Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti Wants More ‘Meaningful’ Games Late in Season
Timothy LogoFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 14, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 26: Big Ten Conference Commissioner Tony Petitti speaks during the Big Ten Conference Media Days on July 26, 2023 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti wants the 18-team conference to find ways to ensure that there are big-time matchups with College Football Playoff implications occuring later in the season, namely in November.

“When you’re as deep as we are, we’ve got to do things to make sure that we have the access to the postseason that we think we deserve and has to be earned on the field,” he told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg on Wednesday. “I’m a big believer in that, and that helps your regular season. More teams playing more meaningful games later in the season, I think we still can do more there.”

It makes sense to want compelling matchups later in the season. Namely, fair or not, those games almost always seem to have major ramifications on the final CFP standings, and more teams will have a shot at the Playoff as it moves to a 12-team format.

There are a number of challenges Petitti will face in such an endeavor, however.

For one, there’s no real way of knowing which teams will be the best teams on a year-to-year basis. Sure, programs like Ohio State and Michigan are normally strong, but even they can falter.

Also, since the Big Ten needs to utilize a rotating schedule since every team can’t play one another in an 18-team league, there will simply be years when some top teams aren’t scheduled to play other contenders, outside of protected rivalry matchups.

One way to remedy that might be to create a top division and secondary division, with a few teams graduating to the top division per season and a few teams getting bumped down to the second division, a la relegation in European soccer.

It’s hard to imagine the schools that haven’t traditionally had strong football programs—who would likely end up stuck in the second division—would want such a system, however.

So the Big Ten will face a number of challenges while trying to ensure a number of meaningful games in November that impact the CFP picture.

“We’ve got some work to do to figure out what that [future model] is, because obviously, it has real impact on your regular season,” Petitti told Rittenberg. “You want to make sure that your teams have the ability to have a breakout season and qualify. And we also have to be realistic about what should get you access, in terms of number of wins. Look, we want meaningful games late in the season.”

“We want fans to think that you know a game in the second week of November, even if you’ve already lost two or three games, still has a lot of value,” he continued. “That’s the goal.”

Whether it’s consistently achievable remains to be seen.

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