— by Joe Rajchel
The Big Ten has recently announced that teams will no longer be allowed to schedule Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams to fill up the schedule before start of conference play starting in either 2015 or 2016. It is about time that the Big Ten got serious about trying to challenge the SEC dominance that college football fans have been subjected to for the past seven seasons.
This was an excellent first step in trying to make this happen. No team gets better by continually playing those below them in terms of competition. Teams gets no love from the voters or from the BCS computing system by beating one of these teams and the only way these games even get remembered is if somehow one of these teams pull the upset, Appalachian State vs. Michigan was the highlight of one program and a total disaster that should never be spoken of again for the other. Did Iowa gain anything this year by playing in-state Northern Iowa or hosting Tennessee Tech last season? Since the new FBS playoff system would not have automatic qualifiers and the four teams would be selected based off their ranking, Big Ten teams need to find a way to boost their resumes. After eliminating the inferior FCS opponents, the next step is to schedule high profile teams in their place.
During the 2011 season, the Big Ten and Pac-12, which would have led to 12 football games per season between these two storied conferences, which send their best to play each other in the granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl. Hawkeye fans would have been treated to regular games against Stanford, USC, Oregon, and UCLA. Sadly, the agreement was called off because some Pac-12 teams did not want to go along with the scheduling requirements. Iowa would boost its profile tenfold by beating Arizona State instead of South Dakota State. If the Pac-12 is not interested, why not see if the Big-12 or even the SEC. The atrocious bowl record in the past few years against the SEC should not scare the Big Ten off.
What better way to try and become more like the best than to play them more often. Sure, there will be some nasty blowouts against the Big Ten, but it will only serve to make the teams stronger. Ohio State made the best move of any Big Ten team in years by luring successful SEC coach Urban Myer to Columbus. The Big Ten is currently going through a dark period in regards to football prestige; the FCS move was a much-needed start to leaving the wilderness. There is still a ways to go but if the Big Ten continues to make moves like this, respectability as a conference, winning in bowl games, and hoisting of that glorious crystal trophy will certainly be in the future.