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Over the past 40 years, Iowa has been a much better program than MSU. The last few years are the exception not the rule. Whether Iowa or MSU will be better over the next 40 years remains to be seen, but it's a mistake to assume it will be MSU simply because MSU has outperformed Iowa over the past few seasons.
This post was edited by MrWoodson 18 months ago
If we are talking about East/West geography, the debate comes down to the middle. MD, PSU, Rutgers and Ohio State are East, and Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Northwestern are west. Only the teams in Michigan and Indiana are really even up for debate, right?
At least, that is we are being logical.
Ok, after typing the above, I realized I had sort of guessed at historical records of several of the programs and I decided to go find the actual records (1969-2012) for all the B10 football programs. I took the numbers from James Howell's database, so I think they are real records and are not adjusted for vacated games. Here they are:
1. UNL 431-114-5 (.7882) - WEST
2. OSU 404-118-8 (.7698) - EAST
3. UM 394-130-8 (.7481) - EAST
4. PSU 394-136-2 (.7425) - EAST
5. WIS 280-231-10 (.5470) - WEST
6. MSU 269-235-9 (.5331) - EAST
7. IOWA 272-240-8 (.5308) - WEST
8. UMD 259-247-6 (.5117) - EAST
9. RU 244-247-6 (.4970) - EAST
10. PUR 239-262-7 (.4774) - WEST
11. ILL 212-283-10 (.4297) - WEST
12. MINN 214-286-5 (.4287) - WEST
13. IU 184-310-5 (.3737) - EAST
14. NW 176-324-4 (.3532) - WEST
Several things pop out. First, I was way wrong on certain programs, most notably PUR and UMD. Second, a pure geographic split clearly would be too EAST heavy. The easiest way to fix that problem when they created the current 6-team divisions would have been to put PSU in the West and probably NW in the East, but they didn't do that for political reasons. Of course, now with UMD and RU (and possibly even a couple more ACC schools) joining the B10, moving PSU to the WEST would make even less geographic sense and almost certainly would be more difficult politically.
So, what to do? The more I look at this I would split UM and MSU and stick with guaranteed cross division rivals. I would basically go with geography, but swap MSU for PUR (which is barely a swap at all because they are very nearly directly north and south of each other). And I would cross my fingers and hope NW will continue on its recent upward trend so that it is more of a mid-tier program rather than a bottom tier program going forward. My divisions (with guaranteed cross division rivals shown) would be as follows:
EAST - WEST
#2 OSU - #5 WIS
#3 UM - #6 MSU
#4 PSU - #1 UNL
#8 UMD - #7 IOWA
#9 RU - #11 ILL
#10 PUR - #14 NW
#13 IU - #12 MINN
This post has been edited 9 times, most recently by MrWoodson 18 months ago
A few points...
1. Just because Nebraska laid an egg in the B1GCG doesn't mean the Big Ten failed at balance. The only reason Wisconsin was even in the game was because the two best teams in the Leaders were ineligible, and that has nothing at all to do with divisional balance. Take away NCAA sanctions and you have a very solid matchup between Nebraska and 12-0 OSU.
2. The divisions as the currently stand are in fact very balanced. The top two programs are separated. The other two powerhouse programs (NEB and PSU) are separated. The middle class programs are divided evenly (3. MSU and 2. IOWA vs 1. WISC and 4. PUR) and the weaker programs are divided evenly too. I think the division names are silly, but as far as competitive balance goes, I think the B1G did a fantastic job.
