Divisions Leaking Like Whoah Comment Count

Brian September 1st, 2010 at 5:27 PM


Consume in store! 

So: everyone and their twitter feed has been pumping out confirmations/assertions that

  1. the initial reports of the divisions are accurate,
  2. Michigan and Ohio State will be left at the end of the season,
  3. the other protected rivalries are PSU-Nebraska, Iowa-Purdue, Wisconsin-Minnesota, Michigan State-Indiana, and NW-Illinois, and
  4. rumors that cross-division games are just tiebreakers are flatlining.

The only person dropping BREAKING RUMORS to the contrary is Dennis Dodd, who looks like Gollum and can safely be ignored.

Obviously those protected rivals are thoroughly stupid, and Michigan's going to have a tough hill to climb most years, but at least the other historical heavyweights have guaranteed matchups. Iowa and Wisconsin should have been paired with each other to make things even. I guess the MSU-Indiana game is slanted towards MSU but is that ever going to be relevant?

If all this stuff is true, and it's coming from so many different directions now that it almost has to be, Michigan and Ohio State fans can declare Mission Accomplished. At least 80% of the mission. #4 above is more an absence of crazy information than a presence of sane. I would like to see the first tiebreaker in divisions be overall conference record of opponents, even superseding head-to-head, but I don't think that's likely.



September 1st, 2010 at 5:34 PM ^

I hate how this division announcement ruined what was supposed to be the end of the offseason and the first game week

Looking forward to tomorrow


September 1st, 2010 at 6:27 PM ^

which therefore justifies it as, um, something.

As opposed to the Iowa-Purdue "rivalry", which really seems more like an argument over which shade of yellow goes better with black.

mgm 05

September 1st, 2010 at 5:36 PM ^

Good to see they're going to force the top 4 to play at least 2 of the other 3 every year. 

PSU/NU at the end of the year for the potential cross-divisional semi-finals?


September 1st, 2010 at 5:38 PM ^

I don't know why everyone is complaining about the division we're in. We're going to show the country we're back this season.  We are Michigan, and our fans should not be scared of what division we're in.  I know the players and coaches are not worried about it.  I'd rather play @ Nebraska and @ Iowa then @ Camp Randall and @ Happy Valley.  I'm not worried about the divisions at all.  If anyone should be scared about the divisions they're in its anyone not named Michigan, and TUOS.  3 days til the season kicks off.  GO BLUE!!!!!!!


September 1st, 2010 at 5:43 PM ^

Iowa-Purdue as a protected rivalry is puzzling.  I don't remember the two schools ever really caring that much about playing one another.  Seems like it was sort of a filler rivalry around the others. 


September 1st, 2010 at 6:13 PM ^

That's not good enough.  The famous Texas-Texas Tech-Oklahoma 3-way tie wouldn't be decided with those tiebreakers.

If all 3 teams are in the same division and only have 1 loss each where: A beat B, B beat C, C beat A then you can't just go on head-to-head.  And since their division record is the same you can't just go to that.  The next logical tiebreaker is conference record.  But if that's the same, then you need something else.

I had this discussion with a friend of mine.  He convinced me that if there's a 3-way tie in a division, you shouldn't look at overall conference record, instead you should go right to strength-of-schedule.  Whoever has the stronger strength of schedule of the 3 is the "winner".  Then, whoever beat them is second place and the team that lost to the team with the best SOS is in last place.

Regardless, you need more tiebreakers than what you've currently listed.


September 1st, 2010 at 5:47 PM ^

Because the regular season OSU game has now moved to ND status while we'll be competing with Nebraska to win our division.  


I guess our only hope now is to add Texas and AM.


I guess I'm missing how this is 80% mission accomplished.  It's like saying the South was 80% mission accomplished with the 20% being Gettysburg.   


September 1st, 2010 at 5:56 PM ^

I guess I don't see how this is Mission Accomplished. We saved the Game for the end of the year, but we've stripped it of all meaning. If both teams are playing for a chance to be in the championship game, when they won't be meeting in the championship game, because one team will eliminate one another.

This seems like a very hollow victory.


