Cupcake scheduling has been a part of college football for awhile now and, like it or not it, will be around for the foreseeable future. Well the Big Ten has decided to go against the grain on that notion and practically banning their schools from scheduling any FCS teams starting in 2014.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez led the charge for the Big Ten to strengthen their non-conference schedules by no longer playing FCS schools and he should be applauded for it. But there’s one school that would not mind still scheduling some cupcakes and that’s Penn State.
The Nittany Lions are getting through their own troubles after the NCAA sanctions handed down in July and not being able to schedule any FCS primers before conference play will hurt them the most. They are already behind the curve recruiting wise, with the limited number of scholarships they are able to give out each year under the sanctions, so an easier schedule was a major plus. Penn State will have a lot of youth but they will also be lacking depth under the sanctions so the early games were a major tool in their evaluations. But now without those easier games it will be even more difficult to gauge their players before they head into conference play each year.
In 2012 Penn State didn’t play any FCS schools and it hurt them in the early season as they were entering their first season under new head coach Bill O’Brien. The Nittany Lions don’t have any FCS teams scheduled this season or beyond 2013 so not being able to schedule them won’t necessarily change their thinking but it will hinder the ability to rely on that possibility.
The Big Ten will be soon moving to a 9-10 game conference schedule when they welcome Maryland and Rutgers to the conference in 2014 so non-conference scheduling will be difficult moving forward. However, even though the conference’s schools will play fewer non-conference games, playing the cupcakes will no longer be accepted.
Once the sanctions really set in for Penn State, in the next year or two, they will be ruing the fact that they can’t schedule easier games.