Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Plenty of B1G, Pac-12 matchups still on tap
By Adam Rittenberg
The termination of the Big Ten-Pac-12 scheduling alliance on Friday was a major disappointment, but it doesn't drive a wedge between the two leagues. Just the opposite, in fact.
While the enticing possibility of 12 interleague matchups per year beginning in 2017 isn't happening, there are plenty of matchups between Big Ten and Pac-12 teams still on tap in the coming years. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany made it a point to encourage his athletic directors to schedule games with Pac-12 opponents in advance of the partnership, and as long as most of these matchups are honored, teams from the two leagues will see plenty of one another, and not just at the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.
There are 19 games between Big Ten and Pac-12 teams scheduled to take place during the next four seasons, as well as several other matchups in 2016 and beyond. Here's the full rundown:
2012 (four games)
Illinois at Arizona State, Sept. 8
Nebraska at UCLA, Sept. 8
Wisconsin at Oregon State, Sept. 8
California at Ohio State, Sept. 15
2013 (five games)
Washington at Illinois
UCLA at Nebraska
Northwestern at California
Ohio State at California
Wisconsin at Arizona State
2014 (five games)
Illinois at Washington
California at Northwestern
Michigan State at Oregon
Utah at Michigan
Wisconsin at Washington State
2015 (five games)
Oregon at Michigan State
Michigan at Utah
Washington State at Wisconsin
Oregon State at Michigan
Stanford at Northwestern
Other upcoming series include Michigan-Colorado (2016), Wisconsin-Washington (2018-2019), Minnesota-Oregon State (2017-18) and Northwestern-Stanford (2019-2022). Purdue and Colorado have a verbal agreement for a home-and-home series in 2016 and 2017, which Purdue says will remain intact despite the end of the scheduling alliance. Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon and Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips both confirmed that their teams' games against Pac-12 opponents also will be honored.
Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema told ESPN.com on Monday that while disappointed the scheduling alliance fell apart, he still looks forward to the Badgers' many future matchups against Pac-12 foes.
"The deal wasn't going to affect us because we have a Pac-12 opponent on our schedule every year," Bielema said. "I was amazed at how many crossover games there were already. The part we were hoping the format would [help] is that scheduling probably ends up being one of the hardest non-field-related issues you deal with. It's just very frustrating, at least from my point of view, to get home-and-homes with quality people. People want you to go play in their place, but they don't want to come play at yours."
Bielema recently tweeted about his desire to add Notre Dame to the schedule, especially when Notre Dame and Michigan take a break in 2018-19. But that series is unlikely to happen. Alabama also declined to play a home-and-home series with Wisconsin.
The Pac-12 matchups -- along with a home-and-home against Virginia Tech (2017-18) and a soon-to-be-announced three-year agreement against an independent (reportedly BYU) -- give Wisconsin's schedule more weight entering the playoff era, where schedule strength matters will matter.
"Whenever there's a coaching change, if I know somebody, we go at it pretty hard," Bielema said. "For the change at Washington, we sat down and got in there pretty early, [Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian] and I have gotten to know each other, and we locked that one in as soon as we could."
The Pac-12 alliance put a moratorium on athletic directors from both leagues to schedule games in 2017 and beyond. That should be lifted for Big Ten ADs in a few weeks, after they meet in Chicago to discuss whether to keep an eight-game league schedule or increase it to nine.
While some shuffling could take place with future schedules, most, if not all, of the Big Ten-Pac-12 matchups are expected to take place.
"If they're contracted," Delany said, "our people will comply with their contracts."