Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez is becoming a big fan of neutral-site games.
He can't stop talking about them. When we met in March, he discussed the benefits of such games. The following day, Wisconsin announced it would open the 2015 season against Alabama at Cowboys Stadium in Texas. Several weeks later, Alvarez told CBSsports.com that he wanted to add two more neutral-site games in the near future.
When Brian Bennett chatted with Alvarez on Sunday following the Big Ten's divisions/scheduling announcement, he dropped this line: "[Scheduling] gets a little trickier. I kind of have a feeling that neutral-site games may come into a play a little bit more."
Especially at Wisconsin.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Alvarez is exploring another neutral-site game, this one much, much closer to home. Wisconsin would like to play a game at historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Journal Sentinel reports Wisconsin is targeting LSU as a potential opponent for the game.
Geaux Tigers in Go, Pack, Go Country? Yes, please.
Lambeau Field hasn't hosted college football since the 1982 and 1983 seasons, when nearby St. Norbert College played Fordham, the alma mater of legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, in games that raised money to fight cancer. The Packers told ESPN.com in July 2010 that they were "very interested" in hosting future Big Ten championship games, but Lambeau wasn't a serious candidate for the game, mainly because of its remote location and the lack of nearby hotels and support facilities.
A one-time neutral-site game featuring a nearby Big Ten team makes much more sense for Lambeau, and it sounds like there's definitely interest from the Packers.
From the Journal Sentinel:
"It has come up from time to time and it is something that we are pursuing," said Aaron Popkey, the team's director of public affairs. "But it hasn't gotten to the point where there is anything on the books or where we're ready to announce. We continue to look into it and will certainly explore those opportunities."
Time will tell how the Big Ten's new scheduling setup -- nine league games per year -- impacts nonconference slates. There are some challenges, but league commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN.com that there's a league-wide initiative for each team to play at least one marquee non-league opponent per year.
Wisconsin seems to be taking the message to heart. A program long criticized (justifiably) for living in cupcake city is scheduling more aggressively, with the College Football Playoff in mind.
Getting LSU or another SEC power to come up to Lambeau would be great. Although the location/hotel issues remain, Wisconsin would have no trouble filling seats, and you can bet a chunk of LSU fans would make their way to America's dairyland.
Most of the big-deal neutral-site games take place in SEC/Big 12 territory -- Atlanta or Arlington, Texas -- so having one in the Big Ten footprint would be a good step.
Now if only the game could be played in late November on the frozen tundra.