1) Schedule question and an answer . . . It’s a subject that is picked at all year, but really comes to a head right now. You saw Wisconsin play LSU in Houston last week. This week, you’ll see Michigan State travel to Oregon. So, why don’t the Hawkeyes do this?
We’ve been over this. Quick and dirty, here’s where Iowa is with that: Iowa and Iowa State have a contract to play each other through 2021. The Big Ten is moving to a nine-game conference schedule in 2016. Iowa has Pittsburgh on the schedule for this year and next, leading into the B1G nine-games deal. And, lastly, if Iowa wants to pay the bills, and it does, it needs seven home games and the approximate $3 million it brings in per game.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz added another layer to those realities. He believes his Iowa program is a “developmental” program and, thusly, he wants to use the non-conference as a “break-in” period. In other words, he doesn’t believe his team is, beyond a few examples, ready for a giant stage in September.
“If you look at how we recruit and the nature of our recruiting, that’s representative of our whole program,” Ferentz said. “Players get better as their seasons go on, as their careers go on.
“If you’re one of those schools who can get a bunch of four- and five-star recruits, you can play about whomever you feel like playing.”
2) Ferentz’s 10 B1G league games comment . . . When league coaches did their ESPN on-campus, multi-platform carwash thing, Ferentz let loose his opinion that the Big Ten would eventually move to a 10-game league schedule. At first, I thought he was just throwing something out there during the feeding frenzy, but think about it. The nine-game schedule is unsustainable in my opinion. The first year Ohio State has to go four-home vs. five-road games, a very large and influential hand in the league is going to go up. And you can only imagine if one of the bluebloods gets clipped on the road late in the year.
There is cleanliness with the 10-game schedule, with the five and five split. Ferentz’s opinion is based in the fact that scheduling is only becoming more and more of a headache. Iowa has FCS schools on the schedule through 2018, but probably won’t be adding any thereafter. That leaves Iowa in a bidding war for two non-conference home games. Bidding war? Yes, bidding war. Iowa will pay Ball State $900,000 for today’s matchup.
Ferentz reiterated his opinion on his radio show this week. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of traction, at least not yet.
3) And with a 10-game schedule . . . The Iowa State series would be over, probably. Iowa would be left with two non-conference games. With five conference roadies, the Hawkeyes’ non-conference games would have to be in Kinnick Stadium for revenue purposes. You don’t see Iowa State agreeing to play in Kinnick every year, do you? I don’t, either. I also don’t see Iowa signing off on only six home games. They could go the neutral-site route, but that would have to pay Iowa around $2.5 million. I don’t consider Jack Trice Stadium a neutral site, but if the B1G went 10 games and Iowa and ISU really wanted to keep it going (series has been played every year since 1977), they would have to get creative.
“One of the challenges of going to 10 would be if you’re ever in a scenario where you didn’t have seven home games,” Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said. “How would we deal with that? That’s a significant amount of money to each of our bottom lines, having a seventh home game. It also has a big impact economically on the local economies. . . . Having seven (home) games is high on my list in terms of importance.”
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