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Should the Big Ten have a round-robin schedule?

BY JON LINDER | OCTOBER 09, 2009 7:20 AM

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The Big Ten should have a round robin

Can one really say Iowa football is the best in the Big Ten if it doesn’t actually play every team in the conference? Absolutely not.

The Hawkeyes are 5-0 and off to the team’s best start under head coach Kirk Ferentz. Iowa fans might even begin to eye warmer pastures this winter.

While this start is impressive, what I have difficulty understanding is how the conference schedule works.

Can someone please explain to me why the Big Ten doesn’t offer a round-robin schedule for all teams? I have a hard time perceiving how a team can supposedly be the best despite not playing every team.

Sure, Illinois and Purdue may be having off years, and maybe it’s even better that Iowa doesn’t play them, but the fact is, even if the Hawkeyes were to win the Big Ten, would we really believe they were the best?

My favorite thing about sports is the unpredictability. Even if one team is heavily favored over another, the outcome is never known until it’s over. Upsets are what makes sports so remarkable.

Imagine if Iowa were to go undefeated into its final game, at Purdue. Who is to say the Boilermakers couldn’t pull off the upset? If they don’t, and the Hawkeyes get the win, is there any dispute that they are deserving of being crowned the Big Ten champions?

Another thing that bothers me: If both teams are tied with the same record at the end of the season, but one team plays Ohio State and Penn State while the other doesn’t, is that fair?

I am definitely in favor of dropping games against such teams as Arkansas State if it means bringing back a Big Ten rival.

It’s cliché, but in sports, the saying holds true: In order to be the best, you have to beat the best.

If Iowa doesn’t play (and defeat) every team in the Big Ten, then why does it deserve to be known as the best?

- by Evelyn Lau

Big Ten should not do a round robin

No way. The Big Ten should not have a round-robin schedule.

How would we ever figure out how good the conference is if the teams don’t play out of the conference?

The Big Ten is already being called out as being one of the weaker conferences. The teams haven’t exactly proved themselves worthy recently, with Ohio State’s inability to close out when it has needed to and Penn State not living up to its hype. We know Iowa gets no love.

The Pac-10 (the only round-robin conference in BCS football) fans scream for the league officials to end such scheduling. They claim they suffer additional losses because of this. With the Big Ten’s bad rap recently, how would scheduling more conference games, risking more losses benefit the conference?

From the play of the last few years, the Big Ten officials must be crossing their fingers this never becomes a reality. They know they’re lucky to be in the position they are.

Take Illinois in 2007 for example. How good did the Fighting Illini look before playing USC? And after? They didn’t belong in the same state as USC, let alone the Rose Bowl. These last few years the Big Ten has played fourth fiddle to the SEC, Big 12, and Pac-10 to a certain extent.

Along with that, you can possibly kiss the in-state rival games with Iowa State and Northern Iowa bye-bye, because there’s a good chance you wouldn’t see them every year. Not to mention our recent Ohio State-USC matchup, out the window. Michigan-Notre Dame, see ya.

Attending school at Iowa, winning these rivalry games means more to some than a conference championship. How fun has it been these last few years to rub in it Iowa State’s face?

Also, you would have to expand the schedule.

Round robins are typically used for smaller setups. It works in the NFL to some extent, but like soccer, the double round robin in football is within the divisions. In the NFL, teams play 10 other teams out of the division, getting a feel for who they are.

The Big Ten has had an at-large bid six of the last seven years. The Big Ten also has seven teams in bowl games last year, while the Pac-10 only saw five in a good year. If Big Ten teams beat up on each other the way Pac-10 teams do, a few of those teams probably wouldn’t have seen a bowl game.

- by Patrick Rafferty


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