It's more even....
Now that the Big Ten will officially have 12 teams, divisions aren't far behind. We have options here, and that's not even to speak of the question of whether other sports besides football should use divisions as well. (Helpful hint: HELL NO.)
No, the options are the myriad ways this could be done. Some choices to make:
- ACC-style split, non-geographical or Big 12/SEC-style split, by geography.
- ACC/SEC-style scheduling or Big 12-style scheduling.
There are probably other ways to do it, but these are the extant methods and I don't see a great many different ways to do it. Those are basically the only options for a divisional split, for example. So how would this look?
Well, the Big Ten is different than these other conferences, in that we have a lot of trophies to hand out. No conference does intraconference rivalries like the Big Ten. I count thirteen games that are played each year, or used to be before Penn State, for trophies - this includes Michigan/Ohio State, for which there is no formal trophy, but often, the winner receives a Rose. So this kind of thing needs to be taken into account. These thirteen are:
|Michigan-Michigan State||Paul Bunyan Trophy|
|Michigan-Ohio State||needs no trophy|
|Michigan-Minnesota||Little Brown Jug|
|Michigan State-Penn State||Land Grant Trophy|
|Michigan State-Indiana||Old Brass Spittoon|
|Illinois-Northwestern||Sweet Sioux Tomahawk*|
|Wisconsin-Minnesota||Paul Bunyan's Axe|
|Penn State-Minnesota||Governor's Victory Bell|
Old Oaken Bucket
Floyd of Rosedale
The conference did a decent job of keeping rivalries intact as best they could when Penn State was added, so I think they will take these into account in the future as well.
Note that Nebraska has no established rivalries; this makes things easier. What might a geographical split look like? East/West is natural; this means:
This isn't well-balanced, but it's not terrible either. At least the eastern teams get to beat up on Indiana. And the rivalries match up for the most part. If you use the Big 12 system for scheduling, which means you play three teams two years in a row and the other three teams the next two years, a lot of trophy games get left behind; therefore, these are matched up with permanent opponents in order to save a few - here, Illibuck and the Jug. Lost (or relegated to occasional status, are the Victory Bell - not very old - and the Purdue Cannon - and my brother is a Purdue grad and never, ever talks about some pressing need to beat Illinois. Come to think of it, nobody does even though Illinois thinks everyone is their blood rival.) In the ACC model, you play your permanently-matched cross-division opponent every year and rotate the other games. Michigan would play Wisconsin and Illinois one year, Illinois and Iowa the next, Iowa and Northwestern after that, and so on.
Now suppose we were a little different about splitting this up. As it turns out, this is geographical, in a way; it's a North/South split. It also preserves 11 of the 13 rivalries:
|Michigan State||Penn State|
This also has the benefit of matching Nebraska with its western cousins, and in an ACC/SEC-style schedule system, 11 of the 13 rivalries. This time the Victory Bell and the Spittoon are relegated to semi-rivalry status, and let's face it, anyone who claims to have a rivalry with IU football that doesn't share a state with them is doing it wrong. The Spittoon is pretty one-sided.
In this arrangement, you could actually switch Penn State and Indiana's "permanent rivals" and save both those rivalries at the expense of the Land Grant Trophy and keep 12 of 13 rivalries intact. But MSU-PSU is a lot more compelling (and liable to get MSU beat more often) than IU/MSU or Minny/PSU.
This allows, also, for the possibility of a Michigan/OSU title game, though it sacrifices the idea of the division as a prize for winning the game.
Either one is a tough draw for Michigan. One puts them in a division with Penn State and Ohio State, which is a nasty way of doing things. The other puts most of the crappy Big Ten teams in the other division, but also the two toughest teams in the conference.
These, I think, are the ways of splitting up this conference and still keeping the rivalries intact. It remains to be seen how much these things come into play.
It's more even....
Edit: Maybe not. You guys seem to have different maps of the midwest.
I like the second divisional split a lot. I never realized how many rivalries could be saved. Thank you for pointing that out.
If you define "preserving rivalries" as "playing them every year", I believe it's even more so than in the current setup. But all bets are off if we go past 12, especially if Notre Dame is one.
The north division is much tougher than the south.
