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Friday, June 18, 2010
My proposal for Big Ten divisions

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Nebraska Football
No matter how the Big Ten splits up, many teams will want to play Nebraska.
The wait is over.

Many of you -- hundreds? thousands? -- have asked me to review your proposals for Big Ten divisions and to offer my own. It's truly amazing how much interest this part of expansion garners. Even before Dec. 15, I received hundreds of e-mails not only proposing new members to the Big Ten, but outlining how the divisions would set up. It must be the fantasy sports aspect in all of this.

OK, let's get started.

Note: This is all based on the Big Ten remaining a 12-team league with Nebraska as the only new addition. These divisions apply to football only, so don't start crying about basketball or other sports. There's no need for divisions when you have conference tournaments.

OBJECTIVES

There's no perfect model to divisions, and someone is going to be upset no matter what. But it's important to identify some criteria. PROPOSED DIVISIONS

(Division names can be decided later. For now, I'll use the many spellings of the commissioner's last name)

Joe Paterno
Joe Peterno and Penn State would still have an annual matchup against Ohio State even if they are in different divisions.
Delany Division

Penn State
Nebraska
Iowa
Northwestern
Indiana
Purdue

Delaney Division

Ohio State
Michigan State
Michigan
Wisconsin
Minnesota
Illinois

PROTECTED CROSSOVERS

Like the SEC, the new Big Ten will have one protected crossover for each team ...

Penn State-Ohio State
Nebraska-Michigan
Iowa-Minnesota
Northwestern-Wisconsin
Indiana-Illinois
Purdue-Michigan State

SETUP

If the Big Ten maintains its eight-game conference schedule, each team would play five division games, one permanent crossover game and two rotating cross-division games, with three no-plays. If the league goes to a nine-game schedule, each team would play five division games, one permanent crossover game and three rotating cross-division games, with two no-plays.

RATIONALE

Again, there's not a perfect formula to splitting a conference and keeping everyone happy, but I like my plan, and I'm interested to hear your thoughts.