September 2nd, 2010 at 9:26 AM ^

I guess I see a difference between "If I win, OSU won't be in the title game" and "Winner of this game is in the championship game"

Maybe I'm being particular, and I guess this is how it is most years anyway. Just let me be crabby and sad.


September 1st, 2010 at 6:25 PM ^

Mark, how is any conference game ever meaningless?  How does it mean any less in this scenario than it does currently?  Both teams will have played their entire schedules before The Game.  If one team has the championship on the line, the other can ruin it for them (just like now).  If both teams have the championship on the line, the loser is likely out (just like now).  If neither team has anything on the line, it's just for bragging rights and a better bowl (just like now).  The only way it's different is if a 2006 scenario happens where, after The Game is played, UM and OSU are still the top 2 teams.  In that case, they get a rematch.  This will make the first game rather meaningless, but it will make the second one even bigger.  This will rarely happen, but it will be epic if/when it does. 

However, in almost every instance, this game is still very meaningful. 


September 1st, 2010 at 6:46 PM ^

Scenario A:  say they both have two losses and they both have clinched the division titles and will rematch.  The national title game is out, so...Why try? Why risk injury for the "real" game the following week.

The "better bowl" may not actually be a factor, but if it is, only for the loser of the championship game.

Scenario B:  Only one team has clinched the division...the other is an also ran.  Sure, the also-ran is "playing for pride" but is the team that clinched?  If they rest their starters for the champ game the following week, how much pride are you really playing for?


September 1st, 2010 at 7:14 PM ^

The first scenario you present will almost never happen.  2 teams who both have 2 losses, and have clinched the division before the final game, meaning they'd make the championship game with 3 losses - this is extremely unlikely.  If one team has clinched their division, and the other is an also ran, it's no different than if that happened now.  Let's say OSU clinches the Big Ten before the UM game this year.  Is "The Game" then worthless?  Absolutely not.

The reality of it is, very rarely will these all be determined before the last game of the year.  You bring up extremely unlikely scenarios.


September 1st, 2010 at 7:21 PM ^

You're right that scenario A is rare, maybe not "almost never" due to tie-breakers, but rare enough...but lets say its just one loss, and you still have no reasonable shot at the title game...same mentality applies.

The difference between this year and the future is the injury risk.  If the injury risk is 6 weeks prior to a bowl...no big deal.  If its 6 days prior to a conference title game, that changes the math.  With one team not giving 100% The Game won't be The Game.


September 1st, 2010 at 7:34 PM ^

I'll bite.  Let's say UM has one loss, OSU has 4 losses, and there are 4 undefeated teams so UM can't go to the MNC.  Outside of mere bragging rights, UM can either enter the Big Ten title game as a one loss team, where they would be virtually guaranteed a BCS bowl whether they won the game or not, or they could lose to OSU, go into the champ game a two loss team, and need to win to go to a BCS bowl (Rose).  This also might be the difference between finishing the season in the top 10 or not.  Do you really think this is meaningless?  Also, the coaches and players actually care about their record and want to win every game. 

And again, with the quality of opponents in the Big Ten, I don't think this scenario is likely.  There is no method that works perfectly in every crazy instance your mind can concoct.


September 1st, 2010 at 7:43 PM ^

Good point about top 10 finish.  But do you think a coach really considers that heavily?  Lloyd and Bo certainly not.

Coaches and players do want to win every game, but at some point you have to think big picture.  With playoff games come playoff considerations (a la the NFL).

But you'd have to weight the cost of injuring a key player.  Lets say you only have one QB ('07 Henne or '10 Pryor).  What do you think fan reaction would be if a late hit knows him out of the title game?  Will it be "well, you have to play your best against OSU" or will it be "WTF, we blew the conference title for the sake of pride against an inferior opponent".

It seems shortsighted to me to think priorities and attitudes won't change as the structure of league play is completely altered.


September 1st, 2010 at 10:55 PM ^

too late for sure.   My point is that expansion was..is... going to compromise The Game, no matter what.  The best we could hope for was the former #1 game becoming an annual #2 showndown (same division/end of season).  Even that didn't happen.


