Big Ten to Count Army, 3 AAC Teams as Power Five Opponents

By Kevin Kelley -

Back in July, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany announced a new “strength of schedule commitment” for its member teams beginning in 2016.

That commitment included several key stipulations:

  • Each Big Ten school should schedule a non-conference game against an “autonomy five opponent” (commonly referred to as Power Five). That means a game against a team from the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, or SEC.
  • In addition, Delany stated that games against BYU and Notre Dame will count towards the strength of schedule requirement.
  • Also, the Big Ten will discontinue the scheduling of FCS teams beginning in 2016. According to Delany, this component is considered an “athletic directors agreement” rather than a mandate.

Last week, it was reported by the Indianapolis Star that Indiana had been granted an exception to count Cincinnati and UConn as Power Five teams for scheduling purposes.

The Hoosiers already have future home-and-home series set up against both Cincinnati and UConn, which dates back to last year. IU and Cincinnati are set for 2021 and 2022, while the Hoosiers will take on UConn in 2019 and 2020.

According to Big Ten senior associate commissioner Mark Rudner, more Group of Five teams could be included.

“We looked at their RPI for the last five or six years,” Rudner told the Star’s Mark Alesia. “If someone comes to us with a request, we’ll evaluate it. That’s what happened with these two. Those seemed to fit.”

Today we learned of two more schools, one Independent and one from the American Athletic Conference, that will supposedly count towards the Big Ten’s scheduling requirement. Those two teams are Army and Navy, per Brett McMurphy of

If you think it’s starting to get a little confusing as to which conference can schedule a certain team and have it count under their mandate, you’re right. It would be easier to fall back to scheduling whoever you like and let the chips fall where they may, but I digress.

The ACC, Big Ten, and the SEC are the only three conferences that currently have a non-conference scheduling mandate. The Big Ten is the only conference of those three to play nine-conference games (beginning in 2016) and to discourage the scheduling of FCS schools moving forward.

Here’s a look at who each conference can currently schedule, per reports:

ACC (2017+)

Any team from the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC, plus BYU and Notre Dame.

Big Ten (2016+)

Any team from the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC, plus Army, BYU, Cincinnati, Navy, Notre Dame, and UConn. No FCS opponents.

SEC (2016+)

Any team from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-12, plus Army, BYU and Notre Dame.

  1. schoup
    September 22, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Looking at future schedules this can be labeled the Indiana exemption. The other schools who have Cincy, Uconn, Army on their schedules who have completed that year, also have a true P5 that same year. Indiana is the schools that has these G5 exemption schools treated as P5’s as the only way to meet the new scheduling guidelines. Ie…the year Michigan has Cincy scheduled they also have a real P5 in Florida; another year they have Army but also have a real P5 in Arkansas. OSU has Cincy in 2019 but also has a real P5 in TCU. Indiana in comparison from 2019 thru 2022 has their full OOC scheduled and the only way they meet the new B10 requirements is by counting UConn and Cincy as P5’s

    • Jack Doff
      September 23, 2015 at 5:02 pm

      If the Big Can’t Count Conference wants to up it’s strength of schedule, then it should play fewer conference games. I don’t even consider that conference as one of the “Power 5”. Weak!

    • No Thanks
      September 23, 2015 at 5:30 pm

      Jack Off – How can you say the BIG is not a Power 5 conference when it has the reigning national champion, the top 2 teams in the country right now, and 2 other ranked teams?

  2. schoup
    September 22, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Sorry Army as wells as UConn as an exemption.

    Navy owns Army recently 13 wins in a row, but Army is an exemption and Navy isn’t. Navy also has pulled more P5 upsets in recent history. UConn had 1 good year and lucked into a BCS bowl game. Cincy has case but not nearly as good as Boise St, who is not an exemption.

  3. PeteF3
    September 22, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    How on earth is Boise not on this list? (And this actually matters because Michigan State has them on future schedules).

    • schoup
      September 22, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      It doesn’t matter b/c MSU will schedule an actual P5 those years. The last time they played Boise they scheduled a real P5 that year, ND. MSU knows having BYU as your marquee OOC is not going to look good to the CFP and thus they will have a real P5 also. Knowing that is why MSU didn’t seek an exemption status for their Boise games. IU clearly sought exemptions for UConn and Cincy. The other schools have those schools in the future have real P5’s the same years. The fact is IU knows that going to 9 conf games, FCS phase out, they are going to have a tough time making bowl eligbility most years, They need years where they don’t play a real P5 to give them a better shot.

    • Justin Martin
      September 30, 2015 at 7:21 am

      Because the little 14 is doing whatever is most convenient for them. It’s a farce. Looks good on paper, but the devil is in the details.

