We've all assumed that a nine-game conference schedule is on the Big Ten horizon because, well, commissioner Jim Delany wants it.
And considering Delany spearheaded the universally applauded addition of Nebraska and has poured cash into the coffers by creating the Big Ten Network, the guy has some political muscle.
But a Big Ten insider warned against assuming that the nine-game slate will become a reality in 2015.
That insider was Delany himself.
"I know our fans want to see more Big Ten games," Delany told the Tribune. "Our TV partners want to see more Big Ten games. But if we can't finance our programs, it's not going to happen."
The way schools finance their programs is by having home football games. Only Northwestern is playing more than one true non-conference road game this season. Ohio State won't leave the Horseshoe a single time.
With a nine-game conference slate, teams would play five road games every other year. So to get to seven, they'd have to schedule every non-league game at home.
And that can be challenging for Iowa, whose home-and-home series with Iowa State goes through 2017, and traditional Notre Dame foes Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue.
Delany did say there's an "excellent chance" that the nine-game schedule
would be approved, though not for a while.
It's a hot subject this week because of the Big Ten's horrific slate of games. The ABC/ESPN family will televise two: Bowling Green at Michigan and Eastern Michigan at Ohio State. Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan aren't just obscure; they've combined for one victory this season.
And yet you'd have a better chance Saturday at Ohio Stadium of spotting Joe Paterno than an empty seat. Same for Camp Randall Stadium, where Wisconsin will host FCS foe Austin Peay.
"It will be a difficult challenge for us," Badgers coach Bret Bielema said, "with Austin Peay."
Considering the Badgers are favored by 43 points, it might actually be more challenging to beat a collection of writers from the AP.
So why the soft schedules? For one, fans don't demand good games, so they don't get them. More than 100,000 turned out for Kent State-Penn State, and the Big Ten actually set an attendance record by averaging 78,444 at its eight home games last Saturday.
"There's been no rebellion by the fans," Delany said. "They're not happy, but they're not in rebellion."
Two more reasons: It's cheaper to uh, hire, Austin Peay for a Saturday shellacking than to bring in, say, a Big 12 school. Ohio State will pay Colorado $1.4 million to visit Columbus on Sept. 24, in 2011 without having to return the favor with a trip to Boulder.
Delany said Big Ten teams are not afraid of playing upper-echelon opponents, as Ohio State (vs. Miami) and Penn State (at Alabama) have proved: "It's about home games. You can bring down the price (of a guarantee) by expanding the pool of opponents."
The final reason: There's simply not enough incentive to schedule tough teams, especially one week before the conference slate begins.
Delany is the guy who helped create the Big Ten-ACC Challenge in hoops. A year after the ACC waxed his league with seven victories in nine games, he extended the deal.
"You know me," he said. "I want to play the SEC in Florida, the Big 12 in Texas and the ACC every year (in basketball). But I don't have any authority or control over nonconference football or basketball games."
Delany also helped to create the formula used for the first BCS title game. After analyzing the schedules of past champions, he concluded that some one-loss teams had been more deserving of the title than certain undefeated teams. He pushed for significant input from unbiased computers.
"And we got pummeled for that," he said. "As much as the public and writers dislike polls, they couldn't conceive of a computer jumping a team with a stronger SOS (Strength of Schedule) over a consensus No. 2-ranked team."
So the Strength of Schedule component got scrapped and is merely a part of the formula that BCS computers now use in evaluating teams.
"People talk about strength of schedule," Delany said, "but they're really into undefeated teams."
That's why the pro-playoff crowd howled last year when Boise State, TCU and Cincinnati didn't get a shot at the title.
And it's part of why this week's Big Ten's marquee TV game features Ohio State and Eastern Michigan, whose coach, Ron English, said of his team's goal: "Hopefully our focus is on playing every snap as hard as we can."
The line on the game is 44 points.
Asked if the situation makes him cringe, Delany replied: "If I say yes, you'll write that I used that word. So you can go ahead and use your own quote."
OK, schedules like this are bad for fans, bad for the perception of the Big Ten and bad for recruiting.
Yup, makes me cringe.