What's Going on with All This Big Ten Division Talk?
Today, the Big Ten Conference begins a new era with the release of its new divisional alignment. The decision to separate into two divisions comes with the conference's plan to create two, even divisions in order to host a Big Ten Conference Championship game, which will match the winners of each division against one another.
With the recent addition of the conference's 12th team (Nebraska), the Big Ten will now be split up into two, six-team divisions.
The Big Ten Conference has yet to release division names, but Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany assures that details are on their way soon.
What Do the New Divisions Look Like, and Where Is Wisconsin?
Divisions were separated and chosen based on (in no particular order): geography, competitive balance and rivalries.
The Big Ten released their "new look divisions" Wed, Sept. 1st at 7PM ET.
Our Biggest Rivals (Minnesota and Iowa) Are Not in Our Division. Are the Rivalries Dead?
Do not worry, the rivalries are not dead!
The Big Ten has determined that each team will play six division games, one protected cross-over game and two rotated cross-over games.
The protected cross-over games include:
Ohio State vs. Michigan
Illinois vs. Northwestern
Indiana vs. Michigan State
Penn State vs. Nebraska
Purdue vs. Iowa
Wisconsin vs. Minnesota
So as you can see the Badgers and Gophers will be able to keep their rivalry, one of the oldest rivalries in college football history, alive.
The two rotated cross-over games will also allow for Wisconsin to still have chances to play Iowa, even though Iowa is in the opposite division.
Who Will Wisconsin Play Next Year in the Big Ten?
I’ll do ya one better. Here’s Wisconsin’s 2011 and 2012 Big Ten Conference Schedules:
2011 Conference Schedule:
Oct. 1 Nebraska (Wisco has the honor of hosting Nebraska's first Big Ten game)
Oct. 15 Indiana
Oct. 22 @ Michigan State
Oct. 29 @ Ohio State
Nov. 5 Purdue
Nov. 12 @ Minnesota
Nov. 19 @ Illinois
Nov. 26 Penn State
2012 Conference Schedule:
Sept. 29 @ Nebraska
Oct. 6 Illinois
Oct. 13 @ Purdue
Oct. 20 Minnesota
Oct. 27 Michigan State
Nov. 10 @ Indiana
Nov. 17 Ohio State
Nov. 24 @ Penn State
How Do Athletic Director Barry Alvarez and Head Coach Bret Bielema Feel About the Changes?
Here are the official statements of Barry Alvarez and Bret Bielema (released by UW officials):
Alvarez said: "The Big Ten staff and directors of athletics focused on three criteria as we discussed the divisional alignments: competitive equality, maintaining traditional rivalries and geography. A lot went into this and there was a lot of give and take amongst all the schools in the conference. I'm happy with the way things have turned out for our program and our department."
Bielema said: "This is an ever-changing world in college football and we are excited to be a part of it. I know a lot of different scenarios were discussed at the administrative level and we are pleased with the results. It was important to us to keep the longest running continuous rivalry in college football history alive so we are happy that we will play Minnesota every year. And we'll be part of history when we host Nebraska in its first Big Ten Conference game next October. Also, I think the addition of a championship game will be tremendous for the league and a fantastic opportunity for our players."