Step back from the precipice, Dave -- there is a way to do this

Submitted by Rasmus on August 20th, 2010 at 4:03 PM

[Edit: Note that I was writing this when Brian posted a front-page reference to the same idea on Slow States. All I can say is either great minds think alike or this is freaking obvious.]

What happened to the biggest rivalry of the old BIg 8 conference, Nebraska-Oklahoma, when it was split across divisions when the Big XII was formed? I'll answer that for you -- it was eclipsed by Texas-Oklahoma, a divisional rivalry. The collapse of that game is a major reason why Nebraska is leaving that conference to join the Big Ten.

What would happen to the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry if it were split across divisions? Could it be eclipsed by Penn State-Ohio State, a divisional rivalry? This isn't as far-fetched as you might think. An occasional championship matchup will not make up for turning the regular-season game into a trophy game instead of a must-win game with the divisional title almost always on the line. In the long run, the loss of this dynamic could damage the Michigan program and ultimately the Big Ten brand.

This doesn't need to happen.

It is possible to create both geographic equity (i.e., what Penn State wants) and competitive intensity (i.e., what Michigan and Ohio State should want) in a divisional alignment that preserves or protects all major rivalries. The only real question here is how to split up the quadrangle of hate (Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, formerly a triangle) -- no matter how you do it, you're going to lose part of that. Without further ado:


  • Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Purdue, Northwestern
  • Michigan State, Penn State, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois

Protected regular-season games: Michigan-Michigan State, Ohio State-Penn State, Iowa-Nebraska, Minnesota-Wisconsin, Indiana-Purdue, Illinois-Northwestern.


  • Michigan, Ohio State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Purdue, Northwestern
  • Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana, Illinois

Protected regular-season games: Michigan-Michigan State, Ohio State-Penn State, Iowa-Minnesota, Nebraska-Wisconsin, Indiana-Purdue, Illinois-Northwestern.

I'm not sure which of these two are better in terms of the quadrangle, but you get the idea. This protects most border-war and all in-state rivalries while spreading out the divisions, thereby not screwing anyone in that regard (i.e., like Penn State would be if you put them in an otherwise western division).

Finally, lest you argue this is the ACC redux, let's take a look at their current alignment:

  • Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami
  • Boston College, Maryland, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Clemson, Florida State

I don't know if there are protected rivalry games across the divisions, but regardless, this is not a consistent system. Like the quadrangle of hate, the main problem for the ACC is how to handle the four North Carolina schools and, actually, I think the current scheme has got that right. The main problem with it is they don't split up Virginia-Virginia Tech, resulting in Maryland being split from Virginia.

If the ACC were to follow my methodology with regard to the Big Ten, it would look like this:

  • Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech, Florida State
  • Boston College, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Clemson, Miami

Protected regular-season games: Maryland-Boston College, Virginia-Virginia Tech, North Carolina-North Carolina State, Duke-Wake Forest, Georgia Tech-Clemson, Florida State-Miami.

There, fixed two conferences in one go!



August 21st, 2010 at 3:26 AM ^

I am all for tradition and keeping rival games, but I believe it is time for some of you to step out of your bubble. The big team will grow in teams over the next 4 to 5 year. Playing OSU once a year as has alwayz been the case. Why isn't that enough? As long as that stays the case what is the problem?

The game evolves and new traditions are made. I thought this was about Michigan Football. Why does the world revolve around OSU? If we get 1 shot or more at them a year what is different? We win our division and they win thiers. We play in the game that matters. The B10 Championship. It seems to pony up as a bigger game in all aspects than the end of the year as it is set up now. This way we can actually lose to them once and still goto the BCS bowl series. 

I believe as a few others have said. Make the new tradition the B10 opener every year UofM vs. OSU and we end with Nebraska. Let the cards play out. Everything has a bigger picture and I believe those who don't agree with the changes are living in the past. 

If you all opened up and have given all your support to the spread.......Huge change from the past, but you all talk of tradition and still back UofM. Why would this be any bigger of a change? Does that mean we should ask RR to go to a power ground and pound. (*sorry UFC fan also*). 

Playing 1 team a year at a set time doesn't define tradition. Winning a National Championships does..................


August 21st, 2010 at 2:10 PM ^

We've won one National Championship in 60 years.  Does that mean we don't have a lot of tradition? Can only schools with lots of National Championships have traditions? 

And in any regard, if that's your measure, playing OSU twice in a year makes winning a National Championship HARDER, so it just became harder to create tradition, under your method.