Delany: Divisions would be “irrelevant” for basketball

Jim Delany just finished his teleconference on divisional alignment. Some key points

  • As Delany said it would be all along, competitive balance was the most important factor determining divisional alignment. Delany said the conference used data going back to 1993, which was the first year Penn State played  in the league and was shortly after Division I-A teams had their scholarship totals cut from 95 to 95, to determine balance. Through that, the conference decided that Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska were in the top tier and need to be split with two teams going in one division and two in another. After that, it was decided that Iowa and Wisconsin were in the next tier and should be separated as well. The other six teams, by their rationale, were all in the same group and were split in kind.
  • Two scheduling ideas were provided to the athletic directors. One was a schedule that protected important rivalries and kept key ones like Ohio State-Michigan and Purdue-Indiana on the last game of the season. Another included nothing but intra-divisional games in the last two weeks of the conference season to provide a build up to the conference championship game. Delany said the first model was one the A.D’s were happy with.
  • Delany said the fans voices were heard in the process, especially when it came to the traditional rivalries. He said he got thousands of calls and e-mails from Ohio State and Michigan fans who wanted to see the rivalry stay in the same position. He said he also heard a lot from Purdue and Indiana fans. “They were less numerous, but equally heartfelt,” he said.
  • The most talked about casualty in the schedule and division alignment is the weakening of the Iowa-Wisconsin rivalry. Delany said the conference tried the best it could to maintain as many rivalries as possible, and maintained 10 of the league’s 12 trophy games, but that they simply could not do everything. Wisconsin maintained a crossover rivalry with Minnesota as its connection to the western part of the league, but most of its rivals are from further east.
  • Delany guessed on Dec. 1 as a time frame for the Big Ten to develop “a new branding effort,” with the new league. Mostly, something has to be done about the logo, which had an 11 in it since Penn State was added in 1993.
  • Delany said the divisions do not apply to basketball, and that he does “not see any compelling reason,” to have divisions in basketball at all because the dynamic of the sport is so much different from football. He said if the league’s athletic directors decided they wanted divisions, he would be amenable to it, but that those would also be competitively balanced. The current divisions, which most notably, would provide a cakewalk for Michigan State with Iowa, Northwestern, Michigan, Nebraska and Minnesota as their division mates, would be “irrelevant,” as Delany put it.
  • Divisional tiebreakers will be broken head-to-head in the case of a two-team tie. In the case of a three-team tie, the conference would first look at the teams’ record against the rest of the division, then BCS standing. Delany said he wasn’t certain exactly how the BCS standing would be factored in.