FanPost

Big Ten Kickoff Weekend aka Turning Expansion into Something That's Actually Cool


This link from INP (and a quiet day at work) got me thinking about how the Big Ten could incorporate neutral field games in a way that would a) solve the riddle of playing 9 conference games, b) get the Big Ten a little more early-season attention, c) make adding Maryland and Rutgers seem worthwhile for Iowa fans who don't live on the East Coast (even though I personally do), and d) make sure that all of the teams in the Big Ten play each other more than once a decade.

One intriguing and innovative way to do this (in other words, a non-Delaney approach) would be to turn the first Saturday of the college football season into a Big Ten kickoff. (Or, even better, Barbasol presents: Ro*Tel Big Ten Kickoff Saturday). Every Big Ten team would play a cross-division opponent on a "neutral" NFL field, with kickoff times at noon, 3:30, and 8:00 (all times EST). Possible sites would be DC, the Meadowlands, Detroit, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Chicago. I'm not counting Minneapolis based on the fact that the Metrodome sucks and that it would be very difficult to pretend that it is a neutral field (more on pretending that fields are neutral below). For a couple of minutes I thought that playing doubleheaders at a given site would be a good idea, and then I remembered that the logistics of that would be insane and that bringing four separate Big Ten fanbases to one city (say, for example, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State, and Ohio State) could potentially cause both a rip in the space-time continuum and an emergency Busch Light shortage. So 14 teams, 7 cities, 7 games, and 3 time slots-- say a doubleheader at noon, a quadruple-header at 3:30, and a signature game in prime time.

Another benefit to the neutral field games would be to keep revenue high without resorting to ridiculous schedules in which teams play 8 home games. As I'll show below, with this approach each team could guarantee themselves at least six home games a year, (seven if they want) plus I'm sure they would have some sort of gate-split for the neutral field game. I'd also think that the whole deal would bring in extra television revenue for the league as a whole, which would then be split up... 14 ways, I guess. (Are we really sure we can't go back on this Rutgers/Maryland thing?) An extra conference game also means $500,000-$1.5 million less that each team needs to shell out so that a MAC team can come beat them on their home field.

There are cons, of course, or at the very least wrinkles to figure out. The schedule I suggest below is based on the idea that the Big Ten will go to an east/west alignment-- mostly because I want them to do that and because Legends and Leaders was a terrible abortion that I hope we will never have to speak of again. If they do go east/west, though, it doesn't take a genius to see that most of the stadiums we're talking about are closer to teams in the east division. For that matter, it's hard to pretend that these fields are neutral, or that a game like Purdue/Maryland in Cincinnati is going to do much to raise the conferences profile. All of this is predicated on the perhaps wishful belief that Big Ten fans are crazy, that Big Ten alumni from every school populate the major cities of the upper Midwest and Northeast in pretty large numbers, and that flying to DC or Cleveland is a hell of lot faster, easier, and possibly even cheaper than driving from, say, Iowa City to State College.

OK, so here's what this could look like for Iowa over the next decade, assuming Iowa/ Nebraska/ Minnesota/ Wisconsin/ Illinois/ Northwestern/ Purdue in the west and everyone else in the east and no more "protected rivalries"-- in other words, just forget that the last three years every happened. I actually like this a lot. Your thoughts?

2014:
vs. Rutgers @ MetLife Stadium
vs. Iowa State
vs. MAC
vs. UNI
bye
@ Purdue
@ Michigan State
vs. Wisconsin
@ Minnesota
vs. Northwestern
@ Illinois
vs. Indiana
vs. Nebraska

2015
vs. Michigan @ Soldier Field
@ Iowa State
vs. MAC
vs. MAC
bye
vs. Purdue
vs. Michigan State
@ Wisconsin
vs. Minnesota
@ Northwestern
vs. Illinois
@ Indiana
@ Nebraska

2016:
vs. Maryland @ Paul Brown Stadium
vs. Iowa State
vs. MAC
vs. UNI
bye
@ Purdue
vs. Ohio State
vs. Wisconsin
@ Minnesota
vs. Northwestern
@ Illinois
@ Penn State
vs Nebraska

2017:
vs. Michigan State @ Soldier Field
@ Iowa State
vs. MAC
vs. MAC
bye
vs. Purdue
@ Ohio State
@ Wisconsin
vs. Minnesota
@ Northwestern
vs. Illinois
vs. Penn State
@ Nebraska

2018:
vs. Indiana @ Lucas Oil Stadium
vs. Iowa State
vs. MAC
vs. UNI
bye
@ Purdue
vs. Michigan
vs. Wisconsin
@ Minnesota
vs. Northwestern
@ Illinois
@ Rutgers
vs. Nebraska

2019:
vs. Penn State at Cleveland Browns Stadium
@ Iowa State
vs. MAC
vs. MAC
bye
vs. Purdue
@ Michigan
@ Wisconsin
vs. Minnesota
@ Northwestern
vs. Illinois
vs. Rutgers
@ Nebraska

2020:
vs. Ohio State at Lucas Oil Stadium
vs. Iowa State
vs. MAC
vs. UNI
bye
@ Purdue
vs. Maryland
vs. Wisconsin
@ Minnesota
vs. Northwestern
@ Illinois
@ Michigan State
vs. Nebraska

2021:
vs. Rutgers @ Heinz Field
@ Iowa State
vs. MAC
vs. MAC
bye
vs. Purdue
@ Maryland
@ Wisconsin
vs. Minnesota
@ Northwestern
vs. Illinois
vs. Michigan State
@ Nebraska

2022:
vs. Michigan @ Cleveland Browns Stadium
vs. Iowa State
vs. MAC
vs. UNI
bye
@ Purdue
vs. Indiana
vs. Wisconsin
@ Minnesota
vs. Northwestern
@ Illinois
@Penn State
vs. Nebraska

2023:
vs. Maryland @ FedEx Field
@ Iowa State
vs. MAC
vs. MAC
bye
vs. Purdue
@ Indiana
@ Wisconsin
vs. Minnesota
@ Northwestern
vs. Illinois
vs. Penn State
@ Nebraska

Unless otherwise expressly indicated by BHGP editors, this FanPost is strictly the viewpoint of the author and is not endorsed by BHGP in any way.

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