USA Today's Dan Wolken provides a nice bit of clarification. Can't do it on the field, feel free to do it elsewhere in the stadium.

The NCAA prohibits advertising on college football fields aside from school/conference/NCAA logos or the logo of a company that has purchased naming rights to the stadium. There fear here is schools will use hashtags as a loophole to commercialize their fields, which might already have been commercialized with the purchase of naming rights to the stadium.

Blackhole . . . crushing itself into nothingness.

– Recruiting deregulation is on hold. Here's a great explainer from ESPN.com's Mitch Sherman.

The bottom line here, in my opinion, is the NCAA is trying to take enforcement out of what it sees as some of the more impossible communication outlets. It also happens to put football on the same recruiting speed as basketball.

Football isn't basketball. Iowa has a sophomore recruiting board, for the first time ever. A lot of schools have offered high school freshmen. Does that sound healthy in way?
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