Analysis | What the Potential Big Ten Conference Realignment Means for Penn State Football | Penn State Football News – Archyde

The Big Ten could soon take the first steps towards a realignment of the conference.

The current 14-team format, split evenly between the East and West divisions, is structured such that a given team must play all division opponents and two interdivision opponents each season, for a total of nine conference matchups.

While the East has narrowly trumped the West 77-70 in the regular season since 2014, the East has since won all eight conference championships.

After East Division champion Michigan wiped out Iowa 42-3 in the 2021 Big Ten Championship, it alluded even more to the potential need for a conference realignment.

Here’s where the Big Ten currently stands in calls for a realignment and how that alignment could affect Penn State.

What is discussed?

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said Wednesday that the Big Ten are discussing dropping divisions and moving to an eight-game conference list, as reported by The Athletic’s Scott Dochterman.

“We’ve had several conversations,” Barta said. “One of the things we’re watching is if it’s related to The Alliance that we’re talking about and/or what gives us the best opportunity to have the most success in the college football playoff format?”

If the college football playoffs expand to allow more than four teams, the Big Ten would likely want to make the most of the opportunity and give their consistently dominant teams — Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin, etc. — the best Chance to make the postseason.

With four of those five teams playing in the East, not a season goes by without each team playing each other, making it increasingly difficult for a Big Ten team to make the playoffs ahead of other one-loss teams that may have played on a simpler schedule .

While the details of the schedule are unclear in the early stages of discussions, there has been discussion of giving each program three permanent rivalry games while the other 10 teams rotate every two years or even two years later and two years free.

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The Alliance

While a new playoff format could influence the Big Ten’s decision to realign, another entity could also force the conference to do so: The Alliance.

With the league’s media rights deals expiring after the 2022 season, the 2023 season could be the first to host Big Ten matchups with ACC and Pac-12 schools as part of the alliance between the three conferences that has been held in the past announced August.

If the Big Ten decide to reduce their conference schedule to eight games, it could open up a spot for an additional ACC or Pac-12 matchup.

With 2023 approaching and the League looking to finalize planning for each conference sooner rather than later, discussions are being driven forward with a sense of urgency.

Where Penn State stands on the realignment

James Franklin wasn’t shy when asked for his thoughts on changing the playoff format or realigning the conference.

When some of his athletes withdrew from the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 to submit to the NFL Draft, Franklin addressed those concerns and spoke about what he thinks can be done to address a current problem with Bowl rejection – tackle games.

“Do in my eyes [the playoff] as big as possible,” Franklin said in December. “Once we expand the playoffs, I think we’re going to keep pushing those other bowl games back. If we expand the playoffs, I think we should expand them as much as possible to give more teams a chance to play for the title, but also to be able to protect those bowl games by including them in so much process as possible.”

Regarding the conference’s realignment, Franklin said he believes every conference should follow the same model.

“How can you have some conferences playing against FCS opponents and other conferences not? How can some conferences play nine conference games and others eight?” Franklin said in November.

Franklin also appeared to favor rebalancing the Big Ten’s divisions, whether for a fairer regular-season schedule or a better shot at a playoff bid.

“You want to split it up as evenly as possible,” Franklin said in October. “If you’re trying to get as many teams into the playoffs as possible, that should also be in the interest of the conference.”

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