Big Ten Football Q&A: Division Realignment, Betting on Bowl Wins and More

Adam JacobiBig Ten Football Lead WriterDecember 7, 2012

July 26, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany speaks during the Big Ten media day at the McCormick Place Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports
Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports

Every week (or so) on The Big Ten Blog, we will feature questions from the B/R inbox, Twitter and email. Do you have questions for next week's Q&A? Send them to Big Ten lead blogger Adam Jacobi via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @Adam_Jacobi or at

Hello again, friends. Let's talk Big Ten football, shall we?

@adam_jacobi don't you think the Legends division is a lot more balanced than Leaders? Should B1G do something or let it play out?

— Mike Hupf (@MichaelHupf) December 7, 2012

@adam_jacobi how likely do you think it is the BIG actually listens to the results of its survey and goes to East/West div. names?

— Jon Arens (@jonarens) December 7, 2012

I like questions like these, so I'm glad you asked. The Big Ten probably should realign, and as we discussed earlier this week, further expansion gives the Big Ten the perfect opportunity to do so. Better yet, it gives the Big Ten the opportunity to just go straight east-west, and honestly the divisions look more balanced that way than they do right now.

That said, "balanced" divisional layouts are almost always done looking backward while trying to predict the future, and they almost never do the job as well as you'd think. Miami and Florida State never met for an ACC Championship (hell, Miami never won its division). Nebraska and Oklahoma, which were by far the two biggest powers of the Big 12 upon its inception, only played for the title twice. And if Michigan finds itself in a different division than Ohio State, odds are they'll play that rematch much less than you'd expect.

So be careful about trying to rig the conference year-to-year based on who looks good or bad. College football is volatile. Keep the divisions, keep the rivalries, and let balance, well, balance itself out.


@adam_jacobi Vegas set the total number of bowl game wins for the B1G at 2. Where are you putting your (fake) money?

— J Halpin (@jhalpin_) December 7, 2012

I'm glad you asked. Our fake money says that's a push. As discussed earlier Friday, Northwestern has a good chance to upend Mississippi State, who rode a comical schedule to an 8-4 record. The Wildcats looked surprisingly legit all year long, even when they were choking away big leads against Penn State, Michigan and Nebraska. 

Meanwhile, Michigan State matches up decently with TCU, but the Horned Frogs probably win that game. So where does the second win come from if it's not the Spartans? Eh, who knows? The Big Ten's in trouble elsewhere, but football's enough of an unpredictable sport that over the course of six non-Northwestern football games, someone's going to pull the minor upset and take the win.

But we're not on board with putting our fake money on the Big Ten actually going 3-4. There's faith in the random nature of the sport, then there's just blind Big Ten optimism. And if you're still optimistic about this conference after this season, you deserve to bet your fake money and then never fake see it again.

Last point on this: We say this over and over and we mean it every time. Don't bet on college football. Odds are that you'll lose money in the long run, because it's designed to make you lose money. And even if you do well enough to make a little bit of money, you're still not enjoying the games for what they are, and you're looking at college football players as keys to making you money. We see enough of that from collegiate administrators already. Don't be like them.

What's next?

@adam_jacobi Who wins Big Ten's next national championship: Mich or OSU?

— Andrew Wilcox (@HWK4LYF) December 7, 2012

Ohio State. In 2013. Well, technically 2014, since it'll be early January. But yeah—that team looks better on paper than this year's, and the schedule's totally workable. Obviously injuries and draft defections (to say nothing of plain bad luck on the field) will take their toll on everyone over the course of the season. But as we know it now, yeah, look for Ohio State to run the table again.

Oh, and I'm glad you asked.

Time for one more.

@adam_jacobi Do you think Jadaveon Clowney will be imprisoned after the Michigan game? Follow up: How many felonies is he charged with?

— Mark(@MarktheNomad) December 7, 2012

This is a legitimate concern, so I'm glad you asked. Obviously, you look at this game and you'd think Clowney's going to end up in prison for how badly he beats Michigan's offensive line. 3.5, 4, 4.5 tackles for loss...we're in that kind of territory with Clowney going up against the likes of Michael Schofield.

Here's the confounder, though: The Outback Bowl is at Raymond James Stadium, which is the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Operative word there: Tampa. Do you know how hard it is to land in jail in Tampa? The official city dance is wild swings of fisticuffs with both people's shirts off. The city bird is a middle finger. People in Tampa don't get driver's licenses, they get driver's neck tattoos. 

So Clowney's going to be able to operate with at the very least tolerance from local law enforcement, if not outright tacit approval. And that means very bad things for Michigan's backfield...or what's left of it by the end of the game.


Thank you all for sending in questions. You are all very smart and attractive and wealthy.