Big Ten coaches lament conference scheduling

first_imgAs the college football season starts its stretch run, many Big Ten players looking for a break from the pounding of conference play will be unable to find one. Although the blowout of Northern Illinois may have been exactly what UW needed heading into a tough three-game stretch, head coach Brett Bielema would have much rather had the week off. “The problem is we’re the only conference that doesn’t play after Thanksgiving,” Bielema said. “It kind of puts us in a jam because there’s nowhere to go.”Unlike other conferences that schedule games into December, every Big Ten team finishes the regular season before Thanksgiving. This season, the holiday falls on Nov. 22. Although Big Ten action comes to an end Nov. 17, some teams, like undefeated Hawaii and Arizona State, have the luxury of playing their final regular season game on Dec. 1. “We’d all love to have a bye week. Now we just have to figure out how to get it done,” Bielema said.Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr is one of the most passionate critics of the current schedule. “There is not a coach in the conference who does not think it is extremely important that we somehow [have] bye week,” Carr said. “There’s no doubt that for our players and for the sake of the players, we need a bye week.”Although Carr is not satisfied with the current schedule, he is not in favor of playing beyond Thanksgiving. Rather, Carr would prefer that the season start one week earlier to provide space for a bye week.. In addition to healing physically, a bye week might give some players a chance to recover academically. Much of the scheduling conflict is due to a recent change in the number of games played. In 2004, teams played eight Big Ten games and three nonconference games, but in 2005, a fourth nonconference game was added to each team’s schedule.No. 1 Buckeyes headed to hostile environmentIn other Big Ten news this week, the Ohio State Buckeyes will be traveling to State College, Penn., to take on the Nittany Lions. Although Ohio State is undefeated at 8-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country, they will face a tough test in Penn State, who is currently tied for third in the conference. Both Ohio State and Penn State are coming off close games against Michigan State and Indiana, respectively.In addition to being a talented team, Penn State will also challenge Ohio State with its crowd. According to Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, it is one of the most difficult sports venues to play at. “It affects [the game] when they carry on with that much volume,” Tressel said. The last time the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes played at Beaver Stadium, the Buckeyes lost 17-10. “We’re certainly going to have to be at our best and improve upon our past performances to be successful.The Nittany Lion crowd will be extra rowdy Saturday, as the game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. kickoff. The game will be nationally televised, and the ESPN Gameday crew will be on hand. “I think the fans, the tailgaters and all that stuff, they tailgate a little longer with 8,” Penn State head coach Joe Paterno said.last_img read more

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