All the folks that love the "Eye Of Sauron" are within the eye. For the eye-outsiders, it's a brutal mess.
Big Ten Expansionfiasco: Silver Linings
In recent days there's been enough new talkin' about the reshaped Big Ten that it seems like this is a deliberate trial balloon being floated. Penn State's AD:
Penn State athletic director David Joyner expects the addition of Rutgers and Maryland will lead the Big Ten toward a "geography-based" realignment.
In an interview posted on Penn State's website, Joyner said that the conference is leaning toward re-grouping its 12 teams based more on geography. As a result, Rutgers and Maryland could join a division with Penn State.
"We will likely be a little bit more attentive to geographic alignment," Brandon said. "If Michigan and Ohio State being in the same division turns out to be what's in the best interest of the conference, that would be great."
…Iowa AD Gary Barta…
"I do think we have a chance to have a little bit more of a geographic look to it, which I think is great," Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said. "It's great for fans, it's great for student-athletes, it considers travel, rivalries. With us, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, Nebraska, those just make great sense.
and Northwestern AD Jim Phillips:
"Maybe it was competitive balance last time," Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips told ESPN.com. "Maybe geography wins the day this time. … It wasn't the most important [factor in 2010], but we should look at it this time because we are spread farther than we ever have been."
Previously, Gene Smith had asserted he wants a Michigan-OSU division, balance be damned. With this many athletic directors more or less openly saying geography will be a factor and downplaying the competitive balance angle it would be a shock if anything like the current alignment is maintained when Maryland and Rutgers are—oh God I'd forgotten—admitted the year after next. That's not the way PR works.
Presumably this would heal the current Michigan-OSU rift, thus ending the possibility that the Game gets moved to midseason and allowing Michigan fans to watch Ohio State games like God intended: hoping they lose, without reservations.
I still prefer the Eye Of Sauron alignment since over the long term it should provide more balanced Big Ten Championship games, but since they're just going to add more teams there is no long term.
The long term is unattractive. Things get hairy if you tack on two random ACC schools to get to 16 and still want to execute divisions based on geography. In that case whichever school from Indiana or Illinois that gets lumped in with the east would flip over to the other division and Michigan would play most of their traditional rivals once a decade or so.
Mitigating That Bit
one of two ways to play ten conference games
Nine conference games is on the table again. Prepare thy palm, reader, as this quote will no doubt cause you to put face to same:
"As the conference expands, it would be unfortunate if a student-athlete came to the University of Michigan, played in the Big Ten Conference for four years and never even got to play or compete against one of the schools in the conference," Brandon said.
I can think of a way the Big Ten could have avoided this problem.
In any case, Brandon says the Big Ten should "at least" move to nine; Smith says he "would like to go to nine or ten," and then everyone says they need seven home games or their department will implode. "Leveraging assets" is spoken. Ten seems unlikely, as it either prohibits you from playing anyone interesting in the nonconference or brings you down to six home games and forces you to fire every nonrevenue coach. Or something. Possibly just pay them somewhat less.
I'm not sure replacing games against good teams with Maryland and Rutgers is a good thing, but when the alternative is almost never playing Iowa or Wisconsin you have to do what you have to do.
The only way ten games seems feasible is if the NCAA institutes the I-AA-game-as-preseason-contest idea that Rich Rodriguez mentioned a couple times. That would act as your seventh home game without putting too much wear and tear on the kids—the guys who actually play during the year would be lifted after a couple drives. Then you can do what you want with your two nonconference games without having to set the soccer stadium on fire for the insurance money.
The Last Word
I fear this speculation is meaningless as whatever path makes the most sense to all parties concerned will be immediately discarded by B1G leadership in favor of something noboby likes or understands.
Yeah, but I don't even know them, so who cares?
I live in DC so it's in my interest for Michigan to play Maryland four times a year. The eye isn't so bad for people on the outside. You play one or two games a year that are a long flight away (the other one or two being at home). That's far from te end of the world.
