Hoke was top notch at this aspect of his job.
A lot of people are having different opinions on how the scheduling should be, so I try one scenario myself. Whit just 2 different schedules, by only rotating 2 pods one time, you can play everybody every other year, or home and away every 4 years. For the sake of the argument I added Nebraska, Notre Dame, Pittsburg, Syracuse and Rutgers.
Let's lay a few ground rules.
- One rivalry above all (MICH - OSU).
- The requirements to play a championship game are:
1. At least 12 teams divided in two divisions (16 teams in our case),
2. Round robin schedule inside your division (7 games).
- You need to go to 9 conference games. You play the 7 teams from your division + 2 other from the other division.
Big Ten Scheduling:
1. Create 4 pods (2 fixed and 2 rotating). The 2 fixed pods will be made of the strongest teams and will each anchor one division (Pod A will never be in the same division with Pod B). This keeps the divisions strength balanced; also it maintains most rivalries intact and creates new ones based on location.
Fixed Pod A - OSU, MI, MSU, PSU
Fixed Pod B - WISC, IOWA, NEB, ND
2. The 2 rotating pods will change divisions every 2 years (I'll explain later why).
Rotating Pod C - ILL, RUTG, SYR, PITT
Rotating Pod D - PUR, IND, MINN, NW
3. First year you have this 2 divisions:
Fixed Pod A - Rotating Pod C
Fixed Pod B - Rotating Pod D
4. The 2 extra games will be used against teams from the opposing pod (Fixed Pod A - Fixed Pod B), (Rotating Pod C - Rotating Pod D). As an example: OSU and MICH will play WISC and IOWA, MSU and PSU will play NEB and ND.
5. One problem with the 9 conference games is that you play a 5-4 or 4-5 schedule (home-away). You can fix that by having one division playing 5 home games and the other one just 4. This will make it fair inside the divisions. The next year you reverse the schedule and the home teams will play away this time, so the division that had 5 home games will have 4 now. This way you basically have a home and away schedule over a span of two years.
6. After 2 seasons you rotate the pods and now you have this 2 divisions:
Fixed Pod A - Rotating Pod D
Fixed Pod B - Rotating Pod C
7. The 2 extra games will be used against the other 2 teams from the opposing pod. As an example: OSU and MICH will play NEB and ND, MSU and PSU will play WISC and IOWA.
8. The 4th year will be like the 2nd one, a reverse schedule of the previous one for the same reasons.
After 4 years everybody plays everybody home and away at least ones and you basically change the schedule only one time. This way you can actually know way ahead your B10 schedule because it will repeat every 4 years.
The rivalries will be kept inside the pods only, but like I said before; only one rivalry is above all MICH - OSU, all the other ones are secondary and some will be sacrificed.
P.S. These pods alignments are just for the sake of the argument. Please take them as is. I could've used numbers instead of actual schools, but I think is more relevant this way.
Edit: Maybe this will make it easier to understand.