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Big Ten discussing nine-game, possibly 10-game schedule

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer
Both Dave Brandon and Gene Smith are in favor of expanding the conference schedule. (US Presswire)

The Big Ten is discussing the possibility of expanding its conference schedule again.

The Big Ten announced it would be going to a nine-game conference schedule back in 2011 after Nebraska joined the conference and it went to a two-division setup. The change was to begin in the 2017 season but then the Big Ten came to a schedule agreement with the Pac-12, and the nine-game schedule was scrapped.

The deal with the Pac-12 would fall through as well, and now the Big Ten is once again considering the idea of not only a nine-game conference schedule, but possibly a 10-game conference schedule.

"That's something that we have to really resolve quickly, because the ramifications of that discussion are significant," Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told ESPN.com. "It's a high-agenda item."

While the nine-game schedule is more likely, there are concerns with it as some Big Ten teams would play five conference home games and only four road games each season. Meaning that a team playing four Big Ten home games would have trouble playing seven home games on the season if it wanted to schedule marquee nonconference opponents.

One possible solution to this that the conference athletic directors are considering is the 10-game conference schedule. Of course, while that balances out home and road games in conference, it only leaves space for two nonconference games, which means it could be just as hard to get to seven home games on the season.

"Most of us need seven home games in order to make our local budgets," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said. "Is there a way to overcome that? I don't know. We'll have to look at that. The conference is aware that it's an issue."

Of course, while discussion points may be about a bigger conference schedule allowing the schools to play each other more often and making schedules "better" to help Big Ten schools get selected to the playoff, there's another reason for it, too. The more Big Ten games that are played give the Big Ten more Big Ten games to show on its network and sell as part of the conference's new television deal. All of which leads to more money.

Money that could help overcome the loss of an occasional home game.

Considering that the Big Ten has already agreed to go to a nine-game schedule before it added Maryland and Rutgers, I would expect it will agree to expand the schedule again. And while the nine-game schedule is the more likely scenario, it's interesting to see the conference is at least considering a 10-game slate.

For more college football news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCFB on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed, college football newsletter, and get the Eye On College Football Podcast from iTunes. You can follow Tom Fornelli on Twitter here: @TomFornelli.

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