It took years to assemble the latest Big Ten football schedules. Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts called into Husker Sports Nightly from Omaha on Thursday to recap the announcement earlier in the day. Those conference schedules for the 2024 and 2025 that were released just hours prior included work from former commissioner Kevin Warren and current commissioner Tony Pettiti. Over countless months the conference worked with athletic directors to schedule nine conference games as the league hits 16 teams next year.
“The real key to a schedule philosophy and concept is it has to be consistent over time,” Alberts said. “You can’t look at a schedule in a vacuum or silo of one year. When you’re not playing everybody in a true round robin you have to play everybody through several years to have things kind of even out. This was an interesting and long process.”
Nebraska fans turned attention to the 2025 schedule, which includes away games against Ohio State and USC. Alberts acknowledged the latest schedules promote the competitiveness of the league.
Noteworthy among the conference schedule’s release was the one protected rivalry with Iowa. Other schools locked in multiple annual home-and-home rivalries while Penn State has no protected annual rival. Alberts said he and Iowa athletic director Gary Barta agreed the Heroes Game should continue. Then, when the Big Ten asked Alberts if they could have more protected rivalries, things took a turn. Alberts submitted Iowa and Wisconsin upon request for two protected rivals. When asked for three Alberts submitted Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
“Then all of a sudden a little gamesmanship started happening,” Alberts said. “Ultimately, as all these other teams submitted who their protected rivals were, sometimes you submit a protected rival and that school doesn’t submit you as a protected rival.”
That’s where the gamesmanship came in. Supposedly, some schools submitted rivalries with lower-tier programs. Alberts supposed some opponents put Nebraska on their lists based upon the program’s lack of recent success. He wouldn’t mind if they did, because he believes in the trajectory of the program.
“I’m so pleased to have Coach Rhule as our coach,” Alberts said. “Attention to detail and fundamentals are going to be critically important as we try to navigate through these types of schedules every year.”
Nebraska’s athletic director acknowledged he knows two additional protected rivalries for 2026 and 2027 seasons. Those two future schedules are done but were not released on Thursday, so he did not reveal them.
Alberts echoed rationale from commissioner Pettiti aired during the release show on Big Ten Network that competitive balance became a factor when creating the schedule. The former linebacker said the conference was intentional with its transparency. He downplayed any thoughts of scheduling favoritism around the conference. He’s excited to see the consistency in application going forward. And, at the end of the day, it means a Big Ten team is going to play a tough schedule.
Kickoff times weren’t announced for any of those games on Thursday. Those times, as well as tiebreaking procedures for the Big Ten Championship Game will be released at later times. This year will see Nebraska play on Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff at Colorado, a primetime Thursday night game to open the season at Minnesota and the premiere afternoon kickoff spot on CBS for this year’s Iowa game. Alberts is excited about spreading the “Nebraska brand” across the country, including the TV exposure.