Big Ten To Re-Think Nine-Game Conference Schedule After Deal With Pac-12

The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced on Wednesday that they've entered an agreement designed around matching each league's 12 teams against each other for one non-conference football game every season beginning in 2017.

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Couple that with the Big Ten's talk since expanding last summer about playing a nine-game conference schedule, and non-conference scheduling flexibility immediately becomes a concern, but according to the Detroit Free Press, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany isn't married to the nine-game format.

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With the additional one-game-a-season commitment to the Pac-12, Delany said the Big Ten — which added Nebraska as a member this year — likely will rethink its move to a nine-game conference schedule in football in 2017.

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This is good news for those hoping the 2016-2017 series scheduled between Pitt and Penn State might be picked up in future seasons. A nine-game conference schedule, a league-mandated game against a Pac-12 team and a league-mandated game against a MAC team every season would have left Penn State with very little room and very few dates to negotiate with Pitt for 2018 or any season beyond that. Now, it's still possible that Penn State will have two open dates with which it can talk to Pitt about if the two schools decide they want to keep the re-incarnated rivalry going.

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The agreement between the Big Ten and Pac-12 also calls for cross-scheduling in men's and women's basketball as well as Olympic sports. Football games could be played at the Rose Bowl or other neutral site stadiums in both regions and basketball games could be moved to the Staples Center in Los Angeles or United Center in Chicago.

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