Paul Rhoads doesn't mind that Big Ten administrators and coaches will discuss in meetings this week expanding future conference football schedules to nine games.

The Iowa State football coach would prefer a level playing field.

"The college game seems to be headed in that direction with more conference competition rather than less," Rhoads said during the Cyclone Tailgate Tour's Quad-Cities stop last week. "If we're going to play nine conference games, which we are, I'd like everybody else to play nine, too.''

With its revamped lineup of 10 schools, the Big 12 shifts from an eight-game conference schedule to nine league games this fall.

The schedule change implemented after the departure of Nebraska and Colorado for other conferences leaves ISU playing 11 of its 12 games during the 2011 season against teams from BCS conferences.

"I'd prefer that not to be the case every year, but we'll deal with it," said Rhoads, who suspects that Iowa State will face 10 BCS schools - nine in the Big 12 and nonconference foe Iowa - on an annual basis in future 12-game schedules.

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"What I think coaches want is some balance. You don't want to put yourself at a disadvantage when it comes to qualifying for bowls compared to teams from other conferences."

Rhoads said the new Big 12 alignment, which guarantees Iowa State two games in Texas each year, already is paying dividends in recruiting the talent-rich state.

"It helped us this past year as we recruited (Mesquite, Texas, defensive back) Jared Brackens," Rhoads said. "We're giving those kids more chances to go back to their home state and compete on a consistent basis. Nebraska can't offer those Texas kids that anymore."

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