CHICAGO — Unlike some of his peers, Iowa director of athletics Gary Barta isn’t getting too far ahead of himself when it comes to scheduling nonconference football games.
Barta said at last week’s Big Ten kickoff that he doesn’t expect Iowa to join other schools in locking down nonconference opponents for games that won’t kickoff for a decade into the future.
The Hawkeyes will continue to play Iowa State on annual basis — something he does not foresee changing — and will likely continue to mix in an assortment of opponents from the Mid-American and Mountain West conferences.
Barta said he is open to playing an occasional game at a neutral site, but only as long as it makes sense for Iowa to do so.
"I am looking at some unique opportunities out a ways that might be even bigger than (Iowa’s typical nonconference fare) to our fans," Barta said. "We’ve played some games here in Chicago at Soldier Field. I haven’t yet found one that fits, but I wouldn’t be against a neutral game if we could find the right fit."
Iowa has played three neutral-site games during the regular season in Kirk Ferentz’s first 20 seasons as the Hawkeyes’ head coach, most recently facing Northern Illinois in a 2012 game at Soldier Field.
In 2000, Iowa played Kansas State in the Eddie Robinson Classic at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, and in 2007 it faced Northern Illinois in the Chicago NFL venue.
If a neutral site game were to happen, it would likely be several years down the road.
In announcing a two-year extension of its contract with Iowa State recently, Iowa has filled its nonconference schedules through the 2024 season.
Barta said the annual Cy-Hawk match-up remains something that both he and coach Kirk Ferentz want as part of the Hawkeyes’ early-season schedule.
"We think it’s good for our state, and we think it’s good for college football," Barta said. "Matt (Campbell, preparing for his fourth season at Iowa State) is doing a terrific job, so I think it’s going to continue getting better."
Barta said one of the reasons he is hesitant to sign contracts for games too far down the road is the uncertainty of how many conference games the Hawkeyes will play.
He echoed several Big Ten coaches in saying that teams from power-five conferences need to play the same number of conference games.
While Barta’s preference would be for a 10-game league schedule — something he concedes won’t likely happen — he doesn’t want Iowa to get locked into contracts that would need to be changed if the league does shift in either direction from its current nine-game schedule.
"To me, it doesn’t make sense to get too far ahead of yourself before you know what dates you are working with," Barta said.