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Official BigTen Divisional Setup Thread


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#1 fieron

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 08:56 PM

http://www.hawkeyena...ion-speculation

We have all gone through the exercise of predicting what Big Ten divisions might look like with hypothetical expansion scenarios. Today is the first day we can do this with at least a few degrees of certainty, even though I don’t think the Big Ten is going to stop at just one team.

That’s a factor to keep in mind; the Big Ten knows that they will likely ‘act again’ as Jim Delaney said nearly two weeks ago in the ‘act and act again’ possible scenario. Nebraska was Act 1. There will probably be an Act 2 & 3. Who knows if there will be an Act 5 & 6. I actually hope that is not the case, wishfully thinking that 14 will be the max number and include Notre Dame and either Rutgers or Maryland.

So knowing the Big Ten is forward thinking in all of this, I believe we have to keep that in mind as we look at possible divisional alignments in the Big Ten at 12 teams. They won’t want to adopt radical change right now only to make more radical changes in the future. I think they will set the divisions up right now with a few future expansion schools in mind with plans where to plug them into the structure they are going to create over the next few months.

Here are a few things that I believe are going to be ‘rules’ if you will.

Let’s start out by listing what Jim Delaney said on Friday when asked about divisional alignment within the league. He said three main factors will be taken into account: competitive fairness, maintenance of rivalries and geography. He said that competitive fairness was the most important factor.

What this means to me is that the league will try to balance the divisions with regards to historical football success, while trying as much as possible to maintain rivalries while giving some credence to where you are on the map compared to your divisional mates. He said that rivalries matter in the league and it’s a part of the league’s history and fabric, but that “not all rivalries are equal”

With these thoughts in mind, here are a few of my thoughts before laying out my best guess at what the divisions will look like.

1. Michigan and Ohio State stay in the same division: I know some of you may not hold this as an anchor rule for divisional alignment, but I do. I don’t think those teams will want the possibility of playing one another more than once per year, but will certainly want to continue to play one another each season, so they stay in the same division. This is one of the 10 best rivalries in all of American sports, so I believe you can bank on these two being in the same division to not only continue the annual end of season rivalry game, but to protect it from being cheapened by playing one another more than once per season.

2. Penn State and Nebraska will be in the division opposite Michigan and Ohio State: Going back to Delaney’s comment on competitive fairness, you put the two other programs with 800 all time wins from your league in the opposite division. (By the way, two other programs have won 800 or more games; Texas and Notre Dame.) I realize this doesn’t satisfy the geographical aspect, but it was listed third by Delaney, and I don’t believe that was an accident. The Big Ten saw what the geographical division in the Big 12 did to the Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry, one of the sport’s great annual traditions; it killed it. The Big Ten won’t worry too much about geography when it has to honor its first commitment to competitive fairness, which is why I think the Huskers and Nittany Lions wind up in the same division.

Those are my two tent pole ‘rules’ to begin the rest of this discussion. Now, for the divisions:

DIVISION A

Michigan
Ohio State
Michigan State
Indiana
Purdue
Illinois

DIVISION B

Penn State
Nebraska
Iowa
Minnesota
Wisconsin
Northwestern

DIVISION A RIVALRY ANALYSIS: The Big Ten keeps the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry intact, along with Michigan-Ohio State. The Buckeyes don’t really have another historical or geographical rival. The Indiana-Purdue rivalry is maintained as well. The battle for the Little Brown Jug between Michigan and Minnesota is not protected, and a great deal of history is lost. The Illinois-Northwestern trophy game is also lost. Again, not all rivalries are equal, per Delaney, and I am just putting that quote into practice.

DIVISION B RIVALRY ANALYSIS: Iowa-Minnesota, Iowa-Wisconsin and Minnesota-Wisconsin are maintained. Nebraska-Iowa and Nebraska-Penn State are born. Nebraska-Wisconsin will be a pretty big deal to Badger fans, too and after a few years of trading paint, to Husker fans, too. As of right now, those are three opponents for Nebraska, in their league, that appear on somewhat equal footing. You cannot say that about Nebraska’s Big 12 North rivalries. Kansas State flashed for a bit, and Kansas broke a hideous losing streak to the Cornhuskers a few years back. But here is Nebraska’s record against Big 12 North teams over the past three decades:

vs Missouri: 26-4
vs Kansas: 28-2
vs Kansas State: 25-5
vs Colorado: 22-7-1
vs Iowa State: 26-4

Those aren’t rivalries folks, those are felonious assault charges in waiting. Based on what we have seen the past decade, I have a hard time believing that Nebraska is going to ring the bell in Division B as listed above on par with what they have done to those Big 12 North teams. Then again, I wouldn’t have thought Iowa would beat Penn State seven of the last eight years and eight of the last ten, so they might find someone’s number.

With these Divisions as listed, the only square peg is Penn State playing in the western division. That seems to be unavoidable and something I have felt likely all along. That will create more conspiracy theories amongst the Penn State faithful, but here is the reality; Penn State is already traveling by plane to play every in league road game. The only longer flight for them will be into Lincoln, and that’s what, another 40 minutes beyond the flying time to Iowa City? Meaning, it’s not a big deal, because State College is a ‘you can’t get there from here’ place that requires flights for their football program.

SPOTLIGHT RIVALRIES: I think the last weekend of the regular season, Thanksgiving Weekend, also referred to as Rivalry Weekend by ESPN, will include the following games:

Michigan-Ohio State: Traditional 11:00am start, ABC
Penn State-Nebraska: 2:30pm start, ABC
Michigan State-Illinois
Indiana-Purdue
Iowa-Wisconsin: 7pm BTN
Minnesota-Northwestern

A few thoughts…as much as I want to see Iowa-Nebraska play on this weekend, I am coming around to the thinking of my radio co-host Steve Deace who has maintained the Nebraska-Penn State game would be the second end of a dream double-header that weekend. That’s four teams with 800 wins, playing in back to back games where you don’t have to change the channel. I hope he’s wrong, and I hope I am wrong, but if I remove my black and gold glasses and look at this from a historical perspective, it seems likely.

Iowa vs Wisconsin to be the new season ender is a pretty good consolation prize. I know some will want Iowa-Minnesota to keep ending the season, but Wisconsin is far more relevant and a better TV game for the Big Ten Network, and that is going to play a part in this.

I put this as a 7pm game because I think the days of November Big Ten games starting no later than 2:30pm are going to come to an end. There IS NOT a league rule that prohibits it, and I don’t think it’s something the schools really want to do. But this is about television and the money that goes along with it, so it will happen.

Some day, when the Big Ten sits down with ABC/ESPN to redo their TV deal, perhaps the Big Ten Network says ‘we’re good. Thanks for the memories’ and keeps every game. That will likely depend on future expansion additions (see Notre Dame). If Notre Dame makes its way into the league, I think they land in Division B, by the way.

Also, the notion of playing more than eight conference games is a possibility. But if you play nine, that means unbalanced home and road totals. If you play ten, the most home games you will get in a year is seven, which is not going to sound too good to University Presidents looking at home gate revenues. If they stay with eight, you play your five division rivals, then play three teams from the opposite division on a two-year home and home basis, then the other three the next two years, similar to what the Big 12 has done

To end this, here is how I rank the current Big Ten rivalry games as objectively as I possibly can, taking history and current relevance into account:

1. Michigan-Ohio State
2. Minnesota-Wisconsin: Paul Bunyan’s Axe: the oldest and most played rivalry in Division I football; 119 meetings
3. Iowa-Minnesota: We know the history, and it’s an old rivalry
4. Minnesota-Michigan: The Little Brown Jug is the oldest traveling trophy in the league, and this was the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry game of the first half of the last century, but it’s not even protected now
5. Indiana-Purdue: The Old Oaken Bucket game goes back to 1925. There was more buzz then than now
6. Michigan-Michigan State: The Paul Bunyan Trophy dates back to the 1950’s, the rivalry much longer

#2 fieron

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 08:58 PM

http://www.cleveland...etails_how.html

Nebraska's in. So where do the Cornhuskers fit?

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said there were three factors that would determine how the 12-team conference breaks into two six-team divisions for the 2011 season. He's got people working on it. Here's a suggestion, following the three Delany factors: competitive balance, rivalries and geography.
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Here's my reasoning:

1. Competitive balance is the first factor, so split the four programs that have been clearly above the others over the last 25 years: Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. Since 1985, all four programs rank among the top 10 in the nation in winning percentage:

* No. 2 Nebraska, 242-71-1, .772

* No. 6 Ohio State, 230-74-5, .752

* No. 7 Michigan, 222-80-5, .731

* No. 10 Penn State, 218-86-1, .716
Ohio State beats Michigan, 21-10Marvin Fong/ The Plain DealerPutting Ohio State and Michigan in the same division in the 12-team Big Ten is the easiest way to protect that rivalry.

