Say what you want about Bret Bielema, but unlike most coaches, he’s never afraid to share his opinions.

Some of them come back to bite him. Talking smack about the SEC’s strength of schedule compared to the B1G’s and proceeding to lose to Toledo wasn’t his best look. Allegedly criticizing pass-happy offenses, losing to Texas Tech and getting called out by Kliff Kingsbury didn’t work out so well, either.

But on Tuesday, Bielema once again voiced one of his better ideas:

Bielema said the same thing during the fall. The former Wisconsin coach would surely love to get to square off with some of the same teams he beat as a member of the B1G. Or maybe he just wants what the average college football fan wants — more September entertainment.

Whatever his motivation is, Bielema has a great idea, even if it can’t happen for a long time or if it can’t ever happen.

But before we get caught up in the logistics, think about a world in which this could happen in 2016. Let’s say that the B1G East could face off with the SEC West and the B1G West would face the SEC East. Here’s what that would look like in 2016 (based on 2015 standings):

SEC West vs. B1G East

  • Alabama vs. Michigan State
  • Ole Miss vs. Ohio State
  • Arkansas vs. Michigan
  • Penn State vs. LSU
  • Texas A&M vs. Indiana
  • Mississippi State vs. Maryland
  • Auburn vs. Rutgers

SEC East vs. B1G West

  • Florida vs. Iowa
  • Tennessee vs. Northwestern
  • Georgia vs. Wisconsin
  • Vanderbilt vs. Nebraska
  • Kentucky vs. Minnesota
  • Missouri vs. Illinois
  • South Carolina vs. Purdue

You could switch up the divisions, but it might be more balanced to have it that way. That’s obviously a hypothetical scenario, but even in random shuffling like that, there are still some huge matchups.

An Alabama/Michigan State rematch in September? Yes, please.

A Saquon Barkley/Leonard Fournette showdown? Where do I sign?

A rivalry renewed with Missouri and Illinois? I’ll tune into that.

Every year, it would generate a handful of headliner matchups and a bunch of solid, better-than-your-average-non-conference-game matchups. In Bielema’s world, a slate like that would generate revenue and interest galore. Surely the College Football Playoff Selection Committee would love it if everyone had conference-wide showdowns like that. It’s bragging rights, just like the ACC/B1G Challenge is in basketball.


So when could something like this happen?

Well, that’s the bad part. For Bielema’s Arkansas squad, which has at least two open non-conference spots per year after 2016, it might be logical. But let’s just assume that scheduled games cannot be canceled. In that case, 2024 is the earliest something like that could happen (Indiana already has its schedule filled through the 2023 season).

Even if 2024 was the ideal starting year, it would be met with some resistance from teams.

Here are some of the headliner matchups already on tap for 2024 between the two conferences:

  • Indiana at Louisville
  • Texas at Michigan
  • Colorado at Nebraska
  • Ohio State at Boston College
  • Penn State at West Virginia
  • Notre Dame at Purdue
  • Rutgers at Virginia Tech
  • Virginia Tech vs. Wisconsin
  • Georgia Tech at Georgia
  • UCLA at LSU
  • Ole Miss at Wake Forest
  • South Carolina at Clemson
  • Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M
  • Vanderbilt at Stanford

No, not all of those games will have College Football Playoff implications. But half of the teams involved already have significant Power Five matchups in place. That shows that there’s reason for a lot of schools to object to starting Bielema’s idea in 2024.

SEC teams would rather not travel to face two Power Five schools in non-conference play. A team that opens the season with Notre Dame, like Texas A&M, isn’t going to want to turn around have to face a Penn State a week later.

So with that in mind, the idea of a 2024 launch for the B1G/SEC challenge might be a pipe dream. Perhaps 2025 would be the first year that it could happen.


But even if the scheduling worked out on paper, there are still obvious factors standing in the way of it from happening. With the new Power-Five requirement rule in place, it might not make much sense to unnecessarily line up another Power Five opponent on a yearly basis.

There’s also just the basic difference in scheduling philosophy. There’s a reason that these conferences only have a handful of future matchups set up. Sure, Wisconsin and LSU have a neutral series, and Florida and Michigan will follow suit in 2017.

But neither of those schools want to travel to each other’s stadiums. That means that they’d probably have to line up 14 neutral site games every year. The chances of there being that many available venues — keep in mind that the NFL kicks off in the beginning of September — is slim. It’s different than bowl season.

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College basketball gets away with it because it adds another quality opponent to boost a team’s RPI, thus increasing NCAA Tournament résumés. As we know in college football, bowl eligibility isn’t based on beating six quality opponents.

There’s never been a B1G/SEC challenge because all of the aforementioned hurdles. Throw in the fact that the two conferences might not have TV contracts with the same networks in 2024, and this idea gets even messier.

Like Bielema, I’d love to live in a world where this could happen. Can you imagine the conference supremacy debates if this became a thing? It would create conference pride unmatched in the history of college football because of the impact it could have on the CFP. That would be fantastic entertainment.

Unfortunately, in today’s college football world driven by money, Bielema’s dream might be wishful thinking.