Big Ten schools can petition the conference to waive a requirement in the new football scheduling policy that teams must play one nonconference game a year against an opponent from one of the other five most powerful leagues.
Conference officials would decide on a case-by-case basis whether to allow a team to play an opponent from one of the Group of Five conferences and have the game count as if it were against a Power Five, associate commissioner Scott Chipman said Tuesday.
Commissioner Jim Delany in July unveiled the new scheduling model, effective in 2016 when the Big Ten goes to a nine-game conference schedule. In addition to eliminating games against teams in the Football Championship Subdivision, the policy has each school playing at least one game a year against a team from the Atlantic Coast, Southeastern, Big 12 or Pacific-12 conferences. Delany said games against independents Notre Dame and BYU also would count.
The Big Ten will allow schools to play future schedules not including a Power Five opponent if contracts for those games were finalized before the new policy was announced.
Since the new policy was announced, however, Indiana has received permission from the conference to count games against Connecticut in 2019 and 2020 and Cincinnati in 2021 and 2022 as Power Five opponents, the Indianapolis Star reported. UConn and Cincinnati both play in the American Athletic Conference, one of the Group of Five leagues.
“We looked at their RPI for the last five or six years,” Big Ten senior associate commissioner Mark Rudner told the newspaper. “If someone comes to us with a request, we’ll evaluate it. That’s what happened with these two. Those seemed to fit.”
Rudner was not available for an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Maryland coach Randy Edsall said he doesn’t understand how exceptions could be made, given that games are lined up far in advance.
“You can schedule a game now and you might not play that game for five to seven years,” Edsall said. “How do you know a team is going to be good in five to seven years? You don’t know that, so I think there are some issues there.”
Rudner told the Indianapolis newspaper that the Big Ten has denied one request for an exemption and accepted another. He declined to name the schools.
The impetus for the Big Ten’s policy was to build strength of schedule to enhance conference teams’ resumes for College Football Playoff consideration.
AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org