September 1st, 2010 at 6:41 PM ^

If a 2-loss UM team that has clinched its division meets Ohio State, why would they risk injuries to key players if the bigger game the following week is for the championship?

This holds true whether Ohio State has zero losses or zero wins.  Either way, the big game is the week after The Game.

Whats at stake besides pride?  And what risk are you willing to take to play for it.  You can argue about the meaning of The Game all you want, if Michigan loses its MVP QB and has to bring in a true frosh QB into the B10 championship game, we'd all be irate... and attitudes would quickly change.

Expansion and the B10 title game forever killed off the meaning of The Game.  We've been quibbling over the details of just how much less important it will be.  I guess its good that its still outside and in November, but it'll never be the same.


September 1st, 2010 at 7:26 PM ^

College football is not the NFL, teams never have the opportunity to run out their scrubs because every game has at least a modicum of meaning. I defy you to find a single instance in the modern bowl era of any team doing this. And if it has ever happened, it would have to be a sub-.500 team not caring about bowls.

On top of that, this scenario of a 2-loss team that has already clinched the conference (before the final regular season week is even played!) but is definitely out of the NC discussion is more than just unlikely, its borderline impossible. Even undefeated teams would have a minimum of two games, the last regular season week and their conference championship.

And this ignores a million other reasons why no team would ever do this, let alone either team in the UM/OSU rivalry: BCS standing, coaches' job security, players' stats, television or conference pressure, standard protocol, Bo and Woody turning in their graves

Talk about quibbling over details


September 1st, 2010 at 7:37 PM ^

In 2006.  If the prospect of a rematch wasn't so unattractive to everyone, OSU and UM would have rematched in the title game, making The Game irrelevant in retrospect.  Since polls (probably) won't be involved in deciding who plays in the B10 championship game, you don't have to worry about style points.

These scenarios aren't likely, but they're far from impossible. As impossible as 4 ties in a season was, as impossible as Boise State in a title game was, as impossible as teams running up the score to impress pollsters,etc.  The BCS has shown that it only takes one unusual event to cause panic and a massive overreaction.  Its inevitable that at some point the integrity of the OSU game will be compromised and a backlash will occur.

College isn't the NFL...but its becoming more like it each year, unfortunately.

Players stats?...seriously?  A coach will get fired if he costs his team a conference title to win a nearly meaningless game.  They'll rest their key starters if its in their best interest.  You think Jim Delaney is going to call Tressell and demand he plays Terrell Pryor in a (hypothetical) game that doesn't matter?


September 1st, 2010 at 8:08 PM ^

But don't you see that means that the game meant everything! The loser lost a spot in the NC title game. It's the exact opposite of what you're arguing.

Going into the M/OSU game, USC also had one loss and was a virtual lock to get the other spot in the NC game against the M/OSU winner, but they lost to UCLA the week after the OSU game. No one could predict they would lose to a bad UCLA game, and no one would predict with certainty that the loser of M/OSU would play in a rematch and not get bumped by Florida, that's revisionist through the lens of what actually happened. Even if every Coaches Poll and Harris Poll voter said in advance "we'll put the loser back in the NC game", it's absurd to suggest either team would have knowingly not tried in the game because they were sure they would make the national title game even if they lost. The BCS landscape changes in heartbeat, nothing is assured.

And again, this argument is all theoretical for some other game because when you're talking about OSU/Michigan, no one would let that be a game for backups, no matter what prize was in the offing the next week. A coach HAS BEEN fired for costing his team games against Michigan despite conference titles. His name was John Cooper.


September 1st, 2010 at 11:04 PM ^

it DIDN'T happen.  The reasons you outline are true, but they also illustrate how a few twists of fate/cicrumstance could have made it so.  The primary difference in the new arrangement is that the 6 week wait for the next big game becomes 6 days (making injury risk a far greater factor) and the uncertainty of pollsters is replaced with the certainty of conference (divisional) standings and preordained rules on tie-breakers.

On one hand you're arguing "no one can predict...", "landscape changes in a heartbeat" and on the other hand you're arguing that X "is impossible".  Every season we see something that was thought impossible happen (e.g. defensive heisman, 3 wins for michigan, boise, head-to-head winner losing a tie-breaker, etc.)

