Report: Big Ten could release 2024 football opponents in ‘days, if not weeks’

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In June, the Big Ten announced its Flex Protect Plus scheduling model for the 2024 season along with opponents for the 16 teams. Less than two months later, though, the Etch-a-Sketch got shaken up when two more teams — Oregon and Washington — announced they were joining the party.

As a result, the schedule was going to have to change. An announcement could be coming soon, though, according to new Big Ten chief operating officer Kerry Kenny.

Kenny told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg 2024 opponents could be coming in “days, if not weeks” as the Big Ten moves to 18 teams. The Flex Protect Plus model will stay in tact, and he confirmed Oregon and Washington will remain a protected rivalry. Still, are a few factors in play with the new schedule, just as there was when planning for two West Coast teams to join the league. Now, that number is four, and Kenny said travel will be a consideration.

However, the plan is still for divisions to go away, meaning the days of the Big Ten East and Big Ten West will be over following the 2023 season.

“We’re making sure that we don’t have outliers in terms of the hardest schedule or the easiest schedule for any of our teams, and working through how to balance the competitive tiers,” Kenny said. “You’re going to see a lot of what people seemingly liked with the Flex Protect Plus. We’re going through different options of what that could look like to see how we balance not just the travel component of our Eastern and Central time zone schools but also the frequency of how we can get everybody to play both at those four [West Coast] schools.”

The 2024 season will change the entire college athletics landscape. Not only are Oregon and Washington heading to the Big Ten, four teams — Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah — are heading to the Big 12. Oklahoma and Texas will make their way to the SEC a year earlier than planned, while Cal, Stanford and SMU will all join the ACC.

But even beyond conference realignment, the College Football Playoff is expanding from four teams to 12. That’s also part of the Big Ten’s balancing act when it comes to making a schedule. The goal will be to create a schedule that will help get more teams into the field. As it currently stands, the six highest-ranked conference champions will make the field while six teams will receive at-large bids.

As for whether that will change given realignment, CFP executive director Bill Hancock said it’s too early to tell. But as conferences change their schedules to account for their new members, the new-look CFP is a big topic of conversation as they put together opponents.

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