Filed Under:  U.S. & World

Big Ten Evolution: It’s Not Your Daddy’s League

Contributed by on August 25, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Change is good.  Some Big Ten coaches, however, greet the prospect with some trepidation.  Phrases like “Bo (Schembechler) didn’t do that” and “Woody (Hayes) didn’t do that” can be heard flying around Big Ten coaches’ meetings.

The coaches need to remember, Bo and Woody are long-gone, and the game has gone through some changes.  The coaches who helped shape the Big Ten brand during their time at the University of Michigan and Ohio State would wonder where their league had gone.  The divisions were created primarily for competitive balance and a nod to brand-name enhancement.

They’d wonder just what happened to put their teams – deadly archrivals to one another – in different six-team divisions.  They’d probably get a little chuckle out of the division names: Legends and Leaders, but they might encounter some confusion about which teams fall into which category.  They would have to adjust to the Big Ten championship game – the first in the league’s 116-year football history, and playing that gameindoors.  Another shock would probably be playing the OSU-UM game after Thanksgiving.

The Big Ten moved the regular season back a week, but added the championship game (to be played December 3 in Indianapolis) in order to stand on equal ground with the Big 12 and the SEC, which have had championships for some time now.  Expansion included the approval of adding Nebraska as the league’s 12th member.

Bo and Woody wouldn’t recognize the thriving TV network exclusively devoted to the Big Ten.  Bo’s jaw would drop to see permanent lights being installed at Stadium and Main in preparation for the first night game at Michigan Stadium this September.  Woody’s jaw would also fall to the floor to see OSU play a season opener on Thursday night, like it did last year.

When it comes down to it, the Big Ten respects and values tradition but has developed a healthy openness to change that works for the league.

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