[Ed. With word out per Alvarez that Iowa and Wisconsin will be split, a revision]:

big_ten_divisions2

Assuming they add that special rule that requires Michigan and Ohio, (and now, Iowa and Wisconsin?) this also protects 9 of the 13 traditionally recognized rivalry games with a trophy (including The Game).  If Iowa and Wisconsin are split, seems to follow that Iowa would hang in the division with Nebraska so they can have their annual corn war.

* Indiana-Purdue (Old Oaken Bucket)
* Indiana-Michigan State (Old Brass Spittoon)
* Iowa-Wisconsin (Heartland Trophy via special rule)
* Michigan-Michigan State (Paul Bunyan Trophy)
* Iowa-Minnesota (Floyd of Rosedale)
* Michigan-Ohio State ("The Pride of Rose Bowl" via special rule)
* Michigan State-Penn State (Land Grant Trophy)
* Illinois-Ohio State (Illibuck)
* Illinois-Northwestern (Sweet Sioux Tomahawk/Land of Lincoln Trophy)

Left out, unless they work in some deal like Ohio State and Michigan for the first two, are:
* Minnesota-Penn State (Governor’s Victory Bell)
* Michigan-Minnesota (
Little Brown Jug <shakes fist>)
* Illinois-Purdue (Purdue Cannon)
* Minnesota-Wisconsin (Slab of Bacon/Paul Bunyan’s Axe)

If you really want to optimize the rivalries, take the structure above and swap Minnesota and IU, and protect the Indiana-Purdue cross division game.  This will hold 10 of the 13 rivalries each season not to mention Michigan-Penn State and Iowa-Nebraska:

big_ten_divisions3

 

* Indiana-Purdue (Old Oaken Bucket – via special rule)
* Iowa-Wisconsin (Heartland Trophy via special rule)
* Michigan-Michigan State (Paul Bunyan Trophy)

* Minnesota-Penn State (Governor’s Victory Bell)
* Michigan-Minnesota (
Little Brown Jug <shakes fist in celebration>)
* Michigan-Ohio State ("The Pride of Rose Bowl" via special rule)
* Michigan State-Penn State (Land Grant Trophy)
* Illinois-Ohio State (Illibuck)

* Illinois-Northwestern (Sweet Sioux Tomahawk/Land of Lincoln Trophy)
* Minnesota-Wisconsin (Slab of Bacon/Paul Bunyan’s Axe)

Left out, unless they work in some deal like Ohio State and Michigan for the first two, are:
* Illinois-Purdue (Purdue Cannon)
* Iowa-Minnesota (Floyd of Rosedale)
* Indiana-Michigan State (Old Brass Spittoon)

—————————————————————————————————————–

[Original post:]

Brandon went before the Detroit Economic Club today and didn’t do much to squash the talk of moving the Ohio State game or keeping Michigan and the Buckeyes in different divisions.  With all the talk from DB, Delany, Alvarez…don’t you think this is this pretty much it?  

big_ten_divisions

Assuming they add that special rule that requires Michigan and Ohio play to play every season of course, this protects 9 of the 13 traditionally recognized rivalry games with a trophy (including The Game):
* Illinois-Purdue (Purdue Cannon)
* Indiana-Purdue (Old Oaken Bucket)
* Indiana-Michigan State (Old Brass Spittoon)
* Iowa-Wisconsin (Heartland Trophy)
* Michigan-Michigan State (Paul Bunyan Trophy)
* Iowa-Minnesota (Floyd of Rosedale)
* Michigan-Ohio State ("The Pride of Rose Bowl")
* Michigan State-Penn State (Land Grant Trophy)
* Minnesota-Wisconsin (Slab of Bacon/Paul Bunyan’s Axe)

Left out, unless they work in some deal like Ohio State and Michigan for the first two, are:
* Illinois-Northwestern (Sweet Sioux Tomahawk/Land of Lincoln Trophy)
* Minnesota-Penn State (Governor’s Victory Bell)
* Illinois-Ohio State (Illibuck)
* Michigan-Minnesota (
Little Brown Jug <shakes fist>)

That’s 69% of the rivalry games protected without any further tinkering each season.  If you consider Ohio State-Penn State and/or something like a Iowa-Nebraska rivalry, that obviously adjusts the figure.  Did I miss anybody? 

Not sure how you ever get to preserving 85-90% that Delany mentioned but season-to-season, factoring for non-divisional games, you’ll get close to that.  The big losers, to me, are The Little Brown Jug and the Illibuck games.

This slotting also keeps in place 6 of the current 11 pairings of opponents that are currently locked in on the conference schedule (i.e., Michigan with Ohio State, MSU). 

‘The Game’ penalty
I saw friend-of-blog Craig Ross today.  He seemed less concerned with moving "The Game" and more concerned about sorting out how to fairly determine division champion.  If Ohio State-Michigan meet every year, naturally over time that means these teams will face a tougher path.  I guess that’s the case today anyway, but we’re all fighting for one spot at the top.  If division champion is determined by overall conference record, then there’s an a bit of an extra hill to climb for these teams vis a’ vis the rest of their division.  Ross is still tinkering with it, but suggests weighting the division games higher (maybe ‘2’) versus the non-division conference games (maybe ‘1’).  

