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Alvarez: Big Ten agrees to swear off future FCS creampuffs

The 99th Rose Bowl Game - Wisconsin v Stanford Getty Images

For every Appalachian State-Michigan game that does college football’s heart good, there are dozens of Savannah State-(Oklahoma State, 84-0)(Florida State, 55-0) artery-clogging debacles that are yearly embarrassments to the sport.

For its part, one conference has decided to take the necessary steps to end the “ridiculous” and “not very appealing” scheduling of FCS football programs for what amounts to nothing more than in-season scrimmages.

During his monthly radio show Tuesday night, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told WIBA-AM his counterparts in the Big Ten have reached an agreement to stop scheduling games against FCS programs.  While such a move likely means the conference will load up on even more MAC-like teams, it’s a step in the right direction for the sport.

The nonconference schedule in our league is ridiculous,” Alvarez said by way of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “It’s not very appealing. …

“So we’ve made an agreement that our future games will all be Division I schools. It will not be FCS schools.”

(Your move, SEC)

It’s not exactly clear when this agreement will go into effect — the Badgers will host FCS-level Tennessee Tech the second week of the season — although the Journal-Sentinel writes that “the likely starting point would be the 2014 season, when Maryland and Rutgers are set to join the Big Ten.”

The biggest issue as far as not scheduling future games against FCS programs is the fact that the conference already has a plethora of future games scheduled against FCS programs.  In fact, just one B1G member — Penn State — has no future games scheduled against lower-level programs.  Michigan (App. St., 2014), Ohio State (Florida A&M, 2013) and Wisconsin (Tennessee Tech, 2013) are the only members with one such game on their future schedules.

Iowa, future member Maryland, Minnesota and Northwestern all have one FCS program scheduled every year through 2016, while Illinois, Purdue and Rutgers have one scheduled for each of the next three years.  Michigan State is slated to play an FCS team once in three of the next four years.

The move to eliminate future games against FCS teams comes at the same time as the Big Ten is looking to move to nine (probable) or 10 (unlikely) conference games.  It also comes ahead of the implementation of a playoff system to determine a national champion, which will presumably take into account strength of schedule when setting the four-team (for now) field.

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43 Responses to “Alvarez: Big Ten agrees to swear off future FCS creampuffs”
  1. mydixienormus says: Feb 13, 2013 10:54 AM

    Now if only the SEC would follow suit.

    Ya, right… like that will ever happen.

  2. benihanagt says: Feb 13, 2013 10:54 AM

    With a selection committee deciding the top 4 teams who will be in the playoff, this makes a lot of sense and hopefully others will follow suit.

  3. mhalt99 says: Feb 13, 2013 10:57 AM

    App State should be shown some respect and grandfathered in…..maybe any top 10 1AA……always fun to watch when one of them gives a big boy a run for his money or wins

  4. kattykathy says: Feb 13, 2013 11:05 AM

    There is ZERO chance Bama will ever forgo the creampuff schedule.
    Even though the Weak 10 the perfect example of mediocrity, i applaud their decision.

    At least the Mediocre 10 is showing some fortitude, something that Saban sorely lacks

    Stand up and follow suit SEC………..but we all know they are too scared.

  5. bertenheim says: Feb 13, 2013 11:22 AM

    The SEC will argue strength-of-conference. But with only two inter-division games, that rings real hollow.

  6. thraiderskin says: Feb 13, 2013 11:25 AM

    Well that is nice, I still expect Ohio State to go after bigger Non-conf games to fill up their schedule with better opponents than what they’ll see in the majority of the B1G.

  7. emeraldcityfan says: Feb 13, 2013 11:26 AM

    Way to go B1G! This is a step in the right direction. Now if we can get a certain conference to play a 9 game conference schedule, and stop playing FCS schools in November; college football might be more equitable.

  8. normtide says: Feb 13, 2013 11:42 AM

    Anyone else have suggestions for the SEC? The league could use your input, seeing how we have struggled for the last decade. So people think playing an FCS team is the reason why our best team wins the biggest game? The fact is this, these FCS teams rely on these paydays to survive. Saying these programs should not exist then, is very 1% of you.

  9. takingbovadasmoney says: Feb 13, 2013 11:47 AM

    App. St. has said they will be FBS by 2014.

  10. imaduffer says: Feb 13, 2013 11:49 AM

    The next thing that needs to go is the Polls. And if they continue to keep the Polls, any team that plays an FCS team drops 10 spots.

