Monday, September 13, 2010

The New Big 10 Divisional Alignment Part II: Geography

I had planned to have a couple of posts last week that I just did not have time for and am going to try and catch up this week.

Division 1: Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern, Minnesota

Division 2: Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Illinois

In some respects this is a curious course. The conference could have split down geographically pretty easy into:
East: Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio St., Penn St., Indiana and Purdue

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

Typically I think that many people worry too much about geography when determining divisions. How can the Dallas Cowboys be in the East? How can the Indianapolis Colts be in the South? However, I think these concerns are overblown. The two reasons for having geographically compact divisions are that they lead to greater rivalries and that the timing of games work out better if the teams are in the same time zone. However, in the Cowboys case, would the rivalries actually be more intense if the Cowboys played in the same division as the Saints and Texans than they are with the Eagles, Redskins and Giants? The time-zone issue is less important for the Cowboys because the game times are either completely pre-set for national games or during the day. Also one time zone difference is not that important like the three-zone difference between Eastern and Pacific.
Returning to the Big 10 expansion, time zones probably don’t matter too much in this case. However, the biggest rivals tend to be between the teams that are next to each other, so why not just break down the divisions geographically. The East with Penn St., Ohio St. and Michigan might be a little stronger than the West. But the West would still have Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin, so it would not be any bigger of a mismatch than the current Big 12 North-South breakdown.

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