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Media day offers few surprises for Big Ten fansPosted Wednesday, August 4, 2010, at 12:07 PM
Annually, the Big Ten Conference, like other conferences, offers a media day in anticipation of the upcoming football season. This year's edition proved to be little more than an affirmative vote for the usual suspects, while it also offered a possible insight into the thinking by one coach on the implementation of a championship game when Nebraska joins the conference next year.
The media members who had a vote, decided that the top three teams this year would likely be headed by Ohio State, big surprise.
The Buckeyes return the conference's top quarterback in Terrelle Pryor, who by the way was named by media members as the preseason offensive player of the year for the second time -- a first for the Big Ten.
Selected second by the media was Iowa followed by Wisconsin. Only the top three teams are listed.
The Buckeyes are an easy and almost mindless selection for the top spot considering they've won the last five conference crowns.
Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones also earned a second-time honor after being named the Big Ten preseason selection for player of the year.
Another story circulating out of the meetings held in Chicago came from University of Michigan coach Rich Rodriquez.
He was quoted as saying that if Ohio State and Michigan met three times a week the game would be a sellout, so he wouldn't expect any empty seats in case of a second meeting.
And that could possibly happen if the Big Ten installs a title game when the Cornhuskers become a part of the mix.
While no official word has yet been released or made available for public consumption, the league could split itself into two divisions and add what could be one of the most lucrative parts of the equation -- a title game.
That mean putting six teams in each division then sending the winners to the title contest, which could ultimately mean a back-to-back showdown between the Buckeyes and Wolverines if that's how things played out.
It could also mean the two teams meet in consecutive weeks. But as Rodriquez put it, he would prefer to keep playing the Buckeyes in the final weekend "just from a tradition standpoint" he told the Associated Press.
While nothing is official and set in stone, I've thought about how the conference could be divided.
In the Eastern Division of the Big Ten you have Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue and Ohio State.
Then in the Western Division you have Illinois, Iowa, Northwestern, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
This alignment -- or something similar would keep all of the major in-season rivalry games in tact, especially if the conference went to an unbalanced schedule with teams playing all of the other teams in their division annually and rotating the teams they played in the other division.
This would leave each team with the possibility of playing their division teams plus three from the other and still have room for as many as four non-conference matchups in a 12-game schedule.
The last piece of unfinished business that might be accruing as the Big Ten heads into a championship game comes in the form of where it would be played.
There's been some speculation that Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium might be in the mix along with other venues including Green Bay's Lambeau Field (why it's even in the mix I have no idea).
As for my personal input, Lucas Oil Stadium would be the most likely place.
It offers a central location that easily accessible for both fans and participants. And it's close to the home of the NCAA (just a few blocks).
It also offers fans plenty of opportunities for hotel rooms, restaurants and other services.
Well, there you have it, my take on what lies ahead in the future and some semi-useful information about what's going on in the Big Ten.
Rick is a sports writer with the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487 or via E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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