3. "Basically guaranteeing" that one of UM, OSU, and PSU is in the B1GCG doesn't mean the matchups will be any better or that more people will be interested. If the B1G champion comes out of the East, they'll likely have 2+ losses and not be in the playoff discussion. If the B1G champion comes out of the West, they might have a good record, but they'll be a weaker team untested by tough competition and they'll be killed in the playoffs. Unbalanced divisions like this would cause material harm to the national title aspirations of every B1G team that has them. And if the B1GCG consistently features teams that don't figure in the national title conversation, or that are perceived as not having a chance, there won't be national attention paid to the game. And if the West just gets beat down every year because the East is so much better, people will stop watching then, too (see, e.g. the old Big 12 north/south)
I don't think the divisions are balanced at all. Just because OSU went 12-0 and would have replaced Wisky in the title game doesn't mean the divisions are balanced. IU and UI are dumpster fires (or in IU's case, business as usual). PUR is not much better. Even PSU is only slightly above average and that is before they start to feel the effects of sanctions. NW nearly beat PSU. We probably would have beaten PSU based on performance against common opponents. UNL beat PSU. And PSU was the second best team in the Leaders Division. Likewise, both Sparty and UNL beat UW in the regular season. The Legends Division had five bowl eligible teams this year, with Iowa (a traditionally strong team which suffered a very unusual 4-8 season) being the only team with a losing record. The Legends Division is tough top to bottom. The Leaders Division is not and is only going to get worse as PSU struggles with sanctions.
The reality is you cannot engineer balanced divisions. Every time someone tries, they fail. Teams fluctuate up and down and a sample size of six or seven teams in a division is not large enough to even out those swings. Thus, we are screwing up traditional rivalries and screwing up geography (making it more difficult for fans to attend games) in the name of something that cannot reasonably be done. The B10 should go back to rivals/geography as the core principle in aligning divisions and then move one or two teams if they can to correct any wild imbalance in strength. But the B10 should not be putting Wisconsin and Illinois in the East and Michigan and Michigan State in the West. It accomplishes nothing and causes more harm than anything.
Note: IMO the P12 did it right. They aligned schools by rivals/geography and assigned home team advantage in the CCG. IMO that is what the B10 should do.
This post has been edited 5 times, most recently by MrWoodson 18 months ago
How is a CG between Neb and OSU a solid matchup?
In any given year one division will probably be stronger than the other, and the identity of the stronger division will change from year to year. That's natural and obviously impossible to avoid.
However, you can make sure that one division doesn't *consistently* dominate the other one by balancing the divisions according to the historical success of the programs. Like, PSU is gonna be down for a few years thanks to the sanctions, but that program was a national power for decades, they'll be back, just the same as Michigan is coming back post-Rich Rod or Michigan basketball is coming back post-Ed Martin. That should be accounted for, just the same as the fact that Iowa won't always suck quite this bad and Wisconsin and Sparty won't continue to be this good. Achieving historical balance is possible and it's an important goal in aligning divisions
Clash of two traditional powers with 10-2 and 12-0 records? That's as much as any conference could hope for in a CG...how is that not a solid matchup?
(a) True. That was exactly my point.
(b) False. No. No, you can't. It's a fool's errand and the cost is too high.
Lol what do you mean "you can't," of course you can balance divisions by historical strength. That's literally the easiest thing ever.
I really do not care what the divisions are. I just hope Michigan and OSU are in the same division. If going to an East-West format is what the B1G goes to so be it. Historically the east will be better. Basing things off history is very suspect though.
PSU was playing for NCs a good bit before joining the B1G. Purdue and Iowa often put together very good teams. Nebraska will be a powerhouse again in the near future. Wisconsin had a bad year this year but is usually very good.
I would expect things will work themselves out no matter what the divisions are. The B1G has been somewhat down the last few years. 90% of these teams issues are from lack of tenured coaching staffs. If these schools can get and keep their quality coaches everything should even out.
I guess I am in the vast minority but the division names grew on me, at least they aren't the generic east/west or north/south.
Also, I have been looking forward to playing OSU back to back weeks. I am predicting it happens as early as the upcoming season (assuming we remain in separate divisions).
Would you want to go to the game in ann arbor if it meant nothing and then make the trip to indy for the game that meant everything? I sure as hell wouldn't. Put them in the same division so the winner determines the team to go to the championship game.
I don't think you understand the rivalry. I don't care if they were playing in a parking lot with some random bystanders watching, beating Ohio is the standard. The more opportunities to do so, the better. I'll take a chance at back to back wins.
I was torn about Michigan-osu being in different divisions before, seeing positives and negatives for both...but now I'm firmly on the "Put them in the same division" side.
Yes, I want to beat them as much as possible and it works the same way with them wanting to beat us as much as possible.
