Tag:Big Ten expansion
Posted on: August 19, 2011 1:56 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 2:06 pm
 

Big Ten has "closed down conference expansion"

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Big Ten announced on Friday that despite all the whispers about 16-team superconferences, anyone expecting the Big Ten to make a seismic shift in the conference alignment landscape is probably going to be left waiting. As the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) noted in a statement, the conference is "not actively engaged in conference expansion at this time, or at any time in the foreseeable future, barring a significant shift in the current intercollegiate athletic landscape."

That significant shift might be just the SEC swelling to 14-16 teams, but considering the usually staid nature of the conference when it comes to realignment, one or two defections down south might not be enough to get the ball rolling for Jim Delany and his member schools. 

Here is the statement issued Friday, in full:

Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) met recently to discuss reform issues and expansion. The following statement is issued by the Big Ten office on behalf of the COP/C.

In response to a number of recent media inquiries received by several Big Ten Presidents and Chancellors regarding the likelihood of further expansion by the Big Ten, the COP/C would like to reiterate that it will not be actively engaged in conference expansion at this time, or at any time in the foreseeable future, barring a significant shift in the current intercollegiate athletic landscape.

The COP/C is aware that speculation about the possibility of expansion by the Big Ten Conference continues despite a statement from COP/C Chair and Indiana University President Michael McRobbie on December 5, 2010, indicating that the COP/C believed the expansion process had reached its natural conclusion, that it was pleased with the addition of Nebraska, and that it looked forward to working with its new colleagues in the years ahead.

The conference has spent the past 14 months actively engaged in incorporating Nebraska, academically and athletically, into the fabric of the conference. "We're about as comfortable as we can be with where we are,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. “We've said that we will continue to monitor the landscape, but we have closed down active expansion and have no plans to seek new members.”

This is a pretty unequivocal statement, provided the conference alignment landscape stays roughly the same. Whether the Texas A&M-to-SEC move (provided it actually happens) sets off a chain of more defections and additions -- or remains more isolated like the Nebraska and Colorado moves of 2010 -- will likely determine whether the Big Ten stays set at 12 or whether this statement will be rendered quaint by the new state of college athletics.

The message from Delany and his presidents/chancellors is clear, though -- the other conferences might force expansion, but the Big Ten won't be the first to go down that road.

Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:49 pm
 

Don't forget what's lost in Nebraska switch

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



There's no doubting that these are exciting times for Nebraska football. Today's the day they officially join the Big Ten, the day they officially (as our own Dennis Dodd writes) start new rivalries with the likes of Ohio State, Penn State and -- most substantially -- their Great Plains brethren at Iowa. Today's the day they start drawing checks from the Big Ten Network money machine. It's the day that will, in short, define the future of their football program.

But amidst all that excitement, it's also a day which ought to be an occasion to remember the Huskers' past. Because in making the move to the Big Ten, Nebraska is cutting ties with years, decades, even centuries of their gridiron tradition.

Start with the rivalries. Nebraska vs. Kansas was only the longest uninterrupted series in the nation, having been played every year since 1906. The Huskers' and Jayhawks' started their annual grudge match so long ago, Oklahoma didn't even exist--and we're not talking about the Sooners, we're talking about the state.

But even that's not the oldest Nebraska rivalry that will end this season. The Huskers and the Missouri Tigers first met all the way back in 1892 and went on to play each other 102 more times, making it the third-oldest football rivalry west of the Mississippi River.

Because of Nebraska's dominance over both foes -- the Huskers defeated Kansas 36 straight times between 1969 and 2004, and Mizzou 24 straight times from 1979 through 2002 -- neither rivalry ever quite ascended to "classic" status, despite each's longetivity. But that doesn't mean each didn't give us classic moments, like this one you knew was coming:



And even if those series didn't carry as much weight on the gridiron as some others, the same can't be said for the Huskers' showdowns with Oklahoma. The move from the old Big 8 into the Big 12 had already (shortsightedly) brought a halt to the teams' annual meeting after 70-plus years of uninterrupted battles, but the rivalry that gave us the "Game of the Century" still survived as part of the Big 12 scheduling rotation and in the occasional Big 12 championship game. Now? The two schools might meet again in 2020 and 2021, if we're lucky.