  11. lasseter1113 says: Feb 13, 2013 11:52 AM

    KathyKathy is obsessed with Bama, how funny…She secretly has a crush on Nick Saban but just won’t admit it to herself. Why else would she mention him in every comment she leaves on here whether the article pertains to Alabama or not? How funny…

    Say what you want about playing FCS schools but the money those schools receive for getting their butts handed to them helps their schools sports programs immensely.

  12. redpillmindstate says: Feb 13, 2013 12:07 PM

    LMAO ……The Big Ten needs this… Only the legacy programs have any real shot of becoming contenders in the national tournament where the top four programs compete for a title …. The vast majority of the top players go south to play on saturday can’t beat the climate… However they can have the best games up north with the best talent available up north …can’t beat the match ups

  13. screbels89 says: Feb 13, 2013 12:13 PM

    Sad day for the FCS schools IMO. Many schools do this as a favor to the FCS schools, especially in-state and they typically make more money from this one game than what they’ll make combined all year. Every decision isn’t about the top 10-15 teams in the country. You should be allowed one per year. Clemson rotates between the instate schools like Wofford, Furman, Coastal Carolina, SC State, Citadel, Presbyterian and the benefits are unreal for these FCS boys.

  14. rips08 says: Feb 13, 2013 12:32 PM

    I agree with screbels89. The FCS schools need these games or they can’t continue the program in some cases. I don’t like that some of the SEC teams play a FCS game in November right before their rivalry game, but to not allow these games to happen has unintended consequences like FCS programs being discontinued. Only 1 win over an FCS team counts towards bowl eligibility anyway, so it is not like teams are loading up on these games. They are just scheduling weak FBS teams to play.

  15. isuhater23 says: Feb 13, 2013 12:33 PM

    What happens for teams like Iowa who’s in state rival is an FCS school, like Northern Iowa?

  16. arizonahusker says: Feb 13, 2013 12:44 PM

    How are these small FCS schools going to make money now? I agree to limit FCS teams but how about 1 game every 2-3 years?

  17. adross47 says: Feb 13, 2013 12:46 PM

    Isn’t Indiana’s football program FCS?

  18. florida727 says: Feb 13, 2013 12:51 PM

    For those of you screaming at the SEC to do the same thing and dump all FCS school from our respective schedules, I have one favor to ask of you: please go tell the FCS schools that their biggest payday of the year has just been stripped from them because your schools can’t beat an SEC team in a national championship game and for some idiotic reason you equate that to their FCS school not being funded. Football is a very expensive sport to maintain, and at the FCS level they probably run on a shoestring budget as is. Go ahead. Take their primary source of funding away. Then you’ll be able to brag about how you killed football at that level someday.

    You SEC haters really do make me laugh. You think we go around early in the season and brag about beating the Hadley School for The Blind 89-3? Got news for you… we don’t. Instead we wait until January when we can brag about kicking the sh*t out of YOUR school and collecting yet another piece of crystal for our trophy case.

  19. ldfontenot says: Feb 13, 2013 12:52 PM

    Here is my prediction. Urban Meyer becomes the de facto boss of the Big Ten Football and they (the conference) do what he tells them to do. He recruits brilliantly and wins the Big 10 year after year, but he never wins the Natty Championship because despite crying about how easy the SEC schedules are, he can’t develop a team tough enough to beat the SEC champ, because in the Big (talk) 10, they aren’t beating each others brains out in the toughest conference by far week in and week out.

  20. irishdodger says: Feb 13, 2013 1:01 PM

    SEC fans justifying playing FCS schools b/c they are only looking for the best interest of the poor FCS programs is Obamaesque. The SEC is the best conference, for now, in the nation. It’s also the most socialistic w/ fans of other teams other than Bama claiming NCs & now making the successful FBS programs pay “their fair share”. The goal of EVERY BCS team is to get into the 4-team playoff once it begins. If SoS is going to be a factor, it’s in the best interest of every BCS team to quit playing the FCS teams. If you want to keep playing them out of your schools’ undying compassion for the “little guy”; do it at your own risk. Remember Auburn in 2004?

  21. dmcgrann says: Feb 13, 2013 1:09 PM

    Technically speaking, there’s no way App State can be FBS by 2014. There’s not enough time between now and then for the required transition seasons, and they still need a conference invite.

