The Big Ten does this thing where it goes weeks without announcing anything and then announces a ton of relevant stuff on the same day. Today was one of those days, with the 2015 football schedule coming out, the announcement of a Big Ten lacrosse conference and the expected announcement of a deal with the Pinstripe Bowl. Here's a quick recap of everything that has happened so far today.
2015 Football Schedule
We already knew Northwestern's opponents for the 2015 Big Ten schedule, since it's just a reverse of the 2014 slate. However, today we found out the dates of the games, which will be important in NU's considerations for who it plays at Wrigley Field in 2015, if the games do start that year. Here's the schedule (with the full Big Ten schedule linked here):
Oct. 3 — vs. Minnesota
Oct. 10 — at Michigan
Oct. 17 — vs. Iowa
Oct. 24 — at Nebraska
Oct. 31 — Bye
Nov. 7 — vs. Penn State
Nov. 14 — vs. Purdue
Nov. 21 — at Wisconsin
Nov. 28 — at Illinois
For fans, the home slate is good/not great. It's tough to predict how strong teams will be so far in advance, but Iowa and Penn State are typically pretty exciting opponents, while Minnesota and Purdue are very "meh." As far as the Wrigley game goes, as long as construction is finished by 2015, NU's opponent will be either Penn State or Purdue. Penn State would allow for more national exposure, but it would also give up the possibility of more ticket sales in Evanston. We'll see what NU's priority is once 2015 rolls around.
Big Ten Adds Lacrosse
NU coach Kelly Amonte Hiller spilled the beans that the Big Ten would be adding women's lacrosse awhile ago, but it became official today, as the league announced that it would add the sport for both men and women. The Big Ten will also add Johns Hopkins for men's lacrosse only. Amonte Hiller gave us her take on the new league when she broke the news:
“When you have a conference office behind you, it’s a whole different ballgame,” Amonte Hiller said. “You get a whole different level of support, attention, media attention, everything.”
Echoing Amonte Hiller's thoughts, this is obviously big for both NU and the sport of lacrosse. This will likely lead to lacrosse becoming even more popular in the Midwest, and it gives the sport exposure that it has never had before. And with perennial powers Maryland and NU leading the way, the Big Ten could immediately be the best conference in the country. Its teams have won 19 of 32 NCAA Championships, but the Wildcats shouldn't have any problem continuing the dominance they enjoyed in the ALC.
New York State of Mind
The Big Ten has been expected to add the Pinstripe Bowl for awhile now, and it looks like the conference will officially do so later today. The logistics aren't completely worked out yet, but what we do know is that the ACC will be the other conference tie-in and the bowl will likely get somewhere between fifth and seventh choice of Big Ten teams. According to ESPN's Brett McMurphy, the deal will include "additional future conference events" held at Yankee Stadium. It will be interesting to see how that affects NU, since the Wildcats already have a deal with the Cubs and Wrigley Field. However, it's a good move for the Big Ten as the conference looks to become a bigger player in the New York sports scene.