Big Ten Announced Divisional Alignment
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Sep 2, 2010 6:00PM
Arm chair commissioners have been trying to figure out just how the Big Ten would split its twelve teams into two divisions, after the recent addition of Nebraska to the conference allowed for divisional alignments and a lucrative conference championship game to determine the league's guaranteed BCS bid. Yesterday, the Big Ten officially announced how they're splitting the divisions.
One division includes Iowa, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern. The other includes Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Ohio St., Penn St. and Wisconsin. That basically breaks down to the East - West alignment we had hoped for, with the glaring resettlement of the state of Michigan in the West in return for Illinois and Wisconsin. Illinois and Northwestern were the only in-state rivals split up in this alignment. Clearly, these divisions were done primarily to set up the potential Michigan - Ohio St. rivalry as a potential championship game. Because that seems oh, so likely during the Rich Rodriguez era.
To appease the loyalists who worried that key rivalry games might not occur annually, the Big Ten designated a number of protected rivalry games that will be played every year. So fear not ABC, you'll get your end of the season match-up between the Buckeyes and Wolverines. Of local interest, the Wildcats and Illini will still face off every year, too. Minnesota and Wisconsin will play annually for Paul Bunyan's Axe. And Iowa learned that Purdue is such a key opponent that we can't go without a Hawkeyes - Boilermakers game.
Because the divisional alignments don't lend themselves to geographic names, the Big Ten still needs to determine their monikers. Some have suggested the Woody and Bo Divisions -- in honor of legendary Ohio St. and Michigan coaches. Since it apparently was all about those those two schools, why not just name them the Michigan Division and Ohio St. Division? Our money, however, is on sponsored division names -- maybe Ohio-based Wendy's and Illinois-based McDonald's can face off for gridiron burger supremacy.