Geographically, Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State would all fit into the Big Ten East, but putting three of the four premier programs on one side would tilt the scales, so it's out. Otherwise, competitive balance can be worked out any number of ways. But it mandates this first rule

2. Not all rivalries are created equal, so not all will be considered with the same weight. Here are the five that are protected, with the rivals placed in the same division, in this scenario: Ohio State-Michigan, Michigan-Michigan State, Nebraska-Iowa, Purdue-Indiana and Northwestern-Illinois. And Minnesota, which has rivalry games with Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan, will have at least one of the games protected each year. One other prime rivalry - Ohio State-Penn State - will give way to the competitive balance demands.

I've gone back and forth on this, but if Ohio State and Michigan must play every year - and they do - then the smartest thing is to put them in the same division. And Nebraska-Iowa, though not a rivalry, has to develop into the new version of Nebraska-Oklahoma, and it could. So that must be protected.

3. Now, geography. Frankly, this takes a major back seat. Penn State, in particular, is going to have an unnatural geographical division. But with the other two rules followed, there's not much wiggle room left.

Check out the musts:

* Ohio State-Michigan-Michigan State together

* Nebraska-Penn State together

* Nebraska-Iowa together

* Indiana-Purdue together

* Illinois-Northwestern together

So:

Division A

Ohio State-Michigan-Michigan State

Division B

Penn State-Nebraska-Iowa

Pairing 1

Illinois-Northwestern

Pairing 2

Purdue-Indiana

Wildcards

Minnesota

Wisconsin

Therefore, the only choices are:

Which pairing goes with which division?

How do you split up Minnesota and Wisconsin?

Here, geography comes in. Indiana shares a border with Ohio, so the Boilermakers and Hoosiers go in the Buckeyes' division. Illinois shares border with Iowa, so the Illini and Wildcats go in the Hawkeyes' division.


That leaves Minnesota and Wisconsin, with the Badgers obviously the more successful program.

* Over the last 25 years, the Badgers have the sixth-best winning percentage among conference teams and 40th-best in the nation. In the last 10 years, the Badgers have the second-best winning percentage in the Big Ten.

* Over the last 25 years, the Golden Gophers have the ninth-best winning percentage among conference teams and rank 78th in the nation. In the last 10 years, the Gophers are tied for eighth in the Big Ten.

So Minnesota-Wisconsin is the only real question.

Originally, I had Wisconsin in the Nebraska-Penn State-Iowa group, but that made that division too difficult. That creates a scenario where Ohio State and Michigan, when the Wolverines are back, would lead a top-heavy division with Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana and Minnesota. So I switched.

And, given the parameters spelled out by Delany, this is the way I think the Big Ten has to look in 2011. All we need now are names for the divisions.

Personally, I like Big Ten Black and Big Ten Blue.

Here are the schools, with their records over the past 10 years and their records over the past 25 years.

Big Ten Black

Ohio State, 102-25 (.803) -- 230-74-5 (.752)
Michigan, 81-43 (.653) -- 222-80-5 (.731)
Wisconsin, 86-43 (.667) -- 170-129-4 (.568)
Michigan State, 60-62 (.492) -- 153-141-4 (.520)
Purdue, 67-57 (.540) -- 133-156-4 (.461)
Indiana, 39-78 (.333) -- 118-167-3 (.415)

Totals 435-308 (.585) -- 1026-747-25 (.578)

Big Ten Blue

Nebraska, 84-44 (.656) -- 242-71-1 (.772)
Penn State, 77-46 (.626) --218-86-1 (.716)
Iowa, 80-45 (.640) -- 182-116-5 (.609)
Minnesota, 62-62 (.500) -- 129-162-2 (.444)
Illinois, 45-73 (.381) -- 124-162-5 (.435)
Northwestern, 61-61 (.500) -- 116-172-3 (.404)

Totals 409-331 (.553) -- 1011-769-17 (.567)

#3 Hoosier_Husker

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 04:52 AM

I think it ends up being simple geography and that maintaining current rivalries is more important thus Penn st stays east. Penn st-mich and Penn st-osu are bigger rivalries than Penn st-neb IMO.

I also think that the big ten has until the end of the summer at least to make any sort of announcement thus allowing then to hopefully wait and see the PAC 10 do a major expansion and use that as leverage to convince notre dame to join. That will give them the perfect conference alignment geographically to put notre dame in the west with neb.

East is osu mich mich st Penn st Indiana purdue

west is neb Iowa northwestern Illinois Wisconsin Illinois

Later Domers added to east and rutgers added to west. Then big 14 can stop so they don't dilute too much and risk adding more teams from east coast and screwing up geographical divisions.
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#4 Yossarian

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 08:54 AM

http://www.hawkeyenation.com/football/finally-big-ten-division-speculation

We have all gone through the exercise of predicting what Big Ten divisions might look like with hypothetical expansion scenarios. Today is the first day we can do this with at least a few degrees of certainty, even though I don’t think the Big Ten is going to stop at just one team.

That’s a factor to keep in mind; the Big Ten knows that they will likely ‘act again’ as Jim Delaney said nearly two weeks ago in the ‘act and act again’ possible scenario. Nebraska was Act 1. There will probably be an Act 2 & 3. Who knows if there will be an Act 5 & 6. I actually hope that is not the case, wishfully thinking that 14 will be the max number and include Notre Dame and either Rutgers or Maryland.

So knowing the Big Ten is forward thinking in all of this, I believe we have to keep that in mind as we look at possible divisional alignments in the Big Ten at 12 teams. They won’t want to adopt radical change right now only to make more radical changes in the future. I think they will set the divisions up right now with a few future expansion schools in mind with plans where to plug them into the structure they are going to create over the next few months.

Here are a few things that I believe are going to be ‘rules’ if you will.

Let’s start out by listing what Jim Delaney said on Friday when asked about divisional alignment within the league. He said three main factors will be taken into account: competitive fairness, maintenance of rivalries and geography. He said that competitive fairness was the most important factor.

What this means to me is that the league will try to balance the divisions with regards to historical football success, while trying as much as possible to maintain rivalries while giving some credence to where you are on the map compared to your divisional mates. He said that rivalries matter in the league and it’s a part of the league’s history and fabric, but that “not all rivalries are equal”

With these thoughts in mind, here are a few of my thoughts before laying out my best guess at what the divisions will look like.

1. Michigan and Ohio State stay in the same division: I know some of you may not hold this as an anchor rule for divisional alignment, but I do. I don’t think those teams will want the possibility of playing one another more than once per year, but will certainly want to continue to play one another each season, so they stay in the same division. This is one of the 10 best rivalries in all of American sports, so I believe you can bank on these two being in the same division to not only continue the annual end of season rivalry game, but to protect it from being cheapened by playing one another more than once per season.

2. Penn State and Nebraska will be in the division opposite Michigan and Ohio State: Going back to Delaney’s comment on competitive fairness, you put the two other programs with 800 all time wins from your league in the opposite division. (By the way, two other programs have won 800 or more games; Texas and Notre Dame.) I realize this doesn’t satisfy the geographical aspect, but it was listed third by Delaney, and I don’t believe that was an accident. The Big Ten saw what the geographical division in the Big 12 did to the Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry, one of the sport’s great annual traditions; it killed it. The Big Ten won’t worry too much about geography when it has to honor its first commitment to competitive fairness, which is why I think the Huskers and Nittany Lions wind up in the same division.

Those are my two tent pole ‘rules’ to begin the rest of this discussion. Now, for the divisions:

DIVISION A

Michigan
Ohio State
Michigan State
Indiana
Purdue
Illinois

DIVISION B

Penn State
Nebraska
Iowa
Minnesota
Wisconsin
Northwestern

DIVISION A RIVALRY ANALYSIS: The Big Ten keeps the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry intact, along with Michigan-Ohio State. The Buckeyes don’t really have another historical or geographical rival. The Indiana-Purdue rivalry is maintained as well. The battle for the Little Brown Jug between Michigan and Minnesota is not protected, and a great deal of history is lost. The Illinois-Northwestern trophy game is also lost. Again, not all rivalries are equal, per Delaney, and I am just putting that quote into practice.

