Ding Dong, The Divisions Are Dead (Again) Comment Count

Brian April 22nd, 2013 at 2:48 PM



After months and months of leaks to the effect that the Big Ten would use the opportunity presented by their (nonsensical) expansion to ditch the current divisions and go with a straight East-West breakdown, the Big Ten… actually, wait.

The proposed Big Ten West includes the six teams located in the Central time zone -- Illinois,Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern andWisconsin -- plus Purdue, sources said.

The proposed Big Ten East includes Indiana,Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State,Penn State and Rutgers.

"Just take a ruler and a map [and split the 14 teams]," a source said.

A source? Didn't we just do this last month? ESPN?

ESPN.com reported last month that the divisions debate was down to whether Purdue or Indiana would go to the West. Purdue's campus is located west of Indiana's.

Yes. We did. Every Big Ten blog has a post on this today. The news: Purdue and Indiana have been situated. This came out in the middle of a surreal terrorist manhunt, and we still care. News is weird, but let's get swept away in the tide of history.

Competitive upshot


cowboys ride for free wait, seriously, Kansas?

Anyone with a keyboard to tap at is making a Big Ten West == Big 12 North comparison, and… yeah, down to the school that'll probably be making the conference's last stand against the dual hegemony in the other division. The best team out of Iowa/Illinois*/Nebraska/Wisconsin/Purdue/Northwestern will probably be pretty good. They'll be a dog in most every championship game, but this is what happens when you expand with absolutely nothing other than the rapidly-fading cable television model in mind. More like NONsense and NONsensibility and zombies, amirite?

Meanwhile, the other division is Michigan, Ohio State, and Also Ran until such time as Penn State gets off the deck from their NCAA sanctions. Michigan State's trying to puff their chest out, but it's over for them. State's recent run of quasi-relevancy (still no BCS bowls… ever) coincided with a three-year period in which

  1. Michigan was busy punching itself during the brief Rodriguez era
  2. Ohio State was off the schedule (2009 and 2010) or having their one-year tatgate implosion.

MSU has one win over a good OSU team since 1974, and four total. While they've been a little less futile against Michigan, before the Rodriguez run their record the previous 20 years was 5-15. With Michigan and Ohio State poised for decade-plus long runs of coaching stability and recruiting dominance, there aren't going to be a lot of opportunities to pick off easy wins against teams struggling to .500 records or worse. It's over.

More interesting is Rutgers. New Jersey is fertile recruiting ground. With Penn State down, eastern Pennsylvania should be easier to get into. They've been recruiting on a level commensurate with a middling Big Ten team despite being stuck in the Big East. If the financial and prestige boost from their move bumps them up a notch, they could become the most annoying ankle-biter in the division.

Penn State has to dig out, obviously, and then who knows what they're like without Joe Paterno? Early returns are good, as they managed to acquire some serious talent despite the sanctions. Christian Hackenberg and Adam Breneman signed up for a team with three more bowl ban years upcoming—that says something about PSU's enduring pull with Pennsylvania recruits.

They still have no chance to keep pace. They have to be down to 65 players this year and are currently on track to have a recruiting class of eight guys this year even with some attrition that's 10 to 12 players. Doom awaits. By the time they're good the Big Ten will probably be at 84 teams. Short term thinking, that's our motto.

Indiana and Maryland enjoy basketball.

*[Yeah, Illinois. Every ten years they have a good team and then implode.]

Should we be thinking long term?

The ACC is trumpeting a very long "grant of rights" deal that hypothetically locks the TV revenue from the 15 member teams—ND included minus football—to the conference they're currently in until 2027. This will save the conference unless something totally improbable happens. That thing: lawyers!

Unless a league member decides to go to litigation to escape this down the road, the ACC believes a Grant of Rights will protect it from conference realignment poachers.

Because lawyers never get involved in these things. While the GOR provides an extra hurdle, it's a deterrent designed to look super scary. Just how effective it'll be in the event of a departure is unknown. See: Maryland, currently involved in that litigation stuff over a $50 million exit fee the ACC voted in just before they left. Maryland will likely pay something less than that in a settlement.

