Push comes to shove in scheduling, the Iowa-Iowa State football game could go away.
During an impromptu interview with reporters Friday, Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said the football contract between the two schools has a contingency to break the deal if the landscape of their respective conferences changed.
That happened Friday.
The Big Ten accepted Nebraska’s application to join the conference. In the midst of uncertainty and media rights disagreements, Nebraska decided to leave the Big 12 and started reaching out to the Big Ten three to four weeks ago.
Nebraska athletics director Tom Osborne said Friday that the Big Ten could add a conference game to teams’ schedules. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said no decisions had been made as far as scheduling.
Going into 2010, Iowa will play eight Big Ten games and four non-conference. That could change in 2011, when Nebraska joins the league schedule. This could force Big Ten teams to subtract a non-conference game.
For Iowa, it’s conceivable that could be the Iowa State game, but Barta wouldn’t go that far, at least not yet.
“Until I’m told something is going to be different, I’ve always said I think the rivalry between Iowa and Iowa State is a good one, for the state, for college athletics,” Barta said. “Unless something changes in the makeup of scheduling in my conference, I would anticipate that it would continue.”
Barta said the contract contains a contingency to break the deal that was agreed upon between him and ISU athletics director Jamie Pollard.
Article No. 13 in the contract states: “. . . if either school’s conference adds additional conference football games, that school shall be entitled to request that the parties seek to renegotiate the contract terms for the remaining contract years that are affected by the conferenence scheduling change. Both schools agree to make every effort to work with their respective conferences to try to keep this issue fro arising.”
(Find a copy of the contract at the bottom of this post.)
“(The contingency) said if something occurred that doesn’t allow us to play like this anymore, that there is a way we can deal with that,” Barta said. “We weren’t being prophetic. We were just making a good business decision when you put a contract together.”
In 2008, Barta and Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard negotiated a 10-year contract through 2017.
If one school breaks the contract, it states, it owes the other $500,000 per game canceled.
The contingency Barta spoke of could cancel the penalty. A conference shakeup, in either the Big Ten or Big 12, could void the contract if it affected the number of non-conference games the schools are able to schedule, Barta said.
“It was just a good business thing to put in the contract,” Barta said.
Barta was asked if that critical conference shakeup point has been reached.
“We’re scheduled out and nothing that I’m aware of has changed,” he said. “But again, remember, Nebraska joined us about five minutes ago. We haven’t had any discussions about changes.”
In 2011, as it stands now, Iowa’s non-conference schedule includes ISU and Pitt with Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe.
A Big Ten divisional scenario batted around by the Big Ten Network on Friday had the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten west with Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Illinois.
Iowa could play all five of those schools, three from the east division (Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Indiana) and still have room for four non-conference games.
Iowa doesn’t lose a traditional rivalry in this setting, unless you count the building animosity between Iowa and Penn State fans.
But, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Friday, competitive balance will be the No. 1 factor in forming divisions, trying to avoid a Big 12 South vs. Big 12 North imbalance.
(Pretty great divisional breakdown here from the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Doug Lesmerises, taking that competitive balance over the last 25 years.)
If Iowa State ends up outside of a BCS conference, that could affect Iowa’s strength of schedule, a component in a school’s BCS rating. Depends on which website you go to, but last season, the Hawkeyes’ schedule ranked 12th in the nation, according to CBSSportsline.com, and was likely a factor in Iowa beating out Penn State for a BCS bid. CBS had Penn State’s SOS ranked 47th.
Then again, with the emergence of super conferences, who knows if the BCS will exist after 2011. This also wouldn’t be enough to cancel an intrastate rivalry that will be on ABC at 2:30 p.m. from Kinnick Stadium next fall.
Border dictates that Iowa and Nebraska feels as though it could be a natural rivalry, even though the two schools have met just twice since 1982.
Season finales often are border wars. Usually, Iowa finishes with Minnesota. Could it end the season with Nebraska?
“I think that’s putting the cart ahead of the horse,” Barta said. “They just were announced a few minutes ago. We haven’t had any thoughts where they might fit in the rotation.”
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema was all over that Saturday morning, putting out on his Twitter account, “I contacted the Big 10 office about hopefully scheduling Nebraska as a last game rival on a yearly basis. Possible starting a trophy game.”
Penn State also might come knocking. It isn’t exactly thrilled with its season finale against Michigan State, playing for a contrivance called the Land Grant Trophy.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany introduces Nebraska as the conference’s newest school.
Iowa athletics director Gary Barta talks Nebraska and what it could mean for the Iowa-ISU football game. (This video was shot by KCRG photographer Matt Nelson. I want to thank him for his hustle.)
This is Delany’s response when he was asked directly about Texas joining the Big Ten.
Delany’s response to a question about having a Big Ten championship football game. “I presume we will.”
Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini gives a quick take on the Huskers’ entrance into the Big Ten conference. Asked about rivalries, “I’m not a real emotional guy.” This brought laughs.
Lots of interference on this one, but this is Bo Pelini’s interview with the Big Ten Network. The theme is he’s not thinking ahead to 2011, when the Huskers begin conference play. Pelini, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, was a team captain as a safety for the 1990 Ohio State. “It’ll be exciting to take Nebraska into a new age.”