Posted on: June 15, 2010 5:20 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2010 5:21 pm

New Big Ten Divisions

With the forthcoming addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten as its 12th member, divisions must be established in order to determine who will play for the Conference Championship Game.  This is no easy feat, as you want to do everything you can to avoid splitting fierce rivals into separate divisions where they no longer play every year, ala Nebraska-Oklahoma once the Big 12 formed.  Geography, according to Big Ten Commisioner Jim Delaney, will take a back seat to competitive fairness and preservation of rivalries.

To be as objective as possible, I will refer to ESPN's prestige rankings for the edge on competitive fairness.

3.  Ohio State, 1655 points
5.  Nebraska, 1553 points
8.  Michigan, 1332
11.  Penn State, 1088
26.  Michigan State, 454
30.  Iowa, 368
33.  Minnesota, 341
34.  Wisconsin, 317
49.  Illinois, 219
50.  Purdue, 210
80.  Northwestern, 60
102.  Indiana, -8

Using these points, I broke down the conference into rivalry "blocks", or groups of teams that need to stay in the same division to preserve traditional rivalries.  As a Nebraska fan who is admittedly not overly familiar with Big Ten rivalries outside of the obvious, I used Adam Rittenberg's Big Ten blog as a guide .

Hands Off!
-Michigan/Ohio State, Michigan/Michigan State, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Indiana/Purdue, Minnesota/Iowa, Wisconsin/Iowa

Handle With Care:
-Ohio State/Penn State, Illinois/Ohio State, Michigan/Minnesota, Iowa/Penn State

-Michigan State/Penn State, Illinois/Northwestern, Indiana/Illinois, Penn State/Michigan, Minnesota/Penn State, Wisconsin/Michigan, Purdue/Illinois, Northwestern/Iowa, Purdue/Northwestern, Michigan State/Indiana

Thus, the blocks I created, with corresponding prestige points following, were:

Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State - 3441 (Illinois preferable for total of 3660)
Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin - 1026
Purdue, Indiana - 202
Penn State - 1088 (left out of a block as existing rivalries with Iowa and Ohio State cannot BOTH be maintained in the same division)
Northwestern - 60
Nebraska - 1553

Using these blocks, it is fairly easy to see what needs to be done.  The Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Illinois block, at 3660, is almost the size of the other eight school combined, so the smallest block of two schools, Purdue and Indiana, is added, while the other six schools form the second division.  Or, to make it more explicit:

Division A:  Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Purdue, Indiana
Division B:  Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State, Northwestern, Nebraska

Division A totals 3862 prestige points, while Division B totals 3727, a difference of only 3.5%, which is pretty good.  It preserves 13 out of 20 official rivalries, and of the 7 not saved, 3 are Penn State rivalries which are still relatively young in the scope of the rest of the Big Ten.

One solution to these "lost" rivalries is to have a designated rival in the opposite division who you maintan play with every year.  That way, rivalries such as Ohio State/Penn State, Michigan/Minnesota, and Illinois/Northwestern are preserved, making it 16 out of 20 official rivalries that are continued on an annual basis.

Official rivalries which will lose their annual basis with these division plus the one week "other division rivalry" plan:  Penn State/Michigan, Penn State/Michigan State, Wisconsin/Michigan, Purdue/Northwestern.

Geographically, these divisions are classic East/West with the exception of Penn State.  To which I say, "Sorry you have such a high prestige rating, Penn State, or I could have swapped you out with Illinois.  In the end, you are too big of a school to stay in the east division with Michigan and Ohio State."

As far as scheduling goes, 6 of the 8 "in-conference" games are already decided, as each team plays the other 5 within their division every year, as well as their one designated rival from the other division every year.  For the remaining 2 games, assuming that league competitiveness is truly the ultimate goal (as it should be since money is what is behind all of this, and rivalries and highly ranked teams playing each other every week will keep the TV cash a-flowing), the best option is the schedule them based on team record from the previous year.

