Spring Is Here
March 3, 2015

Most of Big Ten country is under a blanket of cold, ice and snow, but it is time to put away the success (or failure) of the 2014 season ... spring ball is underway.

The 2015 spring football season just kicked off in Ann Arbor, and will begin everywhere else in March for the other 13 teams, with spring games set for April. Below is a tentative schedule for each school:

Team - Beginning of Spring Practice - Date of Spring Game
Illinois - March 14 - April 18
Iowa - March 25 - April 25*
Minnesota - March 3 - April 11
Nebraska - March 7 - April 11
Northwestern - Feb. 25 - April 11*
Purdue - March 10 - April 18
Wisconsin - March 15 - April 25

* Open practice

Team - Beginning of Spring Practice - Date of Spring Game
Indiana - March 26 - April 18
Maryland - March 2 - April 11
Michigan - Feb. 24 - April 4
Michigan State - March 24 - April 25
Ohio State - March 10 - April 18
Penn State - March 20 - April 18
Rutgers - March 30 - April 24

Maryland and Rutgers
July 1, 2014

The University of Maryland and Rutgers University became official members of the Big Ten Conference today, increasing the Big Ten’s membership to 14 institutions.  They will take part in their first Big Ten event as official members of the conference at the 2014 Football Media Days and 43rd annual Kickoff Luncheon. This year’s event will be held on Monday and Tuesday, July 28 and 29, at the Hilton Chicago. The Big Ten Football Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon feature all 14 head coaches and some of the nation’s top returning players.

The Rutgers football team begins its first season as a Big Ten program on August 28 at Washington State. Two days later, Maryland’s football squad will do the same with a home game against James Madison. The Scarlet Knights will make their debut in Big Ten action at home against Penn State on September 13. The Terrapins will open conference play at Indiana on September 27, before hosting Ohio State in their first Big Ten home game on October 4. The conference’s two newest members will meet on November 29 at Maryland in the final week of the regular season.

Conference Decides To Keep Championship Game In Indianapolis
June 5, 2014

The Big Ten announced Thursday that the conference's championship game will continue to be played at Lucas Oil Stadium through the 2021 season.  Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany issued the following statement, which is confusing to say the least but at least they made the right call to keep this game indoors.

"The Big Ten Conference and member institutions are excited to return to Chicago and Indianapolis for future football championship games and basketball tournaments. These two cities have been tremendous hosts and partners with first-class facilities and an outstanding base of Big Ten alumni and fans who support conference events. We are proud of the history that we have developed with these two great cities and look forward to maintaining a significant presence in both locations."

The Big Ten played its first title game in Indianapolis in 2011 and originally had a five-year agreement to play the game in Indianapolis. Essentially this agreement adds another five years to the deal and ends any possibility of the game moving to Chicago, Detroit (or even New York and Washington D.C. now) for the time being.

Division Realignment and New Names Planned For 2014
April 19, 2013

If you are in the group that is not a fan of the current division titles in the B1G, your suffering will be ending soon.  According to a report from ESPN's Brett McMurphy and Adam Rittenberg, the Big Ten plans a widespread realignment, splitting divisions into geographically based East and West pools. The name change and realignment will take place when Rutgers and Maryland join the conference in 2014. 
Though still in the preliminary stages, Big Ten presidents and chancellors are expected to approve the changes at a meeting next week. Also on the docket is a move to a nine-game conference schedule for football, resulting in an extra intra-conference game per season.

Proposed Divisions:
East: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers

West: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin

Introduced in 2010, the Legends and Leaders divisional names faced harsh criticism almost instantly. Many in the Big Ten community criticized the alignment for a lack of geographical considerations, while others simply did not like the new monikers.

Maryland and Rutgers To Join Big Ten
March 19, 2013

Around the league, the discussion appears to be winding down on the new conference alignment.  Unless a change in direction is introduced, the only pending question is what to do with Indiana and Purdue.

B1G officials have told ESPN.com the conference, will go with a geographic split for its divisions in 2014.  It is likely that time zones will be used to divide the divisions. The only flaw to the approach is there are eight Big Ten schools are located in the Eastern time zone, including future members Maryland and Rutgers, and only six the Central time zone. No doubt they will sort this out, maybe they will just flip a coin.

Now the question will be: does the league use this opportunity to change the division names?

Maryland and Rutgers To Join Big Ten
November 19, 2012

The University of Maryland's Board of Regents voted Monday to accept an invitation to join the Big Ten and begin competition in the conference in the 2014-15 academic year.  Meanwhile, Big East Conference is expected to announce Rutgers as the 14th member of the Big Ten on Tuesday. Rutgers' Board of Governors passed a vote Monday authorizing athletic director Tim Pernetti to accept the Big Ten's invitation, the New York Daily New reports.

