Jim Delany, in speaking to reporters Tuesday in Lincoln, was rather outspoken about the unlikeliness that the Big Ten will see a straight geographic split when divisional alignments are announced in the next few weeks.
We didn’t think there’s any way we could achieve principle 1 and 2 if we were rigid about geographic contiguity," he said. "Some conferences do that, but we didn't think we could. We are aware of geography, but we’re not going to be driven by it."
Principles 1 and 2 are competitive balance and protection of traditional rivalries. Delany and the Big Ten are committed to thse, whereas geography, not so much.
Asked about the likelihood of an East-West split with divisions, Delany said, "You can look at the principles and the rank order of the principles and you could pretty much rule that out, unless it produced something that had the competitive quality at the top."
Adam Rittenberg of ESPN's Big Ten blog goes onto add his two cents.
Looking at the teams' performance since 1993, you could make a case for an East-West split. But like I've said from the beginning, this is largely about branding, which Delany understands better than any of us. You don't put three of your four biggest brands in one division.
So let's not kid ourselves here, Penn State is potentially about to get the short end of all of this. Without putting on my tin foil hat, this all looks like code for "Penn State is going to the west" while everyone else gets split geographically.
Even with its significantly weakened status, the Holy Rivalry of Ohio State and Michigan continues to dominate the politics, and very future of the Big Ten.