LINCOLN — Just because Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst didn’t issue any proclamations after the recent Big Ten meetings doesn’t mean he sat in the back of the room twiddling his thumbs.
His style, Eichorst said Wednesday, and his status as the newest member of the A.D.’s club makes him more a researcher than a newsmaker for now.
“I’m not in a situation yet in the best interests of Nebraska to get out there with anything,” he said. “I would hate to come out with something that doesn’t come to fruition.
“I know our fan base is very passionate and is hanging on some of this stuff. But I’d rather get it right.”
Big Ten athletic directors and coaches met Sunday and Monday in Chicago, and talk of big changes followed:
Ľ Commissioner Jim Delany said the league will play nine or 10 conference games after Rutgers and Maryland join, instead of the current eight per season.
Ľ Ohio State A.D. Gene Smith pushed for night football games in November, and Delany said the Big Ten wouldn’t hinder such a movement.
Ľ Wisconsin A.D. Barry Alvarez said members have agreed to stop scheduling Football Championship Series (formerly I-AA) schools after current contracts are fulfilled.
Ľ There was general talk from several sources that the split of divisions in 2014 when the league grows to 14 will be geographic, as Delany said last December when Rutgers and Maryland were announced.
Increasing the number of conference football games played will impact nonconference scheduling, and could make it difficult to schedule seven home games each year.
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“We’ve got to keep that in consideration,” Eichorst said. “I know it’s important, but there are a lot of moving parts yet.”
Nebraska, like many power conference schools, relies on the revenue from a minimum of seven home football games a year to pay for other sports.
“With the current revenue structure in place, I think (seven home games) is vitally important,” Eichorst said. “But if there are other revenue streams that occur from mixing up the scheduling, that might take some pressure off that.”
Some Big Ten A.D.s noted that a big bump in TV revenue from a new contract in 2017 could make up for revenue lost without a seventh home game.
Though Nebraska’s athletic department budget could remain whole in such a scenario, fewer home games would dramatically impact hotels, restaurants and merchants in Lincoln and Omaha.
As for home night games in November, Eichorst wanted to clarify an espn.com report from Delany saying Nebraska, Penn State and Ohio State had lobbied for more night games.
“I was taken aback by that,” Eichorst said. “I checked back with Jim, and he indicated that was the position of the coaches. That wasn’t anything I endorsed.
“We’re all interested in looking at all variables. But I don’t have enough information yet.”
Big Ten athletic directors will hold more teleconferences this month and are scheduled to meet face-to-face again at the men’s basketball tournament in Chicago March 14 to 17.
“Really, everything is under consideration,” Eichorst said.
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