Sometimes even the smartest people can overthink things. Take the Big Ten's football divisions: when Nebraska joined the conference two years ago it increased the B1G to 12 members (I like to call those "the good old days" or "Days of Yore"), giving them the opportunity to split the conference into two divisions and stage a championship game. Most fans assumed the divisions would split along geographical lines which kept traditional rivalries intact, had some competitive balance, and avoided embarrassing division names and people forgetting which team was in which division.
So what did Benevolent Overlord and B1G Commissioner Jim Delaney do? He split the divisions based almost solely on the premise that putting Michigan and Ohio State in separate divisions was a great idea so they could potentially play TWICE in one season (I'll pause here long enough for the sheer awesomeness of that statement to sink in- whoops sorry, the sarcasm button must have been stuck on my interwebs). Once that decision was made the teams were split for "competitive balance" which meant a mostly western division with Michigan and Michigan State in it, and a mostly eastern division with Wisconsin in it. The division names? I will not utter them here, but let's just say "The Big Ten" and "laughing stock" were said in the same sentence a LOT after they were announced, especially when Delaney stubbornly stuck with them despite the enormous backlash he faced from fans and media both inside and outside the conference. Oh and about that competitive balance? Well this past season the "West" division had five bowl teams while the East's conference title game representative was 7-5 Wisconsin (who then summarily beat Nebraska 9000-7, which was the worst thing I've witnessed since seeing that picture of Bret Bielma with his shirt off).
Needless to say, the B1G's first rendition of divisional alignment didn't go so well. While adding Maryland and Rutgers still looks like nothing more than a complete and total money grab with zero regard for on-field competitiveness or tradition, it at least gives Delaney and Co. a do-over with the divisions. After giving fans an opportunity to voice their opinions via a fairly extensive online poll, the AD's met Sunday and Monday to discuss, among other things, where and how they're going to add the Terps and Scarlet Knights. Per Adam Rittenberg of E!SPN, it looks like the AD's have finally come around to what us fans have known all along as geography is the driving factor for divisional realignment:
"We don't want to throw out competitive balance and those other important areas of rivalries," (Northwestern AD Jim) Phillips said, "but what's leading this ... is geography, what's best for our fans, what's the easiest travel for them and what makes the most sense."
As Rittenberg notes in the piece there are six schools in the Central time zone (your Gophers, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern and The Fighting Chefs) and eight in the Eastern (Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Indiana and the two new kids), meaning somebody in the East will have to go west. Rittenberg is hearing the two schools most likely to go over would be Purdue or Michigan State, and while as a Gopher fan I'd much prefer Purdue, it may well end up being Sparty in the division again. Either way, the New West division would be about as tough as the current pseudo West, so it's pretty much a wash for Minnesota. I just really, really, REALLY hope the B1G does the right and logical thing and realigns via geography- you know, like we all said they should have in the first place.