Greetings and salutations there, Dr. Tom Osborne. And let me be among the many to welcome you and the Nebraska Cornhuskers to the Big Ten Conference. I have deliberately been laying low on any commentary or speculation on who would be joining the conference until it was official. Now, it is official - welcome.
I cannot say for certain that the name will remain "Big Ten" now that the conference is officially up to twelve members, but hey, the name has stuck since Penn State joined back in 1990. Maybe the conference will come out with a creative logo with the number 12 imposed within the name Big Ten like they did before?
Anyway, now that the conference is up to twelve members, we can get down to the business of how to set up these divisions. And let me tell you - if we do this strictly from a geographic sense, I think we'll be okay.
The Big Ten West Division: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Wisconsin.
The Big Ten East Division: Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Purdue.
First complaint I hear ~ "It's too unbalanced towards the east, with Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State in the same division."
Rebuttal - probably. Again, from a geographic standpoint, do you want to split up Michigan and Michigan State? How about Indiana and Purdue? And please don't tell me that Ohio State should be in the west, if they are the second to furthest eastern state in the conference, after Penn State.
Another point to consider - Looking at this year's crop of talent, I would not be so sure to say that the west division is too shabby. Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin are all highly touted going into the 2010 season. Who is to say that will not be the same in 2011, when Nebraska officially joins the conference?
Second complaint, or probable question ~ how will the games be played out?
Considering the conference has now moved to twelve teams, with probable two divisions, I would surmise that a schedule could look something like this:
-play every team within a division, so there would be five conference games (and this preserves Ohio State and Michigan as being the last game of the year, potentially)
-develop a rotation of playing four games against the other divisional teams
-and still play three non-conference games, to bring a schedule up to 12
And let us not forget - with twelve teams, now we have a shot at developing a Big Ten Championship.
My personal vote? Give me Soldier Field in Chicago the first afternoon of December 2011. With Chicago being the home of the conference, why not play it there? More so - why not play football outside, with the elements being a factor?
Third question, and this is a legitimate question - how will Nebraska be scheduled into conference play in 2011?
Answer: Stay tuned. With college football scheduled so many years in advance, I am speculating there are many the broken contract to be seen with this move by not only Nebraska but multiple teams within the conference.
A follow up question, along these lines (and this one is for Dr. Tom) - any idea when Ohio State and Nebraska will play? I have a hunch, and it is only a hunch, that Ohio State will be traveling to Lincoln on October 15, 2011, for the first Big Ten battle between the Buckeyes and Cornhuskers. If that is the case, I am hoping I can certainly be in attendance for that one.
Nebraska, welcome to The Big Ten.