The Big Ten is reportedly making a move that could impact future strength of schedule for its football teams. In fact, it seems that it could weaken the level of play as it would remove a key requirement for booking opponents.
Fans and media around the college football world are now reacting to the news as they post their commentary online.
Strength of schedule is an annual debate in the college football season, especially now, given the introduction of the College Football Playoff.
When looking at the resumes of potential playoff contenders, the statistic is often used as a measure of success in team comparisons. But while wins over top teams can certainly boost your chances of receiving a bid, losses can be detrimental.
So, at what point do “good losses” outweigh “bad wins?”
That’s the line many of these college football teams toe when figuring out how to schedule opponents years in advance.
Many have blasted the SEC for only playing an eight-game conference schedule while most others around the nation use the nine-team approach. Those critics believe it gives SEC members an unfair scheduling advantage as they can now use an extra non-conference slot on a lower level foe.
Of course, the SEC argues that playing itself is difficult enough given the conference is the nation’s best.
And when it comes to CFP selection time, that’s proven. The SEC has gotten at least one team into the playoff each year, and on some occasions, two.
The league has also won six of the nine CFP titles, while finishing runner-up in two of the other three (three of four if you count the Alabama vs. Georgia championship matchup of ’18).
Compare that to the PAC 12, who hasn’t had a team in the field since 2017, or the Big XII, who had to fight tooth and nail to get TCU in this past year despite the Horned Frogs finishing the regular season undefeated.
One league that hasn’t had an issue with CFP representation is the Big Ten, who’s seen Ohio State win a title, while also having Michigan State and Michigan both make previous fields. Both the Wolverines and Buckeyes made the bracket last season, though neither made the title game.
With that being said, a major change is soon coming to the playoff setup.
The committee has agreed to expand the field from four teams to 12 teams in order to open up opportunities for all Power Five and Group of Five affiliates.
In most cases, you’ll likely see some form of Power Five conference champs taking the top spots, then a mix of at-large bids.
The Big Ten appears to be considering a move, effective in 2024, that would give the league an opportunity to maximize its representation in the 12-team field.
Big Ten considers removing requirement to schedule a non-conference foe from a power league.
Brett McMurphy of Action Network says that the league is “strongly considering removing its requirement for league teams to play a Power 5 non-conference team annually, starting in 2024.”
While teams could continue to schedule as they have in the past, it would also give flexibility to schedule a less formidable foe in an attempt to add an extra win to the record.
Fans online have been quick to react.
Not a fan of this proposal! I hate games against cupcakes! https://t.co/z2R0pUSOEr
— Faux George McCaskey *Parody* (@FauxMcCaskey) May 10, 2023
Wow, so soft. The @bigten is weak for this. https://t.co/TRZVcPG4UW
— Devin Newsom (@DevinNewsom) May 10, 2023
Though it was a previous requirement, teams could go to the league office and ask for exemptions in the past. Michigan, for example, played Colorado State, UCONN, and Hawaii on the non-conference slate in 2022. None play in a Power Five league, and they combined to go 12-26 last year.
Nothing will change for Michigan
— Colton Kemp🌵 (@ckemp_7) May 10, 2023
Maybe this is just a way of circumventing the exemption process. Or maybe the Big Ten will move to a 10-game conference schedule with the additions of USC and UCLA.
Whatever the case, it will have an impact on scheduling should it go through.