Big Ten Should Separate Michigan, Michigan State

By Scott Peceny
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The beleaguered Big Ten has been shrouded in change ever since the Nebraska Cornhuskers joined the conference in 2010. When the Huskers became part of the conference, the Big Ten brass made the call to create two divisions, dubbed “Leaders” and “Legends.”

Which is confusing; the Big Ten hasn’t led anything lately, and the conference’s legends seem to be no more than distant memory.

Purely for monetary gain, the Big Ten agreed to bring in two more powerhouse teams last year: the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Maryland Terrapins. Poor reasoning aside, the conference must realign its divisions with the addition of two east coast teams.

This creates more uncertainty for what has been one of the more unstable conferences in the nation in recent years.

It appears as though the head honchos at the Big Ten are close to naming the official divisions that will take effect in 2014. To the relief of football fans everywhere, the conference is nixing the horrific Leaders and Legends monikers.

Honestly, the addition of Rutgers and Maryland is much more justified when coupled with the changed division names.

Now East and West, the Big Ten’s divisions are named according to common sense and geography (imagine that). What is certain is that Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan will be in the East, while Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa and Illinois will likely be in the West.

That leaves Purdue, Indiana and Michigan State without a division. Of the three, the Spartans are the furthest east, but I’m here to say they belong in the West.

First and foremost, look at the talent level in the West compared to the East. With Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan all in the East, adding another above-average Big Ten team would clearly make the East the superior division. Furthermore, the Michigan- Michigan State rivalry could still be an every-year game if the conference so chooses, or the rivalry could be renewed in a potential Big Ten Title game that would certainly draw viewers.

The battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy won’t die, even if the teams are separated in divisional play. Separating the two teams makes sense talent-wise and it isn’t the worst thing for the conference geographically.

Follow me on twitter @ScottPeceny

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