Monday Morning Kickoff: Throwing Out Challenges, Scheduling for Dummies, and Poorly Chosen Words
By Tony Gerdeman
* The agreement that was forged between the Big Ten and Pac Twelve late last December regarding cross-conference scheduling was called off last week because "coordinating a nonconference football schedule for 24 teams across two conferences proved to be too difficult", according to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany.
However, according to ESPN, what really happened is that the Pac Twelve couldn't get all of their teams on board with this agreement. At least four schools never bought in, which is somewhat understandable given their nine-game conference schedule.
The Pac Twelve offered to make their schools who were accepting of the agreement available, but the Big Ten wanted all or nothing.
So, with that in mind, and with the Big Ten looking for a scheduling partner, I would propose that now is the perfect time for Delany to publicly declare that he would like to have the exact scheduling partnership with the SEC that they tried to have with the Pac Twelve.
It's a win-win for Delany and the Big Ten because the SEC would never agree to it, and if they did, Americans would get to see some SEC teams travel out of state for a non-conference game for perhaps the first time in their lives.
But Delany doesn't have to worry, because the entirety of the SEC travels about as well as an agoraphobic shut-in.
It's a cheap and easy thrill that the Big Ten Network could turn into some good news, and Big Ten fans would be able to brag about--and Big Ten fans need some things to brag about of late.
Imagine Delany calling a press conference just to state that the Big Ten wants a scheduling partnership with the SEC. It's like Seabiscuit's owner chasing down War Admiral (the movie version of events, anyway), without ever having to worry about having to actually race.
Delany could do it as a favor to Big Ten fans, who could then use it as fodder with their SEC fan co-workers. If nothing else, just do it for the Big Ten fans who live in the South. You've got a Big Ten Network footprint down there because of those people, so throw them a bone!
It's a foolproof plan because Barry Alvarez and Bret Bielema have already pulled it off by announcing to the media that they wanted Alabama in a home-and-home series and Nick Saban said no thanks.
You mean the best program in the best conference is afraid of a home-and-home with "little old Wisconsin"?
See the potential here, Mr. Delany?
And this is Wisconsin doing it. They don't care about non-conference scheduling no matter what they say. Wisconsin challenging Alabama is like a flyweight challenging a heavyweight knowing that the bigger guy would never be able to make weight.
So, shockingly, it is my belief that Alvarez and Bielema are all talk. But still, talk is great! That's all Delany needs to be is talk. It's like picking a fight with a cardboard cutout. There is no danger here.
With the Crimson Tide off the table, Wisconsin's fallback plan is Notre Dame. The Irish are everybody's fallback plan. When you can't get the team you want, schedule the team that you'll get more credit for beating than you'll actually deserve.
Will the Irish accept? Well, they just had a two-year opening pop up in 2018 and 2019. Where did that opening come from? From Michigan asking for a temporary break from having to play them every year.
So while the Big Ten is looking for tougher opponents, and Wisconsin of all programs is as well, there is Michigan, asking Notre Dame for some respite.
Michigan at least needs to act tough about it and call out Florida or Georgia in the process. In a world of countless dangers, there may be nothing safer than challenging the SEC.
And Delany should be leading the way.
* With the Big Ten now looking for something to do with their schedules, they will surely explore playing nine conference games. Speaking for the fans of teams who actually schedule marquee non-conference games, please don't go to nine conference games.
An additional conference game will eliminate virtually any interesting non-conference matchups, as you've seen with the Pac Twelve's decision to back out of playing the Big Ten.
What does a ninth conference game add? The opportunity to play Indiana six out of every ten years instead of six out of every thirteen years? (That's not real math, by the way, so don't bother trying to figure it out.)
A ninth conference game would give athletic directors and coaches guiltless freedom to schedule cupcakes like they were catering a bridal shower, and all the fans would get to show for it is more games against Purdue, or Minnesota, or Illinois, or whatever.
I should just turn this entire piece into an advice column for Jim Delany.
* Yahoo!'s Dan Wetzel wrote a pretty damning piece about the hypocrisy of former Penn State president Graham Spanier on Sunday. After reading the article, it dawned on me that if you are any type of spokesperson, or person in a position of power, Google can be your worst enemy. Two minutes is all it took for me to find a couple of choice quotes from Spanier.
Back in the spring of 2011, Spanier was the chairman of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee investigating the Fiesta Bowl for their various shenanigans. Along with Bill Hancock, the Executive Director of the BCS, Spanier issued a statement regarding the findings.
Here is the best part of said statement:
"We are deeply disappointed and troubled to learn of these findings related to the Fiesta Bowl.
"Unprofessional, unethical or improper behavior is unacceptable. There is no place for such activities in higher education or in collegiate sports. It is expected that all parties contracted with the BCS will live up to the highest standards. We do not wish to be associated with entities that believe otherwise."
Graham Spanier doesn't wish to be associated with entities that do not live up to the highest standards. If he was okay with Jerry Sandusky associating with Penn State up until November of 2011, it makes you wonder what exactly was going on at the Fiesta Bowl.
Want another one?
In the summer of 2011, Ralph Russo of the AP wrote a piece about the state of college football amidst the various scandals, calling the sport "strong, yet sullied".
In the piece he quotes Spanier as saying, "We absolutely must put this climate of rule-breaking behind us."
Spanier apparently had Russo fooled, because he added that his own belief was that the former Penn State president wouldn't stand for such rule-breaking at his university:
"Because no matter how popular college football is and how much they want to have successful programs, university presidents such as Penn State's Spanier don't want it sullying the reputations of their esteemed institutions."
* I don't like mentioning this, because when I do, the terrorists will have won, but ESPN arguer Skip Bayless had a couple of tweets on Saturday that you might find interesting.
The first, which I'll paraphrase, states that it is an absurd overreaction to say that Penn State deserves the death penalty because they gained no competitive advantage from covering up Jerry Sandusky's crimes.
The second calls upon the Ohio State scandal, saying that Ohio State was penalized because it's a competitive advantage to promise players during recruiting that they'll be hooked up to sell jerseys and get free tattoos.
While this is typical Bayless, I just wanted to show people that you can be stupid and still make good money.
America is the best.
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