Big Ten Realignment – New Divisions

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Big Ten Realignment – New Divisions ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>

Big Ten Travesty
By Mike Ivcic

College football starts tomorrow, which means right now you’re all inundated with previews, predictions, analysis, scouting reports, key matchups, and the like. While this article is about college football, it has nothing to do with any of that. Instead, it has to do with one conference being… well, I’m not sure exactly how to say this… umm… well, to be honest – stupid.

In fact, I’m not so sure there isn’t a harsher word more deserving of the Big Ten right about now. But to be fair, they weren’t always stupid. Sure, they could probably stand to rename their conference, especially since they’re closing in on nearly two decades of having more teams than their name would indicate. But earlier this summer, the conference persuaded Nebraska to jump the sinking Big 12 ship and join the “academic elite” conference. Good move. And now, later tonight, they will throw all of that brilliance right down the drain.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney is expected to announce that the conference, as anticipated, will split into two divisions. Now, I understand the conference has long been mathematically challenged, but apparently the people running this travesty failed geography in high school too. For those that actually understand the layout of this great nation, there’s a very easy, straightforward way to split this conference in half. It’s called “East” and “West” and it’s used by a good number of other large conferences. For example:

East – Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue
West – Illinois, Northwestern, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota

For football, sure the power might appear to lean a little to the East, but a closer look at the rankings would show that after Ohio State, the next three ranked teams are all in the West (Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin). So while Penn State and Michigan certainly carry tradition and national appeal, right now they don’t carry the BCS weight of the other teams out West.


But folks, the problem with that alignment is that it’s apparently too logical – it simply makes too much sense. Instead, a number of media outlets have been reporting that the layout will be as follows:

Division “A” – Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Northwestern
Division “B” – Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Illinois

To which my response was, “……” Ok, nevermind. I don’t think we’re allowed to print my response. But seriously? I’m not normally one to get fired up over things like this… oh who am I kidding? This is EXACTLY what fires me up. It’s called stupidity, and it’s on full display by the people who, ironically, are the leaders of the “academic elite” BCS conference. First off, that division alignment will only increase the travel costs and headaches for all sports not named “football” or “basketball.” Because remember, those sports don’t always make a ton of money – IF they make ANY money in the first place. But more importantly, why in the world would anyone think that it’s a good idea to split the traditional rivalries? The traditional rivals should ALL be in the same division and play the final game of the season, and then the conference championship can be decided from there. It works beautifully for the SEC and worked for the Big 12. Who cares if Alabama and Auburn can’t play in the SEC championship game? Likewise for Florida and Georgia, or Texas and Oklahoma in the Big 12? It just makes the game between those two teams that much more important and enticing. ESPECIALLY in the case of Ohio State and Michigan, who always play the final weekend of the season. The same could have potentially been developed between Wisconsin and Nebraska out West, which really would have given some juice to the final weekend of games.

Instead, we’re going to be left with what will eventually become a meaningless mid-October game between Ohio State and Michigan, especially once the Wolverines remember how to win and set up a scenario where they play the Buckeyes in the Big Ten championship game. Let me tell you, as a Michigan fan myself, there’s nothing I want to see less than those two powers playing at Lucas Oil Stadium. That’ll be a real college atmosphere.

And if you’re buying that, then I have some Big Ten Geography and Math books to sell you.


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