Go beyond just rivalries and scheduling, though, and the conference switch also represents a complete cultural realignment for Husker football. Since the very beginning, Nebraska football has associated itself first-and-foremost with other heartland schools; their first conference affiliation came in the Missouri Valley Conference with Iowa-based schools like Drake and Grinnell. When they moved to the Big 8, they did so alongside not just the Jayhawks, Tigers and Sooners but schools like Kansas State and Iowa State as well.

From their location to their "Cornhuskers" nickname to the undying, overwhelming support of the Big Red faithful to their regional and national dominance, Nebraska wasn't just an important part of Great Plains college football; in many ways, the Huskers were Great Plains football.

That's not going away entirely, of course. And the annual matchup with Iowa promises to be a particularly important game from a regional standpoint. But with a schedule dominated by trips to Midwestern-to-the-bone locations like Minneapolis and Chicago, in a conference long identified first-and-foremost with the Rust Belt pillars at Michigan and Ohio State, there's no way Nebraska's identification as the heartland football program won't erode. Those days are done.

That's not to say Nebraska should have turned the Big Ten down, of course. Money talks. Academics talks. The Big 12's Texas obsession most definitely talks. From the Nebraska perspective, there's no way to spin the jump to a more stable, more lucrative conference as anything other than progress.

But progress almost always comes with a price, whether it's Colorado ditching its decades of old Big 8 rivalries to head west, Boise State's leap to the Mountain West finally finishing off the WAC as a meaningful football conference for good, TCU and Utah going their separate ways just when things between them were getting good, or all that Nebraska is giving up in their move to the Big Ten.

Today deserves to be a celebration for the Huskers' future, and for the future of all the teams and conferences who have been officially realigned today. But this is college football, the sport where tradition and history and all those things that are not money matter more than any other. There should be time enough, even today, to mourn the things the great realignment of 2010 has lost us.

Posted on: September 1, 2010 10:11 pm
 

Big Ten division winners and losers

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The new Big Ten alignment doesn't come into effect until 2011, but who comes out the best and worst among conference members?

Winners: Most of the conference, actually. Michigan and Ohio State keep their end-of-season rivalry, and they're each the marquee members of their own divisions. If they're not to meet for the title, then effectively nothing has changed about their tradition; if they do, then so much the better, as far as the Big Ten's coffers go. Penn State and Nebraska are the second in command in their respective divisions, and they get to start a protected rivalry with each other that's sure to move needles for television rating. Northwestern and Illinois have an annual game guaranteed, plus their own divisions in which to play spoiler--and Wildcats fans must be especially pleased that they've now got an annual divisional game against the Hawkeyes in what's rapidly becoming a contentious showdown. Minnesota gets to be in a very geographically friendly division, and they get to play for every one of their trophies every year.

We'll call it a draw: Iowa and Purdue have no reason to be protected rivals, and Delany's explanation that "both teams have won conference titles recently" is at best a non sequitur. But Iowa was rewarded with a season-ending game against Nebraska, to the delight of both fanbases, and Purdue has all the protected games they could have asked for. Likewise, Michigan State-Indiana is a total head-scratcher, but at the very least, each team stays in the same division as their in-state rivals.  

Losers: Holy hell, must Wisconsin be upset about this new alignment. Consider A) that the Badgers were the only team in the Big Ten without a season-ending rivalry game up until Nebraska showed up, and B) the amount of work Barry Alvarez has done as the de facto mouthpiece of the conference during realignment talk. Surely the Big Ten would reward the Badgers, yes? Au contraire, bonjour: Wisconsin's request to get a rivalry game with Nebraska was flat-out denied, and the Badgers don't even share a division or protected rivalry with historical rivals Iowa anymore. Oh, also, they're in a league with Ohio State and Penn State, a top twosome that seems much tougher than Michigan or Nebraska do for the near future. Nobody's got more beef than the Badgers about this lineup.

