IOWA CITY, Iowa — Big Ten athletics directors punted on extending league football schedules beyond 2019 at their spring meeting 18 months ago.
The schedules contained too much irregularity and inconsistency for some athletics directors. Now, it appears the league wants its own chance to evaluate future football schedules for an extended period of time.
“Part of our strategy is to look at more conference games over the season,” said Mark Rudner, the Big Ten’s senior associate commissioner for television administration. “I think we’re going to start seeing that next year, 2017. I think we still need to look at this a lot more critically and strategically beginning in 2020 and beyond. We have no immediate plans to either create or announce future football schedules beginning in 2020.”
Every Big Ten team is assigned an annual opponent in the opposite division from 2016 through 2019. Series played each year during that cycle include Wisconsin-Michigan, Nebraska-Ohio State, Iowa-Penn State, Northwestern-Michigan State, Illinois-Rutgers, Minnesota-Maryland and Purdue-Indiana. Spanning that four-year scheduling cycle, every school will compete against two other cross-divisional opponents twice and four opponents once.
Indiana-Purdue is considered the only permanent cross-divisional rivalry. The other 12 schools will rotate “permanent” rivals for another four-year block.
As the league’s media rights deals begin with ESPN and Fox next year, an earlier round of league games helps provide better content. In 2018, conference games are held in the first and second week. In 2019, one game each is held in the second and third weeks.
Here’s the Big Ten East Division’s current four-year rotation of ‘permanent’ opponents:
|Indiana||Purdue||at Purdue||Purdue||at Purdue|
|Maryland||Minnesota||at Minnesota||Minnesota||at Minnesota|
|Michigan||Wisconsin||at Wisconsin||Wisconsin||at Wisconsin|
|Michigan State||Northwestern||at Northwestern||Northwestern||at Northwestern|
|Ohio State||Nebraska||at Nebraska||Nebraska||at Nebraska|
|Penn State||Iowa||at Iowa||Iowa||at Iowa|
|Rutgers||Illinois||at Illinois||Illinois||at Illinois|
Here’s the Big Ten West Division’s current four-year rotation:
|Illinois||at Rutgers||Rutgers||at Rutgers||Rutgers|
|Iowa||at Penn State||Penn State||at Penn State||Penn State|
|Minnesota||at Maryland||Maryland||at Maryland||Maryland|
|Nebraska||at Ohio State||Ohio State||at Ohio State||Ohio State|
|Northwestern||at Michigan State||Michigan State||at Michigan State||Michigan State|
|Purdue||at Indiana||Indiana||at Indiana||Indiana|
|Wisconsin||at Michigan||Michigan||at Michigan||Michigan|