Big Ten divisions: what they're saying

Patrick McDermott

Various bloggers react to old news.

The Big Ten has been slouching toward this ever since about five minutes after the first batch of division names were released, but since Jim Delany is living perpetually two years in the past when it comes to matters of common sense and general taste, we just now get the changes that make some semblance of sense.

Sometimes I wonder if the goal of adding Rutgers and Maryland was to give the B10 leadership a way to save face as they exited Legends and Leaders. Then I think that's crazy. Then I remember that the Big Ten added Rutgers and Maryland and think it's not crazy enough. THEORY: The Big Ten added Rutgers and Maryland because Jim Delany is secretly a plant in need of more soil. THEORY: The Big Ten expanded because now they have those bastards from Delaware surrounded, and can finally give them what-for for signing the Constitution first. THEORY: Bo Ryan controls everything and is unhappy only ruining basketball. &c

That is Brian Cook of MGoBlog, and at this point when the Big Ten makes a move, your brain almost automatically goes in some sort of crazy direction.

Of course, things worked out pretty well for Michigan. There is the obvious downside of having to play Rutgers and Maryland every year, but when you look at the relative quality of those programs compared to the rest of the Big Ten, at least they seem like probable wins. I'll always take more Randy Edsall in my life if it means he is on the opposite sideline. However, Michigan gets to keep yearly rivalries with Michigan State and Ohio State -- as well as the latter being guaranteed to cap the season -- as well as a yearly game against Penn State, who the Wolverines can hopefully go back to beating like a red-headed stepchild on a yearly basis just like the good old days (i.e. basically PSU's entire time in the Big Ten minus the Rodriguez years).

Similarly pleased is Purdue, which was one of two teams on the fence between the East and West divisions. As TMill of Hammer the Rails points out, the Boilermakers not only get slotted into the West where they will not have yearly matchups vs. Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, or Michigan State, but Purdue gets the one protected rivalry game of the new conference setup, this one against Indiana.

The Boilers get the worst FBS program ever as a locked in opponent and opponents in Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, and Iowa where Purdue either leads the all-time series or is close. That is very favorable starting in coach Hazell's second year.

Somebody always has to be unhappy. In this case, it is Michigan State fans, who are going to give up some very great and competitive rivalries against traditional Big Ten foes (Wisconsin, Iowa) for yearly match-ups vs. Michigan and Ohio State and "Big Ten conference games" against Maryland and Rutgers. It remains to be seen if Sparty can continue its success on the gridiron as the division landscape changes, but hey, at least someone holds you in higher esteem than Purdue, guys.

Also, interestingly enough, this has a big effect on MSU's 2016 schedule, one that could either be daunting or not too bad depending on which of the four non-conference opponents gets dropped now that the nine-game schedule is official.

The conference will go to nine B1G games in 2016, meaning MSU will have to drop one of Alabama, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan or Furman off the schedule. Notre Dame would actually fit better to drop than Alabama, because East teams will have five conference home games in even-numbered years. We'll see where that goes.

Of course, it is easy to joke about all of this and make light of the years of tradition that this conference was built on. Let us not forget our dearly departed Leaders and Legends.

Once upon a time in this fair land of ours, we valued a little something called tradition, a little something called respect for the old ways, but I see now that these values have fallen by the wayside in favor of our new values: Novelty and Newfangledness. For all of my life, I have known two constants: 1) That the Big Ten is composed of twelve teams, stretching from Nebraska to Pennsylvania, and 2) That those teams are divided into two proud groups, the Leaders and the Legends. Now I must reconcile myself to a shocking new reality that casts those hallowed traditions aside.

When I awoke from a thresher-induced coma in December of 2010, the television in my hospital bed announced glad tidings: the Big Ten Conference would be dividing itself into two new divisions. Having no memory of my life prior to the accident, I wondered at what this news could mean, and as I returned to everyday life, I followed the developments of this great conference closely. After long study, I memorized that the Leaders were composed of Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, and taught my young nephews to remember this proud group by the simple mnemonic: "Old Smelly Pete Shovels Peat With Ira and Ida". For the Legends, I used "I must make my morning-star incredibly non-symmetrical" (I won't insult your intelligence by telling you what teams those words stand for).

But now I see all my mnemonic creation has been for naught, as the conference has rejected the old, evocative terms of "Leaders" and "Legends" in favor of the sterile, descriptive terms "East" and "West". When I read the words "Leaders" and "Legends", the image of figures such as Red Grange and Tom Harmon came to mind. When I read "East" and "West", I'm just reminded of the sad fact that the conference now includes New Jersey. New Jersey! As for Maryland, well, they can keep their weird accents and wobbliness in the Civil War to themselves.

Yes, I quoted like half of that thing (because it is brilliant). No, that isn't an excuse to skip going to BHGP and reading the rest of it here.

Seriously. Do yourself a favor and read it.

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