DIVISION B RIVALRY ANALYSIS: Iowa-Minnesota, Iowa-Wisconsin and Minnesota-Wisconsin are maintained. Nebraska-Iowa and Nebraska-Penn State are born. Nebraska-Wisconsin will be a pretty big deal to Badger fans, too and after a few years of trading paint, to Husker fans, too. As of right now, those are three opponents for Nebraska, in their league, that appear on somewhat equal footing. You cannot say that about Nebraska’s Big 12 North rivalries. Kansas State flashed for a bit, and Kansas broke a hideous losing streak to the Cornhuskers a few years back. But here is Nebraska’s record against Big 12 North teams over the past three decades:

vs Missouri: 26-4
vs Kansas: 28-2
vs Kansas State: 25-5
vs Colorado: 22-7-1
vs Iowa State: 26-4

Those aren’t rivalries folks, those are felonious assault charges in waiting. Based on what we have seen the past decade, I have a hard time believing that Nebraska is going to ring the bell in Division B as listed above on par with what they have done to those Big 12 North teams. Then again, I wouldn’t have thought Iowa would beat Penn State seven of the last eight years and eight of the last ten, so they might find someone’s number.

With these Divisions as listed, the only square peg is Penn State playing in the western division. That seems to be unavoidable and something I have felt likely all along. That will create more conspiracy theories amongst the Penn State faithful, but here is the reality; Penn State is already traveling by plane to play every in league road game. The only longer flight for them will be into Lincoln, and that’s what, another 40 minutes beyond the flying time to Iowa City? Meaning, it’s not a big deal, because State College is a ‘you can’t get there from here’ place that requires flights for their football program.

SPOTLIGHT RIVALRIES: I think the last weekend of the regular season, Thanksgiving Weekend, also referred to as Rivalry Weekend by ESPN, will include the following games:

Michigan-Ohio State: Traditional 11:00am start, ABC
Penn State-Nebraska: 2:30pm start, ABC
Michigan State-Illinois
Indiana-Purdue
Iowa-Wisconsin: 7pm BTN
Minnesota-Northwestern

A few thoughts…as much as I want to see Iowa-Nebraska play on this weekend, I am coming around to the thinking of my radio co-host Steve Deace who has maintained the Nebraska-Penn State game would be the second end of a dream double-header that weekend. That’s four teams with 800 wins, playing in back to back games where you don’t have to change the channel. I hope he’s wrong, and I hope I am wrong, but if I remove my black and gold glasses and look at this from a historical perspective, it seems likely.

Iowa vs Wisconsin to be the new season ender is a pretty good consolation prize. I know some will want Iowa-Minnesota to keep ending the season, but Wisconsin is far more relevant and a better TV game for the Big Ten Network, and that is going to play a part in this.

I put this as a 7pm game because I think the days of November Big Ten games starting no later than 2:30pm are going to come to an end. There IS NOT a league rule that prohibits it, and I don’t think it’s something the schools really want to do. But this is about television and the money that goes along with it, so it will happen.

Some day, when the Big Ten sits down with ABC/ESPN to redo their TV deal, perhaps the Big Ten Network says ‘we’re good. Thanks for the memories’ and keeps every game. That will likely depend on future expansion additions (see Notre Dame). If Notre Dame makes its way into the league, I think they land in Division B, by the way.

Also, the notion of playing more than eight conference games is a possibility. But if you play nine, that means unbalanced home and road totals. If you play ten, the most home games you will get in a year is seven, which is not going to sound too good to University Presidents looking at home gate revenues. If they stay with eight, you play your five division rivals, then play three teams from the opposite division on a two-year home and home basis, then the other three the next two years, similar to what the Big 12 has done

To end this, here is how I rank the current Big Ten rivalry games as objectively as I possibly can, taking history and current relevance into account:

1. Michigan-Ohio State
2. Minnesota-Wisconsin: Paul Bunyan’s Axe: the oldest and most played rivalry in Division I football; 119 meetings
3. Iowa-Minnesota: We know the history, and it’s an old rivalry
4. Minnesota-Michigan: The Little Brown Jug is the oldest traveling trophy in the league, and this was the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry game of the first half of the last century, but it’s not even protected now
5. Indiana-Purdue: The Old Oaken Bucket game goes back to 1925. There was more buzz then than now
6. Michigan-Michigan State: The Paul Bunyan Trophy dates back to the 1950’s, the rivalry much longer


Fuck you.

#5 Cedar Husker

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 09:38 AM

Later Domers added to east and rutgers added to west. Then big 14 can stop so they don't dilute too much and risk adding more teams from east coast and screwing up geographical divisions.


I think you got lost in the North Stadium with Ringkong...

#6 Coop

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 05:04 PM

The meatchickens will stay together, and Ohio State isn't being broken up from them either. I just don't think PSU is going to want to be the odd man in a west division. It makes for a historically lopsided alignment, but if ND is indeed on the radar, dropping them in the west would balance it out as good as it can get. Today though, NU and Iowa balance PSU and OSU.

I hope NU can keep their spot on turkey friday. Nebraska vs. Iowa has rivalry potential. I don't see NU/Wisc... It's hard to hate Wisconsin with Barry there. Iowa on the other hand, you don't have a hair on your sack if you can't find some hate in your heart for the Hawkeyes... or maybe you just haven't met a hawkeye fan. Penn State would feel forced, sure we have our history, but there's too much of a geographical gap.

#7 RedHell

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 06:21 PM

The meatchickens will stay together, and Ohio State isn't being broken up from them either. I just don't think PSU is going to want to be the odd man in a west division. It makes for a historically lopsided alignment, but if ND is indeed on the radar, dropping them in the west would balance it out as good as it can get. Today though, NU and Iowa balance PSU and OSU.

I hope NU can keep their spot on turkey friday. Nebraska vs. Iowa has rivalry potential. I don't see NU/Wisc... It's hard to hate Wisconsin with Barry there. Iowa on the other hand, you don't have a hair on your sack if you can't find some hate in your heart for the Hawkeyes... or maybe you just haven't met a hawkeye fan. Penn State would feel forced, sure we have our history, but there's too much of a geographical gap.

So many names to hate, Hayden Fry, larry station blah blah blah. Fuck Iowa. Wow, that's even more fun to say than fuck Texas.
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#8 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 10:52 AM

Big Ten division breakdown could bury Hoosiers, Boilers
Depending on split, state schools could land in Big 10 football cellar
By Terry Hutchens
Posted: June 16, 2010.


A .If the Big Ten opts for a simple East/West geographical split, football season could get even longer for Indiana and Purdue fans.

Indiana has the fewest Big Ten football wins over the past decade, so it will face challenges no matter how the divisions are aligned. However, being assigned in an East or South division could be particularly difficult. This is how IU and Purdue have fared the past 10 seasons against possible division rivals:

East/West possibility

» IU is 4-35 against East (Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue).

» IU is 14-27 against West (Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Nebraska).

» Purdue is 20-21 against East.

» Purdue is 21-18 against West.

North/South possibility

» IU is 12-33 against North (Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Wisconsin).

» IU is 6-29 against South (Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue).

» Purdue is 23-25 against North.

» Purdue is 18-14 against South.

Hoosier Nation might argue that's not possible. In the past 10 years, IU has gone a Big Ten-worst 18-62 in conference play.

But a Big Ten East featuring Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue could make for some even more lopsided Saturday afternoons. IU has gone 4-35 against those schools, 0-21 against Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.

It might not be fun for Purdue, either. The Boilermakers went a respective 20-21 against that group, but former coach Joe Tiller said the grind would take a toll.

"If they break up the Big Ten geographically, there will be so much screaming that I'll be able to hear it all the way out here in Wyoming," Tiller said Tuesday. "If you were Indiana and Purdue, and you had to play those same teams year in and year out, it would be pretty depressing, quite frankly.

"You can't have Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State all in the same division. I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I would bet that Indiana and Purdue are looking at the number five and six spots in that division year in and year out, more often than not."

Tiller said one beauty of a single division league was not playing the big boys every year. He said it was no coincidence he went 9-3 and 9-4 in his first two seasons in 1997 and '98 when the Boilers didn't play Michigan or Ohio State.

"But if you're in the same division with those two teams and Penn State, you're never going to catch breaks like that again," he said.
The prospects would look much worse for IU.

"I was looking at that and thinking, if they put Indiana in the East that it could be a few years before we win a game in the division," said Ken Kaczmarek, an All-American linebacker on IU's 1967 Rose Bowl team.

"I hope they split up the divisions with an eye toward balance and long-term history rather than simply geography. If it's simply an East/West split, I think it could be tough for some schools to be competitive."

The East/West geographical model is the most discussed option, but nothing is set. Conference officials are expected to explore division alignment soon. A North/South breakdown could look like this: IU and Purdue in the South with Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State. Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern and Wisconsin could be in the North.

The Big 12 and Southeastern Conference used geography to determine divisions. The Atlantic Coast Conference used competitive balance and allowed each team to keep one rival in the other division. Each system has potential flaws. The Big 12 South has been much stronger than the North. Without geography as a guide, it's difficult to remember which ACC schools belong to each division.

Former IU coach Gerry DiNardo prefers competitive balance, with two power schools in each division.

DiNardo would have powers Michigan and Nebraska with Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State and Minnesota, and powers Ohio State and Penn State with IU, Purdue, Northwestern and Wisconsin.