Once Maryland's board voted and faxed a letter of application to the Big Ten on Monday, the conference's council of presidents unanimously approved the Terrapins' admission, a source said. Maryland, along with seven others, was a charter member of the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1953.

Sources at Maryland believe the Terps will be able to negotiate the current $50 million exit fee from the ACC to a lower amount. The additions of Maryland and Rutgers would spur the Big Ten, then, toward negotiations on a new media-rights deal when its first-tier rights expire in 2017.

"It's pretty obvious to us that the paradigm has shifted, and it's not your father's Big Ten. It's probably not your father's ACC," said Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. "I think that what the paradigm shift is that other conferences had, we had chosen not to. We explored the collaboration (with the Pac-12). It couldn't be executed. The Pac-12 couldn't do what they thought they could do. And at that juncture, we thought we should seriously think about contiguous states, AAU (Association of American Universities, which concentrates on research) institutions and to determine whether or not that was plausible. We found out that it was, and we moved from there."
The stepped-up negotiations between Maryland and the Big Ten, and the conference's scheduled vote on the Terrapins' membership, were reported by ESPN over the weekend.

One stumbling block for Maryland was thought to be a financial one. Its athletic department has recently dropped sports programs because of budget concerns, and the ACC recently raised its exit fee to the aforementioned $50 million.
Maryland and Florida State were the only two of the ACC's 12 schools that voted against a $50 million exit fee but lost the vote. Loh was quoted in The Washington Post on Sept. 13 as saying he was against the hike from $20 million to $50 million on "legal and philosophical" grounds.
Under Armour founder and Maryland uber-booster Kevin Plank will not be contributing to the ACC buyout fund. Plank, who started his company during his time as a walk-on with the Terrapins football team, has emerged as the school's biggest booster, and his filing with the Security and Exchange Commission to sell approximately $65 million worth of stock triggered a rumor that it would be earmarked for Maryland. But Plank, who is worth $1.35 billion according to Forbes, is not using the money to support his alma mater.
A source told ESPN that the Big Ten has been itchy about further expansion since Notre Dame made its official move to the ACC two months ago in all sports but football. The source said the Big Ten can justify Maryland and then Rutgers because they are in contiguous states to the Big Ten footprint.
When Maryland and Rutgers join, they will move into the Leaders Division occupied by Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue and Indiana. Illinois then would shift from the Leaders to the Legends Division.

Big East Conference sources told ESPN that Rutgers will be announced as the 14th member of the Big Ten on Tuesday. The Big Ten's council of presidents unanimously approved Maryland's admission on Monday.

Maryland becomes only the second school to leave the ACC. South Carolina was the other, leaving in 1971 to become an independent. The Gamecocks are now members of the SEC.

With the move of Maryland and pending move by Rutgers, the ACC and Big East are expected to seek replacement teams. Connecticut and Louisville are the most likely candidates to join the ACC, sources said, though school officials said that they had not heard from the ACC as of Sunday night. Syracuse (to the ACC), Pittsburgh (ACC) and West Virginia (Big 12) have negotiated early withdrawals from the Big East in the past year.

Bowl Ban Equals B10 Championship Ban - Tie Breaker Rules Established
September 1, 2012

The conference announced that a Big Ten team unable to play in a postseason bowl game because of league or NCAA sanctions will not be eligible to play in the conference championship game. The bowl game stipulation is part of the Big Ten's complex tiebreaking procedures for determining division champions. 

Ohio State is waiting for a ruling from the NCAA's Committee on Infractions regarding violations committed by former coach Jim Tressel, former quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four current players. The school has self-imposed penalties that include vacating all wins from the 2010 season and returning its share of the Big Ten's Sugar Bowl revenue. 

Two-team ties will be broken by head-to-head record. 

If three or more teams tie atop a division, the following methods will be used in order to determine a champion or reduce the glut to two, where a head-to-head tiebreaker then can be used: 

• Records of the teams 

• Records of the three tied teams compared within their division 

• Records of the teams against the next-highest teams within the division 

• Records against all common conference opponents 

• The team ranked highest in the BCS standings after the regular season gets the league championship game berth unless it is ranked within one spot of another tied team. In this case, the head-to-head result of the two teams would determine the division champion. 

• The team with the highest overall win percentage (outside of exempted games) 

• The division champion will be chosen by random draw. 

The BCS standings determined the Big Ten's automatic BCS bowl berth last season after Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State tied atop the league at 7-1. Wisconsin earned a berth in the Rose Bowl because it finished fifth in the final BCS standings, one spot ahead of Ohio State and four spots ahead of Michigan State, which handed the Badgers their lone regular-season loss. 

If an ineligible team wins the division, the tiebreaking procedures would proceed with all eligible teams to determine a title game participant. An eligible team that ties for the division with an ineligible team would go to the title game, as would an eligible team that finishes second behind an ineligible team. 

