Wisconsin Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez said the Big Ten will no longer schedule FCS opponents in non-conference play, a move that comes amid talk of the league adding a ninth conference game upon the arrivals of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Maryland Terrapins.
“The nonconference schedule in our league is ridiculous,” Alvarez said on WIBA-AM. “It’s not very appealing…
“So we’ve made an agreement that our future games will all be Division I schools. It will not be FCS schools.”
This is cause for celebration, according to some; after all, the imbalance of non-conference scheduling from league-to-league is one of the primary championship arguments, both in determining the BCS title game participants and for the forthcoming playoff.
This very site has lamented the SEC tradition of inserting FCS opponents into the final weeks of the season.
However, this will move several FCS programs looking for a new outlet to recoup the money lost in this early season match-ups.
Take Northern Iowa, which played Alvarez’s Badgers to open last season. UNI earned a $450,000 payday from the eventual Big Ten champion, which wasn’t simply the receipt for providing Wisconsin warm bodies in a glorified scrimmage. The Panthers scored two fourth quarter touchdowns and threatened for a third, failing to convert on a fourth down-and-1 in Badger territory. UW survived, 26-21.
UNI regularly plays opponents from the Big Ten, both earning a considerable paycheck that benefits the entire athletic department and bringing the fight to its more high profile opponents.
In 2009, the Panthers came a blocked field goal from upsetting another eventual BCS bowl-bound Big Ten foe in Iowa.
This decision primarily impacts the Missouri Valley Football Conference. In addition to UNI, Indiana State will play Indiana for the second straight opening weekend this coming August. Missouri State faces Iowa next season, and Southern Illinois takes on Illinois, to name a few.
The MVFC could try to move in on more Big 12 match-ups, though its open dates have dwindled with its own move to nine league games. The MAC and Mountain West don’t have the same heavy wallets. And if other confereces follow suit, FCS members are going to face even more taxing financial futures.
The answer for some is migration to FBS, with the allure of TV revenue and the hope of becoming the next Boise State. One such university considering the move is Appalachian State, which also serves as an inherently ironic example of this edict coming from the Big Ten.
The Big Ten fell victim to most famous FCS upset of an FBS counterpart came at the Big Ten’s expense. Appalachian State stunned fifth ranked Michigan to open the 2007 season, 34-32, en route to the Mountaineers’ third straight NCAA championship.
Michigan hosts Appalachian State to open 2014 in a game TV networks were reportedly “fighting” to gain the broadcast rights.
Maybe more people want to see FBS vs. FCS than we assume.