    I hope they do make the move. But the FCS schools that have recently been making the transition and getting conference invitations are not getting those invitations solely because of their football program strength, but by and large because of the TV markets that they’re in.

  22. olskool711 says: Feb 13, 2013 1:17 PM

    At first I thought the title read: Big Ten to not Schedule Creampuffs.

    Which immediately caused me to think that they were no longer going to play conference games and in the future schedule all opponents from outside the little 10.

    So, this pertains to only FCS and doesn’t include overrated, bygone programs like michigan, michigan state, and ohio state college?

  23. LogicalConsideration says: Feb 13, 2013 1:38 PM

    All the SEC haters want to use this as an excuse to criticize the SEC. As others have said, we have to schedule the Western Carolinas of the country to give our players a working rest between brutal conference games.

    There are really only two positions that these people can take about the Big10:
    1. I admit the Big10 teams are far weaker than SEC teams and therefore, in order to get better and be able to compete, they need to bring in tough teams for non-conference games; or,
    2. I claim that the Big10 teams are just as good or better than the SEC teams and this is a horrible decision and the answer is MORE creampuffs, not less.

    (Really? Did redpill-somethingorother claim upthread that the Big10 part of the country was full of better talent than the South? He better take a bunch more pills.)

    To the SEC detractors—don’t you think you should turn your eyes inward to your own teams and conferences for a while and fix whatever is wrong with them? Eventually (maybe) a non-SEC school will win a national title, but given The Streak, it has been conclusively proven that none of your arguments hold water and you reveal yourselves as rude sore losers. It’s not the old “Tiger or The Field” question that the PGA was 7 or 8 years ago, but its close. We’re taking our 14 teams and giving you the remaining 111 teams. When ONE of those 111 finally wins then you can go back to criticizing (albeit still on one tottering leg). Until then, zip it.

  24. rmfields says: Feb 13, 2013 1:53 PM

    I will probably get flak for this, but some small schools are actually fine with getting walloped by big schools. By choosing to not play cream-puff teams, the B1G is costing these small schools lots of money.

    For example, here’s what some big name programs paid smaller schools to have them on their schedule:

    Oklahoma State vs. Savannah State (Week 1, 84-0): $385,000
    Florida State vs. Murray State (Week 1, 69-3): $450,000
    Pittsburgh vs. Youngstown State (Week 1, 31-17 – UPSET!): 400,000
    Florida State vs. Savannah State (Week 2): $475,000
    Oklahoma vs. Florida A&M (Week 2): $650,000
    Alabama vs. Western Kentucky (Week 2): $1,000,000
    Arkansas vs. Louisiana-Monroe (Week 2): $500,000 – part of $3,000,000, six-game deal
    Virginia Tech vs. Austin Peay (Week 2): $318,750
    Tennessee vs. Georgia State (Week 2): $500,000

    From the perspective of the small school, such as Savannah State, which will have earned $860,000 from six hours of misery, such large profits must be understood within the context of the profitability of their football program as a whole – it made $874 last year. Dollars. So swallowing a few non-conference punches in the mouth is ultimately worth it to keep their program afloat.

    Yes, it would be nice if every big time program would only schedule formidable opponents, but there are benefits to playing weaker teams as well – and the benefits are mostly held by the small schools themselves in terms of dollars and cents.

  25. domerboyirish says: Feb 13, 2013 1:54 PM

    I love this move! Now my Appliacian State T-shirt that says ‘Michigan Who? 34-32’ will become more of a collector’s item!

  26. karlton3 says: Feb 13, 2013 1:57 PM

    As an IU fan (yep, I’m that guy) this concerns me on two fronts:

    1) How is IU football ever going to win another game?

    2) Will other Big10 teams still be allowed to schedule games with us?

  27. domerboyirish says: Feb 13, 2013 2:08 PM

    Logical Consideration,

    Respectfully, the only argument that one can make against the SEC scheduling creampuffs is, despite your tough inner-conference games, the SEC teams have ZERO chance of losing a regular season non-conference game. If one team can make it through the season undefeated, of course they will play for the championship. No one outside of the conference had a chance to knock them off. I know, there are those very rare games when they play Oregon or Michigan but the pool of potential upsets is very small. But when Michigan or Oregon loses the opening game of the season, their chances of getting back to the NC game are pretty small. The same could be said for the SEC teams if they happen to lose an early season game. Early season games are funny. Because there is no preseason football, you never really know if you are any good. Those first few games of the season are prime games for upsets that can kill NC hopes. Other conferences play tough early schedules and often get eliminated from NC consideration in September. The SEC rarely, if ever, puts themselves in a position where they would risk this type of upset. That’s why the SEC detractors make the comments that they do. There is no doubt that the SEC has fantastic football; the best in the country. It just becomes easier to qualify for 7 straight NC games when you don’t lose non-conference games early. The SEC refuses to put themselves in that position.

