Instead of my 12 days of Christmas, here are my Ten* (that's 11 in Big Ten speak) reasons why the Big Ten needs to get with the times, split into two divisions, and have a conference championship game. Drum roll please...
The Big Ten currently has a bit of a performance image issue. Splitting the conference and having a conference championship game would greatly improve the image of the Big Ten Champion—particularly when you want to compete for a national championship. Hey, if you can beat them, join them!
A Big Ten Conference Championship Game would generate much needed revenue—particularly when most schools are feeling the pinch from reduced budgets and reductions in booster funding.
The BCS loves conference championship games! Having one more game against a ranked opponent at the very end of the regular season would give the winner that additional push needed to influence poll voters and improve strength of schedule figures.
Not only could your highly ranked conference champion lobby more successfully for a slot in the BCS championship game, but you also have the potential drama of an upset! Hey, choking in the conference championship game is the preferred way to get yourself taken out of national contention—it’s much better than simply getting passed over by voters and pollsters.
Conference championship games would stretch out the Big Ten season one extra week. This is important when attempting to schedule practice for a possible BCS championship game usually scheduled one full week into the New Year.
Conference championship games would give the Big Ten an extra week of full practice—something the Big 12, SEC, and ACC champs are already taking advantage of.
The Big Ten would get to name two divisions! Hey, this is the Big Ten’s chance to shine! Don’t do something bland like North/South or East/West...follow the ACC’s lead and do something regional like River Valley/Great Lakes! Hey, you can also get creative and go Rust Belt/Corn Field! My personal fave is Players/Owners, but that would put Northwestern in a division all by itself.
The Big Ten gets to invite a new team into the mix! Currently the NCAA has limits on the number of teams required to do this sort of thing, so the Big Ten gets to go shopping!
OK—grab your marketing presentations and pack your bags!
Everybody (well, almost everybody) would love to see Notre Dame enter the conference, but Notre Dame is in love with itself and NBC. This would be more of a fantasy date than a real marriage, so let’s look a bit further down the road...
West Virginia: Good school, good team, cool uniforms! They also are in the Big East and ripe for plucking!
Pitt: Also a Big East pick...this would also put a bit more skin into the Penn State/Pitt annual love fest.
Louisville: Hmm...two years ago I would have thought this would have been a top pick, but these days I’m not so sure.
Cincinnati: Can they really hang with the big boys? They have done a great job of separating themselves from the other regional players such as (name your direction) Michigan, (name your direction) Illinois, and other city-named Ohio schools.
Hawaii: OK, who wouldn’t want to make two road trips to the sexiest island in the world?
Not only do you get to name each division, but you also get to separate your teams into them as well! Sure, some current rivalries will have to be put on a back burner, but creating new division foes will be exciting. Hey, the Florida/Tennessee game really started when the SEC started division play, as did a few others. I can imagine Ohio State really learning to dread heading into Morgantown, WV!
Traditional bottom dwellers like Indiana could find themselves ranked fifth or sixth in their division instead of 10th or 11th in the “conference.” Hey, image is everything these days...
Having a championship game gives the Big Ten an opportunity for a rematch! Yep, this would put the Ohio State/Michigan game into a whole different light. Imagine this...Michigan and Ohio State are in separate divisions. They each clinch a division championship before the big match. They play one slugfest and the next week they get to do it all over again!
The Big Ten currently has 11 teams...I know there are a lot of sentimental issues with your conference name but something really needs to be done here. Expanding your conference to 12 gives you the chance to correct a marketing flaw that most outside the Big Ten have been rolling our eyes over since Penn State joined your ranks. I won't make any suggestions, but I trust those in power will do more than this...
Big Ten +1+1