By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) After much debate among coaches, the Big Ten officially announced Thursday that the conference will adopt a nine-game schedule starting with the 2017 season.
The nine-game schedule means half of the conference will play one less home game than the other half each season, which is why many coaches in the conference have been against the idea of a adding an additional conference game.
“I know one conference that did it is the Pac-10 Conference and they’re trying to do everything they can to get out of it,” Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said at Big Ten Media Days a year ago. “Maybe we ought to look at history.”
Bielema confirmed at last week’s Big Ten Media Days that he was still against the idea of a nine-game schedule and Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini indicated that most — if not all — the coaches were against the move. Still, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said last week that both fans and the conference’s television partners wanted the nine-game schedule.
Iowa, Michigan State, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State will play five conference home games in 2017 and every odd-numbered year after that. Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin will play five conference home games in 2018 and every even-numbered year after that.
A possible compromise with coaches is the idea of playing conference games earlier in the season, something Bielema and Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said they strongly support.