The Eye would, however, provoke paranoid screeds from PSU fans about how the Big 10 doesnt love them and only cares about Michigan and Ohio State and that's always a rich dose of schadenfreude. Rutgers and Maryland can't complain because we're saving their broke ass athletic departments. And my impression is that the western schools only really care about creating the Quad of Hate (UW, Minny, Iowa, UNL).
the conference tried to get cutesy once and gave us Legends and Leaders. if they try to get cute again, no matter if it makes all the sense in the world, they will continue getting roasted by the national media.
9 game conference schedule with no crossovers (MSU in the east) gets michigan vs the west once every 3 years and every 6 years at the opponent stadium.
You would go two seasons without playing one school. More likely you do home and homes, so you would go 4 seasons between matchups with one of the other division schools.
It gets worse if you have a protected cross-over game. My solution is that whichever true rivalry gets left out (UM-MSU or IU-PU) gets played as a non-conference game when it's off the schedule and the game is worked in so that it's never the inter-divisional matchup that is on a four year hiatus. Certainly not perfect but better than seeing six schools twice every six years. Or they could just go with inner-outer. Protects all real rivalries while keeping geography somewhat in mind.
The prospect of replacing traditional Big Ten teams on the schedule with Maryland and Rutgers is...depressing
But what about the Hopkins LAX rumors, BRA?
Draw a line from Lincoln to Ann Arbor on that map up there. NW and SE divisions. Done.
But this would fail to address Michigan and OSU being cross-divisional rivals who play every year while the bulk of Michigan's division gets away with only playing them (OSU) once every few years.
Why do we continue to assume the B1G will remain a two division conference? That makes absolutely no sense to me. The most sensible thing the conference can do is explore dividing the conference into 3 or 4, picking up two more schools down the eastern seaboard. Make the B1G a mid / north / south conference. Maintaining a two division conference, when a professional model of 3-4 divisions would afford a more lucrative, competitively balanced, and geographically balanced conference, makes NO sense.
The difference between a 2 division conference and a 3-4 division conference is one more playoff game to choose a legitimate conference champion. Cap the conference play at 8 games (3 of which have to be within your division), add 1 to the playoffs, allow 2 inter-conference games to beef up your team's national ranking (likely resulting in less cupcakes), and you have a net game increase of 0. Meanwhile, it would guarantee the conference champion is a legit contender for a BCS bowl. Why isn't this being discussed?
*with 3 divisions, the division champs would be the ones with the best conference records in each division, and the fourth "wild-card" playoff team would be the team with the best overall record. Tie-breaks go the best intra-division record. In any event, I ultimately favor two more teams for a 16 member, 4 division conference. Whether the 4 divisions will be consolidated into 2 "leagues", or whether playoffs will be simply record-based, is a much more interesting conversation than the idea of sticking with 2 bumbling that dilute rivalries, interest, and parity. Isn't it? Am I crazy?
Yes, you are crazy. I say that because they are discussing scenarios for a 14-team league.
I don't think anyone disagrees that if there were 16 or 18 teams, maybe you look at more than 2 divisions.
The point is there are 14-teams in the Big Ten right now. They can't just annex UVa and UNC and call it a day with 4 divisions.
I appreciate your point, but I think either way you look at 2013-2015, these conference divisions are bound to continue re-aligning because my sense is the B1G (like the other super conferences) is not finished expanding. The next few years are the ones where Delaney breaks out the duct tape and makes the thing work until the next model is ready for prime-time. I think a 3 division conference of 5-5-4 teams will work in the interim with a wild-card team for playoffs. Then the B1G can decide if it will stick with 3 divisions, adding 1 more for balance, or if it will add two more teams for a 4 division conference.
Super-conferences; they are the future. I'm absolutely sold on that. But whether NCAA rules prohibit a 4 team intra-conference playoff, that's something I hadn't researched. It's a valid issue to the extent it's an issue. My opinion on that rule, if it exists, is that it will be gone very soon.
I believe this is because of NCAA rules. Currently, the only way a conference is permitted to hold a conference championship game is if that game is between the winners of two divisions. Now, that rule was developed when 12 teams was considered to be a big conference, so who knows, it may change.
not only are you crazy, but you're freaking nuts. If I've misinterpreted or misread what you said, my apologies.
