The Indiana football team has been stuck in one of the toughest divisions in all of college football. How would a realignment help them?
We have already taken a look at what teams the Big Ten should absolutely look at if they expand. We have also looked at a radical realignment plan from Pat Forde of SI. Now let’s take a look at three ideas the Big Ten should absolutely consider to realign the divisions with the current teams. But first, let’s take a look at how we got here.
When the Big Ten expanded in 2011 by adding Nebraska, they also went to divisions in football for the first time. It was the right move to go to divisions, but they made a mistake in naming them. The conference went with an often mocked Legends and Leaders name for the divisions.
It made sense on the reasoning behind the names, but it really just made them seem pretentious and gave no real identity to the divisions. What it did do, though, was give a very competitive balance to the divisions.
Legends – Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern and Nebraska
Leaders – Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, and Illinois
The names may have been a mistake but not many could you argue with how they split up the divisions. Both, at the time, had three of the top teams in the Big Ten and three of the bottom half.
The biggest argument that came was the thought that Michigan and Ohio State would dominate and play each other in back-to-back weeks. The annual last game of the year and then in the Big Ten championship. The Wolverines, though, faltered and were never good enough to make the championship game so that ended up not mattering.
The divisions lasted for just three years when they were realigned when the Big Ten added Maryland and Rutgers. The conference decided to base the divisions off of geography and currently have the East and West divisions.
West – Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, and Nebraska
East – Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana, Maryland, and Rutgers
This setup only makes sense when it comes to geography. The East is completely loaded and gives no real chance to Indiana, Maryland, and Rutgers to win. The Hoosiers are getting better and looking to have a great 2020 season, but it is nearly impossible for them to upset Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State to win the division. Oh, and they have to beat Michigan State also who has been much better than them in the last 10 years.
Obviously from a Hoosier fan perspective, a change in divisions would be a welcome change. Actually everyone in the East is probably in the same boat. Fans of the West on the other hand would argue against it.
But the rumors are there that they may switch. So we get ahead of the game and propose three ideas the Big Ten should absolutely consider when changing it up.