Posted on: September 1, 2010 3:39 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2010 3:42 pm
 

ESPN: Sources reveal Big Ten division members

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Remember the clues the Big Ten may have been dropping about their new conference alignment? Yeah, maybe not. ESPN is citing multiple conference sources in this report about the new Big Ten divisions:

• Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern and Minnesota.

• And Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana and Illinois.


The new setup would also feature the protected "crossover" rivalries that have been expected--Michigan would play Ohio State every year, obviously, and ESPN's sources specifically predicted Wisconsin and Minnesota will have a protected rivalry. If true, that's bad news for Wisconsin brass, who had been lobbying for a protected end-of-year game with Nebraska.

If ESPN's reports are true, they're not terribly surprising; there's competitive balance all around, and where possible, the different tiers of teams are separated east and west (see Michigan and Nebraska staying west, and Penn State and Ohio State east). Expect this alignment (or, at the very least, something similar) to be announced by the Big Ten this evening.
Posted on: September 1, 2010 2:44 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2010 2:48 pm
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Posted on: September 1, 2010 2:15 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2010 2:50 pm
 

Did Big Ten reveal new divisions in promo photo?

Posted by Adam Jacobi 

Speculation about the Big Ten's new divisional alignment can end soon, as the conference is set to announce the divisions tonight on its Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. ET. 

Such word had filtered through various sources earlier this week, with most pointing to today as the day for the unveiling, so this news isn't a total surprise. But while the date of the announcement has been pretty well known, the specifics of the divisions remains the far more relevant--and unanswered--question. 

So with rumors about the fate of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry flying everywhere--will they join separate divisions or not? When will their rivalry game be played?--it might be worthwhile to look to the Big Ten for a clue. And my my, is there ever one attached to the Big Ten's announcement. 




The arrangement of helmets doesn't seem to be accidental, does it? Michigan and Ohio State are front and center... and opposing each other. Likewise, the duo of Penn State and Nebraska are in opposite divisions, which fits with Jim Delany's model of competitive balance. In the second row, Iowa and Wisconsin are on opposite sides--just like what Barry Alvarez told reporters last week. And there's Michigan State on Michigan's side, which would make sense for their annual rivalry. 

In total, the Big Ten divisions as indicated by this photo are as such: 

MichiganPenn StateWisconsinIndianaNorthwesternMichigan State 
Ohio StateNebraskaIowaIllinoisPurdueMinnesota 

Of course, this could be nothing more than a red herring to throw people off the trail of the real alignment, which is still 5 hours away. But maybe--just maybe--it's a treat the conference left for its sharper fans. We'll find out soon enough.
Posted on: August 31, 2010 1:26 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2010 3:38 pm
 

Big Ten To announce 2011 divisions on Wednesday?

Posted by Chip Patterson

The addition of Nebraska in 2011 has provided the Big Ten with the opportunity to host its own conference championship game, adding an extra week of premiere Big Ten football and most importantly, a significant spike in revenue for the conference.

While it was initially expected that the announcement will come in mid-September, there is speculation that we could know as soon as Wednesday evening.

The Big Ten Network has scheduled a "live football special" for Wednesday evening at 6 p.m.  It is the belief of some that this will be the announcement of the 2011 divisions.

The most commotion has been caused by the discussion of how to divide the divisions of the new 12-team Big Ten.  Most notably, how the split may affect the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.

There are those that believe the teams should be in the same division, so that their annual matchup will continue to take place in late November, as the last game of the season.  If "The Game" were to be moved any earlier in the season, it would certainly be to the displeasure of many former Buckeyes and Wolverines - many of whom have sounded off publicly on the issue.

Unfortunately, many of the heavy hitters, especially Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney, believe that splitting Ohio State and Michigan across the divisions will be better for the cash flow rivalry in the big picture.

"You can make a pretty good argument that Michigan and Ohio State should never be playing for a divisional title," [Delaney] said in explaining why the two rivals would be in different divisions. "If they're going to play, play for the right to go to the Rose Bowl."
Of course, a Buckeyes-Wolverines showdown in the Big Ten championship game has the potential to generate an absurd amount of money for the conference, and as we have clearly seen throughout the last decade with expansion: the name of the game is dollar dollar bills yall.

Posted on: August 31, 2010 1:20 pm
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