Yeah, its a theoretical argument.  Thats the point.  The BCS makes rules that address past occurances not to address potential future (hypothetical) problems.  As a result, it consistently puts itself in a position to be ridiculed for short-sightedness.

John Cooper lost many meaningful games to Michigan.  They were all meaningful.  But the past guarantees nothing about the future. What I'm suggesting could happen in years to come was impossible in the past.  The risk has never been as high and and the stakes were never as small.

Pea-Tear Gryphon

September 1st, 2010 at 5:59 PM ^

Next year's schedule was shaping up nicely:


Oct. 1 Bye Week
Oct. 8 at Wisconsin*
Oct. 15 INDIANA* (HC)
Oct. 22 at Michigan State*
Oct. 29 at Iowa*
Nov. 19 at Northwestern*

But now that Illinois, IU and Wisky are out and Neb is in, how does this affect our home/road splits. Is this even accurate anymore? I assume they'd re-do the whole thing.

Kinda Blue

September 1st, 2010 at 6:18 PM ^

Probably replace Wisky, Illinois, or IU with Nebraska and the rest of the schedule remains intact as our other two non-division game.

Overall, this result works.  Keep OSU in the last weekend.  The other teams can play their non-division rivalries earlier.  OSU and UM could know more about where they stand in their half of the division going into their final non-division game.  But that does not seem like that big a deal.

It could happen that UM and OSU both know they have a spot in the Big10 Championship locked up before the final regular season game, but that seems a likelihood so rare that it doesn't bother me nearly as much as the idea of moving the game.

I care less about the effect of one of them having a spot locked up because that is possible right now (ie, OSU or UM might know they are a lock for the Rose Bowl).

If either OSU or Michigan have a chance to get into the Big 10 Championship or caught in the standings by a third team, the other one will be happy to play spoiler.  This game will still matter nearly every year.  As long as 95% of the games are relevant, the rare "meaningless" game will still be hard fought because the character of the rivalry is preserved and winning will still matter to the players.

I was more worried about a change that would alter the character of the rivalry that resulted in meaningless games that occurred with regularity.

Making it so conference record is all that matters (before tiebreakers) to getting into the championship should help, too (ala the SEC).


September 1st, 2010 at 6:07 PM ^

to have OSU, Wisconsin and PSU on the other side.  Michigan has a good shot of winning division in '11 when the team is loaded, especially on the offensive side.


Looking at from a basketball perspective, it's a very weak division with MSU as the only superpower with OSU, Purdue, Indiana,  Wisconsin and Illini duking it out for the division title.  MSU has to be happy with the division setting if it were true.  Same with Michigan since they most likely only have MSU as their biggest obstacles for divisional conference tourney seeding.


September 1st, 2010 at 6:52 PM ^

speculation.  I'm assuming that it will be similar to other conferences with divisions.  So the tournament would look like this:


1st round:      2nd Round

                        1A vs. the winner of 3A/6B

3A vs. 6B

                        2B vs. the winner of  4B/5A

4B vs. 5A


                     1B vs. the winner of 3B/6A

3B vs. 6A

                     2A vs. the winner of 4A/5B

4A vs. 5B


So top two teams from both division would get a 1st round bye.


September 1st, 2010 at 6:11 PM ^

The first thing I thought when I read that PSU-Nebraska is a protected rivalry was... what?  Most of those really don't make much sense to me.  Does anyone actually know how much of a rivalry PSU-Nebraska really is?


September 1st, 2010 at 6:38 PM ^

It's a rivalry just as modern and contrived as their conference membership. Seriously though, I think they may have played in a couple big games in the 80s during the glory days. Back when Tom Osbourne was earning national titles and not being given them, gold watch style.


September 1st, 2010 at 6:55 PM ^

Osborne didn't win any nat'l championships in the 80s. Nebraska perenially got to the Orange Bowl (when they beat OU) and then lost to a team that was faster. His first nat'l championship came in '94, which was kind of a screw job on Penn State, so I guess there's your rivalry.