Michigan AD Dave Brandon made an appearance on Sam Webb’s WTKA radio show this morning, and he had some very interesting (and to traditionalists, very disappointing) things to say about conference realignment, and specifically the potential ramifications for “The Game” [link is to MVictors, which also has the audio and more quotes if you want more from Brandon]:
- When asked if he were making the decision, would he put Michigan and Ohio State in the same conference division? Brandon paused then answered. “No.”
- Sam asked, “Why?” Brandon: “Because we’re in a situation where one of the best things that could happen, in my opinion in a given season, would be the opportunity to play Ohio State twice. Once in the regular season and once for the championship of the Big Ten.
What does this mean? It certainly sounds like Michigan and Ohio State will end up in separate divisions, which means the teams likely could not meet in the final week of the regular season, as that would open up the possibility of a Big Ten championship game rematch within a week of the team’s playing each other for the first time. Since the Michigan-OSU rivalry would have to be played every season, this means the Buckeyes are locked in as one of Michigan’s cross-divisional games every season. This isn’t a good thing for the Wolverines’ schedule, as Brian Cook points out [from earlier this week, before Brandon’s comments]:
There’s a rumor out there that Michigan and Ohio State will be split into separate divisions, which I find abhorrent because it necessitates protected cross-division games, which are dumb, and guarantees that Michigan will be elaborately screwed by that cross-division game being Ohio State, guaranteeing them a brutal schedule year-in, year-out as Ohio State and Penn State go play with Purdue, Indiana, Northwestern, and Illinois.
Brian’s reaction to today’s news, obviously, is not a positive one. I agree with him — playing in the last week of the season is one of the best parts about The Game, and seeing Michigan line up against Michigan State or some other Big Ten opponent in late November would just feel… wrong. Also, pegging Michigan and Ohio State with likely the toughest schedules in the conference doesn’t make much sense — you’d think the Big Ten would want its flagship programs to have, if anything, a competitive advantage in chasing BCS titles, instead of having the odds stacked against them.
I’ve been strongly in support of practically everything Dave Brandon has done as athletic director since taking over for Bill Martin, but I can’t even find one reason to be excited about this possibility. It sounds like this is close to an inevitability, however, which just gives us one more thing to be pissed off/depressed about in what has become a complete circus of an offseason.