Iowa athletics director Gary Barta was on ESPN's College Football Live on Thursday to discuss FCS-level schools on the Hawkeyes future schedules.
Monday, The Gazette reported that Iowa was in a wait-and-see mode in regards to future games with Northern Iowa (2014 and 2018), Illinois State (2015) and North Dakota State (2016). Iowa will play Missouri State this fall at Kinnick Stadium.
The FCS, which offers 63 scholarships compared to 85 for FBS schools, became relevant last week when the Big Ten announced it was moving to a nine-game conference schedule in 2016. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has strongly suggested that B1G schools not schedule anymore games with FCS and try to get out of the ones they have.
"This change, we're all looking at the contracts we have in place," Barta said on the show, referring to other B1G schools, "and we've agreed going forward we're not going to be scheduling any other FCS schools.
"But with those on our schedule, we'll either move them off and reschedule, or in the case of Northern Iowa, I've talked about the possibility of an exception -- it's not a done deal -- based on the fact that they play in our home state."
CFB Live host John Saunders asked Barta why Delany would spin FCS schools out of the Big Ten scheduling grids.
"With positioning ourselves for the College Football Playoff [coming in 2014]," Barta said, "we just want to make sure our conference is well positioned. We talked about strengthening our schedule, and that's why we went to nine games. And then we talked about our non-conference schedules and playing home-and-home with other traditional 'quote, unquote' BCS schools.
"And finally, just taking a look at our future contracts and games that we had scheduled. In our case, we have some [FCS] games scheduled and that's what we're taking a look at, in particular the school just north of us in our own state, the University of Northern Iowa."
UNI has been a traditional power in FCS. Iowans are aware of the quality teams that coach Mark Farley, a former UNI linebacker, has put out every season. Just in 2009, the Hawkeyes needed to block a pair of last-second field goals to hang on against UNI, 17-16.
So, it's a nice matchup, but there's also the fact that UNI is 20-66-5 against FBS schools all-time. Farley is 2-12 against FBS, with wins over Iowa State and Ball State.
Against the Big Ten, UNI is 1-17 with its only victory coming against Iowa . . . 11-5 in 1898 . . . when UNI was known as "State Normal."
Barta pointed out that UNI is a power in Sagarin Ratings, a computer measure of national rankings.
"With those future schedules, taking a look the possibility of an exception [for UNI] because they are an in-state school and because they've perennially been in the top 10 in the country at that level," Barta said.
Are FCS schools just easy wins for FBS schools? What's the benefit, Saunders asked.
"I don't look at it as an FCS school, I look at it as what does our overall non-conference schedule look like?" Barta said. "Northern Iowa has historically -- I used to work there many, many years ago -- they've beaten many Big Ten programs and other programs, as has North Dakota State.
"We look at it as what's the best schedule, what's best for the fans, what's going to be best for preparing us for the Big Ten schedule?"
Sounds as though it's up to the Big Ten, or whatever the best deals Iowa can cut here. (The buyout for the NDSU game is $250,000, just to give you an idea.)
Historically, these are easy wins, no way around that.Iowa is 47-5 all time against FCS schools and has outscored those opponents 1,585 to 251, or an average of 30.4 to 4.8.