My beloved Big Ten conference has expanded again and this spring they will announce their new divisional alignment due to the additions of The University of Maryland and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
As an Illini, I was pretty pleased with who we played annually in the Leaders/Legends alignment of the last two years. Therefore, I always think of our rivalries games as being the most important in divisional alignment. In order to protect these long-standing rivalries I propose a Charter Member Division of the original 6 founding members plus Ohio State. Opposite them in the Expanded Division would be the other 7 member institutions added over time.
Charter: Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Expanded: Penn State, Michigan State, Indiana, Maryland, Rutgers, Nebraska and Iowa.
Each team would still have a dedicated cross-division rival so that Ohio State-Penn Stare, Michigan-Michigan State, Purdue-Indiana, Illinois-Maryland, Northwestern-Rutgers, Wisconsin-Nebraska, and the Minnesota-Iowa series would all remain uninterrupted or initiated in the case of the new members playing the Illinois schools.
The following trophy games would be played annually: Little Brown Jug, Paul Bunyan, Paul Bunyan’s Axe, The Old Brass Spittoon, The Old Oaken Bucket, The Cannon, The Land of Lincoln, Illibuck, Floyd of Rosedale, The Landgrant Trophy, and whatever they are calling the Nebraska-Iowa game presented by Hyvee. Everybody Wins.