Big Ten Media Days Notes: Delany softens stance on scheduling FCS opponents | Football

CHICAGO — Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has softened his stance on conference teams scheduling FCS opponents.

Speaking Monday at Big Ten Media Days, Delany said going forward it’s OK for conference teams to play FCS opponents in years where teams play only four league home games.

Three years ago, the Big Ten announced a policy to stop scheduling Football Championship Subdivision opponents. Some FCS games remained on Big Ten teams’ schedules because of prior contracts.

In pulling back on the policy, Delany mentioned the fact no other conferences joined the Big Ten in discouraging or banning FCS scheduling. What’s more, it’s not always easy for FBS teams to schedule seven home games in years when they play only four conference home games.

Nebraska this season has five conference home games. It has only four in 2018, but the schedule already is filled. The 2019 schedule, featuring five league home games, also is filled.

The Huskers’ 2020 schedule includes nonconference home games against Cincinnati (Sept. 12) and Central Michigan (Sept. 19), but a season-opening opponent hasn’t been announced.

That could theoretically become an FCS team in the wake of Delany’s comments Monday.

More ways to view Big Ten games: The Big Ten Network is expanding its footprint. At least digitally.

BTN president Mark Silverman said Thursday that the network will stream games and other programming on services that do not require viewers to have a cable subscription.

Among the platforms BTN plans to stream on beginning this fall are Hulu, YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, Playstation Vue and Fox Sports Go.

Hulu and YouTube both launched live-streaming services this spring.

“If you don’t want to subscribe to cable anymore there are different providers; other ways to get the content. The key for us is to make sure we’re agnostic,” Silverman said. “We need to do our job of being widely available however it is you want to watch the network.”

The new BTN deal with Fox to broadcast football games — six years, beginning this season — means BTN will also appear on the Fox Sports Go app.

“If you want to watch — we have distribution partnerships through cable, satellite, telephone companies and over-the-top providers. And you need to be available wherever your viewers opt to watch their content,” Silverman said.

As more and more people move away from traditional cable and toward streaming services, Silverman said, it was important for BTN to keep pace with the trend.

Buckeyes move on from Beck: While he never said the name, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer made it clear the Buckeyes were ready to move on from Tim Beck after ending last season with a 31-0 loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff.

While the former Nebraska offensive coordinator wasn’t technically fired from his position as co-offensive coordinator for the Buckeyes, there wasn’t exactly a rush of support to keep him in Columbus when it was announced he would make the move to Texas.

“Professionally, it changed how we do some business on offense and we’re moving forward,” Meyer said of the loss to Clemson.

Earlier in the day, when asked about new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and the role the former Indiana head coach has taken in shaping Ohio State’s offense this season, Meyer said, “We had some weaknesses a year ago, and I’d like to see some improvement. And I think Kevin will have a major impact.”

Big schedule news coming?: Well, this would be cool.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Wisconsin and Notre Dame are discussing a two-game series to be played in the 2020s — and the goal is to play one game at Soldier Field in Chicago and one at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“I thought last year was neat for our players playing in Lambeau,” Badgers head coach Paul Chryst said of his team’s 16-14 win against then-No. 5 LSU.

“I don’t know where (the current) conversations are at, but I think it could be pretty cool.”

College football has been hit-and-miss at Soldier Field. Northwestern and Illinois met there in 2015, and the 61,500-seat stadium was half-empty.

But Notre Dame-Wisconsin?

That would be a hot ticket.

BTN talent additions: Mark Silverman announced some new talent for the network’s studio shows, with former Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis drawing especially strong praise.

“James Laurinaitis had perhaps the best screen test I’ve ever seen,” Silverman told reporters. “James came in and the intelligence, how thoughtful, well spoken, for somebody who literally just retired (from the NFL) months ago, really blew us all away.”

Laurinaitis retired in April after an eight-year career.

“I’m just humbled and honored at the opportunity,” the Wayzata, Minnesota, native told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I’m ready to work hard, be a sponge, learn and continue to watch and talk about the game I love.”

Former Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards and ex-Northwestern defensive end Corey Wootton are among other BTN additions.

Preseason honors: The Big Ten announced its 2017 football preseason honors.

A media panel selected the top five players from each division, and no Huskers appear on the list this year.

East Division–Tegray Scales, sr., LB, Indiana; J.T. Barrett, sr., QB, Ohio State; Tyquan Lewis, sr., DE, Ohio State; Saquon Barkley, jr., RB, Penn State; Trace McSorley, sr., QB, Penn State.

West Division–Josey Jewell, sr., LB, Iowa; Goodwin Igwebuike, sr., S, Northwestern; Justin Jackson, sr., RB, Northwestern; Jack Cichy, sr., LB, Wisconsin; Troy Fumagalli, sr., TE, Wisconsin.

Cichy’s gruesome injury: Cichy returns this season after suffering a particularly painful injury last October against Iowa — the week before Wisconsin’s game against Nebraska in Madison.

Cichy said Monday he felt “something explode” in his shoulder area while making a tackle late in the first half against the Hawkeyes.

“My whole tendon was off the bone,” he said matter-of-factly.

It required surgery to drill the tendon back into the bone, he said.

He was asked if such an injury dampens his enthusiasm for the game.

“I know the risks,” he said. “I love the game and I’m willing to risk the injuries. I really don’t think about it while I’m playing.”

Although he missed half of last season, Cichy still tied for fourth on the team with 60 tackles and had seven tackles for loss, 1½ sacks, two pass breakups and three quarterback hurries.

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