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Big 10 Championship Game & 9 Game Schedule

The Big 10 media days got off to a tremendous start with commissioner Jim Delaney saying that he expects the Big 10 to have a championship next season when Nebraska joins the conference. Delaney also said that the conference is going to break down into 2 6-team divisions and that the conference will have a 9-game conference schedule in order to preserve rivalries. Because of contractual agreements, the 9-game slate won’t be in put into effect until possibly 3 or 4 years down the road, but I think it’s a BIG STEP forward in the right direction. Delaney also said that the Big 10 is not actively seeking expansion. Couple of thoughts on this.

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

You knew this was coming simply from a monetary standpoint. The conference wasn’t going to add a 12th team and then forfeit the money that was going to be guaranteed via a conference championship. Some people are going to say this is a bad thing because it’s a no-win situation for a Big 10 team. If Ohio State goes 12-0 but then loses a conference championship game then they definitely might lose out on a BCS Championship game if they lose a late season game. That might be true, but then again, I think if the Big 10’s reputation gets back intact then having the conference championship game helps the Big 10 because they’d have an opportunity to win the conference and still get into the BCS Championship game even with a 1-loss squad.

On the other hand, I think right now the Big 10 is hurting a bit in regards to the BCS Championship IF they were to have an undefeated team along with the SEC & Big XII. Last year if Ohio St. was 12-0 while Alabama & Texas were 13-0 then I think Ohio St. gets left out which would have been pretty amazing. This way the Big 10 does lose out I suppose if they lose and there are 2 undefeated teams out there, but I think they win because now the Big 10 can get a team to 13-0 including a conference championship game AND they keep playing into December.

NINE CONFERENCE GAMES

I love this. When the Big XII had 12 teams and the SEC scheduled, they’d have 8 conference games and 4 out of conference games. For the most part, the SEC makes a mockery out of this by scheduling 4 squads that resemble high school teams in order to get 4 quick wins. The Big XII might actually go to this as well when they get to 10 teams and resemble the Pac 10’s round robin slate of playing 9 conference games.

If I had my way, I’d have the Big 10 simply play all 11 teams in the conference and leave the one non-conference game to play a big time non-conference opponent or a legitimate rival. Think about the rivalry games we’d have every season:

Illinois v. Missouri: Border war. Solid B10 v. B12 game.
Indiana v. Kentucky: Border war. Solid B10 v. SEC game plus big time basketball rivalry as well.
Iowa v. Iowa St.: In state rivarly that is too good to pass up.
Michigan v. Notre Dame: You simply can’t get rid of this rivalry.
Michigan St. v. Notre Dame: The Spartans & Irish go to war on an annual basis.
Minnesota v. Oregon: Not many rivalries for the Gophers; Played Oregon in 2 Rose Bowls
Nebraska v. Oklahoma: Former Big 8 members and keeping this rivalry would be nice. Texas works too.
Northwestern v. Notre Dame: Another ND game for the Big 10. This used to be a big rivalry.
Ohio St. v. Cincinnati: In state rivalry for the Buckeyes and Cincinnati is good enough to make it tough
Penn St. v. Pittsburgh: This rivalry needs to be resurrected in a big way
Purdue v. Notre Dame: Biggest non-conference opponent the Boilermakers face.
Wisconsin v. UCLA: Have played in the Rose Bowl twice; Could also go USC here, but I like Bruins here

That would be solid scheduling!

DIVISION ALIGNMENT

Again this is a pretty tough one. I think it’s fairly obvious how to break them up. I think you have to keep Michigan, Michigan St. & Ohio St. together. I also think you have to keep Indiana & Purdue together, but we’ll have to split Northwestern & Illinois. I think it’s worthwhile to keep Illinois, Indiana & Purdue together in the same division. That leaves us with:

Division 1: Ohio St., Michigan, Michigan St., Indiana, Purdue, Illinois
Division 2: Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern, Penn St.

or

Division 1: Ohio St. Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern
Division 2: Nebraska, Iowa, Penn St., Illinois, Purdue, Indiana

Both of these work I think to some degree. It’ll be 5 games against intradivisional opponents and 4 against interdivisional opponents. So the teams will still miss 2 Big 10 teams each year just like they do now even if they go to 9 conference games. Ideally it would be cool to simply put all 12 teams in the same conference playing 11 conference games and the one out of conference game, but keeping some schedule integrity by going to 9 conference games is the right move to make for the Big 10.

Definitely fun stuff happening in the Big 10.

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August 2, 2010 - Posted by | Big 10

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