"I would say forget about geography, make it as equal as possible and keep your rivalries," DiNardo said in a recent Big Ten Network segment. "Take your four traditional powers and split them up. That's what I would propose."


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#9 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 08:19 PM

Let's Help the Big Ten Figure Out Possible Divisions34
6/16/2010 11:14 AM ET By Bruce Ciskie

Bruce Ciskie
NCAA Blogger

For now, it appears we have avoided the kind of "seismic" development Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany talked about Friday when asked about his league expanding further. It can be assumed the league will stop at 12 teams, and be happy to have added Big 12 power Nebraska to the fold.

Even if the Big Ten is done, the league has a major decision to make about its future. With 12 teams, it now has enough to conduct a football championship game. Not only does it have to figure out where it would look to play such a game (Detroit and Indianapolis come to mind immediately because of their indoor facilities), but it also has to decide how to align its divisions.

There are a number of options in front of Delany as the league moves toward a divisional format.

East/West Divisions
Full Expansion Coverage


Option No. 1
East: Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue
West: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin

Pros
It makes perfect geographic sense. Draws a line straight down the middle, and no one is outside of where common sense would place them. As long as Iowa and Wisconsin respond to annual dates against Nebraska and become more consistent programs, this should work from a standpoint of balance. This is especially true if Michigan doesn't regain anything remotely resembling its previous form. It also preserves many traditional rivalries (Michigan-Ohio State, Michigan-Michigan State, Indiana-Purdue, Illinois-Northwestern, Minnesota-Wisconsin, Iowa-Minnesota).

Cons
The league's signature programs are -- alphabetically -- Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State. Does the Big Ten really want three of those programs in the same division? The West doesn't set up quite as weak as the Big 12 North, but didn't Nebraska come here to get away from the Big 12 North?

Option No. 2
East: Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue
West: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State, Wisconsin

Pros
Solves the imbalance of perceived power in Option No. 1 by placing Ohio State in the West. Now, you don't have to count on Iowa and Wisconsin being the only serious foils for Nebraska. Guaranteeing a Nebraska-Ohio State game every year isn't exactly a bad idea. It also isn't totally nonsensical from a geographic perspective, as only Illinois and Ohio State are "out of place."

Cons
It breaks up the league's marquee rivals (Michigan and Ohio State). If you're looking at the league's present-day strengths, it's way too West-heavy. It could easily be argued that four of the Big Ten's five best programs right now -- Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin -- all reside in the West. Nebraska might like the challenge, but it looks alarmingly like the Big 12 with an awful competitive balance.

North/South Divisions

Option No. 1
North: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Wisconsin
South: Indiana, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue



Share Pros
Again, this makes perfect geographic sense, as if you drew a line and just plucked the teams based on what side of the line they fall on. Preserves a few traditional rivalries, and opens the door for some really good ones to start, especially involving Nebraska.

Cons
This isn't a disaster from a standpoint of balance, but it also isn't ideal. Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State are grouped together, and there will be a lot of years they are the league's best three teams. You lose Michigan-Ohio State unless the schedule format is set up to protect it.

Option No. 2
North: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin
South: Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue

Pros
Nebraska's presence gives the North more bite, and it divides both the perennial and current powers up pretty evenly. You still have Michigan-Michigan State, Minnesota-Wisconsin and Indiana-Purdue paired together. Nebraska and Illinois are out of place geographically, but not by much.

Cons
Again, if Michigan decides to regain their spot as a football power, you have a great competitive imbalance in the divisions. It doesn't help that the two programs currently weakest in the league -- Illinois and Indiana -- are in the same division, but we get around that for now because Northwestern is pretty decent, and you assume Purdue won't be down forever.

Outside of the uncertain future for Michigan (powerhouse, consistent contender or something worse), there aren't a lot of issues with putting divisions together. Delany and his cohorts have plenty of favorable options here, and it shouldn't be that hard to satisfy both those looking for geographic sense or tradition in divisions and those who want the divisions to be drawn with a sense of competitive balance in mind.
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#10 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 10:24 PM

Big Ten must tackle divisions, scheduling

By RUSTY MILLER / AP Sports Writer
Wednesday, Jun 16, 2010 - 09:06:21 pm CDT

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Big Ten had neatly drawn up its football schedules for the next three seasons before Nebraska joined the conference.

Now those dates and travel plans have all been tossed to the wind.

When conference officials and member athletic directors meet in late July or early August, they’ll face a thicket of questions in a brave new world for the Big Ten.

With Nebraska on board as the Big Ten’s 12th member, most likely starting in 2011, what will be the divisions in football? How should the conference schedule be set up? Where will the football championship game be played? Will there be different divisional alignments to balance other sports?

“We’ll meet, talk about divisions, try to figure that piece out and talk about a process for a championship game and a location process,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Wednesday. “There’ll probably be other opinions in the room.”

No doubt. Some will want the divisions based on geography. Others favor a balance of power.

“I honestly think it will be amenable,” Minnesota AD Joel Maturi said. “We have a great group of ADs who see the big picture and get along. It may not be easy but that is only because it is difficult and challenging. I really have no strong preference except the hope to continue some of our strong relationships/rivalries.”

Even once a consensus is reached on a divisional setup, there are a multitude of other considerations.

Commissioner Jim Delany acknowledged that bringing Nebraska into the fold was only the first step.

“Making the integration successful, smooth and quick is the second,” he said in announcing the expansion.

Conference officials and ADs are trying to set up a workable date to meet and discuss the concerns.

For instance, how many games will teams play within and outside of their divisions?

“Really, it’s probably our major focus,” Smith said.

The general assumption is that the Big Ten will follow other conference models, splitting into two six-team divisions, with teams playing each of the other five teams in their division and then three teams in the other division on a rotating basis.

There is also some talk that football teams might eventually play a nine-game Big Ten schedule, five in the division and four out.

Even arriving at names for the divisions could be contentious — North and South? East and West? Bo and Woody? Paterno and Osborne?

No matter how the schedules are drawn up, some schools will likely grumble quietly. The conference will try to preserve old rivalries, but there are no guarantees that all will be played annually. There’s no question that new ones will be created.

“Rivalries grow up over time,” said Tom Osborne, Nebraska’s AD and the former football coach.

Because they are in different conferences now, the enmity between Nebraska and Oklahoma may dim. Perhaps neighboring Iowa will offer a bit of bad blood for the Huskers.

“As time goes forward, because of proximity, because they’re a very fine program, I would imagine it could grow into a rivalry of some kind,” he said. “We’ve only played each other four times in the last 25 years or so, so there isn’t quite the history, but we’re looking forward to playing them, and there will be a lot of interest in those games.”

Detroit, Chicago and Indianapolis have already expressed interest in hosting the Big Ten football championship.

After all of the problems in football have been resolved, the ADs will address what to do with the other 24 Big Ten sports. The divisions set up for football might not work for women’s volleyball or baseball.

“Just because it works for football doesn’t mean it’s going to work that way for everybody else,” Smith said.

And there’s always the possibility the conference could expand to 14, 16 or even more schools, creating a whole new stadium full of questions.
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#11 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 05:53 PM

Stewart Mandel> INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Putting Ohio State and Michigan in the same division would keep their season-ending showdown intact and avoid a possible repeat matchup a week later in the title game.
AP

With the Big Ten and Pac-10 going to 12 teams as soon as 2011 and, in all likelihood, adding a conference championship game, I've spent more time lately than I care to admit trying to figure out how the respective leagues will split themselves into divisions. It's a somewhat tedious exercise, yet undeniably fun. And this budding hobby isn't limited to fans and media. I spoke to one coach last week who said he and his athletic director had spent that morning sketching out various scenarios on a board.

Anyway, I'm fairly certain I've got it all figured out. Jim Delany and Larry Scott: Feel free to take my ideas.

The Big Ten
At the press conference announcing Nebraska's addition, Delany clearly spelled out the priorities by which the Big Ten will decide its divisions. Most important will be ensuring competitive fairness. Second will be preserving rivalries (a particularly daunting task in the league of Paul Bunyan's Axe and the Little Brown Jug). Third will be geography.

One thing I've noticed during the realignment craze is that many fans have too short a memory when it comes to the first consideration. College programs go through up and down cycles. You can't get caught up in Michigan's past two dismal seasons or Iowa's recent Orange Bowl win. You have to consider a team's performance over a longer time period when defining its "typical" competitive level.

With the Big Ten, we have a convenient starting point of 1993, the year Penn State joined the conference. That gives us 17 seasons worth of data and encompasses high and low points for nearly every program. It gets a little trickier when incorporating Nebraska, which not only played in a different conference, but which was still a member of the much-weaker Big 8 in '93. In the Huskers' case, I used only their records since 1996, when they joined the Big 12.

