College football fans have been anticipating more changes to the college football landscape but those changes to college football will not be limited to conference expansion. The college football fan should watch for this change to occur in college football, which will be done in preparation for bigger things to happen. The change is adding more games to the regular season schedule.
This change will potentially grease the wheels for more expansion with the addition of one or two more games to the college football schedule, with the decision to add games the discussion of conference expansion becomes easier, and when this occurs you can be sure that there will be large scale conference movement. Currently college programs play 12 regular season games, and should a program play in a conference championship game and a bowl game, the program could conceivably play fourteen games. Some of you may remember that a Steve Sarkisian led BYU team in 1996 played fifteen games. So there is a precedent for a college program to play at least fifteen games.
The extra games, some will argue are going to take its toll on the student athletes but let us take a closer look, high school teams that play in their state championship game, play at least fourteen games, and have a roster of 30 to 40 players. Professional football will be playing a schedule of 18 regular season games (yes it is coming) with a roster of 53 players which may be raised to 60 players with an 18 game season looming. So it stands to reason that the NCAA may add at least one more game and more than likely two as they have rosters of 85 scholarship players and ten to fifteen walk-ons. One hundred players are more than enough to survive the rigors of a fourteen game regular season.
The reason for adding two games are simple in the minds of the NCAA and its member institutions; more money. Programs that sell out at home are going to love adding the extra home games as they know that they will be filled close to capacity which means another opportunity to make money from gate receipts, parking and concessions. Additionally, there will be no shortage of programs which will be willing to take the money, and the beat down, from these schools, should one of these extra games be used as a non conference game. Adding one more game to the conference docket will allow for the opportunity for even schedules and more cross over games in bigger conferences, smaller conferences will use those extra games to fund their program, with money games.
Television also will want the extra games. “He who makes the gold makes the rules” and in this case television is the entity that is paying, so they may ask the NCAA to convince member schools to add games, which allows for more opportunities to sell advertising.
Lastly with conference re-expansion somewhere on the horizon an extra conference game will make the idea of sixteen team mega conference more palatable among the coaching establishment. The biggest complaint among conference members is that the competitive balance within a conference become unfair in a bigger conference. Programs do not play on equal footing. If you are in the PAC-12 south and you do not have to play Oregon this year then already you have an advantage over the other Pac-12 south members that do have the Ducks on the schedule. The extra game will not alleviate this but it will make the conference expansion discussion a little easier, and we know that it is coming.