Big Ten Will Expand to Nine Conference Games
August 4, 2012

The Big Ten announced today that conference football programs will move to a nine-game Big Ten schedule beginning with the 2017 season. 

Three teams each from the Legends Division and Leaders Division will feature five conference home games during odd-numbered years, while the other three schools from each division will host five conference contests during even-numbered years. The 2017 schedule will include five conference home outings for Iowa, Michigan State and Nebraska from the Legends Division and Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State from the Leaders Division. The 2018 schedule will feature five Big Ten home games for Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern of the Legends Division and Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin of the Leaders Division. 

The Big Ten will return to a full nine-game conference schedule for the first time since the 1983 and 1984 seasons. Eight of 10 conference schools played nine-game schedules during the 1981 and 1982 seasons, while two of 10 teams featured nine-game schedules from 1971-72 and 1977-80. 

The 116th season of Big Ten football kicks off with prime time home games for the defending Big Ten co-Champions, with Wisconsin hosting UNLV on Thursday, September 1st, and Michigan State facing Youngstown State on Friday, September 2nd. The conference's remaining 10 teams open action on Saturday, September 3rd, including Nebraska's first official game as a member of the Big Ten. Conference play will begin on Saturday, October 1st, and will feature divisional play for the first time. The champions of each division will meet on Saturday, December 3rd, in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game to be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and televised by FOX Sports. The winner of the title game will earn the Big Ten Championship and a chance to play in either the Rose Bowl Game or Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.

This does not sound like the conference will be expanding to additional teams any time soon. 

Big Ten Network, ESPN and Mark Shapiro - The Evolution of a Twelve Team Big Ten?
July 5, 2012

Did you ever wonder just how the Big Ten Network came into being?  Joe-S-U came across an article in the Chicago Tribune from this past weekend that may bring us parts of the story not revealed before.  Perhaps you remember Teddy Greenstein  from his article last year on Big Ten Expansion that started this page of our web site.  He tells the story like this:

The conventional Big Ten expansion timeline begins December 15, 2009, when the conference released a statement calling for a "thorough evaluation of options."  But uncovering the true origin of Nebraska joining the Big Ten — which becomes official Friday — requires a trip in the way-back machine and involves champagne and bruised egos.

The date: April 30, 2004. That's when a posse of ESPN executives, led by Mark Shapiro, John Wildhack, Loren Matthews and Chuck Gerber, met with conference honchos at Big Ten headquarters in Park Ridge.  The Big Ten's long-term deal with the network had three years remaining, but Commissioner Jim Delany wanted to dip his toe in the pool. Turns out the water was ice cold. 

In his early 30s, Shapiro had risen to executive vice president of programming and production after spearheading the "SportsCentury" series and boosting ratings with shows such as "Pardon the Interruption," "Around the Horn," "Dream Job," "Playmakers" and the World Series of Poker.  Shapiro also was a cutthroat negotiator, as chronicled in the book "Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN," and his style rankled the likes of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NBA's David Stern.

An amiable session in which the Big Ten and ESPN cleaned up "housekeeping matters" — schedules and announcers — took a nasty turn at the one-hour mark. That's when talk turned to a contract extension, a negotiating session that went nowhere. Fast.

"The shortest one I ever had," Delany told the Tribune. "He lowballed us and said: 'Take it or leave it. If you don't take our offer, you are rolling the dice.' I said: 'Consider them rolled.' "  Delany had warned ESPN officials that without a significant rights-fee increase, he would try to launch a new channel that would pose competition both for TV viewers and the Big Ten's inventory of games: the Big Ten Network.

"He threw his weight around," Shapiro said in a telephone interview, "and said, 'I'm going to get my big (rights-fee) increase and start my own network.' Had ESPN stepped up and paid BCS-type dollars, I think we could have prevented the network. In retrospect, that might have been the right thing to do. Jim is making a nice penny on that."

Said Delany: "If Mark had presented a fair offer, we would have signed it. And there would not be a Big Ten Network."

The BTN, profitable in its second year, doled out about $7 million to each Big Ten school in 2009-10. Without that chunk of a $22 million per school TV revenue distribution pie, the conference might not have had schools such as Nebraska thirsting for an invitation.

The network's formation also encouraged new thinking from the universities' typically conservative presidents and chancellors. A 12th team would lead to two divisions and a conference championship game in football and another giant payday. Fox purchased the rights to the first six title games for between $20 million and $25 million per season.

Said Delany: "The Big Ten Network was a factor, but I think we still would have expanded. You can take a different tack."

Shapiro, an Iowa and Glenbrook South alumnus, called adding Nebraska a "genius" move: "You're taking one of the most storied institutions in the history of college football and plunking it into one of the best conferences. Iowa-Nebraska will become a rivalry overnight, and Michigan and Ohio State will play every year. It's a dream showcase."

