Big Ten Media Days: Strength of schedule improvements continue

The Big Ten aims to increase its strength of schedule.

CHICAGO — During the second day of the Big Ten media days, Commissioner Jim Delany unveiled the league’s plan to continue strength-of-schedule improvements.

While it has been long-documented that the Big Ten will move to a nine-game conference schedule in 2016, and it wishes to do away with playing Football Championship Ssubdivision teams, the league now will require teams to schedule an “intersectional game against autonomy-five opponent.”

For reference, the autonomy-five conferences (also called the Power Five) consist of the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12, ACC, and the Big 12.

“It took a little while to get here because of schedules and expansion. But all of our coaches and players and athletics directors are committed to this platform,” Delany said. “We think it’s what our fans want. We think it’s what our players want. And we think it’s what the College Football Playoff committee wants.”

For Iowa, that means that a game against Iowa State will continue to satisfy the Power Five requirement, but with even more of a push to eliminate championship-subdivision teams from the schedule, the Hawkeyes will no longer be allowed to play Northern Iowa or other regional such schools that have dotted their itinerary for years.

Currently, Iowa will have games against Northern Iowa this upcoming season and against North Dakota State in 2016. Considering the 2016 rule changes, it casts at least a small shadow of doubt over whether the Hawkeyes will play those scheduled opponents.

There is an existing contract  for the North Dakota State game, as well as one with Northern Iowa in 2018, but Delany made it clear that it would take a special circumstance in order to play such teams.

“It’s really a commitment to [Football Bowl Subdivision]. I’d imagine, if someone had a contractual issue, we would take a hard look at that,” Delany said. “But I think that’s the template that everybody thinks is best going forward from a variety of perspectives.”

Another interesting note: If these mandates do become bylaws, the Big Ten would be the first conference to outlaw playing championship-subdivision teams while also requiring members to play at least one game against a Power-5 opponent.

O’Bannon injunction

While a stay in the O’Bannon antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA was granted after Delany’s press conference, the topic was still discussed in great detail during the conference and individual sessions with coaches and players.

Last year U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled schools should be allowed, but not required, to give football and basketball players around $5,000 per year after they finished their time at school.

The case is currently being reviewed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Once we understand what the NCAA rule changes are, I’m sure there will be lots of details that will need to be addressed,” Delany said. “We’ll do that. So we believe in the rule of law. We believe in an individual’s right to bring his concerns to the courts. And we also believe in our right to defend.”

Whichever way the court rules, the Big Ten likely may not be drastically affected, especially considering how much money the institutions that make up the conference have, compared with non-Power Five schools

Most coaches at the Big Ten media days were relatively mum on the subject, though Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill did have a bit to say on the subject.

“I’ve listened to our athletics director and everybody talk about it, but as a coach, you’re focused in on what you’re doing,” Kill said. “I’m sure the higher-ups have understand all that; I haven’t sat down and followed every inch of it, but I knew that it would be a big deal.”

Hard Buckeyes

Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman announced during his press conference that a new show called “Scarlet and Gray Days: Inside Ohio State Training Camp” will air in August.

The show, which will be filmed at Ohio State’s practices, follows the team as they prepare for their first game of the season against Virginia Tech — the only team to beat them last season.

The format bring HBO’s “Hard Knocks” to mind, though there will be significant differences.

“I think we’re not quite certain how similar it may be to a ‘Hard Knocks,’ which definitely I think is sort of what people look to when they hear this kind of a show,” Silverman said. “I don’t anticipate having the degree of being in as many meeting rooms and the level that ‘Hard Knocks’ gets.”

Follow @JordyHansen on Twitter for news, updates and analysis of the Iowa football team.

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