Big Ten makes it official: East/West Divisions & 9 gm schedule

Submitted by Leaders And Best on April 28th, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Big Ten just put out the press release:

Big Ten East Division: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers.

Big Ten West Division: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin.

9 game conference schedule beginning in 2016.

Protected cross-division games eliminated with the exception of Indiana-Purdue.

East Division will have 5 home conference games in even years, meaning Michigan will have Ohio State at home in our 4 game home conference slate in odd years.



April 28th, 2013 at 2:36 PM ^

I would be upset about the long-term implications of having three of the Big 10's four premier programs in the same division, because Penn State won't be down forever.  However, by the time they are good again, we're likely looking at changing the divisions once more.


April 28th, 2013 at 1:21 PM ^

Nice, they figured out that you can align the 5-4 home/road splits along divisional lines to eliminate competitive advantage within the divisions in the unbalanced schedule.

Are they releasing the revised schedules for 2014-2015 today too? 

rob f

April 28th, 2013 at 1:39 PM ^

of cross-division games will work something like that, but it will be interesting as to how they make this work for IU and Purdue vs. how it will work for the rest of the teams that don't have a "protected crossover" game.  It only makes sense that since both IU and Purdue have 7 locked-in games each B1G season (everyone else has just 6 locked-in B1G games), that somehow those two outliers rotate the remainder of the teams from the opposite division on a 2-2-2 basis, meaning seeing those teams less often. 

Confusing?  To strip it down to the essentials, Michigan (and everyone else in the East) will see Purdue less often than everyone else in the West. 

rob f

April 28th, 2013 at 2:00 PM ^

(and most of us would assume this not to be the case), I tried my best to figure out the frequency of Michigan playing each West Division team, and I'm pretty sure that this is what it works out to be:

We'll play Purdue 7 times in a 21-year cycle,


we'll play Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Northwestern, and Illinois 9 times each 21-year cycle.

If there are any math majors that can post the actual mathematical formula or correct my ciphering, go for it! (as I did it on scratch paper).


April 28th, 2013 at 2:56 PM ^

That doesn't quite add up. We play 3 games a year against the other division so 63 games in 21 years. You have us only playing 61 games.


Let's see, from the Purdue perspective they play only 2 games each year against the other 6 teams in the other division [since 1 of their 3 non-division games is tied to Indiana]. So 1 in 3  years we will be playing against Purdue so 7 in 21 years. But there are two leftover games. I believe that just means that we will play 9 against 4 of those teams in a 21 year cycle and 10 against 2 of those teams.


I think the way it will work is that they schedule out Purdue and Indiana in 3 year cycles and then repeat with the home games flipped away. Then you start filling in the other teams randomly or whatever but because of the Purdue Indiana thing you will start to repeat 2 of the 3 teams that you played in Year 1 in Year 3 but will not see the 4th team that you played in Year 1 until Year 4. I think. Might have to fire up Excel to verify but expansion will change it again anyway.  The actual frequency of playing each of the other 6 teams should be 4/9ths of every years. Take 6 teams * (4/9) = 24/9 + (3/9)ths for Purdue = 27/9 = 3 games a year. So it is like a 9 year cycle. Or really an 18 year cycle if you count home and away in even quantities. I think. We play Purdue 6 times in 18 years and play the other 6 teams 8 times in 18 years. That adds up. So a home game against Purdue every 6 years and a home game against Nebraska (or the other teams) every 4.5 years.



April 29th, 2013 at 11:38 AM ^

If they are planning to balance out the schedule, it will have to be a 9-year (18-year) cycle.  Once the 9-game schedule starts, Michigan will play Purdue 6 times in 18 years and will play everybody else in the West 8 times in 18 years.

Oddly, they don't seem to be going with a pure rotation, though.  They seem to be saying that they will match up the top teams in a division with top teams in the other division.  I don't care for that one bit, and it doesn't really make much sense to me either, but it's not like it's the first time that anybody has said that about the Big Ten.


April 28th, 2013 at 1:54 PM ^

Probably not. I just read a tweet that said that you will see every team in the opposite division at least once in 4 years. That can't be done with 2 year rotations, you only get 6 in four years.

I'm not sure how it will work out exactly, especially with the IU-PU protected crossover, but I imagine for Michigan it will be some thing like:

Year 1: Minnesota (H), Nebraska, Wisco (A)

Year 2: Minnesota (A), Iowa, Northwestern (H)

Year 3: Illinois (H), Iowa, Northwestern (A)

Year 4: Illinois (A), Purdue, Wisco (H)

Year 5: Nebraska (H), Purdue, Wisco (A)

Year 6: Nebraska (A), Minnesota, Northwestern (H), etc.

That set-up kind of staggers home/away to achieve the desired effect. Of course I don't know how that system would work across 14 teams, and gets the right home-away, competitiveness-fairness balance. But I think it works.

rob f

April 28th, 2013 at 2:06 PM ^

thinking along the same lines as I am, but your 6-year chart does a better job of illustrating it.  Using the phrase, "staggers home/away to achieve the desired effect" goes a long way in describing how the process of scheduling such an awkward set-up would work.

