Big Ten Football Mulls Nixing East, West Divisions | Athletic Business

Big Ten Football Mulls Nixing East, West Divisions

The Big Ten is discussing the possibility of doing away with the conference’s currently lopsided East and West football divisions.

According to Sports Illustrated, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said on Wednesday that Big Ten decision makers have had conversations about making changes to the Big Ten championship game that would feature the two best teams from the conference and not the divisional winners.

"It's an item that has been discussed before," Delany said at the Sports Business Journal Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York. "There is actually more discussion now than there was four years ago."

The Big Ten’s East Division has been the stronger of the divisions in the recent past, with Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State winning seven of the last eight title games.

Sports Illustrated notes that the lack of balance in the Big Ten has impacted the conference on a national level. This will be the third consecutive year that the Big Ten champion will not have a spot in the College Football Playoff. While Ohio State knocked off Northwestern in the Big Ten title game, the Buckeyes remained No. 6 overall, with a 12-1 record.

A face-off between the two best teams in the Big Ten — Ohio State and No. 7-ranked Michigan — might have propelled Ohio State into the top four overall.

"[The playoff] doesn't define us," Delany said. "I'm going to be disciplined about it. I know the quality of our football. I know our players, I know the coaches, I know the competition. What we created in our structure is not exclusively for the CFP. It's for the season-ticket holder, it's for the players, it's for our institutions to build a conference. That's why they play nine. If we wanted to get in and that was the holy grail, the No. 1 objective, maybe we would be at eight. Maybe we would be playing [more FCS opponents]. But that's not the only objective."

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