INDIANAPOLIS – For at least one day, Lucas Oil Stadium was flooded with cream and crimson instead of blue and white.
Wednesday night featured an IU “On the Road with the Hoosiers” stop in the state capital at the home of the Indianapolis Colts. Athletic director Fred Glass, men’s basketball coach Tom Crean, football coach Kevin Wilson and former student-athletes Anthony Thompson, Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller were among the guests of honor.
But with football season just a week away, it was Wilson who took on the role of Mr. Popular. In a 15-minute interview with reporters, he talked about a wide range of topics, from Nate Sudfeld to an improved defensive unit. It was scheduling, though, that drew the most interesting responses.
Wilson and Glass both spoke about the seven home game philosophy, which not only benefits the university and city of Bloomington’s coffers, but provides the football program with a leg up on the competition.
“It’s called home-field advantage. You want to play at home,” Wilson said. “When you’re an upper-level team, you want to have those seven contests.”
The Hoosiers only have six home games in 2014, with two non-conference road games, at Bowling Green and Missouri. Last season, they had eight home games. All five of Indiana’s wins came at Memorial Stadium, but three home loses resulted in no bowl game for the sixth straight season.
“I look at how tough our football schedule is and I wonder who the hell the athletic director is scheduling that,” Glass deadpanned, adding that Indiana is invested on having seven home games and keeping in line with the Big Ten’s no FCS policy.
“Right now, we’re swearing off the FCS games,” he said.
The Hoosiers play host to in-state foe Indiana State in the season opener, but have no future games scheduled against lower division opponents.
Both Wilson and Glass touched on rumors about the Big Ten possibly going to a 10-game conference schedule. The league moves to nine games in 2016. Wilson pointed out how some years teams will be faced with fewer home conference games (four) than road games (five).
“I’d like to see everyone play the same number games,” Wilson said. “Some conferences play nine games, some play eight, some have conference championship games. In the NFL, you play division teams home and home. They play 16 games and they play eight at home, eight on the road. It’s not going to be nine and seven.”
Said Glass: “I think there are pros and cons with 10 games. I don’t think that would be off the table. I think there would be challenges and some benefits to that. It’d be even every year (five home, five road). You get a real flavor playing all the teams in the conference. I don’t think it’s out of the question, but I don’t necessarily thinks it’s going to happen either.”
In recent years, the Big Ten’s expanded from 11 teams to 12 to 14, and the conference schedule already expanded once.
What’s another change?
Wilson on early-season marquee games: “As a conference we have to be crafty with what we’re doing. In 2017 we open the season with Ohio State. I think we missed the boat where we don’t have more conference games in Week 1, Week 2, Week 3. Then you’re going to get GameDay at a place.
As a coach, you’re going to play them anyway. It can really motivate preseason. There’s something really important coming really, really fast. Michigan State-Oregon and Wisconsin-LSU, sometimes that helps you in your two-a-day mindset. You’re talking about big ones coming right out of the gate. I think we can do things as a conference to keep us more in the national spotlight with TV and media coverage.”
Wilson on November night games: “Why in November do we have to play at noon? If the Packers can play Christmas weekend at 8 p.m. Sunday night – it’s going to be cold up there – and the Giants can play Monday night at 8 p.m., how come in November we have to play at 3 p.m.? If it’s going to be cold at 7, it’s going to be really cold at 3, too.”