Monday, June 14, 2010

With Nebraska Comes Division

With the addition of Nebraska to the "Big Ten," now comes the decision of how the Conference will split up into two divisions for football. The obviousway to do it is to follow the lead of many of the other conferences and do to it geographically. The SEC has a east and west while the former Big XII splits theirs into north and south. However splitting the Big Ten into an east and west would not be in its best interest, and it should also follow the lead of the census, and change it up every ten years.

In determining how it should be divided, a few factors need to considered:
  • Nebraska's natural rival is Iowa. It only makes sense to keep these two teams together.
  • Michigan and Ohio State need to stay together, as does Michigan and Michigan State.
  • Minnesota needs to stay with Wisconsin. Indiana stays with Purdue. Northwestern stays with Illinois.
From there let's branch out a bit. Obviously it would be natural that Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska would be in one division. Facing difficult economic times this makes sense financially for the Universities and its fans. Then let's also keep Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State together.

From there let's stretch the conference a little and add Penn State to the group including Iowa. The Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions have created a nice rivalry and there is a history to Penn State and Nebraska from PSU's days as an independent. That gives us five in that division.

Keeping Indiana and Purdue together sends these long-time rivals to join the Wolverines, Spartans, and Buckeyes. The Spartans continue to battle in-state nemesis Michigan and battle Indiana for the Old Brass Spittoon.

That leaves us with Northwestern and Illinois. Not every in-state battle is saved, and this is that one. Based on trophy games, Illinois gets sent to join Ohio State and Purdue. With the Buckeyes, the Illini battle for the "Illibuck," the "Purdue Cannon" with the Boilermakers. Northwestern is then sent to Iowa's division as they have created a good rivalry with the Hawkeyes and Badgers.

Penn State gets stretched in this configuration, but as I mentioned before, it would be healthy for the conference to re-align after ten years. What has made the Big Ten special are the locations and the stadiums. Growing up in Big Ten country every fan wants to go the "Big House" in Ann Arbor, the "Horseshoe" in Columbus, or to Camp Randall to see Wisconsin's 5th Quarter.

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