Shapiro left ESPN in October 2005 for a $10 million signing bonus from Redskins owner Dan Snyder to run the Six Flags amusement parks. He's now the CEO of Dick Clark Productions and consults for the NFL Network and sits on the board of the Tribune Company.

In 2006, Delany went back to the negotiating table with Wildhack and executives George Bodenheimer and John Skipper. They hammered out a 10-year, $1 billion deal for roughly 40 football and 60 men's basketball games. Another 35 to 36 football games and more than 100 men's basketball games went to the BTN, which launched August 30, 2007.

Feeling emboldened, Delany sent a package to Shapiro that included champagne and a note. Shapiro said the note read: "See, I did it."

"My reaction was: Who does that?" Shapiro said. "It was so juvenile. I sent the note to Bodenheimer and poured the champagne down the drain."

Delany said Shapiro's recollection of the note isn't accurate: "That's not how I would express myself. What I wrote was tongue-in-cheek. I believe it was: 'Enjoy the champagne while enjoying the network.'

"It wasn't juvenile at all. We did toast to Mark, and I was thanking him. If it hadn't been for him, we never would have pushed ourselves to do (the Big Ten Network). It was a continuation of the conversation. He left (ESPN), so I didn't get to tell him that in person."

Said Shapiro: "In every negotiation with Jim, there is a potential for fireworks. He's incapable of ordering a la carte. And in terms of this deal with ESPN and bringing Nebraska in and launching the network, he got the buffet. To his credit, he got it all."

He didn't even have to spring for the champagne.

"It was a pre-existing bottle in a cooler," Delany said. "It was a re-gift."


Permanent Site Chosen For Football Championship Game
June 6, 2012

Indianapolis has prevailed in the campaign to become the permanent host of the new Big Ten football championship game.  The Big Ten's presidents and chancellors voted unanimously Sunday to have the football championship at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium from 2012-15. Lucas Oil already had been selected to host the inaugural football title game December 3rd. 
The Big Ten also announced it will begin rotating its men's and women's basketball tournaments from 2013-16. The men's tournament will take place at the United Center in Chicago in 2013 and 2015, and at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis in 2014 and 2016. The women's tournament will take place at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill., in 2013 and 2015, and at Conseco Fieldhouse in 2014 and 2016. Conseco will host both the men's and women's tournaments in 2012. 

The Big Ten had narrowed down its championship sites for all three events to Indianapolis and Chicago/Hoffman Estates and heard presentations from all the venues last month at its spring meetings.  Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said having an indoor venue at Lucas Oil, combined with Indianapolis' "integrated approach" to hosting major events, made a difference with the new football championship game. The league considered both three-year and four-year agreements, as well as models that had a rotation of sites.

The football title game will be held in primetime from 2012-15 and be televised by Fox. 

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Big Ten Commissioner Says Conference May Reconsider Division Names
December 17, 2010

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said the conference may change the division names that were announced earlier this week.  Can you say  "Duh"?  On Monday, the Big Ten announced the conference's football divisions would be called "Leaders" and "Legends." This was along with a series of less than exciting new logos that I am sure will trigger a bunch of new merchandise opportunities.

In an interview today, Delany said that the names might not be "sustainable" and that change may be in order.  It only took four days of negative reaction for him to come to this realization.  That was certainly money well spent.

Delany said the division names were created in an effort to highlight the conference's rich history, but, according to the Associated Press, that "to a great extent it's fallen on deaf ears."

"We've had enough experience with names and expansion and development of divisions that we know that you rarely get a 90% approval rating," Delany said in the interview. "But to get a 90% non-approval rating was really surprising. It showed that we didn't connect with our fans in a way that we wanted to. It's humbling, to say the least, because we're trying to build fan bases, not push them away. I've been around this business a long time, and I would say it's one of the more surprising things. There's a sensibility there that we did not connect with, did not read well."

"We want it to breathe a little bit," he added. "I don't think you make a judgment in 48 hours or 72 hours. Eventually, we're going to have to address the issue of whether or not it's sustainable, but I don't think that's a decision for today. We have to listen and we have to be humble about the reactions we've gotten."

According to the Associated Press, Delany said that the division names could be changed after the first of the year.

Division Names and Conference Awards Announced for the New Big Ten
December 13, 2010

The final stages are being set in place for the new Big Ten.  For one thing, it will still be called the Big Ten for those of you that wondered if we would be the new Big 12.  The Conference today made announced several decisions prompted by the upcoming addition of the University of Nebraska as the conference's 12th member school. The conference revealed a new logo to be used for all sports beginning with the 2011-12 academic year and also unveiled names for its two football divisions and a list of names for 18 trophies to honor coaches, teams and student-athletes starting with the 2011 football season. 

The new Big Ten logo was developed by Michael Bierut and Michael Gericke of the international design firm Pentagram. 