People in charge of things are just in charge of them

Goodbye, Successories Conference.


leadership is more about not being clueless than eyebrows

Let us pour out some gasoline for our dead homie division names, and light them on fire. Burning is the most terrible way to die, but as the wisps arise from the charred notions that were "Legends" and "Leaders" it seems far too kind. If that debacle doesn't prove to you once and for all that our tendency to worship any bushy-eyebrowed dim bulb who manages to ascend to the talky bit of any enterprise is destructive, I don't know what to tell you.

Whenever someone cocks their eyebrow at you and condescendingly says that you don't have the vast amounts of information and knowledge they do about complicated geopolitical processes like conference realignment, just remember that those guys are the ones who made the conference a national laughingstock for years. They did this by doing something that was such a bad idea from the start that they promised they'd reconsider after literally every person who heard it laughed in their face.

Therefore their projections that media markets are still going to matter in 10 years…

Nine games

At least there's that. Starting in 2016, Big Ten teams will play nine conference games each. It looks like there's an easy way around the unbalanced schedule issue: have all the teams in one division have four one year, five the other.

I'd rather play more Wisconsin/Nebraska/Iowa than any nonconference opponent you care to name save Notre Dame—RIP, ND series—so I look on this as no downside. With Michigan buying home games from the Oregon States and Cincinnatis of the world, they can have their seventh home game with a nonconference schedule that consists of one cupcake, one interesting guarantee game against a midlevel foe, and one marquee matchup. Well, most of the time. The 2016 nonconference schedule is now locked in: Hawaii, Ball State, and Colorado. Er.

Complicated solution to problem time

Time to re-iterated my desired solution for the basketball situation: everyone plays round-robin, and then the conference is split into a top seven and bottom seven, whereupon another round-robin commences. 19 total games, best overall record wins. Pros:

  • Conference championship is almost entirely fair. Home-road is unbalanced in the first half, but none of this "you didn't play team X" business. The regular season championship is a really big deal right now; this would make it bigger.
  • No divisions. Divisions kill the importance of the regular season title.
  • The last six games for the top half are a must-see all-out war. Dude, take this year's league and do this to it and imagine a stretch run where IU-OSU-M-MSU-Wisconsin-Iowa-Minnesota OR Illinois OR Maryland only play each other. That would be nuts.
  • Doesn't require you to expand the conference schedule too much to get coverage. No 20, 22 game conference schedules but you don't get all that discussion about how team X doesn't play team Y.

Cons are obvious and large: potentially problematic ticket sales since you don't know who you're playing or when, a potential for teams near the bubble to get blasted off it (if you're #7 in the top half) or have little opportunity to climb out of it (for #8 stuck with the little people). I stole the RR-split-RR system from Scottish soccer, which has a compelling narrative at the bottom as teams try to avoid relegation that doesn't exist in college sports.

In any case, they could at least try it and see if the upside outweighs the downside.



April 22nd, 2013 at 3:16 PM ^

The problem with the basketball round robin, that you accurately pointed out, but nonetheless under-emphasized in my opinion, is that there's no benefit to being in the last slots of the Top 7.  Think about it:  the 7th seed has to face all of the top seeds for the last 6 games while the 8th seed just has to beat up on the bottom feeders?  Hell, the 8th seed team should go undefeated the rest of the way out and have a potentially better record than the #1 seed. 

turd ferguson

April 22nd, 2013 at 10:42 PM ^

I agree with both of you.

Another issue is that in a good year for the Big Ten, you're probably wearing down your top teams right before the most important showcase of the season: the NCAA tournament.  Coming off of an elite-opponents-only back end of the schedule and then another run through those same teams in the conference tournament, by mid-March you'd probably have teams looking the way that we looked in East Lansing this year.

McGarys Unicycle

April 23rd, 2013 at 4:27 PM ^

Assuming the same teams are good from year to year (IU-MSU-Wisc-UM(hopefully)-OSU-MD-Ill), you would get fairly redundant schedules from year to year, wherein we only play Rutgers once a year.  Sure that's fine with us, but for the NW's of the world, that's kind of a raw deal.  "Get better at basketball!" you say.  Well when you are stuck playing Penn St, Rutgers, NW, Purdue twice a year, you lose a little recuriting pull when the top half is playing 
"marquee must-see" high interest basketball every year.  


I do love the idea however, simply from a competitive point of view, and would like to see it for at least a couple seasons.  


