Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
Based on reports coming from Monday's Big Ten meeting, here are a few key football changes that could be coming soon:
LONGER CONFERENCE SCHEDULE
Teams currently play eight conference games. That number soon could be nine or 10. Eight conference games "is not even on the table right now," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told the Chicago Tribune.
According to ESPN's Big Ten Blog, "The change likely won't be implemented until the 2016 season, two years after Maryland and Rutgers join the Big Ten."
I had heard the conference could phase this in gradually, going with a nine-game conference schedule for two years and then ramping up to 10. A final decision is expected this spring.
Minnesota perspective: Who knows where the program will be after three more seasons? But for a team that is 6-18 in the conference over the past three years, and 12-36 since 2007, this could make things more difficult. Of course, adding Rutgers and Maryland should make the conference slate less daunting. Either way, I think season ticket holders would welcome another Big Ten game on the home schedule.
There's a movement to divide teams according to time zones, which makes sense. There are eight Eastern time zone teams, and six Central time zone teams, so one Eastern team would have to shift -- perhaps Purdue or Michigan State. Imagine this:
Big Ten East: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers.
Big Ten West: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin.
Minnesota perspective: From the current Legends Division, the Gophers would lose Michigan, and gain Illinois and Wisconsin. Besides geography, the athletic directors have to factor in competitive balance -- this seems to be about a wash -- and preserving rivalries. What becomes of the Little Brown Jug? It might not be a yearly battle, if the Big Ten places a bigger priority on Michigan/Michigan State as an annual crossover game. To put it kindly, I don't think Gophers fans would miss it.
Delany also told ESPN.com that the conference isn't opposed to more night games, even in November. ... Big Ten coaches urged the NCAA to reconsider legislation that removes restrictions on the amount of calls, texts and printed materials that schools can send to recruits. ... And Urban Meyer's point about Big Ten recruiting was indeed about logistics and not effort, as ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg explains here.
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