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Iowa, Big 10 Mashup: Iowa to the East?

August 25, 2010

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

(SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE ON POSSIBLE IOWA IN EAST DIVISION)

A little of this and a little of that related to Iowa and Big Ten football as I await my flight back to Des Moines inside O’Hare Airport in Chicago on Wednesday night….

-As mentioned, I was in Chicago Wednesday afternoon for a walk through of ‘The Pulse’, a new program that will air on the Big Ten Network each Thursday night at 8PM central during the football and basketball seasons. My co-host for this show is LeCharles Bentley, a former Ohio State center, 2001 Rimington Award winner and NFL veteran (New Orleans and Cleveland). It will be an opinion based show, sort of like ‘PTI’ meets ‘Sports Nation’.

I spoke to a few people in the office, including someone that is a familiar face if you watch the network during football season. He was in Iowa City last Thursday for Iowa’s night practice, the one the Big Ten Network was present for and you will be able to watch that Iowa special program Thursday night (8/26) on the BTN at 7PM central.

We were small talking and Iowa came up, and I said that I had some concerns about the offensive line. Quickly, he looked at me and said “Don’t worry about it,” and smiled. He was very impressed with the offensive line, as was the entire crew. Their impression of Iowa was very high, and everyone around the BTN offices that I spoke with has the same high expectations for Iowa as the rest of the nation seems to have, and these folks have better access.

Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune was able to score a 60-minute interview with Big Ten Commisioner Jim Delany, and you can read it at this link.

The highlights:

-The work on finalizing the two divisions is “80 percent complete” according to Delany.
-Here is a mouthful to chew on: “If Duke and North Carolina were historically the two strongest programs and only one could play for the right to be in the NCAA tournament, would you want them playing in the season-ending game so one is in and one is out?” he asked. “Or would you want them to play and have it count in the standings and then they possibly could meet (again) for the right to be in the NCAA or the Rose Bowl?…The question is whether you want to confine a game that’s one of the greatest rivalries of all time to a divisional game.”

I certainly see where Delany is coming from, and while I have stated that the date of the Michigan-Ohio State game is not a big concern to me, it is to fans of those two teams. I spoke with LeCharles Bentley about this today, and he played in those games. He doesn’t want to see the game moved, period. I am guessing a lot of former players feel that way, and we have heard from some of them in the media this week.

My radio partner Steve Deace and I talked about this quite a bit on Wednesday’s ‘Miller & Deace in the Morning’ and feel they could move this game to the first Saturday of October…play it at night, something we haven’t seen out of a Michigan-Ohio State game given when it’s played and the league’s reticence to play November night games…it would be the nightcap to a huge day in college football, as that is the same weekend that Texas meets Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry…play that game at 2:30, then Michigan v Ohio State at 7PM. The ratings for a Michigan-Ohio State night game would likely rival or exceed that of most of their season ending meetings that are played at 11am central time. It would also allow the loser some time to lick their wounds and get back into the BCS hunt, IF Michigan can regain its historical level of play.

You should read the rest of Greenstein’s article, as it has some other interesting topics.

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    WHAT ABOUT IOWA?

This is another topic Deace and I stumbled onto today. If you assume Michigan and Nebraska in one division, with Penn State and Ohio State in the opposite divisions, then you look at Iowa and Wisconsin as the next two teams in line with regards to football success since 1993, the time frame Delany set out with regards to the beginning of the period the league would look at to evaluate the competitive balance component of divisional alignment, can you possibly stick them in the same division?

If you did, that division would instantly be top heavy while the opposite division would be a two-team race…or a little more compelling than the Big 12 South in most years (in 14 years, Oklahoma and Texas have won that division a combined 12 times).

So does the league look to split up Iowa and Wisconsin based on competitive balance? If so, who gets sent to the East? Can you send Iowa to the East when it shares nearly its entire western border with Nebraska? Do you send Wisconsin to the East when it borders Iowa and Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan? Does Barry Alvarez have too much Big Ten clout for Iowa to overcome?

I don’t really want to think about Iowa going to the East, because I would prefer to be in the same division as Michigan and Nebraska. Minnesota will likely be in the West division, too…and if Ohio State and Michigan are protected rivals in opposite divisions, do you split up Michigan and Michigan State? The Spartans would almost certainly demand to be in the same division as ‘big brother’ while ‘big brother’ Michigan is probably indifferent to being in the same division with the Spartans.

Scott Dochterman of the Gazette sent me a message on twitter saying that he thinks teams could be paired off and then you line up the divisions that way:

Continue reading below

Michigan-MSU
Iowa-Nebraska
Wisconsin-Minnesota
PSU-OSU
Indiana-Purdue
Illinois-Northwestern

Could you possibly shift Wisconsin and Minnesota to the East to be in a division with PSU, OSU, Indiana and Purdue? I don’t know…

The only thing we know for sure is that there are going to be some upset fans in Ohio, Michigan and probably either in Iowa or Wisconsin.

UPDATE: Barry Alvarez confirms that Iowa and Wisconsin will be in different divisions in this article.

This is a further concern for me that Iowa could wind up in an Eastern laden division with Penn State and Ohio State. My guess from earlier today that the league would have to split up Iowa and Wisconsin, leaving one fan base very unhappy going East, has come home to roost…

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Now, look at this quote from Alvarez: “All you have to do is take a look at our criteria and we haven’t varied from that,” Alvarez said. “We have volumes to look at — records over the last 20 years … bowl records, non-conference records, non-conference opponents’ records, conference records, everything. If you go with competitive equality, you divide it up and basically you seed it. Then the next thing is saving rivalries. You can’t get all of them, but you can get close.”

I did this exercise earlier today, before Alvarez spoke it into reality. Over the last 20 years, you seed it like this:

1. Ohio State
2. Nebraska
3. Michigan
4. Penn State
5. Wisconsin
6. Iowa

If you went strictly by seeding, #1 OSU would ‘get’ #6 Iowa. #2 & #3 would be together, with #4 going with #1 and #5 going with #2 & #3.

I doubt both Iowa and Minnesota or Wisconsin and Minnesota would be shipped east…it will likely be just one…it could be Wisconsin to the east, and Iowa and Minnesota stay in the west…but this latest development brings to life the scenario I discussed on the radio Wednesday morning, one I had not considered until then.

Iowa fans, what do you think of being in the same division with Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Indiana and either Illinois or Northwestern?

LINKS

Big Ten Divisional Balancing Act Won’t Hinge on Geography (Hlas)
-Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com Ranks Big Ten Quarterback Depth: Iowa is on top
Big Ten More than Just the Big Four This Year (AOL Fanhouse)
-Good stuff at the revamped Hawkcentral.com…first, Iowa has filled its non-conference slate through 2014…a reminder that Iowa will play Northern Illinois at Soldier Field in 2012…Iowa is paying out $1.2 million in guarantees this year to opponents. For some perspective, Ohio State is paying Colorado $1.4 million to come to Ohio Stadium next year, alone.
Three RB’s Better Than Two, But the Two Ain’t Bad (Morehouse)
History Says Beware of Iowa’s #9 Ranking (Hlas)

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