If geography is the priority for re-setting Big Ten football divisions when the league goes to 14 schools, then here’s what my compass reads: a Western Division with Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Northwestern, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota.
Yes, split MSU and Michigan and put the Wolverines and their good friends at Ohio State in the same division. The two old-school rivals will regret it if they don’t.
Michigan and OSU aren’t moving their annual scrum from Thanksgiving weekend anytime soon. Imagine if they were in separate divisions and then had to play again the following week in the Big Ten title game.
The game that was built on annual bragging rights and the right to the Rose Bowl would mean neither in the first meeting, played on campus sites. Advantage to the loser of the first game in the rematch. I can’t believe anyone associated with the two Big Ten giants would like that. Make Michigan-MSU an annual crossover game. If tradition and rivalry mean anything, Michigan and OSU need to be together.
The Chicago Tribune reported last week that the Big Ten has floated the idea to Northwestern about moving to the east, but Wildcat officials want to stay west. They probably like that Nebraska money in Evanston. They obviously don’t mind playing the Huskers, either.
League officials aren’t expected to reveal the new divisions until the spring. Who knows how many schools will be in the Big Ten by then?
>> BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock told football writers on Monday that the committee to pick the four-team playoff in 2014 would be “the most prestigious committee in college sports.” Hancock added that the committee would have 15-18 members, including a “retired media member.”
I’m confused. How could that group be considered prestigious?
Hancock said that the playoff format that will begin in 2014 is likely locked in at four teams until the contract expires in 2026. That’s what the presidents want. That sounds good. But we’ll see. It won’t take long for the first cries for the playoff to expand to eight.
But that’s no guarantee that the committee will get the right eight teams. Look at what would have happened with an eight-team playoff this season. Kansas State more than likely would have made it. So, too, would have LSU, which lost to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Two teams that would have been left out, based on rankings? Louisville, which pounded Florida in the Sugar Bowl. And Texas A&M, which looked like a national title contender in the Cotton Bowl and, oh by the way, beat Alabama this season.
Good luck to the committee. That might be enough to make the retired media guy consider finding work again.
>> Speaking of the BCS, the two college hockey polls have UNO ranked 13th in the nation. That’s fine and all, except the Mavs are in first place in the WCHA. Top-ranked Minnesota is in sixth place in the WCHA. Maybe there’s a retired media guy voting.
>> Johnny Manziel still hasn’t been touched by an Oklahoma defender. One of the big reasons why will be in Omaha this week. Texas A&M junior tackle Luke Joeckel will pick up his Outland Trophy on Thursday night at the annual Outland dinner at the downtown Doubletree Hotel. Big Luke beat out defending Outland winner Barrett Jones of Alabama, which was the second time the Aggies upset the Tide this year. The Nebraska senior awards will also be handed out to Rex Burkhead (Chamberlin), Sean Fisher (Novak) and Baker Steinkuhler (Cletus Fischer native son). What’s cool about the latter is that Baker’s father, Dean, played for coach Fischer back in the day. For tickets, call the Omaha Sports Committee at 402-346-8003.
>> What a country: Andy Reid was run out of Philadelphia last Monday and was the toast of Kansas City by Friday. Reid was an inspired choice by Chiefs owner Clark Hunt. But he’s got to get a quarterback. Oops. What a bad year to have the No. 1 pick — one year after Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III (and Russell Wilson) and one year before Jadeveon Clowney. Is Geno Smith the next Donovan McNabb? The smart play might be to trade the pick and load up down the draft — but not too far. Barrett Jones would make a great addition to a Chiefs offensive line that could use some help.
>> Quite a UNO hockey season unfolding here in early January. This is the latest point in a season that UNO has been in first place in its league. Even more impressive, the Mavs won from behind on Saturday night knowing if they won they would be in first. Ryan Walters is the team’s Hobey Baker candidate, but this team has several stars, including John Faulkner having a terrific senior year in goal. Next up: the cozy Magness Center (6,026) in Denver, where the Mavs are 0-7-1 all-time. But this looks like a season of firsts. Peyton Manning’s not playing, is he?
>> It’s time for the Big Ten to shake up its bowl lineup. The league plays in three Florida bowls against SEC teams, within a short radius of each other, all at the same time on Jan. 1. With the looming contract with the Orange Bowl, the Big Ten should drop one of the Gator, Capital One and Outback Bowls. The hospitality in Orlando was great, but the stadium isn’t much to look at or exactly fan friendly. The Big Ten could use another West Coast/California presence. Holiday Bowl vs. Pac-12?
>> Does the mid-major label really work anymore in college hoops? Not really. An RPI simulated by the NCAA has nine so-called mid-majors in the top 25, including Creighton at No. 13 and Wichita State at No. 17 (and a 10th if you want to include No. 26 Indiana State). The others are No. 5 Gonzaga, No. 11 New Mexico, No. 18 Butler, No. 20 Colorado State, No. 21 Belmont, No. 23 UNLV and No. 24 Wyoming. Looks like a wild, wild NCAA tourney shaping up. The seeding process should go well.
>> The Catholic basketball league is still in the formative stages, but ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell reported an idea being floated that could raise some eyebrows. According to Rovell, a revenue-sharing formula is being discussed in which the seven former Big East schools would make twice as much as the new schools joining (according to ESPN, it could be up to $5 million annually per school). The thought being, the schools like Creighton or Butler or Dayton would be happy because they would still be making more than in their current leagues. That mentality worked so well in the Big 12.
>> One more and I’m outta here: A shout-out to Paige Frauendorfer, Carolyn Blair-Mobley, Jamie Nash and the UNO women’s basketball team, which was named “National Team of the Weekend” by espn.com. After sweeping Oakland and IPFW last weekend, the Mavs are 11-3 and 9-3 against Division I opponents and 3-1 in the Summit League.
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