Here are the standings from that time span (conference records only):

Recent Conference Records of Big Ten Teams and Nebraska
TEAM RECORD TEAM RECORD
1. Ohio State 106-29-1 (.779) 7. Purdue 63-70-3 (.463)
2. Michigan 94-42 (.691) 8. Michigan State 63-72-1 (.463)
3. Nebraska 75-37 (.669) 9. Northwestern 59-77 (.434)
4. Penn State 86-50 (.632) 10. Illinois 45-90-1 (.331)
5. Wisconsin 79-54-3 (.581) 11. Minnesota 44-92 (.324)
6. Iowa 71-64-1 (.522) 12. Indiana 33-103 (.243)

This list shows that the teams fall into four general tiers: The "elite" (Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State), the "contenders" (Wisconsin and Iowa), the "middlings" (Purdue, Michigan State and Northwestern) and the "also-rans" (Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana). To achieve true competitive fairness, both divisions would contain roughly equal numbers from all groups. But that might not be possible due to the second consideration: rivalries.

The Big Ten takes its annual rivalry games very seriously -- there are no fewer than 12 traveling trophies (do you know who plays for the Governor's Victory Bell?) -- but as Delany himself said, "Not all rivalries are equal." In other words, the most important of them will be protected, but some will unavoidably be disrupted (certainly one of Minnesota's four).

Which games fall into which category?

• Must be preserved at all costs: Ohio State-Michigan, Michigan-Michigan State, Indiana-Purdue (Old Oaken Bucket), Iowa-Minnesota (Floyd of Rosedale) and Wisconsin-Minnesota (Paul Bunyan's Ax).

• We're sure as heck going to try: Michigan-Minnesota (Little Brown Jug), Illinois-Northwestern (Land of Lincoln), Wisconsin-Iowa (Heartland Trophy) and Ohio State-Penn State.

• They'll barely notice it's gone: Penn State-Michigan State (Land Grant Trophy), Indiana-Michigan State (Old Brass Spittoon), Illinois-Ohio State (Illibuck), Purdue-Illinois (Purdue Cannon) and Penn State-Minnesota (Governor's Victory Bell).

As we get set to form our divisions, we do so with the following understandings:

1. Ohio State and Michigan MUST be in the same division. There's no way either the conference or the schools wants to touch the tradition of these teams' season-ending showdown, and you certainly don't want the possibility of them meeting again a week later in a title game.

2. Penn State is going to be a geographic outlier. There are only three schools within a reasonable drive of Happy Valley (Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State), and it's nearly impossible to achieve the first two goals without separating the Nittany Lions from that group. That doesn't mean they can't still play them regularly.

3. Nebraska has several logical new rivals, most notably Iowa and any or all of Ohio State/Michigan/Penn State, while Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema is lobbying hard for an annual season-ending game with the Huskers. These are considerations as well.

So here's what I did. Treating the teams' above standings as "seeds," I tinkered around with a bunch of different combinations with the goal of achieving a combined seeding that's equal in both divisions, while also maintaining the most important rivalries. I now present the result:

The 12-Team Big Ten
"EAST" DIVISION "WEST" DIVISION
Ohio State (1) Nebraska (3)
Michigan (2) Penn State (4)
Purdue (7) Wisconsin (5)
Michigan State (8) Iowa (6)
Northwestern (9) Illinois (10)
Indiana (12) Minnesota (11)

In addition to its divisional slate, each team would have an annual crossover game, just as in the SEC. They would be Ohio State-Penn State, Michigan-Nebraska, Purdue-Iowa, Michigan State-Wisconsin, Northwestern-Illinois and Indiana-Minnesota.

If you add up the seeds listed in parentheses next to each team, you'll find that in both divisions they come to 39 -- perfect balance. All six crossover games involve teams within one tier of each other. And of the 14 rivalry games mentioned earlier, 10 will still be played annually, including all but one in the top two groupings. (The exception: Michigan-Minnesota. We'll miss the Little Brown Jug, but it had already fallen off the Big Ten's annual schedule, including this season.)

All that's left is picking the championship site.

The Pac-10
This analysis will be much shorter, which will invariably elicit cries of East Coast bias from my readers on the Left Coast, but actually it's due to the conference's geographic simplicity. Also, competitive balance is not as big of an issue in the Pac-10, where USC is the lone program that's sustained any long run of dominance over the past 20 years (and even the Trojans had their down period in the late '90s) and the two schools currently struggling the most (Washington and Washington State) combined for three Rose Bowl appearances from 1997 to 2002. It's a naturally cyclical league.

With Colorado and Utah, the Pac-10 has added yet another sensible geographic pairing to go with existing partners USC/UCLA, Cal/Stanford, Arizona/Arizona State, Washington/Washington State and Oregon/Oregon State. Essentially, we will be splitting each division into three pairings rather than six teams, and for the most part the league falls into a logical North-South split.

The North division will presumably include the Oregon and Washington schools.

The South division will include the Southern California and Arizona schools.

Then it becomes a matter of choosing whether Colorado/Utah go to the North or South -- and that could provide the prime source of closed-door bickering. Colorado AD Mike Bohn initially indicated that the school had been promised a slot in the South due to its large Southern California alumni base, but Scott quickly refuted Bohin's comments. The truth is, everyone wants to be in USC/UCLA's division because of the assured annual road trip to the conference's recruiting gold mine (something every school enjoys now with the round-robin schedule).

Despite the fact that coaches Chip Kelly (Oregon), Steve Sarkisian (Washington) and Paul Wulff (Washington State) have all gone on the record that losing the SoCal trip isn't that big a deal to them, other accounts suggest the Northwest schools aren't pleased about the possibility, with Washington AD Scott Woodward telling a Seattle radio station: "I will be at the table, fists pounding, representing the University of Washington's interests.''

Unfortunately, there's no getting around the fact that somebody's got to play in the North, and, whether you use an eight- or nine-game conference schedule, there's no way to promise an annual L.A. trip to six cross-division schools (unless the league is willing to let USC and UCLA both play more home games than road games). Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News has proposed a "zipper plan," in which the league would split each of the six natural rivals into opposite divisions but still guarantee a crossover game between them. It's a sensible idea, and it would solve the Northwest/L.A. dilemma, but it would create what I consider a more problematic consequence: None of the existing natural rivalries (the Apple Cup, the Civil War, the Big Game, et al.) could be played at the end of the season, because theoretically any of those teams could wind up facing each other again the next week in a championship game.

Therefore, the North-South model seems inevitable. And it should be noted that the Northwest schools all recruit heavily in Northern California as well, so as long as you split Cal and Stanford from USC and UCLA, everyone still gets to go to The Golden State at least once, if not twice a year. The schedule-makers could also find a way to make sure every North teams at least plays either USC or UCLA, whether home or away, every year. Therefore, your divisions are:

The 12-Team Pac-10
NORTH SOUTH
Washington Arizona
Washington State Arizona State
Oregon Colorado
Oregon State Utah
Cal UCLA
Stanford USC

As for the championship game, most followers logically assume it will be played at the Rose Bowl, since Los Angeles is the league's unofficial epicenter, and the Rose Bowl its jewel, but I wouldn't be so sure. For one thing, the teams would (in most years) be playing for the chance to return to Pasadena a month later. But more pressingly, the Pac-10 could be faced with much the same dilemma that's plagued the ACC's championship game in recent years. Absent an L.A. school, there could be a whole lot of empty seats. Pac-10 schools aren't exactly known for their traveling fan hordes.

Don't be surprised, therefore, if Scott pushes for an idea he quietly floated a few month back: Playing the title game at a participant's home stadium. It's not unprecedented (Conference USA does it), though it would certainly be controversial.

Or, the game could rotate to sites like Seattle (Qwest Field) and Glendale, Ariz. (University of Phoenix Stadium). Like the divisional alignments, nothing's yet been decided in either conference.

But it sure is fun to try and guess.


Read more: http://sportsillustr...p#ixzz0rd4GhNGL
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#12 mNhhh

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 03:36 PM

Thursday, June 24, 2010
BT divisions likely decided by late August
By Adam Rittenberg
ESPN.com

My inbox has filled up with proposals for Big Ten divisions from the moment the blog network launched in July 2008.

Turns out, Big Ten fans aren't the only ones getting an early start on the tall task of splitting up the league.

When Big Ten athletic directors gathered in Chicago for their spring meetings in May, they looked at different models for division alignment. Nebraska had been discussed as an expansion candidate, but the ADs didn't anticipate any imminent action, so they played around with the divisions without knowing the potential addition or additions to the league.

"We didn’t have names, but we talked about different ways you could do it, depending on the size of the conference," Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said.

Now that Nebraska is joining the league in 2011, the process has accelerated.

