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Big Ten Blogs React to New Divisions

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For those of you who are unaware, the Big Ten recently decided to divide teams into new divisions which, according to ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, will be geographically based "East" and "West." Although Purdue and Indiana have yet to be assigned divisions, almost every other team including Maryland and Rutgers has. (If the conference follows its logical geographic rationale, then Indiana will likely end up in the "East" division.)

For your amusement or reflection, here are some of the reactions from fan bases of Big Ten teams. Note: One of the reasons why this article may feel a little late is because some Big Ten blogs took their sweet time in posting a reaction. Others have yet to even acknowledge.

In case you missed it, we offered a small discussion on the divisions here at Maize n' Brew. Zach:

Things mostly worked out for Michigan. The Wolverines get both their biggest rivals as division games, The Game can stay on the last week of the season, and now it means a lot more because it could be for a spot in the title game.

What the Wolverines lose out on are games against traditional Big Ten opponents. There will be just four original Big Ten teams in the East division, with three newcomers (PSU, Maryland, Rutgers). Michigan is giving up a lot of really good games against Wisconsin, Iowa, Northwestern, and the others to play teams like Maryland and Rutgers on a yearly basis. A brave new Big Ten indeed.

And here were my thoughts:

Geographically, it makes sense. It makes even more sense for Michigan, who now play their rivals for the divisional crown, making those games exponentially more meaningful.

Penn State's Black Shoe Diaries on the divisions:

The East is stacked with Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State all residing in EST. Competitive balance would call for Sparty to switch sides, but they are supposedly vehemently against that. I'd much rather beat up on Indiana every year, so my vote is to bring them into the East.

Sparty is apparently vehemently against being in either division. There is a civil war happening on MSU message boards about whether MSU should take the path of least resistance in the West or stay in the East and battle it out with the powerhouses. And of course, The Only Colors has some nuggets. Here's my favorite from the comments section:

I want to play the other old Big Ten teams, not Rutgers, PSU and Maryland. I wanted to play Wisconsin, Iowa and Northwestern annually. Most of all I didn’t want to have to go through OSU, PSU, and UM to get to Indianapolis. Sorry for sounding pessimistic but I’m doubtful we’ll ever make a Rose Bowl for the foreseeable future. Really pissed Hollis let this happen because we went from campaigning to be West to him wanting to be East to stay with Michigan.

Our friendly neighborhood Buckeyes at Land Grant Holy Land are pleased:

Time zones are expected to be the key determinant of who goes where, which should ensure that rivals Ohio State and Michigan are finally set in the same division.

And Eleven Warriors:

Michigan and OSU NEED to be in the same division. I don't want a rematch in the same season in the CCG. Splitting them was one of the worst decisions the B1G made with the formation of the divisions. They need to rectify this by putting them back together like they deserve. So they're out.

I've perused Maryland and Rutgers blogs, but neither of them offers an opinion. The big talk of the East division is the top-heavy teams like Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State which look to dominate. Michigan State is none too happy about this.

Across the line, teams in the West division seems generally pleased with how things worked out.

Nebraska's Corn Nation likes the Huskers' new division but laments the loss of the annual divisional game against Michigan and says some nice things about the Wolverines:

As it stands right now the divisional split is lopsided with more power in the east as you've got Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State (who won't be knocked down as far as many would believe).

The west has Nebraska and Wisconsin and.... yeah.

I would have liked to see Nebraska play Michigan every year somehow. Michigan is just one of those programs with an incredibly rich tradition, a long history of excellence, and, well, hell, I still like their helmets.

Thanks, guys. We love you too, and we're going to miss the match-up with Nebraska.

Minnesota fans like their spot in the West division, too. Via the Daily Gopher:

This is probably the best outcome for Minnesota competitively. We end up in the marginally weaker of the two divisions and no protected crossovers means that the schedule doesn't have the yearly competitive disadvantage of Michigan while other schools get paired with easier teams. Additionally, we'll be in the division with 2 teams that have shown the ability to suck (Illinois and Purdue/Indiana) and one that we've been competitive with even in our down seasons (Northwestern).

On the downside, the rivalry with Michigan is a casualty of this alignment. Forgoing the protected crossover will result in longer breaks in the battle for the Little Brown Jug. Even with a nine game schedule, the gaps will be longer and more frequent than they were before Nebraska joined the conference. That said, Iowa and Wisconsin will both be division foes and Nebraska remains on the schedule. They may not be a historical rival, but we do share a long history.

I'm actually kind of surprised by how much Gopher fans claim they'll miss the Jug. True, it's a historical rivalry, but I've always thought Minnesota focused more energy on its rivalries with Wisconsin and Iowa. At best Michigan was No. 3 on their list of most hated.

Speaking of Iowa, here's Black Heart Gold Pants:

With Michigan and Ohio State (and to a lesser degree Penn State and Michigan State) the East looks like a stronger side than the West, especially considering the current state of the Iowa program and the questions about Wisconsin's new coaching staff.


Really the only way things could have worked out better for Iowa in terms of the winability of the division while maintaining rivalries, is if jNW was swapped with Indiana/Purdue.

So count me in as a fan of the new divisional setup. Anything that gives Iowa a greater shot at winning the division, playing the the B1G title game, and getting to the Rose Bowl is a good thing by me.

Illinois? They're happy, of course:

I'm thrilled by this news and not just because Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State are all outside of our division -- though that doesn't hurt! While losing the "Illibuck" rivalry with Ohio State is something to mourn for a minute, I just feel that schools like Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota and of course Northwestern make more sense as "natural rivals" for the Illini.

There doesn't appear to be any acknowledgment or post about the new divisions on our local Northwestern outlet, Sippin' on Purple, but MNWildcat, a Northwestern fan, offered some great insight on Off Tackle Empire concerning the issue of competitive balance:

Save it. Competitive balance may make sense for the next, oh, two years or so, but asking the Big Ten to predict its conference landscape even five years from now is dubious at best. Besides, who knows if we'll still have the Big 14 by the time the 9-game schedule reportedly will kick off in 2016.

That's not enough for you? Well, I'm with Rittenberg on this one. The Wisconsin-Nebraska-Northwestern(!!!) triangle is becoming quite a competitive triad. I can't see Iowa staying down for long and at least becoming a competitive team. Overall, the West looks to be more top-to-bottom competitive (save Illinois), whereas the East has its Big Four, Little Three setup rather entrenched.

Last but not least, here's some Wisconsin action:

It will obviously be much easier for us to make the B1G championship game every year. That’s huge to me. Some wanted us on the side with OSU to help our recruiting. I don’t see that being a problem with this staff though. I think making the championship game and good bowls every year will do more for our recruiting than being in a division with the OSU’s and Michigan’s of the world. We can obviously compete with Nebraska just fine. Iowa is down right now and Northwestern is doing well under Fitz, but everyone knows we can compete with them just fine. Overall I have no complaints about it.

So, yeah, teams in the West are thrilled about being in the West. They don't have to face Michigan and Ohio State (not every year, anyway) to get to the championship game.

Meanwhile, most of your historically dominant East's teams (Penn State, OSU, Michigan) shrug because they're used to facing each other for the crown and being in the "more powerful" division is really no big deal.