Should the Big Ten have league games in Week 1? … Point 2 | News, Sports, Jobs

By Cory Giger

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Do you know what the SEC doesn’t do? He doesn’t endanger his teams by having them play each other in week one, putting the loser immediately behind the 8-ball.

You know what else the SEC doesn’t do? He doesn’t play a nine-game conference schedule. The SEC plays eight, thus preventing their teams from sticking together even more.

The SEC gets it from a competitive standpoint. Before playing Auburn this year, Alabama will play Austin Peay.

Before playing Ohio State this year, Penn State will play Minnesota, a can’t-miss game that’s also at night.

There are two ways to watch college football schedule:

1. What do the fans want?

2. What is best for the teams and the league?

Sure, absolutely, Penn State playing Purdue on a season-opening Thursday is great. It is national exhibition. Like last year in Wisconsin, it provides the opportunity for a big early win.

Fans love those kinds of games.

But those kinds of games also provide the opportunity for a tough opening loss, one that could shape the rest of the season.

It happened to Penn State at Indiana in 2020, on the ridiculous 2-point conversion call. That loss crushed the Lions, who opened the season 0-5.

Penn State could go 10-2 this year. Or 7-5. Anything and everything else is on the table.

But if the Lions lose at Purdue, they’re much more likely to fall into that 7-5 realm.

If they could open up against, say, Kent State and iron out a few mistakes before facing a tough opponent, that would be better for the team than starting with a possible conference loss on the road.

Going back to the SEC, that league gets it because its goal is to keep as many of its top teams in contention for a college football playoff spot for as long as possible. That’s why not playing a conference game to start the season and not playing a nine-game league schedule is beneficial.

Make it as easy as possible for your league members to stay afloat on the CFP ship for as long as possible.

It’s not how Big Ten does it, which is essentially making things as difficult as possible.

Of course, this programming philosophy helped the Big Ten land a billion-dollar TV package, in part because it can offer an incredible inventory of games, including compelling first-week conference matchups.

But by following that path, Big Ten has sold his soul for money. Now, that money will actually help everyone in the league compete at a higher level, and that’s certainly a good thing.

But by starting the season with conference play, the Big Ten is unnecessarily endangering its members and making it difficult for top teams that are more susceptible to surprise losses early on.

Sure, fans might love to see that sort of thing. And yes, it’s actually very good for business.

But it’s just not the smartest way to go from the perspective of helping keep teams relevant on the national stage.

Cory Giger covers Penn State for DK Pittsburgh Sports and hosts “Sports Center” Monday through Friday from 4 to 5 at WRTA. He can be reached at [email protected].

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