April 22nd, 2013 at 3:16 PM ^

...I'm excited to have the opportunity to add one or two of at PSU, at Maryland, at Rutgers to the one or two Michigan home game I typically attend each year. It also won't suck to be able to see multiple Michigan teams play in College Park each year. 

Hope 1000SSS or the AAUM starts offering more away game opportunities to non-season ticket holders. 


April 22nd, 2013 at 3:32 PM ^

...but I cannot stop thinking of how much better the conference would have been had we added Lousiville and Pitt instead of the east coast teams how have low game attendance and have generally sucked at the major sports for the past 5 years or so


April 23rd, 2013 at 12:37 AM ^

Athletically, they would have been perfect fits.  But as others have pointed out, expansion from here on out won't be predominately athletically related.  Media and academics are going to play into the algorithm before "good sports school" does.

(Although seriously could you imagine this years B1G schedule for basketball, except substitute games against Northwestern and Nebraska with Louisville and Pitt.  Holy smokes!)

wustl wolverine

April 22nd, 2013 at 3:33 PM ^

Until the big ten actually expands to 16 with two more east coast schools, I'm still holding on to my delusion that the real plan is to convince OU and UT to join.

I can just see it now, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas back together, facing off in a championship game against Michigan, Ohio State, or Penn State. That has to be the real plan. Anything else would just be a mistake. ... like adding Maryland and Rutgers... or naming the divisions Leaders and Legends. Obviously  we would have a better plan than that. 


April 22nd, 2013 at 3:45 PM ^

... given that they can build a superconference around themselves.

I think the plan is what you see - grab schools that are an academic fit and bring the dollars. Unlike Brian, I think it's a reasonable plan. I think the alternate universes where we don't expand are filled with the Big Ten becoming a third-tier football conference and dragging Michigan down with it. The remainder are places where we split with the Big Ten and join a Texas dominated Midwest Conference and struggle to hold our own.

Expansion or irrelevance? I pick expansion. Those doing the expanding want grades and dollars so this is what we get.

wustl wolverine

April 22nd, 2013 at 4:53 PM ^

That's true, there is absolutely no chance that it happens. Texas does not need us, and OU wouldn't leave Texas (and I doubt they would leave OSU). And if they were to leave, it would likely be to the Pac12 or SEC. 

But I really doubt that we would have become a third-tier conference. We are definitely behind the SEC now, but these moves won't change that. It is not as if we are that far behind (if at all, we are already ahead financially) the Big 12 and Pac 12 with the group we have now. This move might help financially in the short term, but ultimately I feel like these moves brought us closer to the level of the ACC. 

And irrelevance seems a bit drastic. Do you really think that Michigan would become irrelevant if the Big 10 did not expand? But ultimately the schools don't care about what I think, and I assume they will decide to expand again if they see an opportunity to make more money.

I feel worse for Nebraska. They leave the Big 12 north, and then get stuck in the Big 10 west. In this reallignment they traded annual games with Michigan, PSU, and MSU for Wisconsin, Illinois, and Purdue.  I don't think that there was a better way to split the current group, but that is just another reason that they should not have expanded. Will anyone outside of the midwest care at all about the Big Ten west? .... therefore the dream that we can add Texas and OU. or at least OU and someone else. ... anyone else. A Big 10 west with OU and Nebraska is a lot better than right now.


April 22nd, 2013 at 8:29 PM ^

I don't know that Nebraska fans disliked being in the Big 12 North that much (other than that they lost their rivalry with OU).  They were a perennial favorite in that division, even when they were a little down by their historical standards. so it wasn't a bad setup for them competitively. Nebraska's beef with the Big 12 was mainly over its lack of revenue sharing and Texas's chutzpah in creating its own network.



April 22nd, 2013 at 7:49 PM ^

... and I think there's a much higher chance of that if we don't expand than others on the board do.  I hope they're right and I'm wrong, but that's not the way I'd bet.

Put another way, a B1G that gets locked out of guaranteed playoff bids because it doesn't expand becomes a much harder sell to recruits, and over time - say 20 years - that leads to irrelevance.