      Army? UConn?!? ??? I’m dying over here… What? No App State?
      You want a legit five exceptions? ND obviously, BYU, Cinci, Boise, UCF (seriously, throw this year out). Guess Penn State is too scared to get curb stomped by UCF AGAIN in Happy Valley.

  4. Josh
    September 22, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    I think the Big Ten didn’t really want this to get out. I also think people are misinterpreting what is going on here. Indiana’s future schedules were already quite full even before the Big Ten said they were going to nine conference games and therefore 3 non-conference games. So they were really in a box as far as scheduling goes. I think the Big Ten threw them a bone here and determined their schedules were in the spirit of what the Big Ten wants to do out of conference. I don’t think if anyone tried to schedule UConn tomorrow the Big Ten would allow it at that time.

    • schoup
      September 22, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      Wrong. IU just completed those years schedules recently. IU knows with a 9 game conf schedule that means another loss for them 80% of the time. The also know they have done poorly OOC vs P5’s most of the time. They wanted to skirt playing a P5 OOC some years to have any shot of bowl eligibility by having 3 good chances of OOC wins and with no FCS’s that makes it harder for them.

  5. Gatorhead5
    September 22, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    This is getting stupid.

  6. bradleysmith1212
    September 22, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Could this be related to the Big Ten media rights negotiations? Army, Navy, UConn, and Cincy deliver some of the top TV ratings among the non-Autonomy ranks and lineup nicely on the B1G’s new eastern border.

    • schoup
      September 22, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      NO! Media rights negotiations move the B10 made was on going to 9 games which means more cross division games among the better schools east/west . Networks aren’t going to be be putting stock in OOC’s vs not real P5’s. Also, the top schools who are going to be the network games vabc/espn/espn2 are going to schedule more than “exemption schools” as their marquee OOC yearly. The exemptions are about bottom schools like IU, etc…who in some years don’t want to play a P5 OOC b/c they will have 9 conf games

  7. Stuart
    September 22, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    Delaney and the B1G is not going to force schools to rip up contracts. It’s a “going forward” agreement. I am not sure UConn or Cincy really are counting for Indiana as the reporter implies or if more likely it’s just Indiana’s contracts are considered grandfathered, so they won’t be penalized.

  8. David
    September 22, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Considering how football’s turning out, and basketball also, UConn might have been a better choice than Rutgers in some ways after all. So, why not UCF next?

  9. Sam
    September 22, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    What a convoluted mess.

    So what about Fresno St (Gophers 18-19 home and home).and USF (Illni 17-18 home-and-home), And UCF is on Maryland 2016 schedule and Cincin on 2016 Purdue schedule.

    And cannot call UConn an Indiana exception when Illinois has Uconn scheduled for 19-20.

    I don’t see Navy or Army on future B1G schedules, so I assume we should look for those adds coming soon.

    Just add all AAC and MWC programs to the list and be done with it.

    But I cannot fathom Army could be considered as a P5. If a B1G program cannot schedule better than that then they don’t belong in the B1G.

  10. Sam
    September 22, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    Appears Delaney & Co miscalculated when developing the mandate.

    Appears to be a temporary reprieve for Indiana though 2022.

    And possibly to help Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota out with scheduling issues in 2019-20.

    I foresee NW taking advantage of these exceptions as well.

    Still perplexed why Fresno St and USF not included in the list. And why Army is on the list.

    • Stuart
      September 22, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      Northwestern never has trouble scheduling Wake, Vandy, or Stanford, even Notre Dame or BC. So I doubt they’d ever use the exemption. I think it’s just going to b e Indiana who gets the exemption because of the contracts they signed prior to the agreement

  11. Sam
    September 22, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    Stuart…Indiana agreements with Cincin and UConn were made in May and July of 2014. Much before the “P5 mandate” was announced by Delaney.

    Illinois must have received an exception with USF in 17-18 and UConn in 19-20.

    And Wisconsin has USF in 2019 (in addition to BYU in 2017-18).

    And Minnesota has Fresno St in 2018-19.

    So are these not exceptions too? Why is anyone saying the exemptions are for Indiana only?

    Clearly other programs are taking advantage of the exceptions (read the ESPN report).

    Yes NW enjoys scheduling home-and-homes with peer educational institutions, but NW can only schedule Duke so often, and expect fewer games with Stanford and ND now. Await to see who NW schedules for 2020-21.

    And why were Navy and Army added to the exemption list? The answer may be coming soon with Navy filling single openings for 2020 and 2023. And Army has one opening for both 2019 and 2021.

    Purdue has a single hole to fill for 2019. Minnesota has a single hole to fill in 2020.

    I haven’t looked at the open dates, but some possibilities:
    Army-Purdue in 2019?
    Navy-Minnesota in 2020?