"The new Big Ten logo was developed to symbolize the conference's future, as well as its rich heritage, strong tradition of competition, academic leadership, and passionate alumni," said Gericke. "Its contemporary collegiate lettering includes an embedded numeral "10" in the word "BIG," which allows fans to see "BIG" and "10" in a single word. Memorable and distinctive, the new logo evolved from the previous logo's use of negative space and is built on the conference's iconic name, without reference to the number of member institutions." 

The new logo also provides the flexibility of multiple versions which can be used horizontally, vertically and within new media. 

The conference also announced today that its football divisions, starting with the 2011 season, will be "Legends" and "Leaders." A breakdown of divisions is: 

LEGENDS: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern 

LEADERS: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin 

Finally, the Big Ten announced the creation of 18 trophies to honor just a small sampling of the countless student-athletes and coaches who have contributed to the conference's rich and storied history. Starting with the 2011 season, the Big Ten will honor its top football student-athletes with these newly named trophies. 

"These trophies will honor our legends and leaders for generations to come," said Delany. "The names on these trophies are fitting tributes to the hundreds of thousands of student-athletes and coaches whose hard work and dedication have contributed to the legacy of the Big Ten Conference over the past 115 years."   The Ohio State University is certainly well represented. 

Championship Game Trophies 
Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy  (Amos Alonzo Stagg, Chicago  -  Joe Paterno, Penn State)
Grange-Griffin Championship Game MVP  (Harold Edward "Red" Grange, Illinois  -  Archie Griffin, Ohio State

Postgraduate Awards 
Ford-Kinnick Leadership Award  (Gerald R. Ford, Michigan  -  Nile Kinnick, Iowa) 
Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award  (Tony Dungy, Minnesota  -  Anthony Thompson, Indiana)
Annual Awards/Trophies 
Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year  (Otto Graham, Northwestern  -  Eddie George, Ohio State
Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year  (Bronislau "Bronko" Nagurski, Minnesota  -  Charles Woodson, Michigan) 
Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year  (Wayne  "Woody" Hayes, Ohio State  -  Glenn Edward "Bo" Schembechler, Michigan) 
Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year  (Darrell Thompson, Minnesota  -  Antwaan Randle El, Indiana) 
Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year  (Dave Rimington, Nebraska  -  Orlando Pace, Ohio State
Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year  (Charles Aaron "Bubba" Smith, Michigan State  -  Courtney Brown, Penn State) 
Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year  (Bob Griese, Purdue  -  Drew Brees, Purdue) 
Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year  (Alan Ameche, Wisconsin  -  Ron Dayne, Wisconsin) 
Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year  (Jack Tatum, Ohio State  -  Rod Woodson, Purdue) 
Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year  (Dick Butkus, Illinois  -  Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern) 
Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year  (Pat Richter, Wisconsin  -  Desmond Howard, Michigan) 
Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year  (Ted Kwalick, Penn State  -  Dallas Clark, Iowa) 
Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year  (Jim Bakken, Wisconsin  -  Morten Andersen, Michigan State) 
Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year  (Thomas Dwight "Dike" Eddleman, Illinois  -  Brandon Fields, Michigan State) 

The new Big Ten logo and division graphics, along with the list of trophy names and short bios on each of the student-athletes and coaches appearing on each trophy, are attached and can be found at BigTen.org/newlogo. 

Big Ten No Longer Looking To Get Bigger
December 5, 2010

As reported on ESPN.com by Adam Rittenberg, the Big Ten announced Sunday that it will no longer actively pursue expansion after a 12-month study period. The league's Council of Presidents/Chancellors agreed at its winter meeting to end the expansion study, which was announced last December and scheduled for 12-to-18 months. The Big Ten added Nebraska as its 12th member on June 11, marking the league's first expansion in two decades. 

"We have been thoroughly engaged in the process since last December," said Indiana University president Michael McRobbie, the chair of the Big Ten's Council of Presidents/Chancellors. "Following detailed discussions at today's meeting, my colleagues and I can report that we believe that this process has reached its natural conclusion. We are pleased with the addition of Nebraska and look forward to working with our colleagues there in the years ahead."

In a statement, the Big Ten said it will monitor the landscape in college sports but "will not be actively engaged in conference expansion for the foreseeable future and does not expect to be proactively seeking new members."

Alvarez Statements Hints OSU and Michigan Will Be in Different Divisions
August 26, 2010 5:00pm EST

Last week the Michigan AD was quoted saying he preferred Ohio State and Michigan to be in different divisions of the Big Ten. It appears he may get his wish.

Iowa and Wisconsin will not be in the same division when the Big Ten expands to 12 teams next season, according to Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez. Alvarez told the Wisconsin State Journal that the long-time natural rivals are going to be in different divisions.  It goes without saying that OSU and Michigan will be considered the same way.

