June 25, 2010

Linkbacker-U could see Big Ten divisions by August

Let's talk Big Ten stuff today. Well, mostly.
You thought last year's Big Ten kickoff luncheon was good? Wait till this year, when the Big Ten staffers begin their proposals for the new divisional alignment of the conference in 2011. It's going to be a media circus no matter what happens, but if there's some--any--controversial proposals, watch the heads explode from Ann Arbor to Iowa City.

This is all, of course, following a report that the divisions talk will come quicker than we thought.
The Big Ten athletic directors received a memo this week from league commissioner Jim Delany, outlining the priorities and the process for determining divisions. Big Ten associate commissioner Mark Rudner and others are spearheading the project, and will present data to the athletic directors when they gather in Chicago for the Big Ten's media days and kickoff luncheon Aug. 2-3.
So that's the nuts and bolts of the story, but Adam Rittenberg asks the question I'm wondering, and you too are probably wondering: how will the Big Ten screw this one up? You know it's possible, especially with all the talk out there of "competitive balance" between the divisions. Unfortunately, some of the Big Ten AD's are already spouting that talking point.
"You have to look with a wide lens," [Purdue AD] Burke said. "You have to look over a 50-year period and look at who’s been consistent. If you take a snapshot of a five-year period or a 10-year period, you may miss it. Clearly, Michigan and Ohio State and Penn State and Nebraska, if you look at a 50-year history, are your four biggest brands. It doesn’t mean they win all the time, but they’re your biggest brands. I don’t think there’ll be any disagreement among all the Big Ten ADs about that. You’re not going to stack all four of them in one division. You’re going to try to create some level of parity."
What? No one, ever, has seriously suggested placing Nebraska in the same division as Penn State, Michigan, and Ohio State. But I guess this is how you skew public perception, before the public even knows it has perception on the matter. I can't argue, though. I don't think the Big Ten would even entertain the notion of that kind of alignment. But I can totally see the ADs or presidents using this as ammo for keeping certain rivalries intact (Michigan-Ohio State, anyone?), while breaking up others. Ok, done with that crap for today.

Ok, not totally done with divisions crap. One of our newest friend/foe sites kind of tears apart the parity argument we just went over in the above section. So here's a little sanity out of Lincoln, of all places.
The numbers may not agree with [the competitive balance argument].

No question Ohio State has been the class of the Big Ten this past decade, posting a record of 102-25.

But the winning percentages of Wisconsin (66.7) and Iowa (64.0) the past 10 years stack up just fine with those of Michigan (65.3) and Penn State (62.6).

So if you align Nebraska, with a winning percentage of 65.6 this past decade, alongside Iowa and Wisconsin, recent numbers suggest that’d be a pretty even split among the conference’s power programs.
So chew on that for a while. Looking at it that way, the basic east-west divisional alignment should be a forgone conclusion, right? We can only be so lucky.

Huskers-Lions rivalry. Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota are some of the early suitors for an annual, highly-marketed rivalry game with Nebraska. But when it comes to Penn State, there's a bit of a lost-twin syndrome for Nebraska fans.
In fact, BRN publisher Jason Siffring and I both went to a Penn State game as neutral observers one time. We were both living relatively in the area and drove over to watch Drew Brees and Purdue come play in Beaver Stadium. It was my first PSU experience. At the time, I said to Jason..."Wow, this place is like Bizzaro Nebraska." Comic book references aside (yay for Superman!), it felt very much like going to a Nebraska game except everyone was in blue instead of red.
Considering that Nebraska fans are widely regarded as the most courteous, loyal, welcoming fans in all of sports, that's a serious comparison from Big Red. I would love to see an annual Penn State vs Nebraska inter-divisional game. It would completely crush any of the past ratings for Penn State vs Minnesota, Penn State vs Iowa, or even Penn State vs Wisconsin--all those teams would end up being in the west division, should that alignment happen. If there's an opportunity for five divisional games, and three inter-divisional games in the Big Ten season, Penn State vs Nebraska is a necessity.

Ok, we'll cut it off there for the day.

In Scores of Other Games...

BSD has a great look back at one of the legends of Penn State football, Dick Harlow. Check it out... Penn State basketball players are profiled by VBR, one at a time. It's probably more info on most of them than you ever expected would exist... Michigan comes in at No. 71 in TSN's countdown. Not sure the Wolves will be quite that bad, but whatever... Big Ten quarterback breakdowns come at us from the Rivalry, Esq... Another massive recruiting update from MGoBlog.

Extra Point...

Penn State wide receiver Tariq Tongue posted a video featuring the team's senior class of 2013. Recognized those photos of Stephon Morris and Shawney Kersey? Oh yeah, baby, those are mine!

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1 comment:

  1. A simple division along the Indiana /Illinois border makes the most sense. You analysis of the competitive balance over the last ten years proves it. The idea that the easternmost school should be assigned to the western division makes about as much sense as placing the Dallas cowboys in the NFC East. This is not complicated.