Very, very likely, though, that in a few years the whole thing is re-drawn with the next round(s) of expansion.

Red is Blue

April 28th, 2013 at 9:02 PM ^

Will be really interesting if they go to 16 teams.  That means each team will have 7 divisional games, so 3 division home games in one year and 4 home in another.  So in the year when a division has only 4 conference games, half of that division will only have divisional home games. 

Leaders And Best

April 28th, 2013 at 1:25 PM ^

Would give Michigan schedule good balance. MSU is probably a lock to stay at home during even years. The only question is where PSU lands. Seeing Michigan plays PSU away this year, hopefully it will stay on this schedule.


April 28th, 2013 at 2:38 PM ^

First they put the Leaders and Best into the division that's not named Leaders.  Now they put the Champions of the West in the East division.


I guess if we win the title game we count as champions of both.  That's how we'll have to look at it.

San Diego Mick

April 28th, 2013 at 1:35 PM ^

that they make it 5 H & 4 A games in the same year for all divisional and alternate that between divisons every year, thank goodness they didn't screw that up, that was a no-brainer IMO.

Now it makes sense why there are 2 bye's for each team in 2014/15, they can neatly slot those games in now.

snarling wolverine

April 28th, 2013 at 1:59 PM ^

I think the Jug is a cool trophy, but I don't see why we need to play an uncompetitive Minnesota team 100% of the time just because of it.  I mean, it's not just that we win the game every year - the games are rarely ever even close.  I was on campus for the 1999-2002 seasons and I can't even remember anything about the Jug games those years.  Did we even play them all four years?  

I think every M player should get the chance to play for the Jug at least once in his career, but that's enough.  




April 28th, 2013 at 5:41 PM ^

We didn't play Minnesota in 1999 and 2000. That marked the first time we didn't play the Gophers since 1928.

I'm sure the reason you don't remember the 2001 Minnesota game was because it took place the week after Sparty got that extra second against us in East Lansing and the non holding call on them during the final play. I think everyone was still so pissed off from that game that the Minnesota game was nothing but a blur. BJ Askew was the star in that game scoring twice and we won 31-10 at the big house. The following year, we won 41-24 at the Metrodome behind Askew's running again.


April 28th, 2013 at 1:36 PM ^

we're going to regret this and push for change. They are simply too lopsided and we've put ourselves in a position where we must defeat ohio every year if we want to make it to the B1G Championship Game and have a shot at the Playoffs.


April 28th, 2013 at 2:41 PM ^

Nebraska's conference schedule makes them the early favorite to repeat as Legends division champs IMO.

Nebraska's 2013 B1G schedule:

Home games: Illinois, Northwestern, Michigan State and Iowa

Road games: Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan, Penn State

If they hold serve at home (they should) and beat the two doormats they play on the road (Purdue and Minnesota), that leaves just two difficult-ish games for them -- road games at UM and PSU. So, 6-2 is probably a worst case scenario for the Huskers in 2013.

Meanwhile, UM has to play MSU, Northwestern, Iowa and PSU on the road and faces Nebraska and OSU in AA. The easiest road game for UM will probably be Iowa and UM has a history of struggling against the Hawkeyes in Iowa City, so I will be actually pleased if UM goes 2-2 in their conference road games. If that happens they will have to win out at home to get a tie with Nebraska (which would give UM the division)...assuming Nebraska's likely worst case scenario comes true.



April 28th, 2013 at 2:59 PM ^

This ^ is why we are better off with the new arrangement.  Nobody in the new East has a built in advantage over us the way teams in the Legends Division currently do who do not play Ohio State in a given year.  

Not playing Ohio State is a huge gift for NEB this year, and they may very well win the Division because of it, even if we beat them head to head.


April 28th, 2013 at 5:49 PM ^

The current system gives other teams periodic scheduling advantages over us since we have the protected crossover with ohio.

But, the solution to this is not to give them permanent scheduling advantages over us by putting them in a far easier division (Wisconsin is likely to return to the mean as we get further and further away from the Alvarez era and Nebraska is steadily losing lots of its recruitment pool by not playing Texas teams).


April 28th, 2013 at 3:05 PM ^

"If we can't beat Ohio, we don't deserve to be in the playoffs. I prefer this to the potential awkwardness of playing them twice in a row, which is looking pretty likely this year."

It's odd you would be upvoted on this, since everytime i stated I would like OSU & Michigan in different divisions no one ever liked the idea.  
My point was always that if we can't beat every other team THAN Ohio, we don't deserve to play Ohio (assuming they beat everyone except us as well & make the championship).
I'd rather miss them on the schedule sometimes for the chance of beating them for the championship.  I realize more people think quantity is better than quality so I'll just hope this gets revisited during the next expansion (probably within 4 years)

snarling wolverine

April 28th, 2013 at 3:15 PM ^

But you and he are proposing different things.  He's talking about us being in the same division as Ohio, and thus only playing once.  You're arguing for us to be separate and not playing every year, which would be a pretty radical departure from tradition.

