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Archive for June, 2010

True East-West split is way to go

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

I continue to be amazed at the lack of research and knowledge of people writing about how the Big Ten should be broken down into divisions now that Nebraska is a member of the league.

Some of us have proposed a true East-West split that would put Iowa in a Western Division with Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern and Illinois. This not only works geographically but also in terms of competitive balance and it keeps together most of the league’s traditional rival-ries. Michigan and Minnesota would not be able to play one another for the Little Brown Jug every year and Illinois and Ohio State would have years when they wouldn’t meet for the Illibuck Tro-phy, but that’s about it.

However, we continue to hear people say you can’t put Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State to-gether in one division because it creates a competitive imbalance. It’s baloney. That’s purely per-ception. The numbers indicate that if anything, the West might be a little stronger than the East in such a set-up.

The teams we have in the West have gone 94-61 over the past two years while the East teams, with those three alleged powerhouses, were 82-68.

Want to go back a little further? OK, take the past 10 years. Ohio State has far away more wins (102) in 10 years than anyone else. But No. 2 is Wisconsin (86), No. 3 is Nebraska (84) and No. 5 is Iowa (80). Michigan (81) is No. 4 with only one more win over that 10-year span than the Hawkeyes. Penn State (77) is No. 6.

Add up total victories by the two divisions in 10 years, and it’s 426 for the East and 418 for the West. That’s a difference of less than one victory per season. How much more even did you want to get it?

People argue that if you go back to the 1970s, ’80 and ‘90s, the East teams would be stronger. Maybe. I haven’t crunched all those numbers. But that’s pretty much ancient history anyway. It’s pretty irrelevant to what is happening today. Look at these programs in their current states (and most likely their future states) and this is about as even a split as you can get.

This most likely is a moot point anyway. The Big Ten probably is going to bring in more teams in the near future and mess up the nice symmetry it created by adding Nebraska.

Total number of victories by Big Ten football teams in the past 10 seasons:

Possible East Division
Ohio State    102
Michigan    81
Penn State    77
Purdue    67
Michigan St.    60
Indiana    39

Possible West Division
Wisconsin    86
Nebraska    84
Iowa        80
Minnesota    62
Northwestern    61
Illinois    45