One story indicated that in an effort to create a balance of power, recent national championships had been won by Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.  So those four teams are split in the new conference alignment.  Then Wisconsin and Iowa were considered second tier teams, therefore they will be split as well.

Realignment has been the source of much discussion in Big Ten country. Conference commissioner Jim Delany has already hinted that Ohio State and Michigan might not be in the same division and the annual matchup, usually held on the last Saturday of the season, may take place earlier.   As you might expect, reaction to this in Buckeye Country is not favorable.

Another piece of information that came out was that starting in 2015, the teams will play 9 conference games each year.  I am personally not a big fan of this, mostly because OSU will lose a home game in the process, but if it means we don't play Bowling Green anymore, I can live with it.

There is no perfect way to divide the teams.  Yet we know they are going to be divided.  Just get ready for it Buckeye fans.  After all, if 'THE' Game is really 'THE' Game, it doesn't matter when we play it.  For the first time, I am going to provide my prediction of the alignment, I guess in a few weeks we will know how close I was.

My prediction for the New Big Ten:

Division 1: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan,Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern
Division 2: Indiana, Minnesota, Penn State, Purdue, Ohio State, Wisconsin

With this, the Big Ten will be able to end the final week of the season having everyone play a divisional game, and still keep the basic rivalry match-ups.  The final week of the regular season will have Illinois vs. Northwestern, Iowa vs. Nebraska, Michigan vs. Michigan State, Indiana vs. Purdue, Minnesota vs. Wisconsin, and Ohio State vs. Penn State.  What do you think?  Email me.

In Spite of Rumors There is No Decision on Big Ten Alignment
August 18, 2010 12:00am EST

A bucknuts.com message board post yesterday claimed OSU athletics director Gene Smith said he expects the Ohio State-Michigan game to be moved to early November and that the OSU and UM would be placed in opposite divisions once a 12-team Big Ten begins play next year.  Our Buckeye 50 poll is still going but so far only two of you have voted you would favor an early November game against the Wolverines.

However, Smith told the Dispatch this evening the message board post was not true and misconstrued.  He said the Big Ten has not reached a decision about divisional alignment or the timing of the OSU-Michigan game. All he was doing was laying out the possible scenarios involving the future of the OSU-Michigan rivalry.  So much for rumors and blog posts. Smith said he had "no clue" which scenario will be adopted and that a decision is expected to be reached by the end of this month or early September. School officials had a conference call last Friday and are still in the data-gathering stage.

He said the school officials dealing with realignment have been working together smoothly.

"I’m highly confident that in the end we’ll all be happy," he said.

Indianapolis Will Host First Ever Big Ten Championship Game
August 5, 2010 9:30pm EST

The Big Ten is listening to Buckeye 50 and our readers.

Last week, we completed our poll as to where you wanted to play the Conference Championship and 44% of you picked Lucas Oil over 4 other professional sites in the Big Ten region.  Today the Big Ten announced the conference has chosen Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis as the site for its first football championship game in 2011.  Big Ten officials and the Indiana Sports Corp. will spend the next 30 days working out details of the one-year deal. After that, the Big Ten will conduct thorough research to determine future locations.

John Dedman, spokesman for the Indiana Sports Corp., said the Big Ten approached Indianapolis to host the event, and there was no formal bidding process.

"It's fantastic for us that the Big Ten has confidence in Indianapolis and the Sports Corp. to host the Big Ten championship game," Dedman said. "It's a city that's built for events."  (Too bad Columbus does not think like this.) 

The Big Ten said Indianapolis has been an outstanding host for its men's and women's basketball tournaments in recent years. Lucas Oil Stadium is slated to host the Super Bowl in 2012, just months after the inaugural Big Ten football title game.  Nebraska will join the conference in 2011, giving the conference 12 teams, the amount required by the NCAA to hold a championship game. Their campus will be the farthest conference school from Indianapolis, 640 miles away.  Purdue, about 65 miles away, would be the closest.

Nebraska Applies for Membership to the Big Ten
June 11, 2010 4:00pm EST

Go Big Red!

Nebraska made it official Friday and applied for membership in the Big Ten Conference, a potentially crippling blow to the Big 12 and the biggest move yet in an offseason overhaul that will leave college sports looking much different by this time next year.  The decision by the NU Board of regents Friday is expected to have repercussions across college football, possibly spurring other defections and even dissolution of the Big 12, Omaha television station KETV reported.

Nebraska has become the westernmost state to join the Big 10. Most of the conference's members are in the Great Lakes region; Penn State is the easternmost school in the conference.  Most of the teams joined the Big 10 when it was created in the late 1800s. Until Penn State joined in 1990, the last team added was Michigan State in 1949.

Athletic Director Tom Osborne said those in the athletic department felt more aligned with the Big 10's culture, especially academics.

"We take that very seriously," Osborne said. 

