The Big Ten wants to hear from you, or so they say.
On Thursday, they released a survey on BTN.com asking fans about some new division options. The BTN crew will reveal the results and talk about them Monday night. The options are:
--Current divisions, plus an incoming member (Rutgers/Maryland) added to each.
--East/West with the dividing line being Purdue in the West and Indiana in the East
--Inner/Outer with "Inner" being MSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue, Indiana, Northwestern and Illinois.
The first plan is bad, because it gives Ohio State a fairly easy path to the Big Ten title game every year (as long as they're eligible).
The second plan makes the most sense for geographic/common sense reasons, but it puts the three best recruiters (U-M, OSU, PSU) in the same division with a stable and good MSU program. It also gives you the tiny chance of Purdue/Indiana meeting two weeks in a row.
The third plan is as stupid as Legends and Leaders, and just opens the conference to more jokes. It would also make the Inner division very top heavy, with the most consistently good and consistently bad teams together.
So what do you do? Given this is the Big Ten, I don't think we should be surprised they came up with something this stupid. The answer is really simple:
Do East/West, but flip Purdue and MSU. The resulting divisions would be as follows:
East: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland, Indiana and Purdue.
West: Nebraska, Wisconsin, MSU, Iowa, Northwestern, Illinois and Minnesota
This would certainly be the best option for MSU. In most years, Michigan and Ohio State will be two of the best in the conference, and the odds of one of them being the best is very high. MSU would not have much of a chance to win the division, to be honest. MSU is a very good program, but being better than both Michigan AND Ohio State moving forward is not going to happen often. It's hard for anyone.
Michigan and Ohio State have to be in the same division. Their fans want it so the regular season finale means something, so let them have it. This leaves the best of the rest to fight it out for the other title game spot. It would be much easier for MSU to beat out the likes of Nebraska or Wisconsin than it will be Michigan or Ohio State.
This also allows you to make MSU/Wisconsin a regular season finale. These two schools are begging for a rivalry like that (#BorderBattle). This gives you U-M/OSU, Nebraska/Iowa and MSU/Wisconsin on the final weekend, which would mean the division titles could come down to the final game almost every year.
Since MSU/U-M is the only major traditional rivalry broken up by this split, you can get rid of protected rivals. You can make MSU/U-M an unofficial protected game, like U-M and OSU were for so many years. (You could make the case for OSU/Illinois, too, I guess, but I imagine only OSU fans would want that). If MSU and U-M meet twice in a season, it's a great storyline, and you don't have to worry about a rematch in back-to-back weeks.
It's close enough to "East/West" for you to use those division names. This is the Big TEN, after all.
It's not perfect, but I don't think many would be against the above plan. I just hope someone from the Big Ten sees this in time.
What's your division plan?