- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Don't expect to see a nine-game Big Ten schedule any time soon.
Commissioner Jim Delany said at Big Ten media days Thursday that league schools are "of a unanimous mind to stay at eight games" in the conference schedule.
The dissolution of the Pac-12/Big Ten alliance forced the league to re-examine its scheduling philosophy. One idea that was heavily discussed this week was whether to increase the number of conference games to nine, the same number the Pac-12 and Big 12 play and that the ACC will soon play. Of the other power leagues, only the SEC has decided to stick with eight conference games.
The Big Ten voted to go to nine games last summer before abandoning the plan when the Pac-12/Big Ten agreement developed. But many coaches were not in favor of playing nine games, and some athletic directors did not like the idea of having an imbalanced number of home and away league games.
Delany said playing just eight league games will give the Big Ten more opportunities to prove itself on a national basis, which he said will be helpful under the playoff system to be implemented in 2014. Strength of schedule is expected to be a key component that a selection committee will consider when choosing the four teams for the playoff.
"That committee will have to look with the eye test at conferences," Delany said. "But it will also have to look at competitive results between conferences. We think going forward that this is the best way to prepare for the new postseason model."
Delany said that the Big Ten schools serious about competing for national championships will soon have "enhanced schedules," meaning tougher nonconference games. Those schools, he said, will "not only demonstrate strength by winning Big Ten championships but also demonstrate strength relative to other conferences."
The commissioner said the Big Ten might work with other conferences to help scheduling, though he said that would likely not rise to the collaborative level that was planned with the Big Ten.