    So, it can be argued that the soft non conference schedule helps get SEC teams into the NC game. I think many people would like a level playing field. So either everyone schedules 2 or 3 cupcakes a year, or no one does. I personally think it is better for football using the former model rather than the later. Just my opinion…

  28. domerboyirish says: Feb 13, 2013 2:21 PM


    It is a fact that these small FCS schools get a vast majority of their funding by playing FBS school, but please don’t insult us by trying to get us to believe that the SEC schools schedule FCS schools because they are geniunely concerned about those schools football programs.

    In this regard, SEC schools are no different / better / worse from any other FBS school; they are concerned about themselves.

  29. florida727 says: Feb 13, 2013 2:33 PM

    Let’s compare some non-conference schedules…

    First, in the Big 10:
    Michigan – Central Michigan, Notre Dame, Akron, UConn
    Ohio State – Buffalo, San Diego State, Cal, Florida A&M
    Michigan State – Western Michigan, USF, Youngstown State, Notre Dame
    Wisconsin – UMass, TN Tech, Arizona State, BYU
    Nebraska – Wyoming, Southern Miss, UCLA, South Dakota State

    Now the SEC:
    Alabama – Virginia Tech, Colorado State, Georgia State, Chattanooga
    Florida – Toledo, U of Miami, Georgia Southern, Florida State
    LSU – TCU, UAB, Kent State, Furman
    Georgia – Clemson, North Texas, Appalachian State, Georgia Tech
    Texas A&M – Rice, Sam Houston State, SMU, UTEP

    Now, will someone please tell me how dramatically more difficult the level of non-conference competition is for the Big 10 next year than the SEC?

  30. domerboyirish says: Feb 13, 2013 2:59 PM


    When it comes to the Big (whatever), some of their teams have also been guilty of scheduling soft schedules. Ohio State is horrid! Two years ago I think MSU didn’t leave the state of Michigan until Week 8! Pathetic. We can always cherry pick a few schools here or there to fit an argument. As an example, you left out Auburn. Non-conference they played Washington State, Arkansas State, Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic. Not exactly power houses. TO me, that is a problem.

    I know I am slightly generalizing but I seem to see a much greater percentage of FCS teams on SEC schedules than most FBS teams.

  31. deadeye says: Feb 13, 2013 3:56 PM

    The BIG10 is laying the groundwork for their expansion to either 16 or 20 universities, and their eventual break away from the NCAA. UVA is on deck.

  32. stairwayto7 says: Feb 13, 2013 4:04 PM

    Every SEC school will be lining those schools up.

  33. noring4youstill says: Feb 13, 2013 4:11 PM

    Which schools from what conference have won the NC for about the last 8 years? So the rest go ahead and drop so called cream puffs from the schedule. Seems to me these SEC schools will be just fine.

  34. houndofthebaskervols says: Feb 13, 2013 4:39 PM

    So much SEC hate, so few brain. Complain about scheduling FCS opponents all you like, but the cum average of all SEC team’s Strength of Schedule in 2012 is 17.7. Lets compare that too:

    Oregon – 38
    Ohio State – 60
    Stanford – 22
    Notre Dame – 21
    Florida State – 66 etc etc etc.

    And to domerboyirish, Auburn’s SOS was #2 last season, so you see all you whiners need to either do your homework, or just STFU. LOL

  35. lowtalker says: Feb 13, 2013 4:57 PM

    Now Nebraska can schedule Colorado, Kansas, K-State and Iowa State for non-conf games so fans can travel easily

  36. florida727 says: Feb 13, 2013 5:14 PM

    Thanks #hound, appreciate the SOS perspective. Big “Whatever-Number-They-Settle-On-Finally-Let’s -Go-With-10-For-Now” fans might not understand, but the rest of us do.

