WATERLOO, Ia. – If Kirk Ferentz had his way, scheduling would be much less complicated.
“It’s impossible to have a perfect world when you have 14 teams,” Iowa’s football coach said, referring to the expanded Big Ten. “If I was in charge of everything, it would be nice to have a nine-team conference and you played eight games.
“That’s not the world we live in right now.”
Ferentz was asked about the pros and cons of college scheduling during Monday’s Black Hawk County I-Club gathering at Waterloo’s Sunnyside Country Club.
It’s been a popular topic of conversation this spring, especially with the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference deciding to stay at eight league games.
The Big Ten will go to nine games in 2016.
“I don’t know if anybody has that thing figured out,” Ferentz said. “And it seems like there is a lot of debate nationally.”
Tom Dienhart of the Big Ten Network added another twist when he suggested the possibility of a 10-game league schedule in a recent blog post.
Dienhart listed several possible benefits, such as every team having five home games and missing just three conference opponents each season.
It may still seem like major leap by the Big Ten, but Ferentz offered another reason to consider a 10-game slate.
“Scheduling has become a real issue,” he said. “With some policies that are in place right now, it makes it more and more competitive.
“I know we’re paying more money than we ever have for people to come to Kinnick (Stadium) and that’s a result of the system we have.
“So to that end, maybe a 10-game schedule is realistic.”
Schools often pay more than $1 million to bring non-conference foes to their stadiums.
Of course, there are other possible costs.
“I’d worry about what that’s going to do to our outside scheduling,” Ferentz said. “I think that would have implications.”
A 10-game conference schedule would leave the Hawkeyes just two nonconference slots. Would that impact Iowa’s annual series with Iowa State?
To be clear, this is all just brainstorming.
The consensus among athletic directors during last week’s Big Ten meetings in Chicago was that nine games is a good fit.
“At this point, we’re committed to nine games,” Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst said. “For all the reasons we’ve talked about, (the) student-athlete experience, for our fans, strength of schedule and television.”
Iowa’s football schedule is mostly set through 2019.
“It isn’t going to change much for us in philosophy,” Hawkeye athletic director Gary Barta said last week of playing nine league games, “because we had always played Iowa State, and we almost always played another BCS game.
“For me, I’ll keep playing Iowa State and the ninth Big Ten game will replace those others, whether it was Pittsburgh or Arizona.”
Playing a 10th conference game could also make it more difficult for Big Ten teams trying to earn bowl bids, compared to the ACC and SEC.
“If that puts you at a disadvantage nationally, then that’s another discussion,” Ferentz said. “My guess is that’s probably why they stayed at eight.
“I’m just guessing,” Ferentz added with a smile. “I wasn’t at their meetings.”