Last week, both Bennett and I weighed in on which three Big Ten decisions we would make if we were each Big Ten dictator for a day. Then we gave you the floor. And boy did you have some thoughts to share.
There were so many replies that I've split them into two parts.
Here's the first set ...
Steve from Augusta, N.J:
1. Since each team needs to play two cross-divisional games, leave two weeks unscheduled near the end of the season. Fill these two weeks with those cross-divisional games, but make it so the teams that are at the top of their division play teams at the top of the other. This would add some spice as you wouldn't know all of your opponents until further into the season.
2. Move the B1G CCG to other areas. Especially now with PSU, RU and Maryland in the B1G, have a game in Philly, N.J., or DC. Really, who wants to go to Indy?
3. Any person or group that picks the "Game" as the must-see game of the year, or speaks about the Big 2 little 12, is forced to go to the SEC and explain quantum physics.
Sean from Conshohocken, Pa.:
1. Permanent Penn State-Nebraska crossover. Just too good not to have, you're right.
2. Invite WVU to the B1G, get rid of Maryland -- never thought the Maryland invite made sense. Plus, this way, we could have the Appalachian Hill War or some similarly named annual PSU-WVU action.
3. Mandate better medical care for the athletes, and some kind of pension for them once they're done. All schools pay in to it, and it is only usable once the athletes have retired from their professional jobs or something.
Mark from Lincoln, Neb.:
1. Staggered Start Times: Take the late start times one step further. First Big Ten game starts at noon CT and then start one game every 30 to 60 minutes thereafter. Key feature of first two days of NCAA tourney. I realize I'd have to be dictator of TV networks too!
2. At least one conference game for each team in the first two weeks of the season. SEC already does it and has worked out great for them.
3. Support the union effort (or at least what the Northwestern players are trying to accomplish). Throw conference support behind more active player involvement/input in issues like medical care, athlete schedules, etc.
Tom from Milwaukee:
1. A team can schedule only one small-conference team. After that they must play teams from the former FBS or BCS or whatever they are called. Even if they are bottom-tier teams, a SEC matchup is a SEC matchup.
2. Conference games should be played starting Week 1. The conference needs the national sports to pay attention.
3. Keep an open mind to the divisions even if it means making it more difficult for the Badgers. If a division needs a power team added to it make the move. Balanced divisions will be more entertaining.
Matt from Omaha:
1. Keep Legends and Leaders Divisions: I know, I know, commentators say it's too confusing to keep track of who is where and it destroys traditional rivalries (except Michigan vs. Ohio State), but the East/West divisions, in my opinion are not favorable. It doesn't really unite the B1G because there are not a lot of cross-divisional games (2 at the most).
2. Have a Barclays Premier League Model: This will take some cooperation, but the B1G should work with a lower conference (like The MAC). Better teams will play in the B1G and the teams that under-perform and be relegated to the MAC. We can have a program evaluation period every 5-7 years to gauge performance.
3. Cap the Number of Alternate Uniforms: It was cute at first, but now it's getting a bit ridiculous (thanks, Oregon). I'm OK with one alternate uniform a season, but any more and it seems to the focus is more on the uniform and not the game.
Jeremy from Columbus:
1. Financial incentives for out-of-conference scheduling. Currently, teams schedule home cupcakes because the lost gate revenue from playing a big-name home-and-home is larger than their individual share of the additional TV revenue generated from the one big game. Instead of awarding all teams an equal slice of TV money, come up with a system to make one home game with Texas worth as much as two home MAC games (or at least a lot closer).
2. Stagger the game start times. If there are seven Big Ten games to be played one week, start one at noon (Eastern division only for noon), another at 1, the third at 2, etc. Nothing is worse than trying to watch the end of two games at the same time, flipping back and forth and missing parts of both. This also eliminates games before noon local, and forces the league closer to primetime.
3. Never ever add another school to the Big Ten for the TV markets/demographics/money.
My take: I love Jeremy's first idea about financial incentives for more aggressive nonleague scheduling. I'm not sure how you would do it with the money, but giving teams more motivation -- besides the Playoff, of course -- to challenge themselves in nonconference play is great. Matt's relegation idea would be fun, but it's just not realistic to have teams move between leagues. Steve, while I could see the Big Ten title game moving around, I'd be surprised if it leaves the heart of the league (Indianapolis or Chicago). But we'll see.