Big Ten discussing ditching divisions, cutting conference games | College Football Enquirer

Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss the Big Ten’s discussions on getting rid of divisions and dropping conference games to eight.

Video Transcript

[CROWD CHEERING]

DAN WETZEL: The Big Ten is looking at moving away from divisions, dropping down to eight games, and then potentially, by 2023, starting the kind of alliance scheduling bonanza, which would just be Big Ten versus Pac-12 or ACC-- non-conference games as a way to kind of isolate, if you will. We're on the isolation. They're going to put the SEC in an isolation chamber. Their isolation chamber is a palace.

[LAUGHTER]

Yeah. But get rid of divisions and then go to eight games and starting their lines. I have a couple of thoughts. I'm going to give you a couple of things to react to.

PAT FORDE: OK.

DAN WETZEL: One, if we get rid of the divisions, then we have to then-- when is the Big Ten opposing the playoff? Because we have been told that the Big Ten is against-- they want five automatic bids, one for them and the other for five-- the other four major conferences-- and then one for the group of five, opposed to the top six. If you get rid of divisions-- I think last year you might have had a Ohio State-Michigan rematch in Indianapolis--

PAT FORDE: Yeah.

DAN WETZEL: --you're pretty much guaranteeing that there's just no way the Big Ten champion, if they're not geographically-- if there aren't geographic bits to it-- wouldn't be one of the top six conference champs. It's just impossible. So you've literally eliminated your opposition to the playoff.

PAT FORDE: Yeah. Yeah.

DAN WETZEL: So we'll start with that, then we'll get into the scheduling for this. What do you think?

PAT FORDE: Yeah, I mean, again, I don't know how far the Big Ten has thought it through or whether the Big Ten is necessarily even aligned with its commissioner in that thinking, you know? I don't know whether he's speaking for himself or he's speaking for the league on terms of his resistance to the current playoff-proposed 12 team setup.

But if you do eliminate divisions in a conference where the divisions are very much misaligned in terms of strength, really, I'm not sure how much that helps you other than it makes your championship game more significant. But I don't think you-- do want a rematch of Ohio State-Michigan? Do those fans want it? I mean, one of the great things about that game last year and in many years, is it is winner-take-all to a degree.

You know, are you in the National championship or not? Are you winning the division or not? You know, there is massive stakes and if you roll it back and play it again a week later in Indianapolis, I think you lose a lot of the impact of what that game is in the regular season.

DAN WETZEL: It would be a huge impact.

PAT FORDE: Yeah.

DAN WETZEL: I think, what's always been the opposition is that-- and this is why you want your arch rivalry to be in your division, right? So Alabama-Auburn plays. And it's not just there's a bragging right to it, right? Or a cocktail party. Whatever it is like. You get a year of bragging.

PAT FORDE: Right.

DAN WETZEL: That's college football. Like, we won, you lost, and there ain't anything you can do about it for 364 days. You just got to sit there and take it.

PAT FORDE: Yup.

DAN WETZEL: And so, when you run that risk of giving that up, particularly a week later-- because, yeah, I mean, if you're a Michigan fan and you finally beat Ohio State and you stormed the field like they did, it's not like, oh, we got to play these guys again next week and we just gave away our game plan.

PAT FORDE: Yeah.

DAN WETZEL: I don't know. Like, that is a huge problem for it.

PAT FORDE: Yeah.

DAN WETZEL: At the same time, in the Big Ten, you have this incredibly lopsided East where you have Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State. Certainly, I would say four of the top five programs, if you give Wisconsin-- wherever you want to rank them in and they may be fourth or they may be fifth. Then if you go non divisions, you have to have certain every year opponent, right?

PAT FORDE: Yeah.

DAN WETZEL: Michigan will play Ohio State, Michigan State, and then you have to probably give them an easier game--

PAT FORDE: Right.

DAN WETZEL: --as their third. I guess Minnesota, because they have the little brown jug. But you lose, like, the Michigan-Penn State game a lot or you lose Ohio State-Penn State. I don't know. There's a lot of-- there's a lot goes into it if you get rid of the divisions. Divisions aren't good, but there are certain aspects of them that are good.

PAT FORDE: Yeah.

DAN WETZEL: And that's a big risk.

PAT FORDE: It is. And, you know, one of the-- obviously, one of the overarching issues here is conferences have gotten too big to play round robin. That's why we have divisions. But there is something to be said for being a Division Champion that you would lose. Like, Wisconsin, it's a big deal for Wisconsin when they win the Division Championship. It was a big deal for Iowa this last year when they won the Division Championship. It was a really big deal for Missouri when they won the SEC East. You lose that, OK, you're taking away more chances to hang a hat on something for these programs.