Big Ten Ready to Welcome Nebraska
June 9, 2010 8:00pm EST

A source close to the Nebraska, along with plenty of Internet stories and college football fan speculation, it appears the Cornhuskers informally agreed today to move to the Big Ten, something they will make official Friday.  At this point the question may not be whether or not Big Red joins the Big Ten, the real question may be will this start a chain reaction that results in the end of the Big 12.

Orangebloods.com, our favorite read on the Big 12 storylines, reports today Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds and president Williams Powers gathered UT coaches today to tell them they did everything they could to save the conference but they were unsuccessful.  Has Jim Delaney started something that will change the landscape of college sports, particularly football forever.

The next move will be the Pac-10 invitation to Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado, and with Nebraska and probably Missouri gone, it would be unwise not to accept.

Early indications are that Big-12/Pac-10 merged conference would begin participating officially in 2012. Nebraska has a meeting on Friday, where they will probably officially make the announcement that gets it all started.

Deadlines are Set, and Notre Dame May Still be in the Mix
June 7, 2010 10:30pm EST

The weekend meetings for the Pac-10 have come and gone.  According to multiple sources, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott presented his expansion scenarios to the league's presidents Sunday.  They include staying with the teams they have now, merge with the entire Big 12, merge with only 6 of the Big 12 teams, and adding only Colorado and Utah.  The preference would be the six-team expansion - Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado - and Scott has been granted the go-ahead by the conference. 

This seems like it puts the ball in the Big 12 court.  This may be the domino that falls to get everything started toward 4 or 5 superconferences.  And the key university appears to be Nebraska.  Reports indicate that Nebraska (along with Colorado and Missouri) have been given a deadline of June 15th to declare if they are going to remain with the Big 12 or consider a move to another power conference.  If Nebraska stays, the conference may stay together or even consider expanding her their numbers.

Also, being reported out of South Bend, Notre Dame is strongly considering a move to the Big Ten.  The schools board is reportedly evenly split between those that want to make the move and those that want to stay independent.  

Bottom line, Mr Delaney, please get your steps completed to secure Nebraska Missouri and begin the chain reaction that will get all the conference moves in motion.

Did the Big Ten Wait Too Long?
June 4, 2010 9:30pm EST

In December, Jim Delaney looked like a pioneer, and perhaps even a genius.  Expansion for the Big Ten is long overdue, and as long as you are the first conference to make the move, you get to pick from best teams and put the other BCS conferences in a reactive mode.  And the idea of having four or five super conferences is good for college football and great for the fans.

But if you announce your intentions, and then wait too long, another conference might just take the teams you want and the Big Ten will have to settle from scrapes, like Cincinnati or West Virginia.  That may be happening now.  The Big 12 is finishing up their two day summer meetings and the Pac-10 starts their session tomorrow.The Big 12 meetings are reaching their climax Thursday and Friday in Kansas City with the presidents and chancellors from the league coming together to discuss pressing issues.  It appears the Pac-10, which has its meetings in San Francisco starting this weekend, is prepared to make a bold move and invite Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado to join its league, according to multiple sources close to the situation.  This story was first reported by Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com, and the Pac-10 officials are NOT denying the story.

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds has maintained that the Longhorns will do whatever it takes to remain a leading program in college football. 

The six teams from the Big 12 would be in an eight-team division with Arizona and Arizona State. The other eight-team division would consist of USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State.

The thought is the Big 16 (or whatever they decide for the name) would start its own television network that could command premium subscriber dollars from cable providers on par with the Big Ten Network and pay out upwards of $20 million to each of the 16 schools in TV revenue.

Such a merger between the six Big 12 schools and the Pac-10 would build a conference with seven of the country's top 20 TV markets (Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco, Houston, Phoenix, Seattle and Sacramento). And such a league would likely command attention from every cable system in the country and command a premium rate from every cable system west of the Mississippi.

Delaney?  Delaney?  (is this your day off?)

Has the Offers to Join the Big Ten Started?
May 10, 2010 8:45pm EST

Talk has been going on for several months now.  Teams from all over the country have been rumored to be the next member of the Big Ten conference.  Who truly knows what is going on behind Jim Delany's closed door.

Amidst all the rumors and speculation as to which teams will be joining the newly expanded Big Ten in 2011 or 2012, the conference has extended "initial offers" to four schools, according to multiple reports across the Internet and media outlets.  The four names are not a surprise, either, as the reported invitations went to Notre Dame, Missouri, Nebraska and Rutgers. Those four schools, along with Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Connecticut, have been the hottest names in the rumor mill when it comes to the teams on the Big Ten's radar. 

If the report is true, the conference is planning on either expanding to 14 or 16 teams. The scenario laid out is that if all four accept the invite, the Big Ten will then look to add one more team to round things out at 16 -- but if at least one school elects to decline the offer, the conference may go with 14. The most likely school to refuse the proposal appears to be Notre Dame, a program that has been independent in football throughout history. Coincidentally, adding Notre Dame's football program would be the biggest financial coup for the conference in the expansion project.

