As I look at the current Big Ten standings, I cannot help but think how differently The Big Ten could be, if aligned by different means. I am not talking about the wretched and foolish division names - Legends and Leaders are probably here to stay, I am afraid.
I am talking about the possibility of aligning the divisions geographically. Instead of Legends and Leaders, what if The Big Ten had taken the logical East and West alignments?
Think of it this way - in the West Division, the teams could be Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Wisconsin. The East Division could consist of Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Purdue.
I know, I know - this would tilt too much power towards the East. The East would also have the upper hands with regards to the tradition-laden programs, as teams such as Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State are among the best programs in college football history. All very worthwhile points.
However, and I am guessing I am in the minority here...I think about the division battles that The Big Ten presently has, and what The Big Ten could have if they followed my alignment.
As an Ohio State fan, I was outraged at the possibility of moving "THE GAME" from its traditional end of the regular season slot. Perhaps some of you were as well.
What is disconcerting to me is the future possibility of having a rematch the week after "THE GAME". This year's Ohio State team has already clinched a share of The Leaders Division, but as all Buckeye fans know, are ineligible to compete for The Big Ten Championship Game. At the moment, Nebraska and Michigan are tied for the lead in The Legends Division, with Nebraska holding the tiebreaker over Michigan, with the Cornhuskers' victory over the Wolverines giving Nebraska the edge.
Nebraska's final three opponents are Penn State, Minnesota, and at Iowa. Michigan's final three opponents are Northwestern, Iowa, and at Ohio State.
Again, I remember that Ohio State is ineligible to win The Leaders Division. But suppose "THE GAME" had added importance?
Back during the prestigious heydays of Coach Woody Hayes of Ohio State and Coach Bo Schembechler of Michigan in the 1970s, the winner of "THE GAME" determined The Big Ten's representative to The Rose Bowl. "The Ten Year War" was something the entire college football nation looked forward to at the end of the season.
I am as excited as usual for "THE GAME" on November 24th. Want to know how it would be even better?
If Ohio State's defeat of That Team Up North knocked them out of the division race.
I know, I know - Ohio State's defeat of Michigan can still do that. But...how much better would it be if Ohio State knocked Michigan out of the division race of The Leaders Division, or what I would be calling The East Division?
Or, think about it this way...In 2013, Ohio State goes up to Ann Arbor to defeat Michigan, to win The Leaders Division...and the Buckeyes get to play the Wolverines the following weekend in Indianapolis for The Big Ten championship.
Maybe I am in the minority on this one. Maybe everyone else believes the divisions have been set up well, for the good of The Big Ten. I do know I will be watching the rest of The Big Ten this coming Saturday, wondering how much better served the conference would be if geographic locations were used to determine the teams, versus the current arrangement set up by Jim Delany a couple years ago.