The Big Ten, in what was surely a painful decision, allowed member football teams to play games after Thanksgiving in spite of the concern that it could take away from the only game they really care about: The OSU-Michigan season finale. The first round of schedules that take this into effect were released today. While Penn State does have a bye week this year (November 1st, between OSU and Iowa), that disappears in 2009 before becoming a scheduling staple beginning in 2010 .
The 2009 bye is a quark that resulted because of the way the calendar falls. Starting early allows everyone to fit the 12 games plus one bye week into their Big Ten schedule. This isn't unique to Penn State, everyone in the conference landed an off week this year.
While I understand that the players probably could use the bye week, as a fan I have two problems with it. First off, and the most obvious, is the fact that there won't be a Penn State game on October 1st. This is not ideal. Secondly, however, is the situation where one school has two weeks to prepare for a game while the other doesn't. You will find people who will argue having two weeks is both good and bad, but I have a hard time believing any coach in D1a would tell you honestly they would prefer the shorter prep time. It allows banged up players to heal, gives the entire staff more time to review film, and gives the team more time to work on systems that may be implemented based on the matchup.
I would love to see a situation where the entire conference took the same week off, thus eliminating the above described problem while still providing the players with a needed break. This isn't likely to happen however.
Other random scheduling notes:
- Penn State may be done in the Metrodome. The 2008 schedule is the second year Minnesota is absent from the PSU schedule, and the new outdoor stadium is scheduled to be completed by the 2009 season. The Metrodome might be the worst venue in sports so I have to admit this is rather pleasing.
- Michigan will roll off the schedule in 2011. This means we will have three years to try and bury the streak.
- In case you forgot, our out of conference matchups against BCS schools are still the rather uninspiring lineup of Virginia, Syracuse and Alabama.