April 22nd, 2013 at 3:36 PM ^

better describes the "I cut the cable with Hulu therefore the country will do it tomorrow" mentality. Yeah, it'll happen, but not for ten-fifteen years (or about the time Google Fiber and its competitors have wired the country for mostly free). I will bet an MGoPoint that the "rapidly-fading cable model" outlasts MGoBlog :


April 22nd, 2013 at 4:08 PM ^

When you are in charge of an organization that expects to be around for longer than ten-fifteen years (and I hpoe the B1G does), making a decision that will only help for ten-fifteen years is the definition of short term thinking. I will bet an MGoPoint that the B1G outlasts the "rapidly-fading cable model". At which point Maryland and Rutgers will still be demanding an equal share of media revenue despite having tiny fanbases that bring in smaller amounts of that media revenue. What benefit do they provide once non-fans in their states aren't sending a portion of their cable bills to the BTN?


April 22nd, 2013 at 5:21 PM ^

What makes you think the current divisions are going to last 10-15 years? Will the BCS/NCAA resemble their current form that far in the future?

Long term planning only makes sense when the long term is reasonably predictable. With this level of uncertainty, "get while the gettins' good" is rational.

Mr Miggle

April 22nd, 2013 at 5:56 PM ^

For the long time frame they can look at the academic fit. If you're looking past 10-15 years then you have to make a lot of guesses about revenue models and competitiveness. Given the medical research being done today, even the long term future of college football is murky. If expansion proves to be very profitable over the next 10-15 years then the Big Ten should be in darn good shape.

Blue in Seattle

April 22nd, 2013 at 3:40 PM ^

Sometimes Brian, I can't tell what you are for and what you are against.  This is one of those times.

Are you for or against these new, potentially unbalanced divisions?  I thought you were against the previously balanced but geographically illogical ones.  Now I just can't tell, the angst is at constanct saturation.

Then after mocking everything done in football, you propose a way out there idea for basketball and conclude with, "hey let's just try it out".  Odd when you were pretty intolerant to what they tried out in balancing the football divisions (my analysis of W/L records since PSU joined the Big Ten pretty much ended up with the Leaders and Legends divisions the "suits" selected).

Overall team sports are spectator sports that are most enjoyed when you attend the games in person, with many other people dressed in the same colors and shouting the same things at the same time.  It is a social and psychological effect that cannot be reproduced staring at streaming video on your computer.  This means I want as many home games as is possible and fair for Michigan.  Even when I'm not in attendance, I enjoy the game more watching while fans I envy are there cheering, despite staring at a screen.  

The regular season championship does have importance, but it does seem diluted when 4 out of 12 teams claim the same banner.  Yes I would love to watch IU, MSU, OSU and Michigan fight it out at the end of the season for a champtionship.  I thought that is what the tournament does?  Gives me more games of the best teams.  Why can't we find the top 7 or 8 teams by taking the top three to four from each division?  How is that not fair?  How is it even different from your complicated proposal that doesn't allow anyone to plan a league schedule, and doesn't entice me to buy season tickets since I don't know when the home games are, or mayne this is the year the "balance" sucks?

Also thanks for the generic and prejudiced lawyer bashing, that was a nice additional seasoning to the entire opinionated tantrum.



April 22nd, 2013 at 3:40 PM ^

Swapping out regular games with longtime rivals like Iowa and Minny for games with...Rutgers and Maryland?  Bleh. 

That said, since I live in DC, this means I can now take the Metro to a Michigan football game every other year.  Which is rather awesome. 

Given all the alums out here, it won't be too hard to turn this into a de-facto home game.  Nobody cares about Maryland football. 

Section 1

April 22nd, 2013 at 4:26 PM ^

Swapping out regular games with longtime rivals like Iowa and Minny for games with...Rutgers and Maryland?  Bleh. 

This.  A thousand times, this.  And another thousand times.  And yet, the fact that we were able to secure a single Michigan-Ohio State division, and thereby secure our last-weekend-in-November-soon-to-be-sometime-in-December rivalry, is of some considerable comfort.  I can't even imagine, how pissed off I would be if I were an alum of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois, Purdue or Iowa, and my school's sports information directorate had just informed me that we'd be in a new football division, and that neither Michigan nor Ohio State was in it.  It would feel like my alma mater just got moved to the Missouri Valley Conference.