The top teams in Division A and B from the previous year would face each other in the current year.  There would have to be some sort of a tie-breaker in case a teams designated rival finished in a spot where the teams would ahve to play again based on their record.  Or in simpler terms:  if Penn State and Ohio State won their divisions the previous year, they would only play once, despite the fact that they are "out of division rivals" and finished in the same spot in their respective divisions the previous year.  In that case, each first place team (Penn State and Ohio State) would play the second and third place teams from the other division, instead of the first and second place teams.

With the top teams in the conference playing the top teams in the other division, it all but guarantees a superior strength of schedule, which increases the odds of the Big Ten champion playing for the National Championship Game year in and year out.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: May 5, 2010 1:38 pm

Big 10 becoming the Big 16? Big Deal!

There's been a lot of talk about the Big 10 (with 11 teams currently) expanding itself to a larger conference.  The driving force behind this, like anything, is money, specifically for the Big Ten Network.  Notre Dame is the first and obvious target, followed by a school (or group of schools) who can tap into the New York City Market.  As Dennis Dodd suggests, this could be accomplished with the trio of Rutgers, Syracuse, and Conneticuit.  If these four teams are added, that would put the total number of Big 10 teams to 15, leaving a need for one more team to round out the conference to 16.  A lot of other names have been thrown around, like Missouri, Pittsburgh, and Iowa State.  There are geographic considerations like Cincinatti, Ohio, Ball State, Lousiville, or Kentucky.  However, the biggest get for the Big 10's final team would undoubedly be Nebraska.

The percieved weakness in adding Nebraska to the conference is that they don't bring a top market with them, but this is hardly true.  Sure, the state of Nebraska isn't the strongest of markets.  That much can't really be argued.  But what people fail to realise is how much more competitive the Big 10 would be if a team of the quality and with the history of Nebraska.  It would stretch the reach of the Big 10 westward, while also locking up states like the Dakota's, whos loyalties are currently split between Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Iowa State.  Mostly, however, when you add a group of teams that includes Nebraska AND Notre Dame, it increases the NATIONAL appeal of the conference.

So how would a 16 team conference play a football schedule that demands 12 games?  If you divide the conference in half, that leaves each team playing 7 subdivision games, which leaves 5 remaining games each year to be split between out of conference teams and teams in the other subdivision...not necessarily ideal, especially when you consider that, at least in the Big 12, teams have 4 out of conference games a year.  If you divide the conference into thirds (which, fyi, is impossible with 16 teams anyways, you'd have to leave it at 15), you would be left with the issue of having three subdivision winner, so who would you crown as the Big 10 champ?  Who gets that Rose Bowl birth?  The solution is to divide the conference into 4 subdivisions with 4 teams each.  You would do it along geography clusters, and do everything you can to keep existing rivalries intact.

West:  Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska
North:  Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame
South:  Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern
East:  Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse, Conneticuit

Each team in the subdivision plays the other 3 teams every year, along with one team from each of the other subdivisions.  For instance, Nebraska would play Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin every year, and would also play one team from the North, South, and East.  This gives each team 6 conference games per year, leaving 6 extra games.

With four subdivision winners, not only will there be a conference title game, but there will be a conference PLAYOFF.  The division winner with the best record will play the division winner with the worst record, and the other two will also play each other, with the winner advancing to the title game.  This extra week of playoffs takes away one of the 6 remaining games, leaving each team with 5 games to fill.  4 are allocated as out of conference games, with the final remaining game as a "wildcard" matchup.

This wildcard matchup is based off of the teams record of the previous year.  The two Big 10 teams with the best record last year play each other, the third and fourth best records play each other, and so on.  This increases the conferences competition amongst its best teams, which will keep the overall best team competitive for the National Championship Game every year.

For clarification, the schedule breakdown would look like this:

First four games:  Out of conference play
Next 7 games:  Conference Play.  3 games vs. own subdivision.  1 game vs. 1 team from each other subdivision (on a rotating basis) for a total of 3 other games.  1 "wildcard" game based off of last years performance.
12th game:  Playoff week.  Seeds 1 and 4 play each other, 2 and 3 play each other.
13th game:  Conference Championship Game
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 16, 2009 3:53 pm

