Floyd of Rosedale: Minnesota-Iowa Rivalry Trophy (Source: News.minnesota.publicradio.org)

Expansion Is Over For Now… What’s Next For The Big 10?


Wow. Okay. So expansion has finally calmed down. After a week of talks about super conferences, 4-team playoffs, and me sitting around thinking of how to split the entire FBS into 8 conferences, nothing really changed the college football landscape that much. The only shocking things that happened were that Texas decided to stay and Chip Brown suddenly became the best reporter on the planet.

Not much changed on the whole, but much has changed in the Big 10 and will continue to change. The two main things that will happen very soon are divisions within the conference and a conference championship game.  First I will address the easier of the two (conference championship game) then I will dive into murky waters to speculate on the divisions within the conference.

Read more about divisions and see the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy after the jump!

Conference Championship Game

I believe the details about the conference championship game will be the first thing decided in the new Big 10 and they will be the easiest to predict/speculate on. Much like the SEC, Big 12, and other conferences with championship games, the Big 10 will want to choose a big stage (like a Georgia Dome) that is in a centrally located, large city (like an Atlanta). There is one place that fits these criteria perfectly: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Sure, there will be many details to work out such as how it would fit into the Colts’ schedule. I am sure that the Big 10 and NCAA will be able to work with the Colts much like the SEC and NCAA worked with the Atlanta Falcons. A big plus with Lucas Oil Stadium is that the NCAA has worked with them during the most recent NCAA Basketball Tournament and would probably have a good relationship already. And if all else fails, call in Peyton Manning. He knows how to give a good pep-talk.

Peyton Manning is the man


Divisions

I can tell you, Ben and I have both thought about this subject extensively with Ben saying he “battled” with how the divisions would turn out. I believe that there are two main options, one being undoubtedly better than the other.

1st Option – Geographically

Click to enlarge The Wonderful Geography of the Big 10 (Source: Billssportsmaps.com)

This at first seems like the best and easiest way to go. Not only would it be easy to split the 12 teams up into convenient “East” and “West” divisions, but they would have already made names like “East” and “West” and there would be an easy dividing line provided by the Illinois-Indiana border This sounds wonderful, but not when you look at how the divisions would shake out.

East- Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue

West- Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern

In my opinion this is not very historically and competitively balanced. The biggest draws in the Big 10 are Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan. If they are all in the same division then that allows no room for a PSU-Michigan or PSU-Ohio State championship game, both which would be huge draws nationally. I felt really dirty suggesting that divisions would be determined by how much money the Big 10 could potentially make, but sadly it could be the truth. This also allows for less PSU-Mich-OSU matchups with Nebraska and Iowa over the years, which will also be big draw games. I believe there are much better divisions and they are formed first by looking at what the Big 10 loves: tradition.

2nd Option- Historical/Traditional

First key thing to keep in mind here: historical rivalries. The Big 10 might have just gone out and added another team to the conference, but make no mistake, they will still very much care about tradition. What does this mean? It means that the Big 10 will want to guarantee that Ohio State-Michigan, Minnesota-Wisconsin, Michigan-Michigan State, Indiana-Purdue, Minnesota-Iowa, and Wisconsin-Iowa, are going to play every year. These are the major and most historic rivalries. Obviously PSU-OSU is now becoming a huge rivalry, but it has survived the 2-year rotation and would continue to do so. Now, the only way teams are guaranteed to play each other every year is if they are in the same division (I am assuming 5 games in division and 3 games out). So, with the rivalries in mind, here is what the divisions would look like so far:

D1- Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State

D2- Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota

Indiana-Purdue would be a package deal for whatever two spots are left. Now we have 4 teams left to distribute, while leaving a two-team space in one of the divisions. This is more fun than Sudoku. As I said before, the Big 10 would not want PSU, OSU, and Mich together. So Penn State would go in D-2. Next would be Nebraska and I would stick them in D-2 as well because of the history with Penn State and the proximity to Iowa. So we are left with one more team to each division, therefore rounding out D-2 and leaving Indiana-Purdue to D-1. Putting Northwestern in D-2 to balance out Indiana in D-1 would make a lot of sense, so that means Illinois would go to D-1.  That would also preserve all the traditional rivalry trophies as well except for Northwestern-Illinois and get rid of the Governor’s Victory Bell (Namesake of this site, but it is not attractive).

Before I put all the divisions together to see how they look, we have to think of new names besides D-1 and D-2. My goofy pick would be “Cloud” and “Dust,” a fitting tribute to the old Big 10 style, “3 Yards in a Cloud of Dust.”

My final divisions would be:

Cloud- Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue

Dust- Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern, Nebraska

These divisions, in my opinion, would provide the most competitiveness for years to come. Whether the Big 10 thinks the same as me or not remains to be seen. I cannot wait to see what the new Big 10 looks like.

Tags: Big Ten Big Ten Championship Game Chip Brown Expansion Floyd Of Rosedale Geography Illinois Indiana Iowa Michigan Michigan State Minnesota Nebraska Northwestern Ohio State Penn State Purdue Wisconsin