However, I've decided I don't want a situation like Alabama-lsu last year where one team wins the game during the regular season, one team wins the 2nd (and more important game), and thus says "we won the one that mattered." I believe that even if it works in our favor.
The Game is the culmination of the regular season. It's what the regular season builds up to. That epic last Saturday of the football season that we all look forward to for 364 days a year. Whether we win or lose the game that Saturday, the 2nd game would have far less hype and build up for me.
And frankly, that game would be for the B1G Championship, because neither team would lose to the team from the West division.
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by vcmarsh1 18 months ago
What vcmarsh said. LSU beat Bama at home but got shafted in the second game. I'd be furious if that happened to us especially when the game would be the week after.
Even if Michigan lost this years game, the continued trajectory of mediocrity for you cant be denied based on the talent you are bringing in compared to us. Hows your talent compared to Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois....I dont care. You will still get your share of wins against lower B1G teams such as them, so you will be mediocre on a win to loss ratio.
Dantonio is a good coach, but he's going to need to be a lot more lucky than good for MSU to have any kind of sustained success (which I define, in this case, as multiple seasons where they're more than one game over .500). Dantonio had the benefit of the RR classes, and he did an excellent job taking top Michigan talent like Gholston and Lawrence Thomas, as well as fleshing out the depth chart. He also benefited from the emergence of players like Denicos Allen and LeVeon Bell.
However, going forward, he won't be getting nearly as many (if any) of the top recruits in Michigan. Brady Hoke has completely changed MSU recruiting in the last two years by simply locking down the state. No offense, but MSU also really isn't a big player for top national talent. Thus, if Dantonio's not getting elite talent from anywhere, he'll need a whole lot more former 2 and 3 stars to emerge as legitimate stars, and that's not a strategy one can consistently rely on.
MSU doesn't have to be a powerhouse for that division setup to be pretty lopsided, for what it's worth.
I don't get why OSU, Mich, PSU, Sparty in the East is a bad thing. In the SEC most would say the West has it pretty tough. Alabama, LSU, Arkanasas (Sparty) and A&M (PSU).
Seems pretty balanced to me. Not sure if they would put msu in the other division and have purdue and indiana in the same division or what, but either way it works pretty well.
This post was edited by UMWolverines 18 months ago
When the SEC divisions were initially made, the balance of power was a bit different than it's been the last 10 years or so. Florida, Tennessee, Georgia were seen as a good anchor of 3 powerhouses for the East. Certainly enough to balance out Bama/LSU/Auburn in the West. You gotta remember, that Bama and LSU weren't exactly national contenders very frequently in the 80s while Georgia had been the one SEC team to win a NC in the decade. The East had Kentucky and Vandy as bottomfeeders, the West had the two Mississippi schools. Arkansas and South Carolina were the newcomers whose place was dictated by geographic logic.
All in all, a very balanced setup at the time. The main issue was that nobody anticipated Tennessee to fall off so badly, that's what really changed the complexion of that setup.
Depends on what your definition of going away is. I dont think Sparty can anticipate double digit wins on a yearly basis...that is going away.
This is exactly my point in terms of it being impossible to predict future performance and use it to engineer balanced divisions. Historically, UT is the second strongest team in the SEC. But the SEC no more than created divisions and UT took a nosedive and UF started to rise. UF was an SEC bottom feeder until the 90s. The same is true for USCe and LSU, but LSU suddenly emerged as one of the top teams beginning with Saban's arrival in the 00s and something similar seems to be happening with USCe and Spurrier more recently. The SEC didn't foresee either of those shifts.
As for the B10, we might be seeing a long-term rise of NW, especially if Fitz sticks around. That wasn't anticipated by Delany & Co. when the B10 divisions were created. Neither was the rise of MSU (2 eleven win seasons in a row?) or now the devastating sanctions on PSU. So we've effed up geography and are destroying decades old rivalries for what? The divisions are no more balanced than they would have been if we'd simply stuck with East/West. In fact, in many peoples' opinions (including mine) they are less balanced. How ironic.
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by MrWoodson 18 months ago
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