During Commissioner Jim Delany’s question & answer session at the conclusion of football media day in Chicago, he reiterated his comments from the June announcement in Lincoln, Nebraska, that divisions will be based on competitive fairness, geography and the maintenance of trophy games. Today he commented that the league is working on models based on football records since 1993, when Penn State started conference play. Below is the ranking of schools based on overall wins:
168 - Ohio State
165 - Nebraska
146 - Michigan
145 - Penn State
142 - Wisconsin
117 - Iowa
106 - Michigan State
103 - Purdue
95 - Northwestern
92 - Minnesota
75 - Illinois (I knew it was painful watching games, but this is just sad)
68 - Indiana
In total that is 1422 wins, which translates into two 711-win divisions as such:
Blue: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern, Indiana, Michigan & Ohio State
Black: Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Purdue, Michigan State & Penn State.
Although the commissioner strongly suggested that in order to play each other more often that the Big Ten will move towards a nine game schedule as soon as future schedules will allow with three non-conference games and nine home and away games in a two year span in league play.
So in the near term, each university would play the other five teams in their division and three cross-division games. Consequently the much ballyhooed East/West geography based divisions will still play each other. The trio of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Northwestern would play home and home in 2011 & 2012 against Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. Whereas, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State would face off against Purdue, Michigan State and Penn State.
The only hiccup would be the finale weekend before the Championship game (sure to be in Indy’s Lucas Oil Stadium although I prefer Soldier Field) The best format would be: MSU-Wisconsin, Iowa-Minnesota, Indiana-Purdue, Illinois-N’western, Michigan-Ohio State and the newly minted Nebraska-Penn State tilt. However, in the Black & Blue line-ups they would likely be: Wisconsin-Minnesota (Paul Bunyan’s Axe), Iowa-Nebraska (for some corn implement) Indiana-N’western (for the tallest midget) Illinois-Purdue (the Cannon), Michigan State-Penn State (the Land Grant trophy) and of course ‘the game’ between Michigan and Ohio State.
In the future, once we move to a nine-game schedule, the following pairs would always play each other: Nebraska & Iowa vs. Minnesota & Wisconsin, Indiana & Northwestern vs. Illinois & Purdue, plus Ohio State & Michigan vs. Michigan State and Penn State. Teams would then play the other two pairs twice in four years.
I really wanted to play for Illibuck every year. I suppose not all rivalries are created equal.