Mountain West Realignment and BCS bandaid

One of the biggest issues with the BCS right now is the lack of an automatic bid for the Mountain West Conference, partially due to the perception that the conference is not strong enough (despite undefeated seasons the past two years by Utah and TCU).  One way to counteract this is to transform the Mountain West into an even stronger, more legitimate conference, and give it an automatic bid.  Currently, the conference has strong atheletic departments in TCU, BYU, and Utah, along with weaker members in San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming, Colorado State, Air Force, and New Mexico, for a total of 9 members.  The simplest soluion would be for the Mountain West to add the 3 strongest teams willing to join (lets say, for the sake of argument, Boise State, Hawaii, and Fresno State (fresh off their baseball national championship, and also based on geographic considerations)), bumping both the quality of competition and the number of teams to 12.  Split the conference into two divisions, "Mountain" and "West", and model the conference play after the Big 12 (every year, a team in the "Mountain" division plays the rest of the "Mountain" division, as well as half of the "West" division).  Division breakdowns would look something like this:

TCU, New Mexico, Air Force, Colorado State, Wyoming, Boise State

Hawaii, San Diego State, Fresno State, Utah, BYU, UNLV
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 28, 2008 5:35 pm

I don't mind losing, but I hate getting robbed!

Husker vs. the Hokies. it was terrible. easily the worst officiating I have ever seen. 28-23 with about 6 minutes remaining. it is 3rd and 2, and Hokies QB Tyrod Taylor is stopped short of the first down marker, meaning that VT will have to punt. that is, until Husker DT Ndamukong Suh is called for an unsportsmanlike conduct late hit out of bounds. A TERRIBLE CALL! Suh had already left his feet and dove at Taylor before Taylor had been pushed out of bounds! what, is he supposed to just stop in midair? anyways, Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini was furious and argued the call, and the refs decided to call a personal foul on him, giving the Hokies the ball within the 10 yard line. now i'm not saying that these ridiculous penalties would have given the huskers the win, but it would have kept the hokies as 28 points instead of 35...and with the way the huskers moved the ball against them late in the game, i dont know.

but thats not even where the terrible officiating ended. they called another unsportsmanlike on Suh after the extra point, and then spotted a ball in bounds and short of the first down line, even though our reciever was knocked out of bounds past the first down line. or when they randomly stopped the play clock to let the hokies run some more time off the clock with under a minute left in the game. or when the hokies punt bounced out of bounds at the 15 with 55 seconds left, but then bounced back in and the refs let the clock run down another 10 seconds and 5 yards...

just pure ridiculousness.

still, the huskers played like crap for the first 3 quarters, which has been a disturbing trend this season...

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 14, 2008 1:04 pm

God is so Clearly a Husker Fan.

well, if there is a god, he is clearly a fan of husker football. it has been cold and rainy all week, but magically, yesterday, the skys cleared and it warmed up to be a beautiful day for some good old college football. and now today it is a cold and nasty again.

on a side note, the officiating at that game was some of the worst i've seen in a long time. the first half went by in about 5 minutes because the ref's didn't really ever call a single penalty. then, in the second half, they called far, far too many, most of them really bad (such as pass interference on a play where the defender got all ball and didn't even touch the reciever, or some notable no calls from the first half included a facemask i could see clearly from the student section and blown pass interference calls against both teams). the worst, however, was the last 5 minutes of the third quarter, when new mexico state was looking to finally score and end the shut out, the refs review what seemed like every other play. in actuality, it was just 3, but if i remember correctly none of them were overturned. it seemed to me as though they really didn't want to have a shut out, because everytime our defense made a big play, they either called a penalty or reviewed the play. honestly, there were about 25 plays IN THE REDZONE at the end of the quarter, and the husker defense just kept stopping them, despite the babying the other team was getting from the refs. oh, right, the one call that WAS overturned was the one where the huskers forced a fumble and recovered it. but ya, the last 5 minutes of the 3rd quarter lasted about 30-45 minutes in real time. absolutely ridiculous. and we were up 31-0 at that point, so it wasn't as if they needed to be extra super thorough like the game was on the line. it was over by that point, just needed to play the clock out.

oh well, the huskers looked pretty sharp last night, which was good, because they didn't at all against SJSU last weekend. looking forward to VA TECH in 2 weeks!


Category: NCAAF
Tags: huskers
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or