So, MVictors has a good post about conference realignment and The Game: http://mvictors.com/?p=7960#idc-container
Craig Ross talks about the divisional title conditions as well. My 2 cents (AKA, everyone else is NUTs b/c the following is the most logical avenue of reasoning):
1) A simple question: Why is Michigan-Ohio St the greatest rivalry in sports? No really, think about specific reasons.....
OK, now is it really b/c it's played on Nov 22nd? Or in November? Or the end of the year? Can a date on the calendar define the importance of this game? Not really. The reason the Game is so big is simply b/c when the teams play, the BIG TEN TITLE always seems to be on the line. This is the crux of the rest of this post: Overwhelmingly often, the M-OSU winner definitively determined the BIG TEN CHAMPION. That is what made The Game, well.... THE GAME. Nothing more, nothing less. Not the weather or the date on calendar.
Based on the above, if both M and OSU were in the same division, THEY WOULD NEVER DEFINITIVELY PLAY FOR THE B10 TITLE. They would only play for the division. Hence, the game loses it's significance. The Game went from 'determining the B10 Champion' to 'determining the division winner.' By definition, this would be less important.
I therefore submit that, if you truly want to protect the importance of The Game, you MUST support M and OSU being placed in different divisions. Therefore, unlike the alternative, the opportunity to play for the B10 Title will still be available thus maintaining the sustainability of the importance of The Game. It will sustain it's own importance if it deserves to: if M and OSU are good enough to meet in the B10 title game on a regular basis. If they aren't good enough to do this, nothing can sustain The Game's importance.
Obvious point: We must play every year to avoid the Neb-OU situation of the recent past. Hence, the protected rivalry game.
Obvious point: playing a 2nd time in the Title game WOULD BE AWESOME!!!
Not-so-obvious point: Would it not benefit (from an on the field competitive viewpoint) both OSU and M to move The Game a week or two earlier to avoid having to play the 2 biggest games of the year in consecutive weeks? In addition, this may reduce the number of times when the divisions have already been determined prior to the last week of the season (thus diminishing the stake of The Game some years).
Finally, the MVictors post linked at the top discusses the inherent disadvantage M and OSU would have simply by virtue of having to play each other EVERY year in the cross divisional protected game. Craig Ross suggests a complicated point system to mitigate this disadvantage. I submit a simpler strategy for determining the divisional champions:
-- intra-divisional record determines the division champion.
-- overall B10 record is the 1st tiebreaker.
-- head to head in the 2nd tie breaker
moving head to head to the 1st tie breaker may be fine, but then makes overall record moot and essentially makes the cross divisional games worthless.
The End...... ?