The Big Ten athletic directors received a memo this week from league commissioner Jim Delany, outlining the priorities and the process for determining divisions. Big Ten associate commissioner Mark Rudner and others are spearheading the project, and will present data to the athletic directors when they gather in Chicago for the Big Ten's media days and kickoff luncheon Aug. 2-3.

A resolution should come shortly after, especially because of the need to sort out future schedules.

"I believe the divisional makeup will be done by the beginning of the academic year," Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi said, "and the schedule will follow shortly thereafter because we all want to know where we’re playing and when. I don’t see this being as big an issue as some people have made it. Maybe I’ll be surprised at that, but I do believe we'll come to a conclusion relatively quickly."

Maturi is confident in a group of ADs who have made tough decisions before. The fact that they got a jump start on the process in May also helps.

"We weren’t sure how the expansion thing was going to pan out, but we did talk about the notion that geography doesn't always work," Burke said. "The one thing we talked about, and it’s actually in our bylaws, is comparative parity. You have to make sure you protect the rivalries as best you can, and I think we’ll be able to do that, but you don’t want either of these divisions to be imbalanced."

Burke added that divisions likely would be necessary only in football, which lacks a conference tournament like the other sports. So the concerns about non-revenue sports travel aren't valid because their scheduling format won't change much.

Many Big Ten fans favor a geographical split down the Illinois-Indiana border. They think it maintains competitive balance, preserves longstanding rivalries and limits travel to many of the road games.

"That’s just the easy thing to do, just draw a line and divide it up geographically," Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said. "I don’t know if that’s necessarily the best way. Competitive equality in both divisions is important."

How do you assess competitive balance? Traditional power Michigan is at its lowest point in 45 years, while Wisconsin certainly isn't the sputtering program that Alvarez took over as head coach in 1990. Minnesota is no longer winning national titles, while Northwestern hasn't been the league's doormat for 15 years.

How far back should the ADs go to evaluate programs?

"You have to look with a wide lens," Burke said. "You have to look over a 50-year period and look at who’s been consistent. If you take a snapshot of a five-year period or a 10-year period, you may miss it. Clearly, Michigan and Ohio State and Penn State and Nebraska, if you look at a 50-year history, are your four biggest brands. It doesn’t mean they win all the time, but they’re your biggest brands. I don’t think there’ll be any disagreement among all the Big Ten ADs about that.

"You’re not going to stack all four of them in one division. You’re going to try to create some level of parity."

Like the rest of their colleagues, Burke, Alvarez and Maturi will go to Chicago with their own specific interests to protect. Wisconsin wants to safeguard its rivalries with Minnesota and Iowa. Burke values the Purdue-Indiana rivalry, and he wants to keep playing Notre Dame out of conference every year, too. Maturi is well aware of Minnesota's extensive history with both Wisconsin and Iowa.

But to reach a consensus, the ADs also have to go in with an open mind.

“Have to is a strong term because again, we’re all willing to give up something," Maturi said. "Our traditional rivalries always have been and remain Iowa and Wisconsin. Those are the two schools we would hope to maintain competitive balance and a relationship with. But even those schools, I’m willing to take a deep breath and look at the big picture and do what is necessary because this is a good, long-term commitment for the betterment of the Big Ten.

"I think you’ll find that the athletic directors and the commissioner will lead us down that path."

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#13 mNhhh

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 10:06 AM

Playing the Big Ten numbers game

By BRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON / Lincoln Journal Star So what do the numbers have to say about this Nebraska-Big Ten wedding? The numbers talk, you know. Yessir, big gossipers.

Sometimes the numbers mislead us, but we still pay them attention.

* For instance, did you know Nebraska football is 39-6 against Big Ten teams since Bob Devaney arrived in Lincoln in 1962?

Not bad considering NU was 40-62-10 against the conference before Devaney came and cleaned up the mess.

Devaney played Big Ten teams 11 times as Nebraska’s head coach and won 11 times.

It’s the first of those 11 wins that mattered the most. The one at the “Big House” in Michigan.

Nebraska had gone 3-6-1 the year before.

Then came Devaney’s first big statement: A 25-13 win over the Wolverines in just his second game.

We’ll just whisper the fact that Michigan was a 2-7 football team that finished last in the Big Ten that year.

Of small matter. The win made believers.

* OK, before Husker backers start puffing out their chests, it’s worth noting that Nebraska trails in six of the 11 football series against Big Ten programs.

Indiana, despite a couple beatdowns administered by the Huskers in the late ’70s to some Lee Corso Hoosier teams, has won more games against Nebraska than its lost. Same with Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue, Penn State and Minnesota.

The Husker-Gopher football connection is one of the more interesting ones.

Nebraska has played Minnesota 51 times — the most games the Huskers have played against any Big Ten team.

The Gophers hold a 29-20-2 series lead over the Huskers and spent an entire decade kicking Nebraska’s teeth in.

Minnesota and Nebraska played every year in the 1940s and the Gophers won every year. A 54-0 spanking in 1943. A 61-7 score in 1945.

Ugly stuff.

But check out the Husker-Gopher games that came A.D. — After Devaney:

Nebraska is 14-0 against Minnesota since 1963. And most of the games have been ridiculously slanted.

49-0. 48-7. 54-0. 84-13. 38-7. 48-0. 56-0.

Don’t go looking for any of those games on ESPN Classic.

* How about some numbers to think about as we wait to see how the Big Ten will divide teams into divisions?

One popular opinion floating around is that it wouldn’t be even if big names Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State all were placed in the same division based on geography.

The numbers may not agree with that.

No question Ohio State has been the class of the Big Ten this past decade, posting a record of 102-25.

But the winning percentages of Wisconsin (66.7) and Iowa (64.0) the past 10 years stack up just fine with those of Michigan (65.3) and Penn State (62.6).

So if you align Nebraska, with a winning percentage of 65.6 this past decade, alongside Iowa and Wisconsin, recent numbers suggest that’d be a pretty even split among the conference’s power programs.

* As for how those power programs in the Big Ten have fared on the big stage?

Since the inception of the Bowl Championship Series in 1998, no conference has more appearances in BCS bowl games than the Big Ten.

The conference has 21 times been represented in BCS games, better than the SEC (19), the Big 12 (17) and the Pac-10 (14).

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Big Ten teams are 10-11 in those games while the SEC is 14-5. (The Big 12 has had an even tougher time than the Big Ten in BCS bowl games, going 7-10.)

Ohio State has led the way, going 5-3 in BCS bowl games, and three times making it to the BCS Championship Game (winning one).

Michigan (1-3), Wisconsin (2-0), Penn State (1-1), Illinois (0-2), Iowa (1-1) and Purdue (0-1) are the other Big Ten teams that have been in BCS games.

Nebraska, for the record, is 1-1 in BCS games — a 2000 Fiesta Bowl win and a 2002 Rose Bowl loss in the national championship game.

* Which Big Ten school has Nebraska been the most successful against? Michigan State.

You might recall Bo Pelini’s first official win as Nebraska’s coach came in a 17-3 triumph against MSU in the 2003 Alamo Bowl. That was when Pelini carried the tag of interim coach.

Nebraska has never lost to the Spartans in five meetings. On the other hand, Nebraska has never defeated Ohio State (0-2) and ... wait for it ... wait for it ...

Purdue.

Who can forget the Boilermakers’ 28-0 triumph against the Huskers in West Lafayette, Ind., in 1958? That’s the only time the two sides have seen each other.

But back to the Buckeyes real quick. Nebraska played Ohio State in Columbus in 1955 and 1956.

It’s the ’55 game that is worth a mention. Bill Glassford’s Huskers had been stunned in the season-opener that year, losing 6-0 at home to a Hawaii team with 28 players.

But the next week Nebraska traveled to Ohio State for what seemed destined to be a humiliation. Instead, the Huskers fought to the wire, losing 28-20 in front of 80,000 fans.

After the game, the Ohio State coach, a guy by the name of Woody Hayes, told the press: “Nebraska should be proud of its team. They are not Big Ten caliber, but they played like it today.”

Big Ten caliber? Fifty-five years later, Nebraska fits the bill.


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#14 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 01:50 PM

Big Ten division debate
Posted by: Brian Christopherson on June 25, 2010 at 10:52AM CST
So how should they split up the divisions? That seems to be the new consuming topic when it comes to Big Ten talk.
Adam Rittenberg, who covers the Big Ten for espn.com, does a good job laying out his division proposals in this story.

Writes Rittenberg: "A lot of folks want to split this thing geographically and have Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska as the 'powers' in the West. My concern is that neither Iowa nor Wisconsin has beaten Ohio State in the Buckeyes' best seasons under head coach Jim Tressel. Wisconsin's 2003 win against Ohio State is the only one that stands out. Penn State, meanwhile, has won two Big Ten titles in the past five seasons and has beaten Ohio State twice during that span. Now things could change and a geographically split league might work great, but I'd rather cover my bases and have Penn State in the other division."

