So now that Nebraska is officially in the Big Ten, which makes it the Big Twelve in everything but name, we get to the detail part, which means dividing the league into two divisions to set up a conference football championship game.
Yes, that means that the league that already pays members about $23 million a year each thanks to the Big Ten Network, will soon be raking in even more money. The Big Ten title game -– how does Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium sound as a permanent site? -- is certain to generate big-bucks interest from advertisers beyond what will be made in ticket sales, concessions, parking (they were charging as much as $45 to park near Lucas Oil Stadium during the basketball Final Four), souvenirs and heaven knows what else.
So how do you divide the league?
Geography makes the most sense. It will help with travel costs and lend itself to rivalries. An east-west split would be a good bet. Here is our unofficial new league look:
BIG TEN EAST
BIG TEN WEST
Teams would play five games against everybody in their division, then rotate three games against teams in the other division. That would still mean eight total Big Ten games, plus a conference title game for the two division winners. Teams would still have four non-conference games.
This assumes, of course, that there will be no more expansion. But in this fast-changing college sports world, nothing should be assumed except more change is coming.
Notre Dame, of course, remains the No. 1 target. And while Kansas isn’t getting much Big Ten play (it doesn’t offer much in the way of big-city markets), it does have a big-time basketball program that would add extra pop there, something Nebraska –- or even Notre Dame -- doesn’t come close to doing in that sport.
Missouri seems to be out of flavor-of-the-week status, but that can change. Rutgers offers East Coast exposure and Pitt would seem to be a natural, although Penn State officials might not think so.
For now, this is our speculation, but as the kids tell us all the time, what the heck do we know? So how do you think the Big Ten should be divided? Let us know and we’ll post the results.