No other conference has more than two divisions, and the Big Ten isn't going to be the one to break that mold, whether it's 14 or 16 teams. College football is never going to embrace pods or whatever crazy soccer-league idea Brian fantasizes about.
and be done with it. It won't even matter that much what the divisions are since everyone will be pretty much playing everyone (and we don't have to watch any more cupcake games or complain about how easy some other team's non-conference schedule is).
I hope MSU ends up in the same division as UM and OSU. We're going to have to play MSU every year with a protected cross-over, so fuck them, and stick them in a divison with probably the two most powerful progams in the B1G and watch them squirm. Plus, again, considering we're going to have to play them every year in a protected cross-over, it keeps us MSU and Ohio on more equal footing scheduling wise.
I fear this speculation is meaningless as whatever path makes the most sense to all parties concerned will be immediately discarded by B1G leadership in favor of something noboby likes or understands.
I'm all for the idea being floated as long as they keep MSU with us in the East. I don't want protected rivalries, and Michigan-MSU is probably the conference's second fiercest, second most entertaining rivalry. Maryland and Rutgers will take some getting used to, though.
Division A: The original ten members of the Big Ten.
Division B: PSU, Nebraska, Maryland, Rutgers.
The conference championship would be awarded to the team in Division A that has the best record during the regular season against the other members of Division A. There would need to be tie-breakers, of course...As for the regular season, Division A and Division B teams would not play each other unless they scheduled "non-conference" games against one another.
This is the appropriate plan.
Any scenario in which UM is in the same division as OSU and MSU seems like a win. How many of us really care if we don't play Iowa or Illinois or Indiana or Northwestern every hear.
I understand the nostalgia for the Big Ten with ten actual teams, but that day is gone. Even if UM plays in a division with MSU, OSU, and then a bunch of teams who weren't in the B1G before 1990, is that really so bad? Maybe for some. I do beel bad for those people. I don't care all that much. And you'd still get a couple of those other teams every year.
The inner-outer scenario seems very unlikely -- it's not a particularly good set up for the Eastern push, for instance, and pretty much screws over the outer teams.
You have to ask yourself: what are my primary interests? Getting into the same division as OSU and keeping the Game on the last week of the season seems by far and way the 1st. Keeping MSU seems like the second. You're getting those.
It's not perfect, but it's pretty good.
If you added 2 more ACC schools why would you just got East and West at that point?
Michigan, MSU and OHIO would just play in the east with the current 3 east B1G teams (PSU, Rutgers and Maryland) and the 2 new ACC schools.
A sixteen-team conference with two fixed 8-team divisions would work out fine geographically with a nine-game conference schedule. Assuming Virginia and Georgia Tech are the 15th and 16th programs, then here's a simple East-West Split-
East: Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia Tech
West: Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, Indiana, Purdue
That's pretty straightforward. With a nine-game conference schedule, teams would play the seven in their division plus two in the other division (7-2). If the B1G opted not to make those cross-divisional games home-and-home on the schedule, then the teams in each of the divisions would play one another once in a four year period. Admittedly, this would mean that teams wouldn't travel to all eight different schools in that time frame, but there would be at least one game apiece with all the other squads.
In this setup, Michigan would play Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland, Virgnia, Georgia Tech and two of the West Division teams each year. The pro side is UM gets to play its conference rivals, have two games on the east coast each year and still have two more games against traditional B10 teams in the western division.
The other way to do it is construct four 4-team pods and having them rotate every two years. A team would play the three programs in its pods plus four in the pods its paired up with and two more teams in a third pod. After two years, swap pods and keep the same set up. That ensures team get at least two games per opponent every four years.
The pods could be set up as follows:
Pod A: Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota
Pod B: Illinois, Northwestern, Indiana, Purdue
Pod C: Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State
Pod D; Rutgers, Maryland, Virgnia, Georgia Tech.
With this setup, Michigan would play Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State annually. In Years 1 and 2, Pod C and Pod D form one division and UM would also play Rutgers, Maryland, Virgniia and Georgia Tech. The fnal two games are from opponents in Pod A (perhaps paired up this way--Nebraska/Minnesota and Wisconsin/Iowa)
In Years 3 and 4, Pod B and Pod C form one division. Michgian continues to play MSU, OSU and PSU, but now the rest of the division is Illinois, Northwestern, Indiana and Purdue. The final two games are the two opponents in Pod A that weren't played in Years 1 and 2.