*****

I don't have a problem going against geography and pairing Penn State with Nebraska in a division so long as Wisconsin or Iowa are shifted to the division with Michigan and Ohio State to maintain competitive balance.

Certainly it's become a popular theory to suggest Penn State should move into the division with NU to keep a "historical" balance -- Nittany Lions and Huskers on one side, Buckeyes and Wolverines on the other.

But it's also important to point out that if you splitting the power teams by geography (NU, Iowa and Wisconsin in the West; Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State in the East) is not near as lopsided as some claim.

Not if you go by the win-loss records of the last decade at least.

Ohio State: 102-25 (.803)

Wisconsin: 86-43 (.667)

Nebraska: 84-44 (.656)

Michigan: 81-43 (.653)

Iowa: 80-45 (.640)

Penn State: 77-45 (.626)

But the more I think about it, and trust that I have spent way too much time thinking about it, the more I like the idea of Nebraska-Penn State-Iowa in one division with Michigan-Ohio State-Wisconsin in another.

And I wouldn't necessarily play the Nebraska-Iowa game to finish the season either. Nebraska-Iowa will be a natural rivalry whether you play the game the second week of October or on a frozen field in late November.

How about Nebraska-Penn State to end the season? Imagine if the Big Ten organized a Thanksgiving weekend of games featuring Nebraska-Penn State and Michigan-Ohio State. It would blow out of the water what any other conference could bring to the table that weekend.
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#15 RINGKONG

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 03:47 PM

Big Ten division debate
Posted by: Brian Christopherson on June 25, 2010 at 10:52AM CST
So how should they split up the divisions? That seems to be the new consuming topic when it comes to Big Ten talk.
Adam Rittenberg, who covers the Big Ten for espn.com, does a good job laying out his division proposals in this story.

Writes Rittenberg: "A lot of folks want to split this thing geographically and have Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska as the 'powers' in the West. My concern is that neither Iowa nor Wisconsin has beaten Ohio State in the Buckeyes' best seasons under head coach Jim Tressel. Wisconsin's 2003 win against Ohio State is the only one that stands out. Penn State, meanwhile, has won two Big Ten titles in the past five seasons and has beaten Ohio State twice during that span. Now things could change and a geographically split league might work great, but I'd rather cover my bases and have Penn State in the other division."

*****

I don't have a problem going against geography and pairing Penn State with Nebraska in a division so long as Wisconsin or Iowa are shifted to the division with Michigan and Ohio State to maintain competitive balance.

Certainly it's become a popular theory to suggest Penn State should move into the division with NU to keep a "historical" balance -- Nittany Lions and Huskers on one side, Buckeyes and Wolverines on the other.

But it's also important to point out that if you splitting the power teams by geography (NU, Iowa and Wisconsin in the West; Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State in the East) is not near as lopsided as some claim.

Not if you go by the win-loss records of the last decade at least.

Ohio State: 102-25 (.803)

Wisconsin: 86-43 (.667)

Nebraska: 84-44 (.656)

Michigan: 81-43 (.653)

Iowa: 80-45 (.640)

Penn State: 77-45 (.626)

But the more I think about it, and trust that I have spent way too much time thinking about it, the more I like the idea of Nebraska-Penn State-Iowa in one division with Michigan-Ohio State-Wisconsin in another.

And I wouldn't necessarily play the Nebraska-Iowa game to finish the season either. Nebraska-Iowa will be a natural rivalry whether you play the game the second week of October or on a frozen field in late November.

How about Nebraska-Penn State to end the season? Imagine if the Big Ten organized a Thanksgiving weekend of games featuring Nebraska-Penn State and Michigan-Ohio State. It would blow out of the water what any other conference could bring to the table that weekend.


How about Nebraska-Penn State to end the season? Imagine if the Big Ten organized a Thanksgiving weekend of games featuring Nebraska-Penn State and Michigan-Ohio State. It would blow out of the water what any other conference could bring to the table that weekend.



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me like a whole lot.

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#16 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 06:39 PM

What matters most in dividing the Big Ten
Dave Curtis

Thursday, Jul. 1, 2010 - 4:35 p.m. ET
Set at 12 schools, the new-look Big Ten now must decide how to best structure itself. Questions about whether divisions are necessary, which schools belong in which ones for which sports and the logistics behind a football conference championship game have come to the forefront.

Sporting News spoke with Minnesota coach Tim Brewster and Big Ten Network analyst (and former Northwestern player) Chris Martin for some perspectives on how those questions should be answered:


Tim Brewster and Minnesota want to keep playing Wisconsin and Iowa annually.1. Rivalries matter: Conference commissioner Jim Delany has gone on record about this, and keeping annual meetings in long-standing series should be paramount for the league's athletic directors. "You have to keep the passion involved with those big games," Martin said. "Delany knows that. They will be most important."

Martin foresees a "Rivalry Saturday" to finish the regular season, headlined by a Michigan-Ohio State clash. All games would be divisional, preventing a rematch a week or two later in a conference title game.

2. They don't all matter the same: Big Ten assistant commissioner Scott Chipman said Thursday the conference features 15 "trophy games," most of which stretch back decades. Minnesota, for example, has four but is willing to sacrifice to keep the most important ones.

"We don't have a preference other than the fact that every year, the University of Minnesota and Iowa and Wisconsin need to play," Brewster said. "We've got a trophy game with Michigan for the Brown Jug and the Victory Bell with Penn State. Those two aren't on the same level. There's a tremendous energy about Iowa and Wisconsin."

3. The geography works: If the Big Ten wants divisions, league officials and the athletic directors could divide by geography (a la the SEC) or in other ways (a la the ACC). Although having major names such as Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State all in an East Division disheartens some in the West, neither Martin nor Brewster gave thumbs down to the regional format.

Martin said, "Over time, those East teams have been more successful. But you certainly can't make that argument right now with Michigan and the product they've put on the field the past couple of years. Iowa, over time, can be just as competitive as Michigan. You have Nebraska now. Wisconsin is kind of hit or miss, but there's potential there."

Brewster, citing the balance of the conference, said, "Anybody can win games in this league. The West side, we'd have a group of teams that would be extremely competitive. The East wouldn't be overrated to have those teams. But heck, on our side, with Nebraska and Wisconsin and Iowa and us, you've got some really good teams as well."

4. Recruiting will be fine: With Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan as primary breeding grounds for Big Ten players, some coaches have suggested that losing trips to schools in those states would hurt their chances at landing those players. Not so, says Martin.

"Quite frankly, a lot of that is overblown," he said. "Nebraska is a classic case in point. Having gone through the recruiting process myself, I know what compels kids to go where they go. It's which teams they like, it's who they gravitate toward as coaches. None of that is going to change."

5. A title game must happen: Thanks to large fan bases unafraid to travel, and the near-annual presence of a BCS national championship game contender, a Big Ten title game would more closely resemble the SEC's event than the ACC's.

"It's just going to be a great thing for us," Brewster said. "To be able to play a championship game at that time of year on national television, it's something I've always wanted to see for this conference."

Said Martin, who endorsed Chicago's Soldier Field as a potential host over indoor facilities in Indianapolis (Lucas Oil Stadium) or Detroit (Ford Field), "Hopefully, gone are the days of December dormancy. It's a necessary step, and the coaches and athletic directors and anybody else wired into football are going to see that. It should get the teams better prepared for bowl games. And it's a major revenue driver."

Dave Curtis is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at dcurtis@sportingnews.com.



Comments (17)
New Divisioins
TheTNBuckeyeFan on Thu Jul 1, 2010 6:55 pm. Divisions as follows keeps the competiveness and fairness. Roughly divided for outer Big Ten schools and inner Big Ten Schools.
Big Ten Outer: Nebraska, MN, Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State
Big Ten Inner: Ohio State, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, NW

I like mine better, and so would PSU fans:
buckeyedude on Thu Jul 1, 2010 10:50 pm. The Great Lakes Division:

1. Ohio State
2. Michigan
3. Penn State
4. Indiana
5. Purdue
6. Michigan State

The Great Plains Division:

1. Wisconsin
2. Minnesota
3. N'Western
4. Illinois
5. Iowa
6. Nebraska

It isn't fair to Penn State to send them to Omaha one weekend, and then to Minneapolis the next. Too far. They'll get pissed and leave for the Big East or ACC. Don't think it can't happen.
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#17 Coloradosker

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 07:12 PM

"But heck, on our side, with Nebraska and Wisconsin and Iowa and us."


