Forgive me for not getting too engrossed in the release of the Big Ten football schedules for 2018 and 2019 because it’s quite an assumption for any of us to say we’ll be around then. Or, that football will still be around. This soccer thing is coming on strong, you know.
But I did take a quick look at Iowa’s schedules from 2014 through 2019, and something jumped out immediately:
The Hawkeyes only play Michigan State and Ohio State once in those six years. And the Spartans won’t be returning to Kinnick Stadium until 2020 at the soonest, while Iowa’s trip to Ohio State Saturday will be its last one until … well, we don’t know when.
However, Iowa gets Penn State four times in that 6-year period, from 2016 through 2019. In 2016, the league has the Hawkeyes going to Rutgers and Penn State on successive weeks. So make sure the oil is changed in your RVs if you’re planning to drive to every game.
Michigan will make just one visit to Kinnick in the next six years, that in 2016.
The Hawkeyes will play Maryland three times from now through 2019, though, so that great longtime conference rivalry will stay stoked. What? Oh, that’s right. The two programs have never met. Nor have Iowa and Rutgers, and they won’t meet until 2016 in Piscataway. The Scarlet Knights’ debut in Iowa City is set for 2019.
The Big Ten didn’t tell you this stuff when it was so proud to annex Maryland and Rutgers, did it? Sorry, Iowa fans, but you’ll only see Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State in Iowa City a total of three times in a 6-year period.
Imagine this: Iowa won’t play at Michigan again until 2019, and won’t return to Ohio State after Saturday until 2020 at the soonest. If the Hawkeyes have been telling their many Ohio recruits that they’d get to go home to play in the Horseshoe, they’ll have to edit that out of their pitches.
You can’t have everything. Of course Iowa wants to play Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota every year. Of course it makes sense geographically to play Northwestern and Illinois every year. It’s good that the Big Ten has abandoned its hokey divisional setup as it is and is switching to West and East next season.
But there are costs in a 14-team conference. It’s really two 7-team leagues with occasional guest appearances by the other seven teams. Some pretty good football teams are about to become strangers around here.
I guess I got engrossed in it after all. As you were.