Over the course of the off-season, the biggest news came from the area of conference re-alignment. We all know the story now: Utah and Colorado to the Pac-10, Nebraska to the Big Ten, Boise State/Nevada/Fresno State to the Mountain West, BYU independent in football and to the WCC in all other sports. They all seem like good moves for the schools, but for the two “winning” high-major conferences (Pac-10 and Big Ten), this means separating their conference into divisions for football, putting long-standing rivalries in jeopardy.
For the Big Ten, it meant separating traditional rivals like Michigan-Ohio State, Minnesota-Wisconsin and, possibly the biggest one of all, Northwestern-Indiana football. They decided to balance the divisions based on the strength of programs. In the soon-to-be-renamed Division X, there is Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana, Purdue and Illinois. In Division O, the other six reside: Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern, Minnesota, Michigan State and Iowa.
The Pac-10, meanwhile, is trying to figure it out. They will likely be going along a geographic route, with Arizona, Arizona State, USC and UCLA in the southern division, and Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State in the northern division. As you can see, UC-Berkeley, Stanford, and the newbies Utah and Colorado are up in the air. Both divisions want the Bay area Golden Bears and Cardinal. The California schools all want to stay together, but the northern division schools claim that recruiting would be hurt because of few games in California, one of the deepest recruiting pools in the country. To put it this way, in any given year, the #70 high school football prospect in California may be the #1 prospect in Wisconsin. The whole thing probably makes Colorado and Utah feel a bit unwanted (I’d still love to see Utah flip the bird, go back with BYU, and make the Mountain West better than the Pac-10…it wouldn’t even be close).
The reason I brought this up is for a fun little exercise. The Horizon League does not play football. We do not have 12 teams either, so the need for divisions would not be there even if we did sponsor football.
So, I put the question to you: if you were commissioner of the Horizon League, and the schools decided they wanted to be put into divisions, how would you divide the teams? You have to take into account everything from enrollment to television market to budget to geography to the overall strength of the programs.
Please, tell us how you would divide the Horizon League on our HoriZone forum!
I’ll get us kicked off. Personally, I would go by geography:
West: Milwaukee, Green Bay, UIC, Loyola, Valparaiso.
East: Butler, Wright State, Youngstown State, Cleveland State, Detroit.
How would you do it?