For all you wannabe Jim Delany's who want to try and configure divisions for 12, 14, 16 and 20 team conferences, I have 1 constant you need to include that seems to be continually ignored. Mich and OSU need to be in the same division. The last thing anyone wants is a OSU-Mich rematch in the Championship game and UM is going to play OSU the last week of the Big Ten season. Look at the SEC, Auburn and Alabama are together. I love looking at all the crazy ideas and possibilities, but OSU-Mich in the same division is a lock...... work off that.
I know the argument against putting them in separate divisions - that the regular season game could be rendered meaningless if one or both teams have already clinched their division title. I guess if you put them in opposing divisions, you'd still have them scheduled to play their final regular season game against each other.
My response is hogwash! And I have a few reasons to state that:
1) What makes us assume that in a year when Michigan and Ohio State win their division that they will already have clinched prior to that game? Think about how competitive the Big Ten is year after year after year. I think it's highly unlikely that both teams will come into that game with no chance to lose their respective divisions. Please demonstrate consistent examples of when I might be wrong (I'm always up for correction if necessary)
2) It's a HUGE rivalry. Let's say Michigan has already one their division, and Ohio State has no chance of winning their division. Are you telling me that anyone in the Michigan program would not play to win, or play safe (rest players) to focus on the bigger prize? No, this wouldn't happen. Besides, if you are in line to win your division in the Big Ten, you might also be looking at claiming a BCS berth (win or lose the conf. championship game), or better yet, undefeated and looking for a national championship game. Too much at stake, you'll give ti everything you have.
3) So lets say that a REMATCH does occur. How many Michigan fans didn't want a rematch in 2006 because it might hurt the rivalry. (Crickets sound in the background) Exactly. Realistically there are two rematch scenarios in order of likelihood:
a) One team has clinched while the other needs a win to clinch. Great, one team needs to essentially knock of their biggest rival two weeks in a row to in the title. If not, they knock off their biggest rival to get to the championship game, where that rival gets vengeance. To me, that's beautiful. Oh, and then both teams stew over the results or in the two straight wins, celebrate like crazy, for 365 days.
b) Both teams have already clinched. Would this lead to a ho hum game. You could make that argument at the pro level, but I don't think that applies to college. It's 18-22 year olds. This is the game you play. For the seniors on the home team, it's their last time to win in front of the home crowd and their parents - no small motivation. Again, the chance to knock off your rivals twice in one year. Plus, recruiting. You'll bring recruits to the game to experience the atmosphere, and no one wants to lose to their rival.
4) Even in the event of a replay of the season ending game, you actually increase the stakes. Given the majority of occurrences of a rematch will have been preceded by one team needing a win to get in, it can only intensify the rivalry by increasing games of meaning. No one ever accuses the UNC-Duke basketball rivalry being diminished because after two regular season games, they might play a third in the ACC tournament.
5) All the pitfalls of the problems of cross division work if they are in the same division. The team that clinches the division early might not be motivated as much to beat their rival knowing they have a conference championship game the next week, and perhaps a shot at the MNC game as well. In a same division setup, its most likely a win to advance scenario, with only one team moving on to the conf. championship game, the same already would happen if they were in opposing divisions.
So in my opinion, I prefer opposing divisions.
The best game of the year is the Ohio State game. The chance to play them twice with so much on the lline would make it even better.
Miami and Florida State do it in the ACC and they aren't nearly as compelling a rivalry. Imagine how excited we would be to get to beat Ohio State twice on the way to a National Championship. The Big House would be electric.
So we beat OSU at OSU on the last day of the season to win our division. So then the next week we need to travel to a neutral site to play them again. We lose and they get the Rose Bowl birth. That sounds like fun. Nobody will be pissed about that.
All the conferences set it up so the chances of a rematch in the championship game are zero from the last game of the season. Must be a reason for that.
So you would rather beat OSU (when us and them are clearly the best two teams in the conference) and then lose to a lower level team from another division and have them go to the Rose Bowl. Not that fun either.
I would prefer to beat the lesser team. The main point is the controversy that would follow.
Since all the other conferences follow my plan I feel I'm in the majority in my opinion.
The last thing anyone wants is a OSU-Mich rematch in the Championship game
As so many people do, you're putting your blinders on and pretending the fans' perspective is the only one that matters. If you don't think the media explosion that would surround a Michigan/OSU rematch in BTCG doesn't sorely tempt the conference brass, then you're being willfully ignorant.