Glass happy about move to nine games

Spoke to Fred Glass earlier about the move to nine games for the Big Ten schedule. My story follows.

When putting together non-conference schedules for future football seasons, Fred Glass has tried to find at least one team that could serve as a drawing card. Not necessarily a traditional power, but a major conference school close to the Hoosiers’ profile.

The way the Indiana athletic director sees it, the Big Ten has done a lot of his work for him for 2017 and beyond.

The conference announced on Thursday afternoon that it will go from an eight-game conference schedule to a nine-game slate beginning in 2017. Each team will alternate years in which they have five and four conference home games. As long as college football sticks to the 12-game schedule, that means each Big Ten team will have just three non-conference games to fill instead of four.

“I think it’s a huge, huge plus for the conference and Indiana University,” Glass said Thursday. “We were strongly in favor of it. I think the fans are the big winners on this. At least every other year, we’re going to have another Big Ten team in our stadium at a time when we’re in expansion and moving to divisions. We’re going to see more of these teams and it’s going to feel more like a conference. I think that’s what the fans want to see.”

And by that rationale, what helps the fans also helps IU.

Though Glass is excited about some of the non-conference matchups he’s set up through the next decade with foes like Virginia, Navy, Missouri, South Florida and Wake Forest, he also realizes that IU fans will likely be more interested in seeing conference foes than any of them. That should mean some additional seats taken up in Memorial Stadium.

In addition, that means more money for the conference, which in turn means more revenue sharing money for Indiana. Because the Hoosiers rarely fill the 52,000 plus seat stadium, they tend to contribute less to the revenue sharing pot than the rest of the league, so they take in significantly more from that than they put in.

“It will be a financial boost for everybody in the conference, but especially us,” Glass said. “Because we’re a revenue sharing (beneficiary). All of these gigantic 100,000 seat stadiums are going to have one more game too, and that’s one more round of revenue sharing. So in some ways, it’s a big windfall for us.”

Fans that are big on having an intriguing non-conference matchup with a Bowl Championship Series opponent may be disappointed, however. Glass said he may occasionally look to add an opponent of that standing, but will usually take that out of his scheduling formula. He’s said before that he likes to have one BCS opponent, two opponents from mid-major conferences, such as the Mid-American Conference, and one from the Football Championship Subdivision.  The MAC and FCS teams will probably stay, and Glass probably will not want to play 10 big league teams in a 12-game schedule.

“As we add another conference game, the reality of that is we’ll probably shift more to that game replacing BCS games rather than another opponent,” Glass said. “We’re probably going to continue to play (FCS) teams or go home and homes with MAC schools,” Glass said. “We’re already going to have nine conference games. We’ll probably be replacing the Wake Forests of the world more than the Toledos of the world.”

Glass said he might not keep that as a hard and fast rule, but he admitted that the downside to the nine-game schedule is that it may force some schools to make some difficult choices on non-conference rivalries. Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue, for instance, all have long-time rivalries with Notre Dame. Ohio State has had some big games with the Fighting Irish as well, and the Buckeyes have made a point in recent years to schedule a monster early season non-conference game with teams like Texas, Southern California and Miami (Fla.).

“That can have some impact,” Glass said.

The move does allow IU a better chance of hitting its goal of seven home games each year. It won’t be easy in years where they have just four conference home games and five on the road, but they could try to balance that by trying for eight home games some years.

“I think our sweet spot is still seven games,” Glass said. “… We’re going to be between six and eight, but we’ll try for seven.”