Earlier, we explored the critical factors for dividing the Big Ten up into two divisions. We used logic and context, which felt weird and foreign.
So let's look at things a different way. What's the worst approach the Big Ten can take? Let's take seven easy steps to crafting a truly terrible new conference, with the running results as we go. Oh, and our divisions are named BOO and YA, because a permanent strategic alliance with Stuart Scott is just what our lousy new league will need.
STEP 1: Split Ohio State and Michigan up.
The most storied intraconference rivalry in college football? The hell with it. Don't give these teams the opportunity to compare divisional records against each other, and if at all possible, try not to guarantee a yearly football game. Tradition's just another word for "obstacle to progress," son, and the sooner you realize it the sooner we can get to fixing this conference once and for all.
BIG TEN BOO: Michigan; BIG TEN YA: Ohio State
STEP 2: Penn State and Nebraska: besties!
Sure, Lincoln and State College are almost 1100 miles apart. Sure, that's more than 300 miles farther than the longest distance between any other two teams (Minnesota and OSU: 760 or so). Oh, speaking of which.
STEP 2A: Minnesota and OSU in the same division.
Anyway, we digress. Not only is the drive between these two schools prohibitively long, but as an added bonus, both are a pain in the ass to reach even if you fly! So let's get that in place, because to hell with the fans. This conference is predicated on television revenue, and what better way to keep fans at home during road games than to remove any incentive for them to road-trip it instead?
BIG TEN BOO: Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska; BIG TEN YA: Ohio State, Minnesota
STEP 3: Unequal competition.
Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, and Minnesota are all the basement dwellers of the Big Ten, right? Okay, then they get to be in the same division.
BIG TEN BOO: Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska; BIG TEN YA: Ohio State, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern
STEP 4: Unequal divisions, period.
Hey, we said this was going to be the worst divisions possible. So we're splitting this thing up 7 and 5. The asymmetry makes it art, man. Furthermore--
STEP 4A: Despite the unequal divisions, no interdivisional play allowed.
You want to get to eight or nine games? Better play teams in your division more than once. Otherwise, the conference records aren't equal between divisional rivals, and that's crap.
BIG TEN BOO (5 teams): Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska; BIG TEN YA (7 teams): Ohio State, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern
STEP 5: Kick Wisconsin out of the league for insubordination and replace them with Rutgers.
Trying to big-time Delany into letting you dictate scheduling? Yeah, that's not going to fly. Wisconsin, off you go. Rutgers, of course, will go to the Boo.
BIG TEN BOO (5 teams): Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, Rutgers; BIG TEN YA (7 teams): Ohio State, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern
STEP 6: Michigan State has a currently protected rivalry with two teams in the Boo. So they go to the Ya and they bring Purdue.
This is what we call "geographic balance." Its specific purpose is to get Purdue and Indiana in the conference championship at the same time. It worked in the ACC and it can work here.
BIG TEN BOO (5 teams): Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, Rutgers; BIG TEN YA (7 teams): Ohio State, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, Michigan State, Purdue
STEP 7: Iowa is the WILD CARD.
Iowa has no set conference schedule. The Friday before each week of conference play, Iowa may play either the team with the bye week, or they may replace one team on the schedule in order to play an opponent of their choosing. They can't play the same team more than once a year, so Rutgers and Indiana don't have to worry about being victimized on a regular basis. Also, players can use a baseball bat that will be thrown onto the field randomly during the game. WILD CARD! YEEEEE-HA!
BIG TEN BOO (
5 4 teams): Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, Rutgers, Purdue; BIG TEN YA (6 teams): Ohio State, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, Michigan State; BIG TEN X FACTOR (1 team... for now): Iowa
Whew. It took a few hours and mountains of psychotropic drugs, but we've done it. We've created a Big Ten alignment scenario that's worse than Beauford's idea from earlier today. Now if you'll excuse us, there's an elephant with Lester Bangs' head telling us to listen to Pet Sounds in reverse. It's gonna be a hell of a Thursday.