football Edit

Seven-game home schedules soon will be extinct

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Playing seven games in Ross-Ade Stadium has been the norm. Since 2006, Purdue has played seven home games each season except for one: 2017. (Purdue)

MORE: 2019 Purdue schedule

Purdue has seven home games in 2019. It played seven at home last year, too. But the days of consistently having seven games in Ross-Ade Stadium appear to be finished. None of Purdue's future schedules through 2025 has seven home games.

"We would like seven games from a pure economics, pure playing-in-front-of-your-home-crowd standpoint … all of that would make great sense," said Purdue athletic director Mike Bobinski. "But so does everyone else. The math doesn’t work. At some point, there has to be some give and take certain years."

Playing seven games in Ross-Ade Stadium has been the norm. Since 2006--when the NCAA began to allow schools to have 12 scheduled games--Purdue has played seven home games each season except for one: 2017, when it had only six games in Ross-Ade Stadium. That year, Purdue played a neutral site non-league game in Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium vs. Louisville to open the Jeff Brohm era. Before that, the last time Purdue played just six home games was in 2005.

"The problem with getting a seventh game a lot of years, the market to buy an opponent has gotten prohibitive," said Bobinski. "It has gotten to the point where in the current economic reality, we would be upside down. We would be paying more than we take in."

The seasons that present the most issues for Bobinski are even-numbered years, when Purdue plays just four of nine Big Ten games at home. In those seasons, it would be ideal to have all three non-conference games played in Ross-Ade Stadium. But getting non-league foes--who don't want a return visit from Purdue--to come to West Lafayette is a pricey proposition.

The Big Ten office has made non-league scheduling a bit easier. A few years ago, the conference brass mandated that its schools not play FCS opponents--like Indiana State and Eastern Kentucky, some recent such foes for Purdue. But the league has eased on that, allowing members to schedule FCS foes in years when they have just four Big Ten home games. Purdue has home games scheduled vs. Indiana State in 2022 and 2024.

"Because the Big Ten has a limited opportunity for FCS schools—which is a new opportunity that has evolved—that has helped us in years when we are permitted to do that when we have four Big Ten home games," said Bobinski. "When we have just four Big Ten games at home, you are allowed to schedule a FCS—which is a buy. We aren’t gonna go to a FCS school (to play a game)."


"The problem with getting a seventh game a lot of years, the market to buy an opponent has gotten prohibitive. It has gotten to the point where in the current economic reality, we would be upside down. We would be paying more than we take in."
— Mike Bobinski

But for Purdue to get great home-and-home opportunities--like with the upcoming six-game Notre Dame series--it has to agree to make a return trip. Purdue and ND will play in South Bend in 2021. The series then resumes in 2024 in West Lafayette, running through 2028. The programs had played every year between 1946 and 2014.

"To have certain series and games, you have to be willing to leave the friendly confines," said Bobinski.

Scheduling home games with MAC schools--in which Purdue wouldn't have to make a return visit--has become very expensive. MAC schools sit in the heart of Big Ten country. And they are popular home fodder for Big Ten schools. That competition has driven up the price to lure visits from MAC opponents. Schools like Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State--which have massive stadiums and fat checkbooks--are paying almost $2 million to MAC foes to visit their venues and not require a return visit, according to Bobinski.

"That just becomes math that doesn’t work for us," he said. "We have stretched it up to $1.2 (million) or somewhere, and that’s a hold-your-breath deal for me to sign those."

Bobinski said Memphis and Air Force agreed to come to Purdue in 2020 for less than $1 million each, which he appreciated. Purdue won't make return trips to either school. Still, Bobinski knows most non-league opponents want big bucks to visit Purdue--with no return date guaranteed for the opponent. So, don't expect any seven home game schedules in the near future for Purdue.

"The build from six to seven in some of those years and to spend another million whatever to make that happen, it becomes … it’s probably better for us to go on the road and get them back in the rotation," said Bobinski.

Bobinski says Purdue has some deals in the works that aren't yet signed. He still needs to add a home game for 2022, as there are just five penciled in for now. Purdue has non-league games at Syracuse and vs. Indiana State, as well as four Big Ten tilts in Ross-Ade Stadium that season. A third non-league tilt is needed. Bobinski also needs to add a non-conference game in 2023. Purdue has six home games already scheduled, but just two non-league contests: at Virginia Tech and vs. Syracuse. Perhaps Bobinski can add a home game vs. a FCS school in 2023 to give Purdue seven games in Ross-Ade Stadium.

Stay tuned.

Purdue schedules: 2020-24
2020 2021 2022 2023 2024

at Nebraska

Oregon State

Penn State

at Va. Tech

at Illinois

Memphis

at UConn

Indiana State

Syracuse

Indiana State

Air Force

at ND

at Syracuse

at Iowa

Notre Dame

at BC

Illinois

at Maryland

Illinois

at Oregon St.

Rutgers

Minnesota

Iowa

Minnesota

Iowa

at Illinois

at Ohio State

at Minnesota

Ohio State

Wisconsin

at Michigan

Nebraska

Wisconsin

at Michigan

at Minnesota

Northwestern

at Iowa

at Illinois

Nebraska

Michigan St.

at Minnesota

Michigan St.

at Nebraska

at NU

at Rutgers

Wisconsin

at Wisconsin

Northwestern

at Wisconsin

Northwestern

Iowa

at NU

at Indiana

Indiana

at Nebraska

at Indiana

Indiana

at Indiana

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