So in a four-year cycle, Michigan would have four games with Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State and two games apiece (one home, one away) with the other twelve teams in the conference for 36 total conference games. The winners of the two divisions would go onto the conference championship game.
I don't agree with Brian's assessment that the Big Ten can't have all its teams play one another in a four-year period in a sixteen-team conference. The two methods I described above work and the second one was used during the brief period when the WAC had 16 teams.
Obviously, the schedule would be rounded out with three non-conference games and in years where Michigan had four home conference games, those three OOC contests would have to be played in Ann Arbor to ensure seven home games are played at Michigan Stadium. That means one of those three non-conference games can be a home-and-home series.
You can set up the pods differently, but the one I outlined above is mindful of geography and most of the rivalry/desired games. Its not perfect on all accounts because the Little Brown Jug and the Illinibuck, for example, would be contest for two years out of every four. It also ensures that Nebraska/Wisconsin/Iowa are always in one divisions and Michigan/Ohio State/Penn State are in the other for some semblance of competitive balance.
East-West divisions could work with a 9 game conference schedule.
Michigan would play:
Maryland-every year with 3 crossover games against:
Minnesota (other trophy game)
annual rotation of 2 of the other 6 teams
I like this because it protects our other trophy game, and more often than not we'll play 3 of the remaining 6 schools if we're in the title game.
The problem with creating a protected crossover is that you have to do it for every team, and I think you'd end up with some random and unbalanced matchups.
Let's see, giving priorities to rivalries/trophies...
Michigan - Minnesota [Little Brown Jug]
Ohio - Illinois (Illinibuck)
Purdue - Indiana (Old Oaken Bucket) [moment of silence for the demise of the annual Brass Spittoon game]
here's where it gets hard...
Nebraska - Penn State (some people at PSU seem to think this is a rivalry, no one at Nebraska does).
MSU - Wisconsin
Iowa - Rutgers (the C. Vivian Stringer Game)
Maryland - Northwestern
Isn't it better to go pure rotation. You'll see the teams from the other division more often and there's no fear of a long-term competitive disadvantage. The trophies can be exchanged when the games are played. The only real meaningful loss here is the Purdue - Indiana game.
Do you have to do it for every team? Is there no way around that?
The knock to the 9 game schedule is the competitive imbalance: Some teams get 4 conference home games, some get 5.
Couldn't the scheduling be set up so that all teams in the same division have the same number of conference home games? The entire "leaders" division gets 5 home games one year, the "Legends" division gets 5 the next. That way there is at least an equal competitive home-away basis for getting to the B1G Championship Game.
Don't see why this wouldn't work, other than making too much sense.
Each school plays three intra-division home and road games. In "odd" years East teams play two road inter-division games and one home, West teams play two home inter-division games and one away. In "even" years you flip.
That's a fantastic idea that addresses a problem nobody has really talked about yet. I support it.
At least, until someone demonstrates why that wouldn't work. Let's think about this: In 7-team divisions, everyone plays 3 home and 3 road games in division every year. Then you break up the crossover games into a 2-1, 1-2 arrangement.
If you assume a protected crossover, I would think that a team would play its crossover opponent at home and the other two crossover games on the road in 4 home game years, and vice versa in 5 home game years. If there is no protected crossover, I don't have a mental image of how that would look, but I guess it will work.
The protected crossover game would be the "odd" game.
So, for example:
Every team plays 3 home and 3 road games within the division.
Every team plays 1 home and 1 road game against cross-division opponents
There is then 1 "protected crossover" game, where the East team is at home during even years and the West team is at home during odd years.
East Division Total: 5 home and 4 road games during even years and 4 home and 5 road games during odd years.
If you don't make the protected crossover game the "odd" game, then it screws with the rotation down the road, where some teams end up having to play certain cross-division opponents much more frequently than others.
