A Reasonable 4 Division Setup

Submitted by kb9704 on June 15th, 2010 at 7:09 AM

Lets Think Inside The Box Now

I Just posted a diary on having a 2-way divisional setup, after reading it realized i want to design a setup that may actually be adopted. So i studied. A 4 way geographical divisional split, keeping each division competitively sound with the next, and maintaining the chance for a UM-OSU Big Ten Championship Game was hard to come up with, but i think i just did. You have 2 major divisions, and 4 sub-divisions.

North South
Big Ten Major Divisions
Michigan Nebraska
Penn State Iowa
Michigan State Illinois
Wisconsin Indiana
Minnesota Purdue
Northwestern Ohio State       

 These are the two major divisions. The winners from the subdivisions of each will play in the Big Ten Championship Game.

The Sub-divisions are listed Below

Big Ten Divisional Setup
Michigan Wisconsin Nebraska Indiana
Penn State Minnesota Iowa Purdue
Michigan State Northwestern Illinois              Ohio State     

 If you look at the geographical layout of the big ten schools. This makes sense. All of the teams are in the relative location of the divisions.

This setup is the closest i came to having each division as competitive as the next. I took the records from the previous year and added them together for every division.

NE 22-14 NW 24-12 SW 24-12 SE 20-16
Division Records
Michigan 5-7 Wisconsin 10-2 Nebraska 10-2      Indiana 4-8
Penn State 11-1 Minnesota 6-6 Iowa 11-1 Purdue 5-7
Michigan State 6-6 Northwestern 8-5   Illinois 3-9      Ohio State 11-1     

 As you can see each division is pretty close to the 22.5 wins that would even out each division.

How Will This Work?

Every team will play the other two teams in there division, along with the other 3 teams from either their Major Division. (ex. UM plays all teams in NE and NW, and OSU plays all teams in SW and SE) That gives you 5 conference games. Assuming they stick with 8, That leaves 3 conference games the teams can schedule with any 3 teams from the other major division. Giving you the OSU-UM finale at the end of the year.

What If Each Team Goes 1-1 In Sub-Divisional Play?

If two or more teams have the same Sub-Divisional record you then look at Major Division record, there are only 5 games so the possibility of both (or all 3) teams going 3-2 are there.

If there is still a tie after that, look at how many points each team averagely won. Whoever won by more points wins that division.

Big Ten Playoffs?

The winner of the two sub-divisions in each Major Division will play in the Semi-Finals. (ex. NW-NE and SW-SE) The winner of those two games play in The Big Ten Championship Game. This way rivalries are all still there (Iowa would have to schedule there 2 big Rivalries as there Out-of-Divisioin games but they could make it happen if they wanted it bad enough), and UM-OSU Championship could still happen.


  • Traditional rivalries still kept
  • Not too complicated
  • Big Ten Playoff / Big Ten Championship Game
  • UM-OSU Championship game a possibility
  • Keep 8 Game Conference play
  • About as fair as you can get for each division


  • People will argue about fairness and easy schedules
  • Iowa will have to take ALL of there out of division games to schedule rivals



June 15th, 2010 at 9:01 AM ^

Dont like it sorry. Ohio State rolls to their subdivision championship game EVERY year, even years that they are a "good" 7-5 or a "bad" 8-4 calibur team. Wisconsin too most years.

Your record comparisons dont take into account long-term win percentages. When configuring a conference, you should be looking at the last 10-15 years at least. There is no way that UM-Penn State-MSU over time is equivalent to OSU-Purdue-Indiana. Not even remotely close.


June 15th, 2010 at 9:07 AM ^

This is kind of why I liked my pod mixing idea. Pod winners mean nothing if they don't have a overall Big Ten record better than all the teams in their own pod, plus all the teams in the pod they are linked to. So sure, in mine, Penn State has what looks like an easier 2-0 in their pod, they also had to face 6 teams from the two pods they weren't linked with and one team from the pod they were linked to.

Plus my version just left a single championship game and not a mini-playoff, which may not ever become legal in the NCAA.


June 15th, 2010 at 9:35 AM ^

There is a certain elegance to your alignment, but "not too complicated" it ain't.  Also, determining competitive balance based on one seasons worth of win totals is a bit misleading, especially with Michigan being uncharacteristically bad last season.  If you took each teams win total over the past 10-15 years, I imagine the picture would look a little different and you might reach a different conclusion about competitive balance.  Right now, the NE and SW subs look pretty brutal, while the NW and SE appear to be cake-walks for Wisconsin and OSU.

With this arrangment, you have to at least separate the 4 traditional powers, which I think most would agree to be Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State, and OSU.  That said, there really isn't a way to stack the subs in such a way that at least one or two of them aren't top-heavy compared to the others.


June 15th, 2010 at 9:46 AM ^

I think you need to keep wisconsin, iowa, and nebraska together in a division. The pod idea is stupid with 4 3 team subdivisions. Organization for the sake of organization sake. The michigan and Penn state could be better then both the nebraska and wisconsin, then what?


June 15th, 2010 at 10:27 AM ^

Nice try, though. 

Also, I am far from a grammar nazi, but you can't misuse "there" for "their" twice in the same post.  Once, maybe a simple slip.  Twice, unacceptable.  Thoreau and Hemingway are rolling over in "there" graves. 

Number 7

June 15th, 2010 at 10:45 AM ^

Either way, it's problematic.  Either Michigan skips Ohio State two out of three years, or Michigan never plays Indiana and Purdue.

In the latter scenario, OSU nevers plays Penn State or Michigan State (leaving a further quandry: when would we root for the astroid?).


June 15th, 2010 at 10:50 AM ^

Why have a divisional playoff? The teams are already guaranteed to have played each other. You might as well find the divisional winners then take the head-to-head to determine who is the major division winner.


June 15th, 2010 at 3:01 PM ^

There is nothing reasonable about this. 

Not to mention, if you are having them play all 5 teams in their "major" division then the subdivision is just some artificial way to pick two teams for a semi-final.  Lets say a team goes 2-0 in their sub division and 0-6 vs. the rest of the league, that means in your world  they go to the semifinal with only 2 wins and potentially a BCS game with a 4-6 Big Ten record?