Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez––chair of the Big Ten’s scheduling subcommittee, which included ADs and coaches––shared an interesting twist to scheduling during a league teleconference on Wednesday.
Each Big Ten team will be getting nine games thanks to an end-of-season plus-one format.
“We will play eight games plus one,” Alvarez said. “[It will be] a very unique champions week where the teams from the East and West will match up and play one another, two versus two, three versus three, four versus four, etc., with the championship game being played at the end of that week, Dec. 18 and 19.”
The scheduling subcommittee was charged with developing schedule models that allowed for a safe return to play and presented four options to the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C). The model selected will also allow Big Ten teams to be considered for the College Football Playoff.
The SEC, which begins a 10-game, conference-only schedule on Sept. 26, also has its championship game scheduled for Dec. 19. Selection day for the College Football Playoff is Dec. 20.
With a Big Ten return date of Oct. 23–24, teams will play eight consecutive weeks with the regular season ending on Dec. 12 followed by the “plus-one” format, determined by division standings, the week of Dec. 19.
Applying that model to last year’s Big Ten standings would’ve produced the following matchups:
There are no details yet on the location of the Big Ten championship game or the additional plus-one games teams will play at the end of the season. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports reported earlier Wednesday that his conference sources indicated regular-season games would be played on campus, perhaps without fans in attendance.
Per B1G-sources, as of now, games will be played on campus with no fans (other than families). That situation could change. Rapid testing should make 8 games in 8 weeks doable. Title game 12/19.
— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) September 16, 2020
Alvarez said the scheduling subcommittee would continue working on the details of the schedule in the days ahead with hopes of announcing it later this week.
UPDATE, 11:30 a.m.: Nebraska Bill Moos shared some additional information regarding the schedule at a press conference on Wednesday, specifically that host sites for the plus-one games are yet to be determined.
“There are a couple of options, obviously, on the various campuses,” Moos said. “That would be the higher seed of those games, best record. I would presume not having that cast in stone. Or, even possibly in domed stadiums, maybe two or three domed stadiums that we would have a couple of games in each. We’ve got to remember that our weather’s going to be a little sketchy in this part of the country and entire 11-state footprint of the Big Ten.”
The scheduling subcommittee, which includes Moos, could meet as early as Wednesday afternoon to begin working out details.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.