Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Big Ten, Divided

OK, I lied about not having anymore off-season posts. There's more to say about the Big Ten divisions than I anticipated.

They're a little different than was speculated:

I can't say I'm a fan. I don't like that they split up the Illinois schools and Wisconsin/Minnesota, and beyond that, I just don't get it. It bothers me that Wisconsin and Michigan aren't switched--the divisions are just barely not geographically contiguous. It's the almost-but-not-quite that gets me.

Related to the not-getting why these groups make sense: what are they possibly going to call these things? They can't do directions or Lakes vs. Plains. Maybe they should keep with the conference's numbers that don't make sense policy and call them Five and Seven. Or Nine and One. Or Eighteen and Pi. Next suggestion: acronyms by state name. The one I put in yellow would be NIMM and the blue would be WIIPO! The preceding exclamation point is not a sign of enthusiasm, but rather an acknowledgement that you'd have to say WIIPO! like a happy sound effect. WIIPO!

The other dimension to this whole thing is that each school will have precisely one "protected rivalry;" a game they play each year against an opponent in the other division. Presented visually:

My first question was whether Michigan State-Indiana is a real rivalry, or whether those two are just the sad leftovers. For the answer, I turned to your friend and mine, Wikipedia. The game does have a traveling trophy, The Old Brass Spittoon. (Awesome?) That being said, there are lots of traveling trophies in the Big Ten, and judging by nothing else but the length of the Wikipedia entry, The Old Brass Spittoon is not particularly storied. However, the one I should have questioned was Iowa-Purdue. It seemed plausible to me that it was a thing, but it turns out that one has nothing to recommend it. Sorry, Iowa, Purdue, Indiana, and Michigan State--your real rivals all love somebody else more than you.

The one thing the Big Ten front office did that I can't argue with: they left the Michigan-Ohio State game in the same place on the calendar. You can't please all of the people all of the time, but you can avoid all of the people getting super, super angry at you. . . .Some of the time.

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