CHICAGO Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald sees an obvious imbalance this fall between Leaders and Legends in the Big Ten, and has a proposal to fix it.
“Maybe our division winner should automatically be in the championship, and then you take the other teams that are eligible and we put a committee together, the 12 Ads, and Commissioner Delany as the 13th vote,” he said.
“That would make a little bit of sense to me.”
Obviously, Fitzgerald doesn’t like the fact that only four teams – Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Purdue – are competing for a spot in the Big Ten Championship out of the Leaders Division.
Ohio State and Penn State are both ineligible due as punishment for misdeeds.
And given the recent history of the four teams left, Wisconsin is the 900-pound gorilla going forward.
“I’m not blind and oblivious to the fact that now we’re in a division that has six teams and only four of them are eligible for the Big Ten championship game,” Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. “But it really doesn’t change what we do.”
The Legends Division includes Michigan State, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Northwestern and Minnesota. The Legends teams had a 12-6 record in cross-division games last season.
“I like the idea of maybe having two guys from our division in,” Fitzgerald said. “So who knows?”
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said the Big Ten athletic directors know it is unbalanced this fall, but there are no plans to address it.
“I think it definitely is concerning to have a one-year situation like this,” Barta said. “We put these divisions together because of competitiveness over a long period of time. A lot of energy, thought and time went into it.
“We didn’t try to make decisions based on one year or two year windows. I don’t anticipate it changing.”
In the end, there will still be two teams in Indianapolis on Dec. 1. To get there, they have to do the same thing.
“It all comes down to winning,” Illinois coach Tim Beckman said. “You’ve still got to win your Big Ten football games to give yourself that opportunity to get in that championship.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football