Just when we thought we had this Big Ten divisional breakdown thing figured out …
Maybe we don’t.
Consider that this appeared to be headed toward splitting iconic rivals Ohio State and Michigan into separate divisions. They would still play each other during the regular season but would broker their end-of-year slot for a chance to meet in the title game.
That’s where the momentum seemed headed when gleaning information from recent interviews with key officials such as Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, Ohio State president Gordon Gee and Michigan athletic director David Brandon.
That setup would have smoothed the path for Penn State and Wisconsin to join Ohio State in one division. And enable Nebraska and Iowa to join Michigan in the other.
But now there are rumblings that the Ohio State-Michigan split may not be a done deal.
A public backlash around moving the Ohio State-Michigan game from its usual spot may get the power brokers to at least reconsider this notion — or separate the two teams and still hold the game at end of the season.
Of course, that scenario would set up the possibility that Ohio State and Michigan would play a rematch a week later for the Big Ten title.
Kind of confusing, huh?
For sure, though, Big Ten officials do want balanced divisions by splitting up the six “power programs,” three teams in each. The most likely move is that Iowa and Wisconsin, viewed as program equals, will play in separate divisions and will maintain their rivalry with a “protected” game.
The rest is too tough to call.
For example, if Big Ten officials do reverse course and keep Ohio State and Michigan together, look for some sort of geographically-mixed setup in which Penn State and Nebraska are in the same division along with teams from the eastern and western side of the league.
At least we expect to know the answers in the next month.