If you've read the blog for the past week -- especially posts tagged with "B1G ADs 12" -- you won't be surprised by what Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told local reporters Thursday night.
Smith, one of several Big Ten athletic directors who favors increasing the number of conference games when Rutgers and Maryland become new members, expects the league to ultimately move from eight contests to nine or 10. The ADs will meet several times in the coming months, and the league schedule for 2014 and is a top agenda item.
From The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer:
"Just listening to the different telephone conversations, I'd be surprised if it's eight," Smith said. "Right now, I think we can get to nine. The debate is whether you can realistically get to 10, which would be better."
Nine games means some teams would play five conference home games, and some four. But playing 10 conference games would make it far more difficult, or impossible, for teams to get the seven, and sometimes eight, overall home games they need to make money.
"If we want to go to 10 games, and we could no longer have seven home games, that means we have to be made whole in the television package, so it all intersects," Smith said.
Smith's last comment about the TV package -- the Big Ten negotiates a new deal in 2017 -- is very interesting, and sheds light on how realistic talks are about going to 10 league games. Although there will be some debate about remaining at eight or increasing, it would be a surprise if the ADs didn't at least vote to go to nine. After all, they already approved a move to nine-game league schedules in 2011 before returning to eight when the short-lived Pac-12 scheduling partnership came about.
In other Ohio State news, the school's trustees today are expected to approve an increase in football ticket prices. Standard-game tickets will increase from $70 to $79, and Ohio State will implement premium ticket prices for one or two games per season. The Buckeyes' Big Ten opener Sept. 28 against Wisconsin has been designated as this season's premium game, and tickets could cost $110. Ohio State's first ticket-price increase in three years will help fund projects like a new roof on the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and new turf for the indoor practice field.
If the price hike is approved, Ohio State can charge up to $175 per ticket for a premium game in seasons where just one is designated. In seasons with two premium games, the school can charge up to $125 for one and up to $150 for the other.
Ohio State-Michigan games at Ohio Stadium always will labeled premium.
Smith will decide the premium games and the prices. He'll factor in the quality of the opponent, and these games often will take place at night. So while nothing is official about the Big Ten's prime-time schedule for 2013, don't be surprised to see the Buckeyes and Badgers play under the lights.