    Bottom line: EVERY team has the occasional “easy” game on their schedule. Take a look at overall SOS though and you’ll get a good idea how good (or bad) your conference really is. Perfect example: Oregon’s SOS sucks compared to almost any SEC team. But I bet Oregon could play with almost any SEC team though. They just play in a lousy (at the moment) conference. Same goes for Ohio State. SOS of 60? It’s because of the conference, not their skill level. They too can play with just about anyone.

  37. floridacock says: Feb 13, 2013 5:37 PM

    Bunch of fool in here arguing. Fact is the SEC RULES the Big 10. You people better worry more about your own teams play and not who they play.

  38. huskersrock1 says: Feb 13, 2013 8:32 PM

    Awesome! More games against Florida, Texas and California schools please!

  39. southpaw77 says: Feb 14, 2013 4:15 AM

    So the polls put 10 SEC schools in the top 25, they play cream puffs (AT HOME) in the first 3 weeks and all start off 3-0 then play 2-3 tough games in conference and lose to each other but hardly slip in the polls, then play in a bowl game near home/somewhere warm/in a dome. Sounds like a nice gimmick they got going on.
    Dont believe it, remember the polls had Arkansas and Auburn in the top 25 for weeks and they were horrible. Then’s there’s Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tenn, Mizzou and other bottom feeders in their conference that Bama, Florida and Georgia fatten their record up on.

    Until the big ten realizes they need to bring these Pac-12 and SEC schools up to their place in November (in the cold like the NFL) and play out of conference games late in the year and play the new final 4 format or title game in cold weather, nothing will change.

    That’s the difference between college football and college hoops, the SEC cant hide down there, they actually have to travel up north and the playing field is equaled out and you see the Big Ten dominate in basketball as a whole.

  40. florida727 says: Feb 14, 2013 9:27 AM

    Hey #southpaw, tell me what this list represents…

    Kentucky, UConn, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Florida, Florida (again), North Carolina (again), UConn (again), Syracuse, Maryland and Duke (again).

    Let me help you: they are the last TWELVE (12) basketball National Champions. Oddly enough, especially considering its supposed superiority, I don’t see a Big 10 team listed. Kind of shoots a hole in your comment about the Big 10 “dominating” basketball, doesn’t it? Do a little research before you post. It’ll actually help give your argument credibility, assuming there is any. Better luck next time…

  41. florida727 says: Feb 14, 2013 2:49 PM

    I have a question for Alvarez…

    Your football coach wins fewer games every year because his schedule has just gotten much tougher; as the AD, are you going to fire him because of his win percentage?

  42. eddienole says: Feb 15, 2013 11:35 AM

    Christmas come early to the midwestern directional schools. Is it any less embarassing losing to eastern michigan than APP St or Sam Houston? I agree with a previous post, most of the top 10 FCS schools would beat the directionals so its disingenuous to say they are removing cream puffs from their schedule.

  43. gamustangdude says: Feb 20, 2013 4:06 PM

    There’s no need to cancel FCS “cream puffs” when the Big 10 is full of them (sorry it was there). Likewise, there’s no need for the SEC to follow suit, given that it’s not affecting them in the polls currently and to be honest it probably won’t as long as they are looked at as one of the, if not the toughest conferences in College Football. Sure the pundits will use whatever fuel to bash SEC programs, but it’s worked for the past 6+ years. Every conference has teams that schedule creampuffs, the SEC isn’t the only conference involved in that. What about the ACC, PAC-12, Big-12, should they follow suit as well? Or just the SEC? Most SEC teams, if not all, play at least 8 conference games out of 12 game regular season schedule, hell add another Conference foe if you include SEC Championship game. Then there are the OOC rivals to consider and division 1 opponents as well. Sure there’s the FCS team here and there, but not littered throughout the schedule like you would have yourselves believe. Hell, where’s the criticism for FSU who played two FCS schools last year? SEC has been dominate, not because of BCS NTs, which belongs to the school not the conference, but use this year’s bowl games as an example, SEC went 6-3 this year, the only other conference with 9 teams playing bowl games went 4-5. So, does playing a FCS school really hurt the SEC? So far it hasn’t, just given more fuel to the SEC “haters” as some would say. Me, I just say you’re acting like little cry babies. Worry about beating the teams on your schedule, then if you do play an SEC team, follow in the footsteps of Clemson, Northwestern, and Louisville and don’t follow in the footsteps of GT, FSU, Clemson vs. South Carolina, Notre Dame, Pittsburg, Nebraska, OU, Michigan, and NC State. It’s just that simple. Some of you cry too much for a college football site IMHO.

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