The Rise of the Neutral Site Game?
The Husker "Nsider" blog did an interesting interview with NU alum and Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez. The Badgers have scheduled a neutral site contest in 2015 with Alabama. That kind of opponent always gets a thumbs up from fans and media alike. Alvarez also made a point about how it meshes with the future nine game schedules for the Big Ten.
Alvarez told the NSider: " Some years you’re going to have five conference games at home and some years only four. That’s why I started studying the impact of playing neutral site games – because almost all BCS schools are going to want a home-and-home contract. Getting a game like Alabama just once helps you come close to the financial equivalent of what you make for a home game. The more I looked at it, the more I realized that it would be good for the fans and special for our athletes to play in a stadium like the Cowboys play in. Players and fans are the two groups that count the most. If it works out like we think it will work out, we might schedule more one-time games at a neutral site."
There's nothing uniquely "Wisconsin" in that quote. That's generally true for any conference team that could schedule a neutral site game that could fill a stadium. Nebraska is certainly one of those teams. Back before the 12-game schedules became universal, the Huskers tied for the most invitations to the Kickoff Classic which would pit two major conference teams in East Rutherford New Jersey.
The nine-game league schedule sounded likely to begin in 2016. With its current agreements, that already puts NU in the position of having to cancel a scheduled opponent for that season, though the scheduled game with Northern Illinois is slated for a somewhat neutral site in Chicago (the Huskies play in DeKalb, which is a little over 60 miles west of Chicago). An opening exists in 2017, but NU is already slated to play Tennessee in Knoxville and Northern Illinois at home. The 2018 season only has a home date with Colorado so far. The 2019 season already has three dates, including a game with the Buffaloes in Boulder. So if the Huskers move to add some neutral site games, 2020 might be the first time we see one.
It also might indicate that 2013 will be the last time the Huskers play eight home games in a season. So enjoy it while it lasts.