|"We demand the not-quite-weakest of your weakest..." (Photo: USA Today Sports.)|
In conjunction with the beginning of Lent, the Big Ten is giving up cupcakes.
Yet, while a sugar fiend would only have to sweat out 40 days of abstinence, the country's most prestigious athletic conference apparently plans to go cold turkey on scheduling games against resume-fattening FCS teams for good.
Some pundits have praised the B1G for its willpower. Meanwhile, advocates of lower-division athletics are lamenting that the league's crash diet could start a chain reaction that would starve out smaller football programs and athletic departments.
(And so ends the food theme, mercifully.)
The issue of the de facto subsidizing of lower-division programs with paycheck match-ups definitely deserves consideration as a matter of policy, but I’m more interested in what Sith-like overlord Jim Delany is really up to.
In the decade between the 2003 and 2012 seasons, B1G teams played a total of 68 contests against FCS squads, running up a combined record of 62-6 (.912), according to CFBTrivia.com. During that same period, B1G teams had a combined record of 182-39 (.824) against FBS teams from outside of the major conferences. Assuming B1G teams kept beating non-AQs at the same clip, switching in non-AQs for FCS opponents would have cost the conference a grand total of six wins in 10 years.
In other words, recent history suggests that a date with a non-AQ presents just slightly more of a test for a B1G squad than an FCS body bag game. It’s akin to bypassing the wimpiest kid in the schoolyard to pick on the slightly taller one who plays the oboe.
Maybe the league intends to ramp up its non-conference scheduling with more contests against major conference teams? The rhetoric coming from the conference’s athletics directors last month about wanting to keep seven home games every year indicates that they don’t plan on setting up many home-and-home series outside the league. As such, I wouldn’t count on many of them filling up the slate with Texas or USC over Bowling Green and New Mexico.
The headline effect of the move is to send the message that unlike some of the other conferences – looking at you, SEC – the badasses in the B1G won’t stoop so low as to just buy easy wins by pounding on weaklings. When the selection committee members are trying to figure out who gets in the new postseason mix and who gets left out, you can bet that will be high up on Delany’s list of talking points. In practice, though, I suspect we’re really just talking about wrapping up marginally less crappy gift games in prettier packaging.
Good take on things, but your off when talking about wanting seven home games preventing teams from playing home-and-home series' outside of the league. Where does that preclude them from doing so any more than any other conference in the country? It's an economic reality of playing as one of the "BCS Conferences" that you need to play 7 home games if you want to avoid losing a crap ton of money (and even then it's not a guarantee). That's not unique to the B1G, that's a reality of playing major football and part of the reason we don't see a lot of that to begin with.
@andycoppens It's not going to prevent them playing home-and-home series altogether. It's going to prevent them from playing more of them in place of the FCS games. Say, for example, every B1G team already plays one non-conference game per season against a BCS conference opponent as part of a home-and-home series. If you have to play seven home games every year, adding another home-and-home series on top of the one you already have in place becomes really difficult from a logistical standpoint.
@Blatant Homerism not really.... simply just schedule the home portion of the series on the year you have to go on the road in the other, no? Or maybe I'm completely missing something...
@andycoppens It's a doable in theory, but a nightmare in practice. You have to find enough AQ schools with openings, which will get harder and harder as more conferences mandate nine-game league schedules and some continue to load up on creampuffs. You also have to hope that none of of your scheduled opponents back out of games, which is pretty commonplace.
It's certainly not impossible, but it's a total tightrope. Ultimately, once this goes into place, I do think you'll see more B1G non-conference games against other AQ schools. I feel really confident in saying that the increase will be very minimal, though.