Report: Big Ten to approve nine-game conference schedule for 2016 soon

Elsa

As widely anticipated, the Big Ten is inching closer to a nine-game conference slate, beginning for the 2016 season.

In what should come as no surprise, Big Ten presidents are set to approve a new nine-game schedule format for conference play as early as several weeks from now. Athletic directors around the league (Michigan's Dave Brandon and Ohio State's Gene Smith amongst them) have indicated this has been in the works for some time. Now it appears we're getting closer to that officially becoming a reality. Equally unsurprising, Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez was CBS Sports's source on the matter.

The league's spring meetings are set to take place from May 13 until May 15th in Chicago, where the conference is headquartered. As previously touched on, the Big Ten will be moving to a geographic-centric divisional split once Rutgers and Maryland join the fray in the 2014. While the 9-game schedule format is a departure from the status quo and certainly will make the divide between the two divisions feel more pronounced, it at least avoids the move to a ten game conference slate, which was also on the table, and would've made that gulf even wider.

The league is also widely expected to vote on collectively no longer scheduling Football Championship Division opposition in an effort to better position themselves for possible inclusion in college football's forthcoming playoff, also set to come to fruition in 2014. Whether any discussions at next month's meetings include the potential lucrative renegotiations for the league's media rights, which triggers when the two new schools join the conference, remains to be seen.

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