Decision near on Big Ten divisions
Well, today marks Day 30. And sources indicate the league is ready to move.
An announcement today would allow fans to digest the divisional breakdown a day before the season kicks off with three Big Ten games: Marshall-Ohio State, Towson-Indiana and Minnesota-Middle Tennessee.
Athletic directors also are eager to get to work on their teams’ 2011 schedules.
Delany last week said the process was “80 percent” complete, and Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez revealed the Badgers would be placed in a different division than rival Iowa.
Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips told the Tribune on Monday he believes the Wildcats’ rivalry with Illinois will be protected. He also would love to play Wisconsin and Iowa annually, but …
“Everybody has to make some concessions,” he said.
Phillips said he agreed with Delany’s philosophy that “competitive balance” should be the top priority. Protecting rivalries comes second, geography third.
“If you’re going to win a division,” he said, “you don’t want it to be watered down.”
Big game talk: Both Jim Tressel and Rich Rodriguez are taking an “if it happens, it happens” attitude regarding the possibility that the Ohio State-Michigan will be moved from the end of the regular season to avoid a potential rematch in the following week’s Big Ten championship game.
Around the league
Michigan’s Rodriguez will face even more scrutiny this year, as Saturday marks the rededication of Michigan Stadium. The Big House will re-emerge as the BIG HOUSE, boosting capacity from 107,501 to 109,901 thanks to a $226 million renovation that added luxury boxes and club seats. Rodriguez said the stadium design should make the venue louder and “what we have to do is make plays (to) keep the crowd into it.” … One reason Iowa won’t take FCS Eastern Illinois lightly: In last year’s season opener, the Hawkeyes needed to block two last-minute field goals to eke out a 17-16 victory over FCS Northern Iowa. … Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema will let his players experience a touch of Las Vegas before the Badgers take on UNLV on Saturday night: They’ll take a 45-minute bus tour of The Strip. “Coach Alvarez actually let the guys get off at one of the casinos for a buffet lunch or dinner,” he said. “I’m not that bold.”