Clearly the punishment for our having secured our sweet little rivalry deal with the Ohio State University is our being saddled with the likes of Rutgers and Maryland.  Indeed in my view, Penn State is Rutgers-West.  Let nobody think that we haven't paid a price in tradition for locking ourselves in with OSU.  Sparty of course would have gone wherever we go, sniffing aimlessly, like a retriever puppy.  I sure as hell hope we get a wagonload of super-recruits out of New Jersey and Northern Virginia for our troubles in this regard.

It really seems to me that Penn State, Michigan State, Rutgers and Maryland all belong together.  Call it something like the All-American conference; something totally 1950's, like their land-grant Stadia.  Maybe we can work it so in the next B1G (16-team) realignment we get back to a division of, say, Michigan-Ohio State-Northwestern-Minnesota.  Real Big Ten tradition.



April 22nd, 2013 at 4:34 PM ^

you act as if we'll never play minnesota or iowa again. 

and what did you want the conference to do? put us and ohio in a conference with all of our long time important conference rivals and stick Rutgers and Maryland with a bunch of teams no one cares about? as if that would benefit the conference.

We're stuck with Maryland and Rutgers whether we like it or not...this was the best possible outcome...you put them in the division with your two biggest programs and hope that our fans (OSU and M) draw well in their stadiums and their fans fill up their stadiums and watch on TV to grow the brand. 


April 22nd, 2013 at 4:59 PM ^

"you act as if we'll never play minnesota or iowa again. "

No, just every 7 years and for my as in Iowa I get to see Michigan @ Iowa every 11 years.  Made up numbers but am I that far off?? It is sh**ty scenario.

"and what did you want the conference to do? put us and ohio in a conference with all of our long time important conference rivals and stick Rutgers and Maryland with a bunch of teams no one cares about? as if that would benefit the conference."

Not add those ridiculous schools.  Good institutions, sure, but they don't belong with the Big Ten.  What's done is done, though, I get it, and like you say we're stuck with them.  Most of us don't like it though.

I mentioned this in a post a few days back, but the college football landscape is turning into a hot mess.  The fun is evaporating from the sport year by year.  This isn't news, I know, but each year it gets amplified and more things go by the wayside.



April 22nd, 2013 at 4:37 PM ^

While I too, would much rather play traditional Big 10 rivals, my sense, from talking with people at other institutions, is that the only people with significant gripes about the new arrangement are Nebraska fans. Iowa really wanted their annual series with Wisconsin to return above everything else. Wisconsin wanted an annual game with Nebraska. Minnesota wanted their triangle of hate with Wisconsin and Iowa protected. Illinois did lose their game with OSU but are generally happy to be in the easy division to help their once a decade good team get into the championship game. Northwestern, similarly, saw their big rivalries (Iowa and Illinois) protected. Purdue got their game against Indiana protected. People at all those places like playing Michigan and OSU when they have good teams and relish the excitment those games can bring, but haven't particularly enjoyed the periodic beat downs and floods of fans from Michigan and OSU trying to take over their stadia. 

I think many Nebraska fans, however, feel they just returned to the Big 12 North. 

turd ferguson

April 22nd, 2013 at 10:50 PM ^

I'd imagine Indiana fans aren't thrilled with this.  They're in a brutal division with no rival in sight, yearly games against Rutgers and Maryland, and a long way to travel to see most of their road games.  Also, between IU football's general lack of appeal and distance from the East Coast, their recruiting probably won't benefit much from the new Eastern feel.

The is a lesson in "it sucks to be irrelevant."

The FannMan

April 22nd, 2013 at 4:00 PM ^

I read the title to mean that the new East-West divisions were dead and the B1G had decided to stay with the Leaders and Legends.  My reaction was "Delaney. . . that figures."  I am glad to see that I am wrong, but would anyone be surprised if Delaney decided to keep the current names?  After all, it would be the dumbest thing to do.


April 22nd, 2013 at 4:03 PM ^

hasn't won a B1G championship since 2009. 


Also: look at the B12 north when they expanded to 12 teams and think of how laughable that setup was. it was the Big 12 north versus Texas and now look how the tide has shifted.


don't get too caught up in competitive imbalance...it has a way of working itself out. 

Ali G Bomaye

April 22nd, 2013 at 5:08 PM ^

As previously discussed, the top teams in the now-East have been going through some difficulties relative to their historical track record.

