Big Ten Divisions: Instant Reaction

Well the moment everyone was waiting for, since the Big10 announced Nebraska as its twelth member, came down last night.  The Big10 announced its yet to be named two six-team divisions for football (At this time the divisions will not be used to determine the basketball schedule.  And that’s a good thing once you see the divide).  Here they are, followed by reaction from the FRZ guys.

Division “A” (or “roughly” South)

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Ohio State
  • Penn State
  • Purdue
  • Wisconsin

Division “B” (or “roughly” North)

  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Michigan State
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Northwestern

First, some thoughts from Little Nick,

In my opinion, we should be more worried about beefing up the fluff we play in our non-conference schedule (with the slight exception being the Illini this year) than with our conference alignment.  I think we should get rid of a few non-conference games and play more in conference games, but since the question was asked…

I have been totally confident that a good conference alignment would surface, and it has.  Three reasons:

  1. The Big Ten’s track record of doing things that work for fans and still makes lots of money (BTN and bowl contracts as two examples).
  2. There would still be cross-division games (and we already don’t play every conference opponent) with the guarantee of cross-division rivalry games.  I like the fact that the primary reason for the alignment was keeping as many rivalry/trophy games in tact.  And whichever sports talking head first said the reason UM and tOSU were split was to have them meet in the title game should be fired for stupidity.  The Big Ten has looked at past data in all its expansion and scheduling plans, not future probabilities.
  3. In recent history how many schools other than tOSU and PSU have been pre-season favorites to win the conference?  I’m guessing maybe one or two.  The Big Ten seems to be setting up Iowa, Nebraska, and probably Wisconsin as schools to challenge and solidify their place on the national scene by playing tOSU or PSU in the title game.  No matter how you look at it, the Big Ten having a title game only helps our comparisons to other conferences and schools.

Enjoy your football everybody!

And now Jesus’ instant reaction,

First, as an Illini fan, I love it.  Sure in the forseeable future there will beat downs at the hands of Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin.  But there’s also Indiana and Purdue.  Now Purdue has a decent history, but have fallen leaner times so there will be some competition (if thats what we can call it) amoung the bottom half.  If I had to choose five teams to play every year, the five in Illinios’ division are the teams I would pick (Michigan would be a close 6th).  And we keep the game with Northwestern every year (I don’t subscribe to this series as a rivalry, despite the geographic proximity) and maybe a real rivalry can develop.

Now some more general thoughts.

  • Top to bottom Division “B”, as I’ve named it, seems slightly more competitive.  Minnesota is definitely low man in the division, as everyone (rightly?) believes Michigan will bounce back.  But who knows what the future holds of Illinois and Indiana.  Though OSU, PSU, and Wisconsin trump Iowa, Nebraska, and TBD at this point.
  • If there is one thing that doesn’t “feel” right, its the placement of Wisconsin and Northwestern.  A switch of those two schools would make the divisions a trule North/South division (though “wreck” competitive balance when one assumes each school remains in their historic status quo, which clearly isn’t the case when you consider Michigan).  Wisconsin is separated from rivals Minnesota and Iowa, and just about everyone agreed Wisconsin farmboys and Nebraska farmboys made an ideal rivalry.
  • Most of the rivalries and trophy games were saved (minus the aforementioned Wisconsin games).

I was quite sure the Big10 would screw this up [and it looks somewhat like a mixed bag of reactions- some who do think the Big10 screwed it up and some, like myself, who think they nailed it (this may be because of my Illini bias)].  But it doesn’t matter what we think at this point.  The games will be played as the conference is divided, with a yearly protected cross-over rival, and your division champions will meet for the Big10 Championship in a Big10 Title Game.  And while there is the possibility of a OSU/UM rematch back to back weeks, I think there is enough top talent in this league to create amazing title games.

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