The problem with this back when they announced the original move to nine games is that certain teams had recurring home-and-home nonconference games and it was impossible to give all the teams in the same division the extra road game the year they weren't also on the road for the nonconference game. Specifically, Michigan and Michigan St. both had games versus Notre Dame every year, one at home and the other on the road. Neither would really want to have the extra conference road game for the division in the same year they are at Notre Dame. With Notre Dame dropping Michigan that specific instance won't be an issue any more, but it could be a problem if MSU and Purdue end up in the same division. Off the top of my head I can't think of any other recurring nonconference games that would be a problem if those two are split.
Wow.....a front page bump that wasn't Seth making fun of me. I'm all tingly.
Let's just have Michigan play Ohio EVERY week and whoever wins the season series gets to go to Abu Dhabi for the BIG54 Championship Game.
That last comment comes to you courtesy of a man who posts bikini pictures of his wife on the Internet.
To be completely accurate my wife posts bikini pictures of herself on her website from time to time to demonstrate she's actually in shape. I just used the one where she had Michigan gear on as my avatar.
"Stop being such a prude, JG, you can't even see her feet in those pictures!" -Mrs. Rex Ryan
I don't understand how playing a 10-game conference schedule would significantly hurt gate receipts, or how it would force us to play only uninteresting teams OOC. Take a look at what would happen if we played 10 conference games (5 at home), 1 home-game MACrifice, and regular home-and-home series with other OOC power schools (at home every other year). Our annual home schedule would be:
- 5 B1G games
- 1 non-BCS-level opponent
- 0.5 interesting OOC matchups (every other year)
Compare that to our current annual home schedule:
- 4 B1G games
- 2 non-BCS-level opponents
- 0.5 games against ND
- 0.67 more non-BCS-level home games (Michigan played another non-BCS-level opponent at home in '08, '09, '10, '11; Alabama in Dallas in '12; and will play at Connecticut in 2013)
We haven't played a home game against an interesting nonconference opponent other than ND since 2007 (Oregon). So essentially, if we play 10 conference games and swap out ND for a high-level OOC opponent, we would trade an average of 1.67 non-BCS home tickets for 1 B1G home ticket. Given that discriminatory pricing (charging different ticket prices based on the quality of the opponent) seems to have gained widespread acceptance in college football, I would imagine the athletic department could make up the money from the extra 2/3rds of a MAC home game each year by increasing the price of a B1G home game ticket by 10% each (of course, the increase for each game would depend on the quality of the opponent). I think most fans would agree this is well worth it in order to have almost every home game be interesting.
Not only that, but the B1G could easily make up the lost revenue through its TV deals. You think ABC/ESPN wouldn't gladly pay more for their broadcast rights if they could broadcast 11 BCS-level Michigan games per year instead of the current 9? Or that the B1G Network couldn't sell a few more ads and get into a few more markets if the lower-tier games they received were interesting matchups that had a bearing on the conference title, instead of seeing Jack Kennedy take snaps when beating UMass by 50?
10 conference games makes sense in every way. Plus, needless to say, it's great for the vast majority of fans who watch almost all their games on TV. Let's stop subsidizing the MAC and do this.
David Brandon and a number of other Big Ten Athletic Directors want to be in a position where they can play seven home games per year in order to maximize ticket revenues supporting their department's operations.
A ten-game schedule with five home/five road conference games means the two non-conference games would have to be played at Michigan Stadium every season in order to have those seven home games.
The belief is that it would be difficult for any athletic director to put together a compelling non-conference schedule without being able to do at least one home-and-home series. Michigan might be able to get some good or BCS conference teams in Ann Arbor who don't need a return date like Brigham Young (2015), Oregon State (2015) and Colorado (2016), but that can also be a difficult propositon (ex. UM was able to get Connecticut for stadium rededication game, but had to agree to reutrn date).
With a nine-game schedule, there's at least the opportunity to upgrade the non-conference schedule because there's room for a home-and-home series. For a long time standing, the team that was in that slot was Notre Dame. With ND dropping off the schedule after 2014, the only home-and-home we do know about is Arkansas in 2018/9.
