The Champaign Room
Geographical divisions, more conference games and night games in November! The Big Ten is hurdling into the present at B1G Speed!
I wrote about the changes at CBSSports.com yesterday, but I figured I would also write about them here from the Illinois perspective. Most of the attention paid to the meetings the Big Ten had yesterday surrounded it's ridiculous statement about opposing the new recruiting rules that the NCAA is going to pass even though the Big Ten already approved those rule changes.
However, the real news was that the eight-game conference schedule is gone. The Big Ten will be going to a nine or ten-game schedule in the future. Which is good when you consider that there are more teams in the conference now and an expanded conference schedule means we don't run the risk of playing schools like Penn State or Michigan once every six or seven years.
There will also be conference games in September -- because while conferences can add schools and games they cannot add Saturdays to October and November -- and night games in November.
I won't like, I'm kind of upset about the night games in November. Not because of history, but because as somebody who covers the Big Ten as a job, it was nice having Saturday nights "off" in the final month of the season. It allowed me to get work done while just enjoying the major games from around the country that night.
The other big change that isn't official but sure sounds official is that the new divisions will be geography based. Or, more specifically, time-zone based.
"There's nothing unanimous about this," added league commissioner Jim Delany, "but there's strong support for geography."
Although the Big Ten presented the athletic directors -- and several university presidents who came to the league office Sunday -- with several models for divisions, don't be surprised if the league decides to keep things simple with an East-West alignment following the additions of both Maryland and Rutgers in 2014. The simplest solution -- one the athletic directors are discussing -- is to assign teams based on their time zone (Eastern or Central).
The lone caveat: there will be eight Big Ten teams in the Eastern time zone -- Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue -- and only six in the Central time zone (Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Illinois). So one team from the Eastern time zone would need to move.
Which means Illinois' division would look like this:
Which is one hundred percent okay by me. Even with Michigan State in the same division it's much less imposing than the East Division would be.
Of course, as always, this is only the case until the Big Ten adds Virginia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Duke, Notre Dame, Texas, University of Chicago, ITT Tech, Greendale Community College, the ESU Timberwolves.....