It bears repeating: the Big Ten has commanded better attention this week when there's no football in sight than it has on the field all year, and all in the name of no longer being the Big Ten. (Not that it's really the Big Ten as is, and while we're on the subject? For all Delany's posturing about the conference's academic prowess, you'd think some math genius at Northwestern would've invented a special character to stand for "eleven teams masquerading as ten" ages ago.)
The Rivalry, Esq. looks past the most obvious question (the who) and tackles the real thorny issue at hand (the how):
How do you divide the league into divisions without creating a serious "historical competitive imbalance" by placing too many of the big powers (OSU-Michigan-Penn State) in one division, and/or preserve traditional rivalries that teams and fans love?
Over at Black Shoe Diaries, they're explaining the why, as in, "Why now?" (with a brief stop to knock Notre Dame out of contention while they're at it):
The biggest opponents of Big Ten expansion have always been Michigan and Ohio State. For years they have feared a Big Ten Championship game would take the focus off of THE GAME as the marquee event of the conference. But Michigan'sfailure to be competitive with the Buckeyes the past few years has already diminished the matchup, and the rest of the conference has suffered as they sit and watch the last three weeks of the college football season unfold from their couches and their teams get leapfrogged in the BCS standings. Ohio State has finally wised up and realized it'stime to move on with or without the Wolverines.
And no, no one has yet addressed the looming specter of "What on earth are we going to call this contraption?", but Spencer Hall's on the right track.