I agree with the second breakdown - with the East-West divisions, you would have the same problem the Big 12 had with the North-South breakdown, as OU and Texas always battled for MNC bids while the North could, at best, be a spoiler.
Division alignment: The Big Ten also must figure out divisions in the coming months. Delany listed three main criteria for sorting them out: competitive fairness, maintenance of rivalries and geography. He stressed that competitive fairness is the No. 1 priority, which I believe to be the correct approach. Geography shouldn't determine divisions. You don't want another Big 12 South scenario.
Rivalries: Delany has often talked about the intimacy of a league and how vital rivalries are to its fabric. "They're part of who we are," he said Friday. But he added that rivalries have to be evaluated independently to see which ones are worth preserving in an expanded league. "We’re going into this with the idea that rivalries really matter," Delany said. "But not all rivalries are equal.
Meta: I hope it was Ok to copy the above two posts. The link for both is the same.
The problem is, the ACC went with the "competitive fairness" approach and it's backfired as spectacularly as the geography approach. They were pretty even when they started, but now the Coastal is wicked loaded and the Atlantic sucks. I'm not sure there's a way to ensure perpetual competitive balance without rejiggering the alignment every few years.
While it is true that teams have up and down cycles, the best way to preserve competitive balance is to divide the most prestigious programs and let everything else sort itself out. The divisions will be unbalanced some years no matter what, but you can make it more likely that the divisions will be balanced from year to year.
in general, i like your point, but i think we have different definitions of "wicked loaded." any six-team football division that includes duke, north carolina, and virginia doesn't quite cut it for me.
When one division is 13-6 against the other, that's a huge imbalance. The Big 12 is supposedly the model of imbalance and the South's margin was only one game better than the Coastal's. UNC was 8-4 in the regular season last year and they finished 4th in the division, I don't see how they're exactly terrible.
The Big 12 South had two top tier schools (Texas and Oklahoma) to the North's one. As such, you can observe a big discrepancy between the divisions over time, which is worse than what will likely happen in the ACC (occasional years in which one division is vastly superior to the other, but no major systemic bias).
Take your first set of divisions and switch Penn State with Illinois. This is neutral with regards to keeping rivalries (11 of 13 are still maintained) and allows for greater competitive balance. Meanwhile, Nebraska can develop rivalries with both Iowa (a natural rival) and Penn State.
Penn State-Nebraska would be a great rivalry for several reasons. First of all, they equally prestigious programs. Second of all, they are both relatively recent additions. Finally, and most importantly, both teams contend that they deserve the 1994 National championship (awarded to Nebraska) and in 1982, Penn State won the national championship and handed Nebraska its only loss of the season (Nebraska finished 3rd in the polls).
A Penn State/Nebraska rivalry...man that's a lot of travel. As the eastern and western edge of the conference, PSU and Nebraska should NOT be in the same side of the conference, however things get split up. It's not fair to the players, and its not fair to the fans. I'd personally like to see a Wisconsin vs/ Nebraska rivalry game...they can call the trophy the Big Red Jug.
There's a 100 mile difference between Minneapolis and State College and Lincoln to State College. People forget how far away Minnesota's campus is from most of the Big 10ish schools. Now, obviously I guess your argument is that Minnesota isn't in PSU's division anyway, but Football is the only sport with divisions (most likely), so the rest of the teams have been travelling that far for years without complaint.
How many ways are there to divide a 12 team Conference into two 6 team divisions ?
Also if you play every team in your own division once & 3 games from the other division each year that would make 8 games in Conference with 4 games remaining for non-Conference play. So even if Minnesota was in the other division the Brown Jug could still be contested every other year.
How many ways are there to divide a 12 team Conference into two 6 team divisions ?
If I remember my high school math correctly, 924.
Let's break down the pros and cons of each of them.
We'll have 16 teams and then be occupied until 2012, at which time all manner of life will cease to exist.
This post is really begging for a scatterplot...
Kudos on your Math M&B Wahoo,
I had to google my noodle to see how you got
that answer, which I believe to be correct.
Using this formula to achieve that result.
I believe we can reduce the number by half as each
unique set of 6 has a paired opposite as a compliment.
Which is to say that there are 462 ways that the
Conference could be divided into Divisions of 6 each.