    • Stuart
      September 23, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      Only Indiana seems to have asked for the exemption.

      Purdue has P5 opponents scheduled through 2027, only 2019 & 2022 lack them, but they have 2 open slots both years to fill. 2016 Purdue might use the Cincy game.

      Minnesota has open slots still in 2019 & 2020, but 2018 is filled without a P5 school. They might move a 2018 game to a later date to make room for a P5 school.

      Anything after 2017 is still up in the air. Several schools in the ACC and SEC, as well the Big 12 and Pac-12 have yet to complete their schedules. B1G schools for the most part were scheduling P5 schools anyway. Like the SEC and ACC it just means the few who didn’t in given years have to start getting it done.

      What it does tell me however is the P5 might be open to Cincinnati or Connecticut going Football Independent like BYU so they can count them. With the 8+1 and 9+1 becoming the norm, there is a need for as many as 5 or even 6 P5 counting Independents who schedule 5+ P5 schools a year, plus each other for a couple more. If you had ND, BYU, Cincy, UConn, maybe one more like say Houston all as P5 Independents then P5 could break as it’s own division.They wouldn’t need G5 at that point.

    • @dbrunstheworld
      September 30, 2015 at 8:01 pm

      You are right, Stuart. If a couple of these teams did go independent it would make Army, UMass and BYU more stable as well, they would be over the barrel less when trying to schedule November games, they could play one another.

  12. Gator Hater
    September 22, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    too much thought on this issue guys

  13. ihatekstate
    September 23, 2015 at 3:08 am

    Don’t for get the acc well let confrence games be non – confrence games too
    PAC 12 did that with cal and Colorado a few years back.

    • schoup
      September 24, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      Cal/CO was by necessity as CO joined the Conference recently and it would have been really hard to in 1 yr for both to find a P5 replacement with that specific date available. The ACC thing is a cop out b/c it’s being done way in advance and not forced like the above case. Also, SEC did that the same for A&M the year after they joined with their Arkansas game scheduled when they were still in the B12

  14. TacoBill
    September 23, 2015 at 3:38 am

    Oscar, Ohio State and Michigan have a P5 opponent scheduled when Army is on their schedules. So your point had no relevance to the topic of discussion.

  15. TacoBill
    September 23, 2015 at 4:09 am

    Ihatekstate, Colorado-Cal was already scheduled as an OOC game, then Colorado was invited to join the Pac-12. So no good reason to cancel that game.

    WF-NC are nearby rivals, who hardly play each other in conference, so you might be on to something in regards to Indiana scheduling up cross division opponents to OOC games. Indiana in the B1G east could schedule with Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota or Northwestern in the B1G west.

    But really, why wasn’t the Indiana AD on the ball getting Vanderbilt, WSU, Colorado, Duke or Kansas on the schedule? Instead the Hoosiers take the easy way out. I suspect Indiana’s scheduling strategy back fires and Indiana regrets negative scheduling as Baylor has.

    • schoup
      September 25, 2015 at 8:45 am

      B1G teams will not schedule cross division as OOC like the lame stuff in the ACC. If the ACC were so concerned about rivals playing they wouldn’t have kept the silly 6-1-1 format which means you play 6 teams in the conf just twice in 12 years. B1G are going to 6-3 format with no permanent cross overs which means you play 3 of the 7 yearly cross division .

  16. dyates1963
    September 23, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Keep in mind that these policies do not mean these team can’t schedule any teams other than the listed (except for FCS for Big Ten, which really isn’t a rule). They have to schedule at least one out of conference game a year against certain teams. They can still schedule others for the other two or or three OOC games.

  17. Shep
    September 23, 2015 at 9:51 am

    I’m a MSU alum, and I think the mandate is just stupid. I’d rather see them play a really good NDSU, Boise State, or NIU team than UConn or Army.

    • schoup
      September 24, 2015 at 2:35 pm

      They don’t have to play these schools, it’s up to them. The stop schools in the B10 are going to continue to schedule actual P5’s and if they put these teams on they will schedule an actual P5 the same year. This is about the bottom schools who struggle to be bowl eligible(IU,IL, etc..) and will even more with a 9 game conf schedule and lack of FCS games is what this is about. They don’t want to play a real P5 every year and this allows them not to sometimes.

  18. ccurry14
    September 23, 2015 at 11:34 am

    So what about the game that was recently scheduled between IU and Georgia Southern…

  19. GoBucks
    September 23, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Yes I agree. For the SEC and B1G to include Army as a P5 and not Air Force or Boise State is way off base. Boise State is as good or better than at least 1/2 of the P5 programs right now, and is capable of beating many in the top tier of their conference. Army (all due respect) has performed well below most G5 programs over the last 15 years. I just don’t understand the reasoning. I wonder if the playoff committee considers Army a P5 quality opponent.

