Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How the Hell Am I Supposed To Keep Track of These Divisions?

The biggest story of the 2010 offseason (conference realignment) has become one of the most exciting changes of 2011. There were some trivial moves amongst the irrelevant Western schools, but by far the biggest and most important was the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten.

I was wondering if I would ever re-use this picture. Hah hah just kidding, Kelly.

The Big Ten does not take on newcomers lightly. Hell I remember when Michigan State was the new kid on the block ... and they joined in 1949. In fact before Nebraska only three schools had joined our venerable institution in the 20th century: Columbus Community College The Ohio State University (1912), Sparty and Penn State (1990).

The addition of Nebraska means many things for the conference...a natural rivalry game for Iowa, an immediate contender for the championship, a conference title game ... but the most important is this:

How the hell are you supposed to remember who is in these new divisions?

Luckily for you the not-as-fanatical-as-MPF football fan, I'm here to help. Let's start with the basics.

One Division: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern

The Other Division: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

That's all well and good, but that's not very easy to remember. After all, smart conferences divided their divisions with clean geographic lines. The Big Texas, formerly known as the Big XII, drew a line along the southern borders of Kansas and Missouri and split into the North and the South. (And much like the Union 150 years ago, that split didn't work out too well.) The SEC likewise has the East and the West. So even if you don't pay much attention to SEC football, you can probably look at a map and realize Florida and Georgia = East and Mississippi/Louisiana/Arkansas-based schools = West.

Getting back to our conference: you've realized there is not a clean geographic split (even though they could have drawn a line between Illinois and Indiana and had six on each side). What about mnemonics? Creating a word out of an acronym?

I suggest "MAIN" and "WOPPII." "Main" is a bastardization of "mmmIAnn" which is the three "M" schools (Michigan, Mitten State and Minny), IowA, and the two "NU"s (Armani and Husker). "WOPPII" represents Wisky, Ohio State, Purdue, Penn State, Indiana and Illinois.

Okay, so maybe you're more visual. Let's go back to geography then. Here are the 12 campuses, with colored dots for each division:

If you prefer to think about the East and West split, just envision these circles:

That's all well and good, but still not super helpful.

However, another way to look at it is this:

These shapes make a sideways blue "C" and a red "L". "Bluesy" has a nice ring to it, and conveniently includes Chicago, home of the blues and awesome American Buddy Guy. The "Red L" (also a Chicago reference, now that I think about it--damn.) contains three "red" schools (Wisky, OSU and Indy), and yeah, looks like an "L". And "Riddell" is the name of an athletics company, so that's pretty easy to remember.

So there you have it: "Bluesy" and "Reddell." Or "Main" and "Swoppii." Hell, it's no worse than "Leaders" and Legends," right?

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