You know what I think about the new Big Ten divisions.
Here's what some of the key figures around the league are saying about the new alignment ...
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez: "The Big Ten staff and directors of athletics focused on three criteria as we discussed the divisional alignments: competitive equality, maintaining traditional rivalries and geography. A lot went into this and there was a lot of give and take amongst all the schools in the conference. I’m happy with the way things have turned out for our program and our department."
Penn State athletic director Tim Curley: "We are pleased to have Nebraska as Penn State’s annual crossover game. We have had outstanding contests with Nebraska in the past and look forward to hosting the Cornhuskers in Beaver Stadium in 2011. The addition of Nebraska further strengthens the Big Ten brand and opens new, exciting opportunities for the conference. We are excited to continue playing Ohio State annually as we have since joining the Big Ten. The Penn State-Ohio State game has become one of the most highly-anticipated games by football fans across the nation. Our game with the Buckeyes has ultimately determined the Big Ten champion in each of the past five years. We have experienced great competition with Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana and look forward to playing them and Ohio State every year for the opportunity to play in the Big Ten Championship game."
Purdue coach Danny Hope: "I think the division alignment is great for Purdue football and Boilermaker Nation. Protecting the Bucket Game against Indiana for the final weekend of the regular season is very important to us and our fans, as is maintaining the trophy game against Illinois each year."
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon: "I think we created divisions that are great for the Big Ten, each institution and the fans. We worked hard to ensure that all the traditions were maintained, while addressing the new rivalries that could be created with the inclusion of Nebraska and the conference championship game. As Michigan athletic director, I'm elated by this new divisional alignment. Our goal entering the discussion was to preserve our great rivalries with Michigan State and Ohio State. We were able to do both and the best news is 'The Game' will continue to be played during the final week of the regular season. We also added Nebraska as a member of our division which will create a great new rival for our team. As a bonus, we could face Ohio State again in the title game and play for the championship of the conference and a trip to the Rose Bowl. This is the best possible scenario we could have asked for at the beginning of this process."
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema: "This is an ever-changing world in college football and we are excited to be a part of it. I know a lot of different scenarios were discussed at the administrative level and we are pleased with the results. It was important to us to keep the longest running continuous rivalry in college football history alive so we are happy that we will play Minnesota every year. And we’ll be part of history when we host Nebraska in its first Big Ten Conference game next October. Also, I think the addition of a championship game will be tremendous for the league and a fantastic opportunity for our players."
Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne: "The scheduling process was difficult because the Big Ten is attempting to preserve a large number of rivalry games and have as many of those games as possible fall at approximately the same point in the season as they have in the past. The schedule will be challenging, but also interesting for our players, coaches and fans. Nebraska is not a voting member at this time so we were not able to vote on the schedule, but I was allowed to provide input. We look forward to being in the Big Ten, but at this point need to turn our attention fully to the task at hand this season. We hope to finish with a good year in the Big 12 Conference."
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald: "The Big Ten has done a great job of creating two competitive divisions that will feature entertaining football. I'm excited that we can maintain our Land of Lincoln trophy game against the Fighting Illini. That's a rivalry that both schools really look forward to, and be able to have that game as our protected rivalry is something that we'll look forward to each year. The new division allows for new opportunities and a new school to compete and challenge for the Big Ten championship. As we look at the division we're in, it's going to be extremely hard, and extremely difficult. But at the same time, it's difficult on both sides, so the competitive balance is there. It gives everyone an opportunity in Big Ten country to think they can go out and compete for a championship."
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta: "I believe our coaches, student-athletes and fans are going to be very excited about these divisions. Nonetheless, change is always difficult, so there will be some growing pains. Having said that, we don’t need to look very far for a great example of how the angst of the moment drifts away and we realize that the decision made was a great one. A perfect example is the addition of Penn State to the Big Ten several years ago. I’m confident that we’ll arrive at the same place very quickly with respect to the addition of Nebraska and the creation of the divisions announced today."
Indiana athletic director Fred Glass: "I am sure our fans will be excited that we will open up conference play at home in 2011 against Penn State and Illinois. I am also pleased that the Old Oaken Bucket game remains as the regular season finale for IU and Purdue."
Video from Illinois AD Ron Guenther and coach Ron Zook
Video from Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi
Video from Ohio State AD Gene Smith
Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis: "During the meeting, there were some conversations about some issues that people felt very strongly about. There were others where we had a preference on where we wanted to go. An example of that is I wanted to keep Michigan State in Chicago, which meant a game against Northwestern. I think that's important to our university, as it is to a lot of other universities. To be able to take our fans and our team into that major market is important. We wanted to play Michigan for a divisional title; Michigan wanted to play us for a divisional title. And that gave us an opportunity to be in the same division. We looked at the Penn State game, one that's important to both of us, but there were some things each school had to give up in order to receive some other benefits."
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez: "This is a great scenario for the University of Michigan and our football program. I commend the efforts made by Dave Brandon, President Mary Sue Coleman and their colleagues for working hard to reach an agreement and put together balanced divisional alignments. Dave worked to preserve our great traditional rivalry games -- Ohio State and Michigan State -- and got our newest member, Nebraska, placed into our division. It's great that we could keep the greatest rivalry in college football, The Game, the regular season finale, and the bonus is we could still face Ohio State in the championship game."
Minnesota coach Tim Brewster: "I just think it is real exciting for our conference, first and foremost that we're adding a team like Nebraska. Obviously they're a great football program. They're a great fit for our conference. Now that we've seen alignment take place, the thing that I was most interested in, is us being able to play Iowa and Wisconsin every year. We're going to get the opportunity to play those games. Those games are extremely meaningful to us. Everything else on top of that is a plus."