Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The Big Ten conference revealed their division alignments today. You can watch the Big Ten Networks coverage of it above. Here are the things you need to know about the decision:
Division A (no names yet)
No real knee-jerk reactions to this set up. They did the right thing in making sure Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska were split two and two. Putting three of those programs in one division would upset the competitive balance (Michigan has to be good again eventually, right?) The next "tier" in the conference has always been Wisky and Iowa, both are strong programs but not quite as nationally recognized as the top four, and I liked to see that they were separated as well. At first glance one would have to say that Division A is going to be stronger in the immediate future as Wisconsin is primed for a conference championship run and Michigan is still sitting on the Rod. Delany also confirmed that the name of the conference will remain the "Big Ten" despite having 12 teams and that they will reveal a new logo in the near future.
*8 conference games per season, with one bye week.
*Each team plays everyone in their division every season
*Each team has one protected crossover from the other division that they will play every year
*Two teams from the other division will be on your schedule for two years at a time, and then rotate out. This is the only inconsistent aspect of the scheduling. After accounting for the protected crossover game, there are five conference opponents in the opposite division that need to rotate in and out of the schedule. Meaning that after a team is on your schedule for two years, they will be off the schedule for two or FOUR years depending on how the rotation is set up. More on this later.
*Michigan vs. Ohio State will still be the last regular season game for the next two years.
"Protected crossover" meaning each team has one team from the opposite division that they play every year.
Ohio State - Michigan
Everyone knew this was going to happen, this a move they had to make otherwise Michigan and Ohio State fans might have actually united to protest the move. Gross, no one wants to see that. For now, Ohio State is in a great position because they get to keep their coveted rivalry on their coveted weekend, but they also get to keep winning it.
Penn State - Nebraska
This is what I wanted. Penn State really doesn't have a true rival in the conference, and this one won't feel like a rivalry at first but if it proves to be competitive maybe we can drum up the "two newest members" angle? If not, there's always this, or this. Either way it's bound to be a good game more often than not and I'm already looking for an excuse to get out to Lincoln one year...
Wisconsin - Minnesota
This was another must have. The oldest and most played rivalry in college football and Minnesota actually seems to be turning their program around. We know it as the "Battle for Paul Bunyon's Axe" but they used to play for the "Slab of Bacon" which was actually a piece of wood with a carved "W" or "M" on it, depending on how you hung it. It was lost in the 1940s and found in a Wisconsin storage room in the 1990s. Wisconsin now has it in a glass case despite losing the series to Minny 11-3. Barry, put away the Axe and bring back the Bacon, fantastic trophy.
Illinois - Northwestern
No more "Sweet Sioux Tomahawk", as of last year they are playing for the "Land of Lincoln" trophy after the NCAA banned all Native American imagery from college athletics. Unless Illinois gets rid of Ron Zook I see this matchup heavily favoring Northwestern. Pat Fitzgerald is really starting something up there. Interesting side note: I recently read that if Penn State were to go outside the program for Joe's replacement, Fitzgerald is someone they would consider. Go Tom Bradley.
Indiana - Michigan State
Did anyone know this was a trophy game. No? Well here it is:
Now go ahead and forget all over again...
Purdue - Iowa
Attention Iowans! Let's let bygones be bygones, you have my sympathy. While this is a matchup you should be able to win consistently, you were part of a solid three way rivalry between Wisconsin and Minnesota that has just been disrupted. As the extreme northwest of the old Big 10, these three border rivals were able to maintain a competitive balance for over 100 years, and that is something that I am sad to see go. Not to mention with Minnesota's new TCF Bank stadium we were poised for some outstanding cold weather in future Novembers. There will be periods of four years when the Hawkeyes will not play Wisconsin. To me that's the biggest injustice with the new divisions.
I like the divisions and I think that Penn State landed in the right spot. If there was one team I wanted to play every year it was the Buckeyes because although we'll never enter Michigan's circle of hell in their eyes, they are our only border state and now they won't be able to share conference championships with us after we beat them head to head. The conference has definitely gotten stronger with the addition of Nebraska and we should be hearing less Big Ten bashing now that the road to a Big Ten championship becomes much more difficult with the addition of a conference championship game. Anytime you have to see less of this you know it's been a successful offseason: