I'm not a fan of conference realignment for the most part, but if there's one area about it that I enjoy more than the rest it's realigning the conferences themselves with the divisions. Well, that and the baseless speculation about which school might want to join this conference or which conference wants which school based on nothing but a hunch. Still, I think the fascination with realigning divisions comes from being in the Big Ten, which not only decided to follow the ACC's model -- this is never a good idea -- of not realigning geographically.
The Big Ten then took the idea to the next level of HOLY SHIT ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS? by naming its divisions Legends and Leaders.
Well, as we documented before, the Big Ten Network is running surveys on conference expansion and realignment, and today the BTN gave us three different divisional options and asks us to vote for which one we prefer.
1. The same thing we have now, but with Rutgers and Maryland each joining one division.
2. A sensible east and west split that would have Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska in the west and Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers and Maryland in the east.
3. The Belly Button System. Yes, an "inner" and an "outer" -- geographically -- division setup. The inner would be Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, Northwestern and our Illini. The outer consisting of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Penn State, Maryland and Rutgers.
Now, the Belly Button option actually works well from a competitive balance standpoint. That being said, of the three options, it's is far and away my least favorite.
There's no way in hell I want to see Illinois in the same division as Ohio State and Michigan. We would have no shot in hell. No, the only division setup of the three options I actually want is the plain old east and west divisions. Not only are those rivalries natural geographically, but culturally as well.
Although if I had a write in for my dream divisional setup....
Illinois would be in a division with Minnesota, Purdue, Indiana, Rutgers, Maryland and Northwestern. The other division would be Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin.
Talk about competitive balance, it just doesn't get much more balanced than that!