The Big Ten has announced that going forward it will no longer schedule FCS teams as nonconference opponents, according to USAToday and other media outlets. The report included Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez chiming in on the Big Ten's previous scheduling practices:
"The non-conference schedule in our league is ridiculous," Alvarez said, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It's not very appealing.
"So we've made an agreement that our future games will all be [Football Bowl Subdivision] schools. It will not be FCS schools."
Will the Pac-12 follow the Big Ten's lead?
Both the Pac-12 and Big Ten have enjoyed a long relationship in Division 1 sports—both leagues have a tie-in to the Rose Bowl game, and in December 2011, both agreed to a long-term scheduling "collaboration" in multiple sports.
According to an ESPN report, the Big Ten was concerned about its national branding. "Part of building our brand is getting our brand around to different places in the country, " Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said. More from ESPN:
"The fact that this is an agreement that will connect a number of different sports, not just football, not just men's basketball, but many, many of our other Olympic sports and team sports, it's a great opportunity for us to travel and us to take our teams and our coaches and our brand to other parts of the country [where] ordinarily we wouldn't be appearing a lot. So I think that's significant."
But less than a year later, that agreement stalled due to "at least four Pac-12 teams" not agreeing to the mandatory scheduling between the two leagues, according to an ESPN report. More:
Should Pac-12 teams eliminate FCS teams from their schedules?
A key sticking point is that Pac-12 teams play nine conference games while Big Ten teams play only eight. Adding in traditional non-league series like USC-Notre Dame, Stanford-Notre Dame and Utah-BYU, and it makes the scheduling situation tougher for those in the Pac-12.
That "sticking point" is key in whether or not the Pac-12 will also follow in the Big Ten's path and eliminate FCS teams from its teams' nonconference schedules.
And frankly, the Pac-12 shouldn't follow the Big Ten's lead.
The Pac-12's nonconference schedules remain fairly competitive, and with each of its teams playing nine conference games in the regular season, that only allows three nonconference opponents to be scheduled—four if Hawai'i is included. While the Big Ten needs to put a band-aid on its league's image, the Pac-12 has been doing just fine, thank you very much.
The Pac-12 is riding a two-year winning streak over the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl game—the last time a Pac-12 team (Oregon) lost to a Big Ten team (Ohio State) in the Rose Bowl game was on January 1, 2010.
Moreover, two Pac-12 teams—USC and UCLA—have never had an FCS team on their schedules. Does that not speak volumes about the Pac-12 and its BCS-level competition?
This season's nonconference schedule includes Washington State at Auburn, Cal vs Ohio State, Cal vs Northwestern, Utah at BYU, USC vs Notre Dame, UCLA at Nebraska, Oregon vs Tennessee, Stanford vs Notre Dame and Arizona State vs Notre Dame. There are two upset-minded non-BCS teams on the schedule as well: Utah State at Utah and Boise State at Washington.
Me, I'll forgive the Pac-12 for a few cupcake games after playing its nine-game conference schedule plus those monster nonconference games listed above.
The Pac-12 has sent two teams BCS-bowling for three consecutive seasons—only the SEC has a longer two-team BCS bowl appearance streak than the Pac-12. And like the Pac-12, nobody is going to question the SEC's credibility when it comes to strength of schedule.
Follow the Big Ten's lead and eliminate FCS teams? Actually, I'm against the whole practice of BCS teams playing FCS teams, but hey, if your league is strong enough to play a cupcake and still go BCS- bowling, the answer is too obvious.
Never try to fix something that isn't broken.