Per ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, several of the logistical issues facing the new-look Big Ten are nearly sorted out.
- Nine-game conference schedules are likely a go, beginning with the 2016 season.
- Protected crossover rivalries, on the other hand, are likely a no-go*, with the exception of Purdue-Indiana. Wait, why that game?
- Because the divisional split is basically done, with one hiccup: whether Purdue or Indiana heads west.
* With a 9-game conference schedule, this means that you would play almost every team from the other division home and away in a four-year span, which seems workable. You'd see the teams in the other division often enough that they would seem like actual conference rivals, rather than just semi-related teams you happen to play once or twice a decade.
It seems the Big Ten is (finally) embracing geography to divide the conference into divisions, rather than amorphous concepts like "competitive balance." The only problem with that? There are six teams in the Central time zone (Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Northwestern) and there are eight teams in the Eastern time zone (Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland, and Rutgers). So someone has to give up their time zone purity and head west. There was talk of Michigan State being that team, mostly due to those "competitive balance" issues, but they weren't keen on that idea, preferring to remain snuggled up with their main rivals, Michigan and Ohio State. (Also, I'm pretty sure they've dearly missed playing for The Land-Grant Trophy every year.)
So now the talk is that it will be either Indiana or Purdue. Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland, and Rutgers are too far east to be logical members of the Big Ten's western division and Michigan has apparently put its foot down on being separated from Ohio State again. So it's either the Hoosiers or the Boilermakers.
As Iowa fans, I think we all know there's only one correct answer to this dilemma:
We cannot let Our Most Hated Rival slip away, like a thief in the night. Our hate is old. Our hate is eternal. Our hate is unceasing. We cannot let this rivalry wither and die.
Plus, Indiana? Ick. Either we win a way-too-close game against them and I feel like crap or we straight-up lose to them and I definitely feel like crap. No thanks. Outside of Tyler Sash's pinball pick-six and Ricky Stanzi's fourth quarter magnificence in 2009, that series hasn't produced a lot of outstanding memories, either. (At least for Iowa fans; I suppose Indiana fans fondly remember James Hardy showing Adam Shada how his ass tastes or Antwan Randle-El going ham on an annual basis against Iowa.)
But Purdue on the other hand? Well, that series gave us this:
Bring on the Boilermakers. Our Most Hated Rival must stay. What Delany has brought together in
holy contrived matrimony scheduling, let no man part.