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Hoosiers embrace football schedule upgrade

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For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

End nears for IU-Indiana State series

Monday, August 26, 2013 - 12:36 am

BLOOMINGTON -- If Fred Glass called the Big Ten football scheduling shots, Indiana would continue playing Indiana State.

But the IU athletic director doesn't, and the Hoosiers won't. Big Ten athletic directors have agreed to stop playing Football Championship Subdivision teams starting in 2016. So Thursday night's season opener against the Sycamores, an FCS squad, will be one of the last times a lower-division team comes to Memorial Stadium.

“I think playing Indiana State is good for the Sycamores, it's good for the Hoosiers and it's good for the state in general,” Glass said. “I'm disappointed that's collateral damage, I think the general idea is give the fans more of what they want to see in terms of high level competition.”

IU will pay Indiana State $450,000 to come to Memorial Stadium. The next week, the Sycamores go to Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium and will get another $400,000.

Overall the Big Ten will host 10 FCS teams this season and, according to FoxSportsWisconsin.com, will pay out nearly $5 million to do so. Those aren't guaranteed wins, but they're close given that the Big Ten is 93-8 against FCS teams over the years.

IU is 4-0 against Indiana State. Purdue is 3-0.

The Hoosiers edged Indiana State 24-17 last year. The Sycamores have had three straight winning seasons and return tailback Shakir Bell, who has rushed for more than 3,100 yards in the last two seasons.

“It ought to be a great little game for this region,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said, “and I say it because moving forward by 2016 we will not be allowed to play them.”

A big reason for the decision to drop FCS squads involves the national four-team college football playoff, which is set to start in 2014. Big Ten athletic directors wanted to do everything they could to improve the chances of a conference team making the playoffs. Strength of schedule is likely to be a factor.

Also, the Big Ten will go to a nine-conference-game schedule starting in 2016, leaving three nonconference games per year.

This year IU has a school-record eight home games, including the first five to open the season. Its other nonconference opponents are Navy, Bowling Green and Missouri. Navy returns 13 starters from an 8-5 team. Bowling Green returns 19 starters from an 8-5 team. Missouri, a member of the SEC, returns 14 starters from a 5-7 squad.

Playing a SEC team is an upgrade from previous Hoosier scheduling. That's by design, Glass said.

“We ought to be playing a quality BCS opponent as part of our nonconference schedule every year,” he said. “Missouri will be a good test for us. Those are the kind of schools we ought to be playing.”

Momentum is growing for BCS schools to only play each other, which would eliminate games against such Mid-American Conference teams as Ball State and Bowling Green. Glass said he sees the merit in that, although he doesn't want to stop playing MAC teams completely.

“I think it's a good thing for teams, Big Ten teams in particular, to try to upgrade their schedule,” he said. “We tried to do that before more official momentum for that came about. I'd like to think we were more country before country was cool by scheduling some BCS games.”

What is Glass' scheduling philosophy?

“We like to look at schools that are academically at our level -- the Wake Forests, the Virginias, schools of that type.”

Future scheduling was put on hold until the Big Ten settled on its nine-conference-game format. Glass said “We're in full-blown scheduling mode now, but we don't have any contracts signed.

“It's like playing three-dimensional chess on Star Trek where nothing is done until it's done because everything inter-relates to each other. But we're getting close to scheduling some teams I think our fans will like to see.”