When Big Jim Delaney so cavalierly announced that a nine game conference football schedule was inevitable, he evidently ruffled more than just a few coaches feathers. Their arguments include:
a) not always being able to schedule at least 8 home games, thus having a negative impact on football revenues.
b) unbalanced schedules with some teams having 4 home field advantages and others having 5. This would impact their chances to win a division title, a conference title and ultimately, their rankings for bowls.
Personally, I really like the idea of a nine game conference schedule for a lot of reasons, some of them selfish, I admit.
First, every conference team would have to replace one of their non-conference games with a conference game, and if it were up to me, Notre Dame would be the first one I would replace (not likely to happen though since there is too much money involved). I'm just not crazy about their "We Are College Football" attitude. Taking three or four of their premier games off the schedule would certainly be a bit humbling to them and perhaps make them realize they need a conference affiliation more than they think. The college football world just needs to stop treating them like prima donnas.
Secondly, I believe nine conference games would ultimately make the perception of the Big Ten stronger and would calculate well in the BCS formula, making the individual team rankings higher. (although I do admit that this could be accomplished a whole lot more effectively by keeping an 8 game conference and scheduling at least one strong non-con game every year).
Thirdly, a nine game conference schedule allows two permanent inter-divisional games to be put in place for every team. This will make the keeping of existing rivalries in place much easier, and will help to create and nurture new ones. I think the rivalries in the Big Ten are unique, intense and help to make the Big Ten...... the Big Ten.
As far as football revenues go, I gotta believe a 9th conference game would be a whole lot more attractive to TV viewing audiences then watching a weak Michigan team beat up on Delaware State, so ratings would naturally be higher. To offset the 4/5 home football game revenue imbalance, one game every year could be designated a "split" revenue game, essentially splitting all the revenues right down the middle, giving every team the revenue results of 4 and 1/2 home games every year.
Relative to the unbalance regarding divisional and conference championships, every team every year will be subjected to advantages and disadvantages pertaining to the number of home games, sometimes it will work in their favor and sometimes not, but over time, it will average out and will add one more variable to the equation of winning or losing.
I'd love to know what everyone thinks on this subject and what suggestions they have to make it work.