The Pac-12 and Big 12 have both eschewed football divisions, and will simply select the top two teams to play in their conference championship games.
Rumors have rumbled that the Big Ten is considering major changes to their current setup, and you have to think that getting rid of divisions is near the top of their list.
So if/when the B1G makes that switch, what sort of scheduling considerations would you like to see?
Number of Conference Games
Let’s start with an easy one - how many conference games should each team play? The SEC plays just 8 conference games, and thanks to that they tend not to cannibalize each other as much. Should the conference reduce their internal schedule by one game?
One fewer game would mean more potential for “easy” wins, or perhaps open up the opportunity for other, more unique opponents. One or two MACrifices, one or two fun P5 opponents, and then 8 conference games does sound fun, and that would make the conference setup a simple 4 home/4 away.
But would reducing the number of conference games reduce the number of times that each team plays each other team over, say, a 4-year span? What about getting the chance for every player in a 4-year timeframe getting the chance to play every team both home and away. Could that still be accommodated?
There’s not a single chance in the world that Michigan and Ohio State don’t play each other in the final game of the season. Those two will play each other every season, regardless of what else happens in the conference.
So if those two are protected rivalries, should everyone else have one as well? Who would it be? Do you have more than one protected rivalry? Should PSU get to play OSU, UM, and MSU every year? Does PSU want to play OSU, UM, and MSU every year?
Here are some thoughts on potential rivalries, which could all be played the last game of the season:
- Ohio State - Michigan
- Penn State - Michigan State
- Wisconsin - Minnesota
- Iowa - Nebraska
- Purdue - Indiana
- Maryland - Rutgers
- Illinois - Northwestern
These all seem fairly straightforward in my opinion? Like, I didn’t have to reach for any of these, as they all have history, trophies, bad blood, etc. Maybe, if the conference stuck with 9 conference games, you could do 8 games on a rotating basis, and then the 9th game is always your rival?
What other considerations would you have to make for a division-less Big Ten? How would you set up the conference schedule?