Provided that the Big Ten Conference does not add anymore members and the tectonic plates of the college football landscape have settled after this "seismic shift," it should be safe to divide the conference into two divisions.
More than any other scenario, the addition of Nebraska can easily separate the league without disturbing any major rivalries while adding the lucrative conference championship game.
Big Ten (East) :
- Michigan State
- Ohio State
- Penn State
Preserved Traditions : Ohio State-Michigan (The Game), Michigan-Michigan State (Paul Bunyan Trophy), Indiana-Purdue (Old Oaken Bucket), Michigan State-Penn State (Land Grant Trophy)
Big Ten (West) :
Preserved Traditions : Iowa-Wisconsin (Heartland Trophy), Illinois-Northwestern (Land of Lincoln Trophy), Minnesota-Wisconsin (Paul Bunyan's Axe)
New Tradition : Nebraska-Iowa/Wisconsin
The Championship Game
The Midwest is blessed with many fine football facilities in college and the Pros. Given the trend of fellow BCS conference title games, the Big Ten will choose a domed NFL stadium. While Soldier Field and the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field have history, the new Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN seems like the favorite to host the game.
Looking at a map, Indianapolis is almost smack-dab in the middle of the conference footprint from the furthest two schools, Penn State and Nebraska. Their stadium is state of the art, expandable to 70,000, and is located in a safe and vibrant community.
Interesting fact: Lucas Oil recently hosted the 2010 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four
More Expansion to Come?
There's no new credible report indicating that the Big Ten is actively singling out candidates for membership at this time. What remains clear is the commissioner, Jim Delany, is still holding to the 12-18 month time frame even after the Nebraska deal.
Delany's only other announcement was to Big 12 commissioner, Dan Beebe, indicating that the Big Ten would not extend any more offers to his schools.The Big 12 and its members remain committed to a new 10-team configuration after being raided.
Until further notice, expect Notre Dame to remain independent and the Big East to remarkably survive. Just don't ignore any news on ESPN's bottom scroll for the next 6 months though...just in case.