IOWA CITY — Kirk Ferentz always has subscribed to the notion that eight is enough when it comes to the number of conference football games Big Ten teams play.
The 15th-year Iowa coach also knows that his opinion likely won’t alter the momentum for change that exists among conference administrators who are tiring of cutting increasingly larger checks to secure nonconference opponents and a commissioner who favors increased competition between Big Ten institutions in all sports.
In meetings last month, Big Ten administrators weighed the pros and cons of moving to an expanded conference football schedule.
They discussed nine- and 10-game league schedules but took no formal action as they continued to weigh division alignment changes that will take place beginning in 2014, when Maryland and Rutgers join the Big Ten.
“It’s a decision that will be made at a level above our heads,” Ferentz said. “Whatever the way it ends up coming down, that’s the way it will end up coming down.
“There is not much I can say about that, but it sounds like we are going to go to nine games. It sounds like that train is going down the tracks.”
Ferentz has his reasons for favoring the eight-team arrangement.
Mostly, he does not like what would be an unbalanced schedule that a nine-team league schedule would create.
Already used by programs in the Pac-12, a nine-game schedule gives teams five conference home games and four league road games in one year, followed by five conference road games and four home games the next.
“There is some inequity there that is a concern,” Ferentz said.
Sign up for the Hawkmania Newsletter
Get our comprehensive Hawkeyes coverage delivered to your inbox
But, Ferentz understands the reality of things.
“Whatever we decide, we’ll adjust and live with it,” Ferentz said. “Certainly nine games would be a new experience for us, but as long as everybody’s playing by the same rules and principles, that’s the way it is.”
Ferentz said at least for now, he prefers nine league games compared to the possibility of a 10-game conference schedule.
“I don’t know if we’re ready for 10 yet or not,” he said. “A lot of people weren’t ready for 12 (Big Ten teams), but we’ve got that now, too.”