The presidents and chancellors of the current Big Ten universities will be meeting the first week of June in Chicago, which could, logically speaking, be the perfect time for them to approve the additions. So, really, how could the league have extended invitations without having approval of the governing bodies? Obviously, it's possible they have approved the invites for expansion, but no one has confirmed or commented on this. A lot of this "story" just seems like a talk radio guy trying to stir the pot. 

And, of course, there are already several denials/rebuttals on the board. 

Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman stated that there is no truth -- "none whatsoever" -- that they've been invited. 

One statement from Nebraska spokesperson Meg Lauerman: "We recognize the intense speculation about conference realignment and the possible impact it may have on Nebraska. Both Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Athletic Director Tom Osborne have indicated that the university would consider any opportunity that would advance the interests of the university. The University of Nebraska has not been offered any opportunity to move from the Big 12. We remain committed to the success of the Big 12 Conference. Until the Big 10 Conference makes and announces its decision on expansion, the University of Nebraska will have no further comment and we do not intend to continue to respond further to questions or speculations on this subject."

The Kansas City Star is disputing the notion of anything official, as well. 

Missouri's stance - "The University of Missouri is receiving numerous inquiries related to public speculation about conference membership. MU is a member of the Big 12 Conference and will not respond to speculation about conference realignment. Mizzou continues to be grateful for all the interest shown in and support for the university."

And this statement from Rutgers has arrived as well: "We are a proud member of the Big East Conference. It is not our place to speculate on any reports on the expansion plans of any other conference." 

Until it's all official, rumors will continue to rampantly swirl -- and we'll likely continue to see denials and/or generic statements.

For now, everyone should simply realize absolutely nothing has really, concretely happened.

The Big Ten itself has reportedly offered up their own denial. Not only that, commissioner Jim Delany has publicly stated he would contact the commissioners of affected conferences before going after specific schools in any expansion plans, and that he has not done so to this point. Clearly, nothing even remotely eminent is in the works just yet. 

But don't think for a minute that things are not in motion.

Big Ten Expansion Hot Topic at BCS Meetings
April 19, 2010 10:30 PM

Excerpt from an article on chicagotribune.com

Jim Delany will be the epicenter of the Bowl Championship Series meetings that begin Tuesday in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

For some, he'll represent Santa Claus. For others, the Grim Reaper.

For all of the Big Ten's woes in BCS games from 2007 to '09, the conference stands with the SEC atop the food chain, doling out an estimated $22 million per year per school in TV revenue.  Scholarships and lacrosse sticks don't pay for themselves, so schools want in on that money. Plus many fear a 16-team Big Ten, with arms that could stretch from the Great Plains to the Big Apple, will evolve into an even more powerful beast.

Schools left behind — say, Cincinnati and West Virginia from the Big East — face an uncertain future. There's talk of Big East football disbanding or having to dip into Conference USA for the likes of East Carolina and Central Florida.  Penn State's decision to join the Big Ten in 1989 played a role in the collapse of the Southwest Conference, the Big Eight becoming the Big 12 and the SEC adding Arkansas and South Carolina.  And when the ACC looted the Big East (Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College) in 2004-05, the Big East poached from Conference USA.  This time affected conferences could include the Big East, Big 12, Conference USA, Mid-American, Western Athletic and Sun Belt. And many wonder if Maryland, of the ACC, is a Big Ten target.

What's the latest on Notre Dame?  Unless Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick is trying to construct the mother of all smoke screens, Notre Dame will remain in a conference of one.  During a weekend session with the school's alumni senate, Swarbrick said: "Our highest priority is maintaining football independence." A second priority, he said, is to support the Big East, home to the majority of its 26 teams.  The Irish would add millions in TV revenue by joining the Big Ten and save millions in travel costs, but the move to any football conference would be wildly unpopular among students and alumni.

What's the next step?  Delany on Sunday huddled with top conference administrators, including Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon, chair of the Council of Presidents/Chancellors.  If given the mandate to expand, as expected, Delany could notify commissioners of the affected conferences this week at the BCS meetings. Then he would formally contact the schools.

In what could be the final two steps, Big Ten coaches and athletic directors will meet in Chicago in mid-May, and the Council of Presidents/Chancellors will lock arms during the first weekend of June, also in Chicago.

According to the Big Ten's bylaws, an institution first must apply before earning the necessary eight of 11 votes needed for admission.

The Big East "loyalty clause," created after the ACC raid, calls for departing schools to pay $5 million and, more significantly, give a 27-month notice.  So barring a renegotiation, the parties would have to move quickly to get the jumbo Big Ten in place for the 2012-13 academic/athletic season.