The Big 12 North is actually a pretty good comparison, but not in the way you describe: in the mid- to late-90s, Texas and Oklahoma were both down relative to their historical track records and Nebraska was still basking in the glow of their Tom Osborne teams.  Once Texas and Oklahoma recovered, the Big 12 South dominated the championship game (9-2 from 2000-2010, including 7 straight wins).  Similarly, now that Michigan and Ohio State appear to be back and Wisconsin is dealing with changes, the East should routinely win the B1G championship game.

Yinka Double Dare

April 22nd, 2013 at 4:09 PM ^

Regardless of what you want, it's either going to be a weird divisionless schedule where the schedules are totally random as to your one-plays (i.e., just like now except there will be more teams you only play once), or it will be divisions where you play all your division teams twice and everyone in the other division once.  An upside of the latter: two games every year with Indiana, Ohio State and MSU, and only once a year are we subjected to the soulcrushing Wisconsin basketball experience.

Picktown GoBlue

April 22nd, 2013 at 10:30 PM ^

What would the Big East have done?

Found an article from a couple years back where Pitino was complaining about the Big East scheduling and proposing 2 divisions once TCU joins the Big East to bring them to 17 basketball schools.  One of his divisions was fairly accurate, albeit split off to an entirely "new" conference:

Eastern Division
Villanova, Georgetown, St. John's, DePaul, Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence, Notre Dame, and South Florida.

Western Division
Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, West Virginia, Cincinnati, TCU, Rutgers and UConn.

In less than 2 years, they ended up with essentially 2 divisions, except as two conferences they get two automatic qualifiers:

The New Big East (The Catholic 7 plus others):

From the Pitino Eastern Division:
Villanova, Georgetown, St. John's, DePaul, Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence 
From the A10:
Butler, Xavier
From the Missouri Valley:

The AAC () Basketball members, although Pitino's own school and Rutgers leave after the league's first year:

From the Pitino Western Division:
Cincinnati, UConn (Louisville to ACC, Rutgers to B1G in 2014)
From the Pitino Eastern Division:
South Florida
From C-USA:
UCF, SMU, Houston, Memphis, and in 2014: Tulsa, East Carolina, Tulane
From the A10:

And who scrammed, or will scram, from Pitino's divisions?

Gone From Pitino Western DIvision:
Notre Dame (ACC)
Gone or Going Soon from Pitino Eastern Division:
Syracuse (ACC), Pittsburgh (ACC), Louisville (ACC in 2014), WVU (Big XII), TCU (MWC, never joined Big East and went to Big XII instead), Rutgers (B1G in 2014)

It's all Pitino's fault.

Tha Stunna

April 22nd, 2013 at 4:45 PM ^

Why are people bashing the West division... All that division has done is contain 3/4 of the all the Big Ten title attendees.  The teams of the West division contained a top ten team in the majority of years over the last decade anyway (exceptions: 2005, 2007, 2008, 2012).  Also, in 2007, 2008, and 2012, the presumed title game attendees from the West (Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska) beat the top eligible team from the East (OSU,PSU, Michigan) during the regular season.  (Yes, I'm aware Nebraska and Michigan were in the same division last year; I'm talking about the future East-West split.)

Yay Big Two, Little Twelve and all that, but maybe we should go to and win a B10 title game before talking trash.

Also, Michigan has now missed out on being the division mentioned in its fight song twice in a row (Leaders, then West).

Ali G Bomaye

April 22nd, 2013 at 5:15 PM ^

Brian explained in the article how the last few years differ from historical performance records.  Prior to 2010, the last time a now-West Division team won an outright Big Ten championship was 2001 (Illinois).  Over that decade, a now-West Division team only managed to tie for the Big Ten championship twice (Iowa in 2002 and 2004).  Every other team that won or tied for the Big Ten championship was from the East.  Now Michigan and Ohio State appear to be back, and Wisconsin may be sinking.

wustl wolverine

April 22nd, 2013 at 5:39 PM ^


Two title games is a pretty small sample size, especially when the presumed Big 2 were both undergoing regime changes (as well as sanctions). And while Wisconsin has been strong these past few years, they just lost their head coach so their future is uncertain. 

Ohio State seems poised for a long run of success, and Michigan seems like the team that is poised to challenge them every year.  That's not to say that the west won't produce a competitive champion most years. Were just going to have to live with this setup, and hopefully Iowa and Wisconsin with Nebraska will keep that division relevant.