Anyhow, a big problem with only "playing them for the championship" is that that game would be at Lucas Oil Stadium, not the Big House or Horseshoe.  It's not the same to play them in an NFL stadium.  The Game needs to be on campus.  



April 28th, 2013 at 7:34 PM ^

I understand exactly what he is proposing.

I was just making the point that "earning to play someone" (which was one of his points) is important in my estimation.

To me the axis of intensity of the rivalry outweighs the axis of regularity.  Of course I fully understand that if you don't have SOME regularity, it's pretty damn hard to develop a rivalry in the first place, but it's not impossible.  The Red Wings aren't in the same division as Colorado, how could they ever be rivals? /s  I guess I feel that after 75 yrs, The Game doesn't need regularity as much as it needs drama.  That's why we all remember 2006 so well.  Hell we've been pretty damn regular with East Dakota for the brown Jug and it's been so anticompetitive that no one seems to care that we're losing it.  

I do agree that playing in Lucas Oil would suck to some extent, but if any two teams could transcend that bland venue, it would be Michigan vs. OSU for the Big Ten Championship.
As it is, now we'll just play for the right to play an over-rated Nebraska, fading Wisco, or cinderella Northwestern.

Eventually that Championship, including it's playoff-launching position will steal all the hype.

rob f

April 28th, 2013 at 8:43 PM ^

I have to disagree with you on somehow anything diminishing the importance of Michigan vs. Ohio State at the end of the regular season.  There simply is no way that these two teams playing each other at Lucas Oil (or at any other venue, if and when the B1G decides whether to rotate the Conference Championship Game to other locations) could ever replace the spectacle of The Game being played on campus.  Would I still go if that's the only place these two teams were to play in a given season?  Hell yes (and I plan on making sure I'll be at Lucas for this season's CCG)!  But it wouldn't be the same for the fans of each school, and I'm pretty damn sure it wouldn't be the same for the teams, the players, the coaches, the bands...everyone involved, if Michigan vs ohio only happened in the CCG. 

A huge part, as most of us know, of being a college football fan, and especially of being a season ticket-holder, is that these games are first and foremost about the game itself, but also about renewing friendships with people you know thru whatever the association with your favorite school might be.  Whether it be with fellow alumni, friends you always go to the games with, fellow fans you've built up friendships with simply because you've sat next to them thru some of the fiercest on-the-field battles you can imagine, people you've tailgated with for years, you look forward to that entire day/entire weekend even if they might be with someone who shares that experience with you just once every year or two.

Does this mean that we fans are the most important thing here?  Not at all.  But college rivalry games wouldn't be the same if the on-campus element were to be taken away.  Imagine a season without Michigan vs ohio, if you can, and honestly tell me that it's not a scary thought.  I'm looking forward to this November 30th and seeing/being a part of The Game for the 20th time (my 19th consecutive one at Michigan Stadium plus 1 at the horseshoe), and there is NOTHING bigger on my schedule this coming fall, including the potential 21st one the following week in Indy!


April 28th, 2013 at 11:07 PM ^

I appreciate your passion in wanting The Game to stay on campus.  I'd love for it to stay on campus too!  But Championships, Playoffs, and the $ that control them don't really give a shit about the wonderful tradition of college football that we obviously do.  This whole discussion is predicated on the "good old days" actually being The Good Old Days®

You have a great history of watching or attending games, especially back when the M/OSU game was the defacto Big Ten championship.  I guess part of my mental masturbation in discussing this is that I wish we could finally get rid of the defacto part, and make the match-up (realistically never annual) the honest to god chamionship for all the marbles.  

Do you really believe younger generations are going to care as much about The Game when there is still a more important game one week later? (& then playoffs after?)  M/OSU will eventually become the 4th or 5th-to-the-last-game of the season!  That's pretty pathetic, but playoffs will do that all by themselves I guess.

I bring this up from time to time when certain threads mention the importance of the M/OSU game.  Some people misunderstand when I say i don't want them to play every year unless they've earned it, not because I don't care, but because I respect the rivalry so much.

 Ultimately it's the content of the games and the stakes they play for that are the most important for me.  Sadly I don't ever see those past heights ever being reached again.



April 29th, 2013 at 12:25 AM ^

The recent history of college football rivalries suggests that your position is simply incorrect. The SEC championship game has done nothing to dull the passion of the Iron Bowl. Not playing annually killed the Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry, even though they eventually met for the Big 12 title. 

Playing annually at the end of the year is the essence of the Game's rivalry. It represents one final hurdle for the more successful team, a last chance to redeem a season for a struggling team, and an unbearable game when both teams are equally successful. It's not only about championships, it is the single measure that most defines a particular team and that creates its most enduring memory. 

The old system could have killed that, since it devalued the rivalry, as both teams could plausibly progress to the championship game. Now that's not possible. The Game might be the single biggest winner in this realignment, as it protects it as the single most important game in the Big 10 every year.


April 28th, 2013 at 5:45 PM ^

I'd just have changed DB's three goals by nixing #3. Play ohio at the end of the season.

It'd still be a huge game if it was in the first Saturday in November. And for that we'd get competitive balance and a much higher liklihood of getting to Indy -- which is sorta the point now.