We are not so different, BYU. On paper, us Big Ten schools and your fine institution could have the beginnings of a mutually beneficial partnership. You want exciting, higher profile matchups that allow you to showcase BYU (and by extension, the church) in markets outside of the Book of Mormon Belt footprint. We've been made fun of by the national media for the last few years on account of not only being terrible, but also boring, so we need to schedule some better out of conference opponents. Our people should call your people. It could be fun.
And so far, that's exactly what's happened. The Cougars head to Madison on Nov 9th of this year to take on the Wisconsin Badgers (sidenote: I am planning on being at this game. Come at me bros). In 2015, there are road trips to Nebraska and Michigan. 2017 should feature a return date from Wisconsin. We know that BYU and Ohio State at least talked about the season opener for 2013, and I'm pretty sure that if I keep tweeting about this, a matchup will eventually happen.
There are storm clouds approaching on this relationship though, which could limit BYU's ability to not just get Big Ten teams on the schedule moving forward, but major conference teams, period. The 9 game schedule.
Starting in 2016, the Big Ten switches to a 9 game conference slate, giving each team only 3 out of conference slots. Big Ten squads will alternate between having 4 and 5 home games a season, and virtually every athletic director in the conference, from Iowa to Ohio State, has said that the school needs 7 home games a season to meet their budget obligations. That means a Big Ten team can only play 1 road game every other year.
"But Matt" you say, "Why can't they just play a neutral site game? Surely Penn State vs BYU in the Jerrydome will make MILLIONS!". That might actually be true, but the B1G isn't just concerned about ticket revenue. Since virtually every league school is public, administrators are also concerned about the local economic impact...the bars, the hotels, the sidewalk t-shirt salesmen...all of them get zilch for a neutral site game. Even if Ohio State, Nebraska, etc could get away with playing neutral site games on a regular basis, there is significant political pressure to keep those games at home.
That's why on paper, even that 2017 home date with Wisconsin is in peril. The Badgers are already scheduled to play @ USF that season, and it will be impossible for them to play both games and meet this budget obligations. One game will need to be rescheduled, possibly to 2020, or later.
So if you're a Big Ten AD, you're faced with a choice. You either convince BYU to take a 1 season arrangement on the road, or you decide if you want to tie up a precious road game with BYU.
Not every Big Ten team even has a slot to offer. Iowa is tied into a long-term arrangement with Iowa State, meaning they'll never have a road game to offer for a home and home. Purdue has a similar situation with Notre Dame. Michigan State and Nebraska are scheduled "out" for the next several years as well.
If the Cougars are willing to just take a 1 game arrangement, they should have plenty of callers, as a team with schedule flexibility, a proven record of success and a brand still big enough for people to notice would be a welcome addition to most slates. Ohio State has openings in 2015 and 2017, Penn State has openings from 2015 beyond, Iowa badly needs schedule sizzle, as does Minnesota. The only question is if BYU is willing to accept those terms, since few schools from that list would be willing, or able, to go to Provo.
This may not just be a Big Ten problem. The Pac-12 also have a 9 game league slate that limits flexibility a little, and while the SEC is at 8 games now, it's probably that pressure from their new TV network will push that number to 9 in the next few years (gotta bump up that programming inventory and all). If the NCAA doesn't allow for an extra game, BYU might have a harder time getting games in the next decade.
Basically, what I'm trying to say here is that you guys should call Gene Smith and offer to come to Columbus in 2015. I've plenty of friends who will put up their couches for you, and maybe you can even camp at our Stake Center. A trip to Provo probably isn't in the cards, but you could still provide a valuable service.
I'm going to have to write about games with Buffalo and Florida A&M this year. This is terrible. Please help fix this.