My Vote: East-West Divisions; What’s Yours?


Kyler Reed (25) and Ben Cotton hug after Nebraska’s 2012 win over Wisconsin.

Add Your Vote, Your Voice to BTN Alignment Discussion

By Randy York

Let me begin this short blog with a disclaimer. The N-Sider is my opinion and does not always represent the interests of the University of Nebraska in general or the Athletic Department in particular. It’s what I think, and I can’t help but weigh in on Thursday’s lead story on posted by “ staff” under this headline: WHICH DIVISION IDEAS DO YOU PREFER?

The published story offers up three options in the wake of the Big Ten’s recent bombshell announcement that the nation’s oldest intercollegiate conference would expand to include Maryland and Rutgers. That means 14 teams and a divisional dilemma – add one to each division or realign to deliver an optimum solution for all.

BTN has launched a survey question with three possible answers. The conference is asking all interested parties to weigh in, choose a favorite and provide any feedback you might have to reinforce your logic. The results of that survey will be revealed, dissected and discussed on the popular network’s Monday “Football Report” at 5:30 p.m. CT.

The N-Sider encourages all Husker fans to express your opinions so you can take advantage of an opportunity rarely offered in Nebraska’s previous conference homes.

Vote for One of Three Options

Here are three alignments from which to choose:

Option 1: Existing + 1, where Maryland or Rutgers would simply be added to either the Legends or the Leaders Division and each existing division would experience one additional member.

Option 2: East-West, allowing a major realignment that would divide the 14 schools into an Eastern Division and a Western Division, shaking things up to match innovative logic with new reality.

Option 3: Inner-Outer, a proposal that could not be more confounding because it would take the inner regions of what I call an elite core of seven schools for one division and bring together the four western-most schools – Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin – and combine them with the three eastern-most schools – Penn State, Maryland and Rutgers.

For Me, Option 3 is Outer Limits

I call Option 3 “Outer Limits” because it reminds me of “The Outer Limits”, a popular ABC TV show in the mid-1960s that was so simply bizarre and supernatural that everyone compared its content with “The Twilight Zone”.

In my mind, that makes the choice between Option 1 and Option 2, and the Husker fans I know would stuff the ballot box to make Option 2 a reality.

Option 1, adding one eastern-most school to one division and the other newcomer to the existing other division, is a copout because it presumes that everyone is satisfied with the divisional alignment, not to mention the names “Legends” and “Leaders”.

Nebraska prefers simplicity and an East-West division makes the most sense to me. It brings together the seven western-most schools – Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Illinois and Purdue.

New East Would Solve Big Issue

The seven schools that would comprise the East Division would be Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland and Rutgers.

The beauty of that alignment solves a critical Big Ten issue. It guarantees that the league’s biggest existing rivalry – Michigan and Ohio State – will never be compromised.  Remember how UCLA and Stanford played last month in a cross-divisional game one weekend and then turned around and played each other again for the conference championship a week later?

In my opinion, there are certain possibilities that never should be forced to experience that, and Michigan versus Ohio State would top that list. That’s why they should be in the same division, just like Nebraska and Wisconsin should be in the same division. Wisconsin wondered publicly why the Badgers and Huskers weren’t designated cross-division rivals. Option 2 goes one step beyond that. Wisconsin belongs with the group of schools mentioned in Option 2 because the Badgers always have and always will share more in common with the Big Ten’s western-most schools than the league’s eastern-most schools.

Again, that’s just my opinion. But based on Nebraska’s first two years in the Big Ten, I think the vast majority of Husker fans voting in the survey will line up on my side of the fence on this one.

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