Posted by Mike Wendt on September 2, 2010 Jump To Comments
I know this is a Packers blog, but when both teams in the great state of Wisconsin could be hoisting hardware at the end of the season, we need to devote some time to each team, so let’s look at the big news affecting the Badgers this week. Besides, if you root for someone in the NFC North, than you more than likely have a favorite Big Ten school.
1st thing on the docket is to evaluate the conference re-alignment that will take place once Nebraska joins the Big Ten in 2011-2012. Although the divisions have yet to be named we know which teams will be in which divisions. For simplicities sake, I’m going to refer to the divisions as the Beer Division and the Bratwurst Division. The Beer Division boasts Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, and Wisconsin, while the Bratwurst Division is home to Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Northwestern. On paper, the Beer Division looks like the division with the most power. In college football, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin have all been forces to reckon with in the past ten years. Michigan has been struggling lately, and besides Iowa the rest of the Bratwurst Division looks weak.
Things I like about the re-alignment.
1. This means that the Big Ten will get a championship game. No more three way ties for the league title, no more stupid tiebreakers deciding who goes to the Rose Bowl. Finally we get one game to decide it all.
2. The committee did their best to keep rivalry games alive. I’ll get to Ohio State and Michigan in a second, but the committee ensured the longest running rivalry in college football happened every year when Wisconsin and Minnesota hook up in an annual crossover game. Other schools got to keep their rivalry games too, like Michigan vs Michigan State, Northwestern vs. Illinois (crossover game), Indiana vs. Purdue, and Purdue vs. Illinois.
The one problem I have with the realignment
1. Ohio State and Michigan aren’t in the same division. Listen, I’ve heard the arguments saying that it’s better that they play in different divisions and I just don’t buy it. Some people are saying that since “The Game” will be the last game on each teams’ schedules, the game could turn into a preview of the conference championship if they have both clinched their respective divisions at that time. That’s BS to me, because nobody is going to care if you win “The Game” but lose the conference championship and the automatic BCS bid the following week. To me it would be much more exciting if they were in the same division AND playing on the last week of the regular season. Could you imagine the hysteria in Ann Arbor if 4-1 Michigan was hosting 5-0 Ohio State at the Big House, with “The Game” bragging rights and a trip to the conference championship on the line. I don’t care who you root for, you’re watching that game. Sure it wouldn’t happen every year, but when it did, it would be epic.
All in all the Big Ten directors did their best and for the most part, they got it right. I think Wisconsin is a shoe-in to win the Beer Division in college basketball, but that’s for another column. Yours truly is off to Vegas in the morning to get a firsthand look at the 2010 Badgers, so I’ll put out column on the Badgers and my first Vegas trip next week before the NFL season kicks off.
I want to thank everyone who wrote in last week telling me about their first Packer game, it was pretty cool to read those stories. Think the Big Ten committee got the divisions right or wrong? What would you have done? Got better division names than Beer and Bratwurst? I doubt it, but drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org