Last week Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer sent shockwaves through the Big Ten, when he called out his fellow conference brethren for their week recruiting efforts following National Signing Day. In essence, Urban was unhappy with where the rest of his conference schools ranked according to the scouting services, and let them know publicly that it was time to step up their game.
At the time many viewed Meyer’s comments as ignorant and inconsiderate, given that he coaches at a school with more resources and access to better recruits than any other team in the conference. But really, if you looked further, his comments dug much deeper than that.
What Meyer’s comments really indicated, was this: Urban is worried about the Big Ten, and knows that it takes a strong conference to be able to continually produce true National Championship contenders.
That’s the case in the SEC, where the league’s - and nation’s- best challenge themselves week-in and week-out, and where the last two years Alabama was able to weather late-season losses and still end up in the title game. Simply put, that wouldn’t have happened if the overall strength of the league wasn’t as strong as it currently is.
Anyway, recruiting is just one way for the Big Ten to strengthen their overall “brand” and another is by obviously scheduling better. Well, apparently the league is taking a step toward exactly that according to Wisconsin athletic director and occasional fill-in coach Barry Alvarez.
That’s because on Tuesday night Alvarez shared a little piece of information not previously known before: Apparently, the league has decided not to schedule any FCS teams going forward.
Again, that wasn’t public... at least until Tuesday night when Alvarez told local radio station WIBA-AM (With the quotes coming via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Online):
“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.”
Again, this isn’t big news, since the conference has been pushing this agenda for a while. Not to mention that beyond just eliminating FCS games, league teams are attempting to beef up their out-of-conference schedules across the board with bigger games, against better teams. As you may remember, Michigan played (and got thumped) by Alabama in a season-opener this year, while Michigan State hosted Boise State in a highly-anticipated early season match-up as well. Ohio State also made news when they inked a long-term deal with Oregon for future years as well.
As for when the rule will go into effect, it’s tough to say, but most seem to think that the answer is probably 2014 when Maryland and Rutgers join the league fray. As things stand, Wisconsin (amongst others) is still scheduled to play an FCS team next team year, when Tennessee Tech comes to town.
Regardless, it’s a step in the right direction for a conference that needs an image makeover, both on and off the field.
They’re starting to schedule tougher.
Now all they’ve got to do is start winning some of these games.
For all his opinion, analysis and insight on college football, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.
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