[ed. Shortly after posting, Ross explained further in the comments:]

Here’s what bothers me. Take two teams in one division.

Team A goes 5-0 in division and plays the best three teams in the other division, winning 1. That team is 6-2.

Team B goes 4-1 in division and plays the bottom three teams in the other division, going 3-0. That team is 7-1.

Team A has crushed Team B. Call it 48-7.

Team B "wins" the division, or so I assume.

Here’s a potential solution. Each in-division win counts 2. Out of division wins count one. Now the above teams each have 11 points. Team A has beaten Team B. They win the division on the ordinary tiebreak. Justice prevails. All is good with the world.

Is there a problem? Well, it seems like there must be.
-CR
I admit I haven’t thought it through so Brian Cook will call me “Tony Saragusa.”

11 Comments

  1. By 2015, when we are up to nine total conference games, we could/should have at least 2, maybe 3 "protected" opposite-division rivalries. This would cover the left-out match-ups listed, and most any other "rivalries" imagined by ESPN, College Presidents, Illinois fans, etc…

    The solution for Craig R is: Per Delany, in 2015 we're going to play nine (5+4). Until then, we're screwed.

  2. One problem…Didn't Alvarez say that Wisconsin and Iowa would be split up?

    • Greg from MVictors

      He did, didn't catch that before throwing this together. So – if so, I'm guessing Wisconsin will shift to the "East" to keep Iowa and Nebraska in the same division.

  3. The one thing that makes me wonder about this is, let's say, for the sake of argument, this is it, and the Big Ten decides it needs a strong showing to end the season with divisional rivalry games. With this list, this gets us

    East:
    Michigan State-Penn State
    Indiana-Purdue
    Michigan-Illinois

    West:
    Minnesota-Wisconsin
    Iowa-Nebraska
    Ohio State-Northwestern

    I find it absolutely stunning that this is the end game. Michigan and Ohio State trade each other for playing the Land of Lincoln rivals. Michigan-Illinois would have been a great end of season game…in 1924, but now, we're just convincing ourselves that this hollow shell is something better. Similarly, it would convince Illinois that we are their rival. I really don't like that idea.

    Auburn and Alabama can never play for the SEC Championship, does that diminish the Iron Bowl? Tennessee and Florida can never play for the SEC Championship, does that diminish their September game?
    Texas and Texas A&M can never play for the Big XIII title. Nor can Texas and Oklahoma, and yet somehow, the Big XII has done…OK, I would have said just fine, but, my point remains.

    This just feels like the most suboptimal of any proposed alignment I have seen. Naturally it will be the one the Big Ten picks. At least put Michigan with Nebraska and Ohio State with Penn State. Blerg.

  4. While UM, OSU, PSU, and NE are clearly the ‘big 4′, if you look at records over the last 10-15 years, IA and WI are just as clearly the ‘next 2′, well ahead of whomever is next on the list. They may be split to prevent one division from being much tougher.

    Personally, I think using divisions is leaping to a conclusion. I’d prefer a round-robin, with the top ~6 teams from the previous season all playing each other, preserve 2 rivalry games per team, and fill in the rest. The two top finishers play a championship game.

    ** The big 4 would play each other six times every year (do the math), meaning six weekends each fall the Big Ten would be a/the headline game of the week. **

    I don’t see any drawbacks to my plan, but Delany forgot to email me and ask my opinion on this one.

  5. I continue to believe this is a Dumb Idea of epic proportions.

    Most of the rivalries are neighborly—by making a natural E-W split at the Illinois-Indiana line, they are preserved. The one big rivalry that is not neighborly—The Little Brown Jug—could be the preserved out-of-division game for the two UMs. Splitting UM and OSU is simply stupid. Did the SEC split Auburn and Alabama in the hopes of having them play twice?

  6. Barry did email me.

    Northwestern might be a desired commodity, wanted by both divisions, because teams would like to play in the Big Tens largest market regularly.

  7. Brandon's old coach would not be pleased with this.

  8. Michigan and Ohio State should be in the same division. That game lost some of its luster simply because of the addition of a conference championship game that will most likely draw more national interest. The best way to preserve the importance of the rivalry is to ensure that only one of those teams gets to play in the conference championship game – a la Alabama-Auburn, Florida-Georgia, Texas-Oklahoma, Texas-Texas A&M (as Yostal notes above). Man up, play once, and be done with it. If we play OSU twice, the second time better be for the national championship.

  9. Regarding Ross's comments, I've always assumed the division champions would be determined by division record, head-to-head matchup, conference record – in that order. Isn't this how most conferences do it? Anything else is just silly. Then again, the Big Ten has been astounding us with their silliness these days.

    • Scott:

      You might be right but the noise I hear, for what its worth, is that all gamnes will count, not jsut the division games.

      CR