August 20, 2010

Big Ten Divisions: 'Mass Hysteria' cometh

At least, that's how Pete Venkman would describe it:

We won't get to far into the Michigan-Ohio State battle going on right now, but it does involve Penn State, as our buds at BSD pointed out earlier today. Michigan (especially Michigan) fans and media (particularly this one) are trying to foster the idea that no matter what, Michigan and Ohio State must absolutely positively stay in the same division... at all cost. Even if that means sending Penn State fans on an eight-hour car ride to its nearest divisional opponent in 2011.
"Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press is a crafty dude. Without saying the Big Ten divisions should split geographically minus Penn State, he still found a way to advocate sending the Lions west for all of their divisional games.

After splitting up what he called the four "traditional superpowers" into pairs of Nebraska/Penn State and Ohio State/Michigan, Rosenberg sells moving three western teams into the Nebraska/Penn State division... [snip]

What results are defacto east and west divisions with Penn State as the ugly ducking."
Rosenberg adds that Michigan State and Penn State are worthless rivals, and should be split up if it means Michigan and MSU can still play each year. Though, as BSD points out, that's kind of absurd considering that Ohio State and Penn State is easily the most important rivalry in the Big Ten at the moment; a rivalry that's directly decided the conference's automatic BCS berth (and the bragging rights to the actual conference title) more often than Ohio State vs. Michigan, or Michigan vs. Ohio State has in the last five years.

But here is where all the "mass hysteria" grew out of. posted a recap of a Michigan radio show, during which Michigan AD Dave Brandon seemed to inject some local anesthetic into the UM-OSU fan base, before the slicing and dicing begins. Greg (MV) summed it up for us:
"Translation? Bank on it. Ohio State will be in the other division, we’ll meet every year midway through the Big Ten schedule."
Naturally, every Michigan blog out there was on this, including Brian at MGoBlog, who settled on the same conclusion about "The Game" as Greg had in his original reporting of the radio broadcast:
"Not that this matters. Apparently it's done. Get ready for Michigan-Ohio State sometime in October, not even playing for a division or anything, because the "TV people" really want it. Do I need to remind you about Mark Shapiro?"
And just to point this out, if you didn't read Brian's whole post on the matter, he did mention who Michigan might end up facing in the finale each year, as Ohio State's replacement. Hmm... yup, Michigan State:
"Michigan's year-end opponent: Michigan State? Boy, that will fire up everyone on Rivalry Week: "It's Michigan! It's some team that's been within a game of .500 every year since SEC schools started recruiting black kids! On ABC!"
(It should be noted, though, that Michigan State (22-17, 3 bowls) has a better record the last three seasons than Michigan (17-20, 1 bowl), including going 2-1 against the Wolverines in that time)

Of course, the Ohio State side of it hasn't been as loud, but it's odd to see both fan bases agreeing on something. (Check out, one of the few blogs to comment on this whole thing.)

Now, I know you've been just biting your nails to know what I think about all this. So here's my take.

Penn State belongs with either Michigan or Ohio State in whatever division that works best. To be completely honest? I really don't give a crap if they threw Penn State's main rivals into another division, 1) as long as it wasn't that completely retarded alignment proposed by Rosenberg, forcing Penn State to play every real meaningful division game eight hours away from home, and 2) Ohio State is a contractually-obligated annual inter-divisional opponent, similar to how the Big Ten is set up right now, with certain teams playing every year no matter the rotation that year.

My ideal alignment would be a straight east-west split. There are just as many problems with that proposal as there are with any of the others. The main thing is that an east-west split will feel and look much better than anything else out there. Plus (as mentioned by the Michigan guys above) any rivalries that would be split up between divisions could still be played out each year, even if it means destroying "rivalry week" at the end of the season.

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  1. Ghostbusters reference. Win.

  2. I want an East-West too (although I'd prefer it to be named Eastern and Central to match the time zone names /sarcasm). The whole gerrymandered divisional split doesn't make sense. It splits the Top 6 teams in the conference down the middle and you don't need a media guide to determine the divisional foes.

  3. David in Florida8/21/2010 11:20 AM

    Love the Ghostbusters reference. Ironically I told my wife yesterday "There's always room for jello," also from GB.

  4. PSU plays every meaningful league game 8 hours from home now. They're going to play the same teams they've always played (with 1-2 exceptions) every year. It doesn't matter what division they're in. In fact, I would say that PSU would benefit being in a division with Neb and OSU and Mich paired together. They will be in the league championship at least half of the time that way and can develop their own rivalry with Nebraska. Why are people so excited about mich and osu being separated and being de facto representatives of the two divisions? Put them together along.