Ummmmm...by us does he really mean Minnesota? Getting to 6 wins and a bowl each season does not make you a power or even a player in the conference. I think we found our new Kitty Lite.
There are offensive geniuses up and down the block, some real and some like Dan Hawkins, who either can't find a quarterback or doesn't recognize one.

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#18 fieron

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 08:57 AM

So the more I hear about possible 6-team division scenarios in the BigTen the more two questions seem to bother me.

1) What was the thinking behind the original formation of the BigXII divisions?
2) Why isn't anyone considering alternatives to a strict 6-team division format (beyond a protected cross-over rivalry)?

It seems like some of the same discussions going on now about forming two 6-team BigTen divisions could have been similar back at the formation of the BigXII. Some schools were enjoying recent success (A&M) while others that had been great weren't so much at that point in time (OU). I guess I'm mainly concerned about a similar situation to the BigXII recurring where there is inequity between divisions, especially if it is split just based on geography. The SEC doesn't seem to have developed the same issue though. But the SEC revenue is shared equally, correct? And they have division cross-over games that occur annually, correct? Maybe that's the model to follow then since the revenue inequity is such as large factor with the BigXII and obviously the BigTen has equality. I realized I don't have a feel for other conferences with divisions like the BigXII with regards to the power shift and stranglehold by one division - is there another conference with that situation like the BigXII has been with the South?

I suppose the chance would always be there for one division to be relatively stronger for periods of time in a conference, no matter the format. However, I have seen very little (one or two) commentaries that include anything other than 6-team divisional formats with or without protected cross-division rivalry games. So I'm curious if anyone has any ideas on alternatives to the easy 6-team split? What about three 4-team divisions? Or four 3-team divisions? These could have some very interesting inter-divisional scheduling options. I don't know how a conference championship game would work, but what about no divisions? Just come up with some kind of round robin scheduling format.

#19 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 10:08 AM

The Big Ten shuffle: Three football division solutions
.Dave Curtis

Big Ten athletic directors will convene next month to discuss splitting their 12-school league into two divisions, at least for football. Commissioner Jim Delany has listed preserving rivalries and spreading out the strong programs as top priorities. But keeping the sides equal in strength won't be as simple as it sounds.

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Will Joe Paterno be happy if the Nittany Lions lose its annual rivalry with Michigan State?


"Everybody's looking for competitive balance," Indiana coach Bill Lynch said. "But you have to do it for the long term. Things change every five or 10 years. It's going to be tough to do."

Here are three potential Big Ten solutions:

1. East meets West. The Illinois-Indiana border becomes the conference's 38th parallel. Penn State and Ohio State, plus the Michigan and Indiana schools, would reside in the Big Ten East. Everybody else goes to the West.

The major concern would be placing three of the conference's major brands — PSU, OSU and Michigan — in the same division. But the addition of Nebraska and stability at Iowa and Wisconsin put championship contenders on each side.

2. Geography with a twist. Keep the East-West format, but send Penn State out west and a corresponding school, likely Wisconsin, to the East. This would put Nebraska and the Nittany Lions together as anchors of the West, opposite Eastern perennial powers Michigan and Ohio State.

The shift would end annual rivalries for Penn State (Michigan State and/or OSU) and Wisconsin (Iowa and/or Minnesota). The ACC faced a similar dilemma when it created divisions starting in 2005 and realized there was no perfect solution.

"The biggest thing they need to remember is that you can't play every team, every year," Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman said. "We'd love to play Virginia Tech or North Carolina in football. But some things have to be sacrificed."

3. Zip it. Place the 12 teams into six rivalry pairs, based on history and geography. Then split each pair, with one squad going in each division. The rivalries would remain intact as permanent crossover games, a tactic employed by the SEC.

While a remote option for football, the method would prove too expensive if the Big Ten wants to same format for all its sports.

Dave Curtis is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at dcurtis@sportingnews.com.



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#20 fieron

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 11:33 AM

http://gazetteonline...sions-schedules

IOWA CITY — Long-standing Big Ten football rivalries are at stake when league officials meet Aug. 2 in Chicago to discuss — and potentially decide — the league’s future divisional structure.

Nebraska joins the league in 2011 as its 12th member and it seems likely the league will divide into six-team football divisions. Commissioner Jim Delany told reporters in June that competitive balance, rivalries and geography — in order — are the principles he will apply when dividing the league.

The Big Ten’s competitive balance — based on historical prowess — likely would split traditional powers Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Nebraska equally into two divisions. Rivalries and geography then would play a primary role in reshaping the league.

“I think one thing that all of us have said consistently is we’ll all have to give a little bit to make this work,” Minnesota Athletics Director Joel Maturi said. “The reality of it is there’s now 12 institutions in the Big Ten, and we want to look at competitive equity, we want to look at traditional rivalries, we want to look at geography. There’s some decisions to be made here, but we also want to do what’s best in the long-term interest of the Big Ten.”

What’s best for the league might leave tradition-rich rivalries vulnerable. The Iowa-Wisconsin series ranks among the nation’s tightest, long-enduring rivalries with Iowa holding a 42-41-2 series lead. It slipped off the conference radar in the 1990s.

When Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993, the league rotated Iowa-Wisconsin off the schedule for the first time since 1936. After heavy discussion, each school preserved two annual rivalry opponents and agreed to play the other league schools six times over an eight-year period.

“We thought it was important to maintain two natural rivals on our schedule,” Wisconsin Athletics Director Barry Alvarez said. “We protected Minnesota and Iowa, and Iowa protected us and Minnesota. Then right down the line we made sure those two were protected. They were never eliminated from the schedule. I hope we continue to do that.

“I think in sitting down and discussing our priorities and the things that were important as we move forward, maintaining rivalries was one of the important things. I would be surprised if we don’t do that. I’d like to think that we’d be able to preserve at least two.”

Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin have competed against one another 307 times. Minnesota and Wisconsin enjoy the oldest continuously played rivalry in Division I football with 119 meetings. Maturi and Alvarez recognize the rivalry’s roots as integral to college football. The schools play for Paul Bunyan’s Axe, perhaps the most recognizable traveling trophy in college sports.

“We’ve played each other more consecutively than any two college institutions in America,” Maturi said, “so I would hope that that continues.”

If Paul Bunyan’s Axe isn’t the most famous traveling trophy, perhaps Floyd of Rosedale is. Iowa and Minnesota have played for the 98-pound bronze pig every year since 1935. The schools have met 103 times and every year since 1930.

Nebraska’s arrival adds another element to the discussion. Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema — a former Iowa team captain — wrote on Twitter that he wants to end the regular season against Nebraska for an annual trophy. Nebraska-Penn State games have national appeal, and Iowa and Nebraska share a border with passionate fan bases.

“I’ve said many times in the past I think rivalries are an exciting part of college athletics,” Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta wrote in an e-mail to The Gazette. “We have an in-state rival in Iowa State, and we have longtime border state rivals with Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois. There’s no doubt in my mind that the tradition, geography and strong fan base support of Nebraska will immediately add to our rivalry list. Again, I can’t yet speculate how that will translate in scheduling. I do think it will be exciting regardless of how it shakes out.”

Nebraska dealt with divisional realignment when the Big Eight joined four Southwest Conference schools to form the Big 12 in 1996. Two Big Eight schools — Oklahoma and Oklahoma State — merged with Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor and Texas Tech to form the league’s South Division. Nebraska’s annual historic rivalry with Oklahoma was shelved, causing lingering bitterness.

“We haven’t even talked about how it’s being divided,” Alvarez said. “All of us have an idea, but the one thing our commissioner has talked about is being competitively balanced. I think if you take a look at the Big 12, I know (Nebraska athletics director and former football coach) Tom Osborne was adamant about not making it a North-South division. It would sway things in favor of Texas in recruiting and everything else. I think Tom would tell you that’s exactly what’s happened.

“I don’t think (the Big Ten divide) would be a straight-up split. I’d be shocked if it was a geographical split.”

There are plenty of other questions related to realignment, including scheduling, location and date for a championship game and potential for a ninth league game. Right now, the 2011 schedule is “void,” Alvarez said.

“There’s a lot of things,” Maturi said. “Are those two permanent divisions? Are they divisions that are evaluated every five, 10 years and then you switch? I don’t know, there’s a lot of things that have to have to be finalized, and I’m sure will be.

“My guess in the end it will be a consensus. I don’t know what the process is. That’s up to Commissioner (Jim) Delany, obviously. My guess is there will be some recommended conference alignments. I don’t think we’ll come out and say ‘This is it, let’s vote on it.’ My guess is it may be A, B, C and D.”

Maturi and Alvarez said they hope to continue their annual rivalries with Iowa.

“I know Minnesota’s rivalries and challenges,” Maturi said. “Whether it can work, whether we all get ours the way we want it remains to be seen. I do know all of us would like us to continue our rivalry games. Whether that’s going to be able to be done remains to be seen.”






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