July 26, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany speaks during the Big Ten media day at the McCormick Place Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports

Big 10 Divisions Finally Going Regional

The hard working guys over at ESPN.com’s Big 10 blog had a story yesterday morning that seemed to fly under the radar all day.  Conference sources had indicated to them that by in large, the new, realigned, Big 10 divisions had been settled, with just Indiana and Purdue left to find homes.  If those sources are to be believed, beginning in 2014 with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland, the league will be divided up East and West.  Our long national Legends and Leaders nightmare may soon be over!

Dec 3, 2011; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Bret Bielema hoists the Big Ten Championship trophy after defeating the Michigan State Spartans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Wisconsin won 42-39. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-USA TODAY Sports

So what does this mean for Penn State?  Well, for starters, they get the new newcomers to the group with the Scarlet Knights and Terrapins.  Along with their new (old?) East Coast rivals, new B1G rival Ohio State remains on board, joined by Michigan and Michigan State, and either the Hoosiers or Boilermakers.  Despite what our counterparts across the western PA border say, the annual OSU-PSU game ranks second on the Buckeyes’ schedule, only to Michigan.  For Penn Staters, the Ohio State game is the highlight of most Big 10 seasons.

What really pleases me is that Michigan will be on the schedule every year as well.  Whatever you want to say about the Wolverines, they are still one of the most tradition rich programs in the country, like PSU, and those two programs need to play every year.  If it takes getting MSU back on the schedule, and having to play for this, I’ll take that trade every day.

Nothing is perfect, however, and even though the league plans to add a 9th game in 2016 (again, according to EPSN’s sources), they don’t intend to have any protected crossover games between divisions, other than Indiana vs. Purdue.  That means an end to what has been a great historic rival in Nebraska.  The league wants to have more flexibility with scheduling, so that means the Lions will only see Nebraska twice every 14 years.

From a competitive stand point, when you look at one side and see 3 of most historically successful programs, an eyebrow will certainly be raised.  But it was just 2 years ago that Michigan was a doormat, and now there is the uncertainty surrounding PSU and the ultimate effect the sanctions will have on the program.  On the other side, Wisconsin has been to 3 straight Rose Bowls and Nebraska has a bit of tradition of their own.  Programs like Iowa, Purdue, and Illinois should all be better than they have been as well.  Is one side a bit top heavy? Yes, but in the name of logical geographic divisions, it’s a small price to pay.

What do you think about the new alignment?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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