The other thing I would say is that there are no assurances that with a ten-team conference schedule, all the B1G teams on UM's schedule that particular year are going to be as compelling as some of the squads on the non-conference portion of the schedule. For example, would you rather play Minnesota or Purdue as the tenth conference game or have BYU or Oregon State as the third non-conference opponent? I'd pick the latter option over the former one.
I do expect that the Big Ten will be handsomely compensated with the new television deals that will come in place for the 2017 season. The estimate for confrence distributions (which includes television revenue) is $43M by that year. That's in comparison to the roughly $28M this fiscal year. I don't think it's going to change much if there are nine or ten conference games because if one of the non-conference teams on a particular school's schedule is pretty good, it'll likely be better than that 10th B1G opponent.
The conference will adopt a nine game conference schedule and encourage teams to "schedule up" on the non-conference portion of it because of post-season implications. I suspect the adaptation of the nine game conference schedule is going to take a few years--perhaps by 2016. At that point, we may also be looking at a 16- or more team Big Ten.
I think we are gonna end up at 20 teams, 2 divisions of 10. You play everyone in your division (9 games) and the division winners go into a defacto national quarterfinal. Winners of 4 conferences (20 teams each) go to a playoff.
Whatever is decided now wont last more than 2 years.
People need to disabuse themselves of the idea of a 4-team national playoff with 4 automatic bids. At large bids will always be a part of the national championship process. If (say) Brigham Young University chooses not to join a conference, they can not be completely shut out of access to the championship. Anti-trust laws would come into play if they were explicitly excluded.
The only way it happens is if the major football schools break out of the NCAA and establish a separate, Footbal 1+A division with separate rules. In that scenario four major conferences could be enforced with a real championship playoff.
Not likely, but possible-especially with the real ground-shifting going on underneath the NCAA right now.
Starting in a year, there is going to be a 4-team playoff. Assuming recent trends continue, the SEC will average about 1.5 to 2.2 of the 4 teams per year in that playoff. I don't see any plausible scenario where the SEC agrees to give up spots in the playoffs. Why would they drop out of the NCAA for a reduced share of the playoff field and, presumably, a reduced share of the playoff revenue?
If you posit that only the 8 division winners are allowed to complete for the championship, you also completely remove any value that a non-conference game has, and reduce it to an exhibition. There are a lot of schools who would be very opposed to that idea, because there are still a handful of schools who play non-conference games that they find meaningful.
Finally, the idea of a playoff without at large bids is now completely foreign in the United States. Not in college sports, not in professional sports. Excluding a team that is widely thought of as the second best team in the nation would not be accaptable to the people who run the playoff, or to teams who think they could easily end up as that 11-1 team ranked #2 behind a divisional rival.
Well, the scenario I described is kind of the "nuclear option." One that would bring change to every fabric of the sport--so a four-team playoff wouldn't necessarily stick around. But the other benefits it would bring, with a redefinition or abandonment of amateurism and massive shared revenues, would probably be worth it to the SEC.
Oh, yes, I certainly understand that's what you are hinting at, and nobody knows what the college sports landscape will look like in 20 to 40 years, but I am fairly confident of one thing: if there is a playoff system of any kind, it will include at large bids. That's my only point--the people who say that the obvious "endgame" is for a 4-team playoff involving only conference champions of 4 pre-determined conferences are certainly wrong.
Remember AAU membership and television households seem to be the big thing. And Duke/UNC feels like a pipe dream, can't see those schools abandoning the ACC and brethren NC State and Wake Forest.
Same with Kansas and Kansas State.
Best guess is they go to 16 and add Virginia and Georgia Tech and basically divisions would shape up as the ACC schools, Rutgers, and us, Sparty, and Ohio with the other schools in the West.
If North(ish)-South(ish) would work, you could keep MSU, OSU and Michigan in the same division and still somewhat of a balance in terms of competitiveness.
North: Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, MSU, OSU, Penn State
South: Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Rutgers, Maryland
Important rivalries stay intact (Brown Jug, Michigan/MSU, Michigan/OSU, Indiana/Purdue, etc.) and you have some semblance of Geographical significance to the breakdown. Am i missing something or would that be a reasonable answer to this?