The Big 12 Conference has announced a non-conference scheduling requirement for football. It’s programs must annually play at least one team from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, or Notre Dame.
Couple of Big 12 ADs said BYU & Army would count toward Big 12’s non-league Power 5 requirement but Big 12 spokesman says they do not
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 8, 2015
“Schedule strength is a key component in CFP Selection Committee deliberations,” commented Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “This move will strengthen the resumes for all Big 12 teams. Coupled with the nine-game full round robin Conference schedule our teams play, it will not only benefit the teams at the top of our standings each season, but will impact the overall strength of the Conference.”
Per the release, the scheduling requirement “does not impact existing non-conference game contracts.” That means teams won’t have to cancel any games that are currently scheduled in order to meet the terms of the requirement.
The Big 12 is one of two conferences that currently plays a nine-game schedule. The Pac-12 also plays nine games and the Big Ten will begin a nine-game slate in 2016.
Some Big 12 teams, Baylor in particular, have been criticized for a weak non-conference schedule. The Bears haven’t played a Power Five non-conference game in the regular-season since a 2009 game at Wake Forest and don’t have another one scheduled until 2017 at Duke.
The Big 12 will continue to schedule FCS teams but may not play more than one per season. Currently, the Big Ten is the only conference that has discouraged playing FCS teams moving forward. The Big Ten also has a Power Five opponent requirement which also includes Air Force, Army, BYU, Cincinnati, Navy, Notre Dame, and UConn.
The ACC and SEC, which play eight conference games, both previously announced strength of schedule mandates. Beginning in 2017, ACC schools must play one non-conference game against a Power Five team (or BYU or Notre Dame).
The SEC has a similar mandate that begins in 2016 and possibly includes Army, although no official statement has been made by the conference. Both conferences, however, will still schedule FCS teams for the foreseeable future.