Like many of you, I followed Big Ten expansion and the ensuing realignment very closely last summer. As this series conveyed, it was a challenging process for the league to divide itself in a fair and equitable way.
I spoke with nine current and former Big Ten athletic directors for this series, and Ohio State’s Gene Smith provided answers via email. I was unable to reach Indiana’s Fred Glass and Penn State’s Tim Curley chose not to comment.
I interviewed Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany over the phone last fall and participated in multiple teleconferences and news conferences with Delany on this topic. Over the phone I interviewed Big Ten Senior Associate Commissioner Mark Rudner, Big Ten Assistant Commissioner Mike McComiskey and Big Ten Chief Communications Officer Diane Dietz about multiple topics.
I hope you enjoyed the 10-day, 10-part series. Here are the links to the stories in case you missed a few:
CHAPTER 1: Geographically Challenged: This story serves as an introduction as to when and why the Big Ten chose to avoid the traditional route of splitting geographically and instead chose the more difficult path of separating into two divisions based on competitive equality.
CHAPTER 2: Balance of Power: The painstaking process of dividing 12 schools based on competitive equality with special attention paid to rivalries and geography.
CHAPTER 3: Sweet Home Chicago: Multiple Big Ten schools want to play Northwestern annually to get their foot into the Chicago market.
CHAPTER 4: Rivalries, Reunions and Resignation: Every athletic director had a chance to pound the table in front of their peers to maintain rivalries. Some lasted, others did not.
CHAPTER 5: Wisconsin’s Melancholy: The northwest triangle of Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota was riddled with issues once competitive equity trumped geography, and Wisconsin was tossed into a division void of its closest rivalries.
CHAPTER 6: Culture Shock for Nebraska: Nebraska joins the Big Ten without voting power but moves forward nonetheless in a league where Tom Osborne hopes the cultural ties are stronger than those that formed the Big 12 Conference. ALSO: Cornucopia with Iowa-Nebraska football
CHAPTER 7: Heavyweight Headache: Michigan and Ohio State, the league’s perennial football giants, became the public storyline when discussions had them splitting into opposite divisions and possibly moving “The Game” into early November.
CHAPTER 8: Dollars and Sense: Financial issues play a huge role in college athletics today, but how much were they discussed when the league formed the divisions?
CHAPTER 9: Scheduling Overhaul: The league put together its first 12-team schedule with an emphasis on power matchups on each weekend, culminating with the six powers competing against one another in the final weekend.
CHAPTER 10: What’s in a Name?: What does the future hold for the divisions and how did the league select Legends and Leaders for division names, anyway?
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