    • schoup
      September 24, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      People do some research, the exemptions are based on requests. The only B10 school with Boise in the future is MSU and MSU being a top program in the conf with national title hopes is going to schedule a real P5 along with Boise in the same year. These exemptions are about bottom programs like IU who will struggle to make bowls with a 9 game conf schedule, 1 more loss most years, and the phasing out of fCS games.

  20. MrVandy212
    September 23, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    It’s pretty obvious why Notre Dame, Cincinnati, BYU, and UConn are included. They are the most Power5-ready. Not that they have the best football teams, but overall (football, basketball, geography, television) they are the most appealing. All have been considered for invitations to a Power 5 conference. I would argue that Army and Navy have national brands, and were their football teams better, they would have also been considered by Power 5’s. I think the Big Ten wants to encourage playing them. Not sure why Air Force wasn’t included.

    I feel like going further than that will complicate things. There are plenty top Go5 teams that are better than the bottom P5 teams, and that changes from year to year.

    On a side note, why doesn’t the Big 12 invite Cincinnati and BYU already? I feel like they are dragging their feet and the more they do that the more B12 teams will start sniffing around (Oklahoma-SEC, Kansas-B1G).

    • schoup
      September 24, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      The B12 is the worst run P5 conf, they rejected Louisville who was eager to join. There is a reason the B12 lost so many teams during realignment, it’s run horribly. Case in point last year they talked 1 true champion all year, had ads with that slogan all season. Then the conf got meally mouthed on who the champion was when 2 teams finished 8-1, trying to game the playoff. They didn’t declare the head to head winner the “true champion.” They also allowed UT to have their own network which makes the feasibility of a conf network zero. UT has a ridiculous deal getting 20mil/yr from ESPN that is way more than they would get in a conf network share and more than they deserve. ESPN is taking a bath on the deal. They are clown show conference in how they manage things.

    • Tully
      September 24, 2015 at 9:30 pm

      I do not see the Big 12 inviting any new teams the conference for a couple reasons: 1) If some new teams were interested in joining the Big 12 they might very well ask that Texas and OU along with the minions of the Big 12 sign an extended GOR. I do not see Texas or OU doing that at this time. If that sort of thing were made public, all that would remain to be discussed, is when would Texas and OU be jumping to a new conference. 2) If new teams were added I would expect OU and Texas to probably remain in the same division. (Maybe not) but adding new teams would mean some of the minions would only have OU or Texas playing at their place once every 4 or 5 years. (Money)

    • schoup
      September 25, 2015 at 8:58 am


      The B12 already have GOR thru the end of the next Fox deal which is like 2024/2025. Any of the schools added would not be bargaining about GOR, they will happy to join as they will make way more money. Also, even if there is realignment mid 2020’s which is likely b/c several of the conferences deals end within 1 or 2 years of each other which is prime for realignment occurring, the added school to the B12 will be more in the realignment talk being in a P5 than trying to get in 2024/25. They will atleast be at the table, in the discussion as a B12 member and have more of an idea what’s going on. About not playing as much, all they have to do is go to a 5-4 format with 12 teams like the P12. In P12 you play 4 of 6 cross divisions yearly. They could actually put OU and texas in other divisions and just make a deal like P12 does that has it so all the CA teams play yearly even though 2 are in each division. They also could do like the b10 which is in 6-3 format and the only schools allowed permanent cross over are Purdue and Indiana, they could make OU and Tx the only permanent cross over to retain the res river rivalry annually.

  21. Joe
    September 24, 2015 at 9:23 am

    I think the reason Air Force isn’t included is simply based on the geography of where these teams are… Not that a Big Ten or SEC team won’t schedule Air Force, but, for the eastern half of the Big Ten, at least, Army is pretty much in the same region. That’s just my though. Air Force might make a good exemption for the Big 12 or Pac 12. But for the SEC and Big Ten, there are more than enough schools to schedule that are closer to home. Just my opinion.

  22. Drew
    September 24, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    They should just add any school that’s been to an access bowl (BCS/CFP), along with Army, Navy and Air Force. And sure add BYU.

    That adds:
    Air Force
    Boise State
    Central Florida
    Northern Illinois

  23. Tully
    September 24, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    I was wondering what the fallout of the first week losses by Big Ten teams would be. The Big 10 had 5 losses OOC that first week. Four were to P5 teams and PSU lost to Temple. This of Bowl eligible scheduling.

    At this rate soon the Big 10 will say “good FCS teams” will meet the criteria for OOC scheduling.

  24. DualThreatQB
    September 26, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Schoup…your arguments are usually good. But can do without the name calling.

    Indiana is 4-0. Two more wins and a bowl game!

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