When it comes to the Big Ten, the first job for the new athletic director should be going to the committee in charge of drawing up the football schedule and getting everyone to agree to an incredibly simple fix to a problem plaguing two of the East's biggest programs.
Currently, Michigan and Michigan State are both stuck with schedules that have them in alternate years playing two home games against their primary rivals followed by two road games. In 2014, Michigan has road games against both MSU and OSU, and MSU is at home against UM and OSU. Next year the situation is reversed, with Michigan playing MSU and OSU at home, while the Spartans have to go on the road against the Wolverines and Buckeyes.
This is vastly sub-optimal for both teams, from the standpoint of both ticket sales and overall competitive balance. Really, you want each team to play one home game and one road game against each rival. Craig and I were talking about this unfortunate situation yesterday at the Indiana game, and Craig told me he'd happened upon a ridiculously simple solution, and Indiana is the key.
Since Indiana is in the East, both Michigan and Michigan State play them every season. Fortutiously, Indiana played MSU at home and Michigan on the road this year. Therefore, all you have to do is flip the Indiana game from a home game to an away game and flip MSU from an away game to a home game. Everyone still ends up with the same number of home and away games, and the bottleneck is cleared.
Obviously, the time has passed when we can fix the 2014 schedule. And we might as well go through the 2015 schedule as is, since I don't think anyone wants to play at MSU for three consecutive seasons. Where we should fix it is 2016.
Current 2016 Schedule
UM at MSU, at OSU, vs IU
MSU vs UM, vs OSU, at IU
OSU at MSU, vs UM, vs IU
IU vs MSU, at UM, at OSU
Proposed 2016 Schedule
UM vs MSU, at OSU, at IU
MSU at UM, vs OSU, vs IU
OSU at MSU, vs UM, vs IU
IU at MSU, vs UM, at OSU
It would mean MSU has to play at Michigan for two consecutive seasons, but that's only fair since Michigan has just done the opposite. Michigan would also have to play two consecutive seasons at Indiana, which is a small price to pay for getting off the cycle we're currently on. Sure, it's messing with a schedule that's a mere two seasons down the road, but it solves one of the more annoying problems in the current scheduling landscape.
(Additional information by Craig: 1:00 PM Monday:
One of the issues I saw was that in the 2016 schedule, swapping Indiana to be an away game would give Michigan a weird stretch of four straight home dates, followed by three straight road dates to close the year, which is suboptimal. So, I plugged the 2016 schedule into Excel, and in six minutes, I solved it by moving just four games total.
Illinois at Michigan, originally scheduled for 10/22/16, now moves to the team's mutual open date of 9/24/16
Michigan at Iowa, originally scheduled for 11/12/16, now moves to 10/22/16.
Iowa at Wisconsin, originally scheduled for 10/22/16, now moves to 11/12/16
Illinois at Wisconsin, originally schedule for 11/12/16, now moves to 10/22/16.
It's not perfect, because it gives Wisconsin three straight home games, followed by three straight road games, but it does give them a potential breather having opened the season at Michigan, at Michigan State, home to Ohio State, ------, home to Nebraska. With a couple other moves, you might even be able to make that one work out better too...)