Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Big Ten. You got your way.
There's a bold, bright world out there beyond your Saturday tailgate full of Yuenglings, Leinenkugels and Rust Belt pride. Your conference chose to ignore it. The core issue in Big Ten divisional alignment was Michigan-Ohio State.
If one of those games was good, two was better. Still is. The problem is that tradition won out over that bold, bright world. "The Game" will remain on the last Saturday in November, diminishing the chances for a rematch in the championship game. That essentially negates the fact that the Big Ten's two biggest franchises will compete in opposite divisions -- as yet unnamed.
Commissioner Jim Delany harkened back to the epic 2006 game. On the weekend that Bo Schembechler died, Ohio State beat Michigan 42-39 at The Shoe. The Wolverines remained No. 2 in the BCS for while creating the possibility for a BCS title game rematch. Then UCLA beat USC and Florida played Ohio State for the national championship.
In 2003, Oklahoma actually lost by four touchdowns to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game and still played LSU in the BCS title game. So miracles can happen late but what Delany was referring to still remains 100-year flood type stuff. In other words, don't count on a rematch.
In fact, it's more likely the Ohio State-Michigan loser misses out on a BCS bowl. Try getting beat twice in a row by the same opponent. Sure, they could still win their divisions and meet again the next week in the championship game, but it isn't likely. There just isn't much room for error. Look at the SEC and Big 12, the major conferences that have played a championship game the longest. Combined, there have been only 11 of 32 regular-season rematches (34 percent) in those two leagues. Few, if any of those rematches, were played within two weeks of each other.
The Michigan-Ohio State loser is going to need a cushion. Twenty-six of the 36 SEC divisions races since 1992 have ended in ties or the combatants were within one game of each other. You don't want that to be a factor on the last day of the regular season.
Some of you will celebrate the preservation of the sanctity of the last Saturday in November. But something is going to be missing. "The Game" is not going to be for the Rose Bowl ever again. Oh, it could eventually lead to a Rose Bowl, or a national championship, but it won't be that end-all, be-all.
There was discussion, Delany said, of moving Ohio State-Michigan to earlier in November. That would have at least created a better possibility for a rematch. The loser would have at least had a chance to "rehab" itself by winning out over the next month. Do-or-die on the last Saturday in November makes it mostly die for the loser.
What's wrong with building excitement? Big Ten isn't suffering for bucks but a second such game would have made the first look like a preliminary. Big crowd, big TV, big hype. The conference is used to that but slowly inexorably, there is going to be change. Delany talked of rebranding the conference in the next 90 days. There will be a new logo. Maybe that will create a stir because this didn't. Not for me.