That should simplify the ensuing analysis considerably.
Realistically even 462 seems pretty Ponderous,
If each school is paired to its Most Valued
Opponent, the Conundrum is more palatable.
The Problem is then described as a Conference
of 6 pairs divided into Divisions of 3 pairs each.
The above formula reveals only 20 unique sets &
just 10 ways for the Conference to be configured.
For my next step I consulted the 2010 Big Ten schedule:
Indiana vs Purdue
Iowa vs Minnesota
Michigan vs Ohio State
Michigan State vs Penn State
Northwestern vs Wisconsin
Illinois - (Open, completed Big Ten schedule the week prior against Northwestern.)
The question remains Who does Nebraska get as their End of Season Rival ? For me Wisconsin gets the nod, there is poetic justice in a stadium filled with a Sea of Red.
Matching Illinois & Northwestern as in State Rivals
All things considered, an East-West alignment emerges
East: Purdue, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State & Penn State.
West: Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota & Nebraska
This Minny partisan could not give half a shit about the non-division teams in your hypothetical N/S split.
I would like see a conference championship game take place of a game on the last weekend between 2 teams that are outright division champs. For example if we use the North/South division the championship would be UM and OSU alot and you use a neutral site and that teams home game gets pushed back to the next year
If you told Michigan or Ohio State to put off hosting the other for a year, no matter what the reason, you would be run out of town on a rail.
I'm going to take playing Ohio State every year over maybe playing them for the conference title every once in a while. If you can put them in separate divisions but maintain a rival in an opposing division then I am for it. Otherwise I say we are in the same division.
See, though, everyone next to each other in the table is a permanently-matched cross-division rival in a scheduling system that uses those.
I was writing up some possibilites for HSR, and I think I have hit upon something in this, using the permanent cross-division rival model which they would never say they were doing the sort based on this, but it totally feels like it works:
The Rich/Poor Divisions (based on the size of the school's endowment)
* Michigan - $6.00 billion
* Northwestern - $5.45 billion
* Minnesota - $2.07 billion
* Ohio State - $1.65 billion
* Purdue - $1.46 billion
* Wisconsin - $1.37 billion
* Indiana - $1.23 billion
* Penn State - $1.23 billion
* Nebraska - $1.15 billion
* Illinois - $1.11 billion
* Michigan State - $1.05 billion
* Iowa - $766 million
Permanent rival games:
Ohio State-Penn State
(The only two that would need to be season finale games are Northwestern/Illinois and Purdue/Indiana, which allows Michigan/Ohio State, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Michigan State/Penn State, and Iowa/Nebraska to close the season.)
Am I crazy, or does that work out pretty darn well?
I'm not sure of the method for the distribution, but the split up of the divisions is the best I've seen yet.
Since the only reason for any of this movement is to grab more money for each school, it seems that the only rational basis for deciding how to split the conference into divisions should also be tied to money.
Yostal, your formula for dividing the conference is genius in its simplicity and true to the reason for adding Nebraska - making more money for the conference and the member schools. Honest. Simple. Brilliant.
Class warfare anyone.
Then you're only missing two each year, like it is now. I think missing three injects too much imbalance into the overall conference schedule strengths.
It's moronic not to do so now that there is a 12 game regular season -- three OOC games is plenty. Just because the SEC, ACC, and Big Nothing didn't have the sense to go to nine games when they should have doesn't mean the Big Ten should repeat the mistake.
Since expansion seems to be a lot about money, I doubt teams will want to give up the gains made with an additional home game. Also, if you have the two divisions, then 8 makes sense, since you play 5 division games and 3 cross division games.
I don't mind putting Michigan, OSU and PSU in the same division so much now that Nebraska is in the other division to balance. I think having Nebraska as a rival will boost Iowa and the other teams in the West, so that they can compete consistently. I don't think the Big Ten East will be as dominant as the Big XII South is.
How does scheduling work? Are cross-division games all during specific weeks during the season, or are they randomly spread out through the season?
If Iowa and Wiscy are now, as the MSM percieve them, elite teams, then they will be natural rivals for Nebraska, and the divisions will be balanced on top with UM, OSU, and PSU on one side and Nebraska, Iowa, and Wiscy on the other side. This really looks as fair as it gets, as long as Wiscy and Iowa continue to hold up their end of the "bargain."
