The Big Ten will soon announce its plans for realignment. With Nebraska joining the conference in 2011, the Big Ten will split into two divisions and hold a championship game.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez confirmed to the Wisconsin State Journal that Iowa and the Badgers will be split into different divisions.
Alvarez also told the Wisconsin State Journal that the Big Ten will adopt a nine-game conference schedule beginning in 2015.
Meanwhile, Iowa athletic director Gary Barta told the Associated Press that Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota are three rivals the Hawkeyes would like to play as much as possible in the realigned Big Ten.
There has also been speculation and a few internet reports regarding Ohio State and Michigan possibly being split into different divisions.
My guess is that the traditional rivalries will be preserved in some form in the new Big Ten. Teams will still have crossover games worked into their schedules. These games just may not fall on the same weekend anymore. In some cases, the games may not even be played each season, perhaps every two seasons.
Regarding Ohio State and Michigan, at first glance it doesn't make sense. Why split the two historic rivals? Well, it actually makes sense.
Sure, the Ohio State-Michigan game will likely no longer end the regular season as it does now. The game would likely be played on a different date each season. But you have to factor in the championship game.
By leaving Ohio State and Michigan in the same division, only one team can win the division and advance to the conference championship game. I'm sure the Big Ten would love to have Ohio State-Michigan, its greatest rivalry, in a championship game for the entire country to see. Plus, you can't have Ohio State-Michigan end the season, even if they're in different divisions. It wouldn't work well to have Ohio State-Michigan during the final weekend of conference play and then have the same two teams come back a short time later for the title game.