If, further down the road, the BT adds, say, ND and Pitt, Pitt could be in the east and ND in the west. Then, there would be four tough teams in each division. If ND doesn't join, I hope Pitt doesn't, either. I would rather have two elite teams or two non-elite teams join for the sake of balance. Or, as some wish, two elite teams and two non-elite teams.
At any rate, balance is the key. It's fair for everyone, and it keeps bitching to a minimum. I'm "all in" for East/West.
I think it is as simple as an east and west division split!
All 6 teams from each division must play a home and away series every year. East and West division opponents would play each other twice a year with some sort of staggered 3 year home and away series. This would leave two non-conference games. And there will be no cupcakes in the scheduled! UM would probably play ND and hopefully another BCS non conference opponent. No more MAC teams! Never again a DIV2 team! Then of course we'll have the huge big 10 conference championship game in early December...the match up between both divisional winner. You will never again have some teams slip through with an easy conference schedule!
Rotate the championship game between Ford Feild, RCA dome, metrodome, even STL.
If we add ND in 2012 or 2013 we could add Pitt/MD/Rutgers and place ND in the west and one of the eastern teams in the east!
i dont think teams should play each other more than once in college football (unless its a bowl or NC or such). It especially detracts from rivalries (Michigan/OSU would be less of The Game if there was a Second Game).
The PSU locals around here see the Land Grant Trophy for exactly what it is, some weak attempt at forced tradition that pales to the real thing so prevalent in the conference.
I have faith that the Big Ten will do their best to keep as much rivalry games that they can.
any of the permutations presented. I believe the OP and the rest of the respondents have excellent ideas but, since the subject is somewhat speculative. Why not consider that conference expansion is not over? There may be as many as four teams out there that may be penciled in for the Big 10 or whatever it's going to be called.
split the way the OP has it East/West. While preserving the current rivalries (which really have a strong locality component in them, so divisions along geographical lines would preserve most of them) unfortunately, I do think that it is fairly imbalanced.
Chosing to divide based on geography is, I guess, as arbitrary as anything. So, as they use to say in Monty Python, and now for something completely different. Lets divide the schools according to the US News and World Report rankings (ranking in parentheses):
Penn State (47)
Ohio State (53)
Michigan State (71t)
Actually, that really isn't too bad, and we get rid of little brother to boot. But Ohio State in the "Brains" division, I'm just not gettin' that.
Personally, I wouldn't want to get rid of a usual MSU game. I would be sad about any scheme that got rid of the annual ND, OSU, and MSU games. PSU would be sad to lose, too, but its less important to me than the other three.
Sobering to see that Nebraska is so clearly the tail end, in terms of academics. Not that I'm surprised, but still.
Blue Durham, could you cite from the same USN&WR report where some of the other contenders rank -- Pitt, Rutgers, Missouri, Maryland and of course, ND?
Other Schools Under Consideration
Notre Dame (20)
Texas A&M (61)
Others of Note:
University of Chicago (8t)
Southern Methodist Univ. (68)
Iowas State (88)
LSU, Arkansas, and Kentucky (128t) - this is the end of what is referred to as tier 1.
In "Tier 3", Miss. State, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Mississippi, Texas Tech and West Virginia.
I wonder if the league is going to help pay travel costs now? (Or do they already?) If Nebraska ends up a in non-geographical division, the travel costs for the schools in that division will be much greater than the one without the Cornhuskers. Still, as long as Michigan and OSU are in the same division I guess I really don't care that much.
Nebraska is actually surprisingly not that far from many Big Ten Schools. The distance from Omaha to Minneapolis/Madison/Chicago/Champaign is roughly the same as Ann Arbor to Madison or College Park. SHouldn't be that bad.
The schools you list are geographically "close." Let's say PSU, UM, OSU or MSU are placed in a division with Nebraska then it becomes a bit more of an issue, but only for one game every other year. I suppose the olympic sports are the ones getting screwed with cost.
The four Texas schools really aren't that much closer to Lincoln than the four easternmost Big Ten schools. As far as travel goes, Nebraska's not really taking on much extra in costs.