Penn State Director of Athletics Tim Curley welcomes Nebraska to the Big Ten.
Today is the day the Big Ten officially welcomes Nebraska to the Big Ten. The conference’s 12th member brings plenty of positive buzz around the conference and the addition of a quality program like Nebraska has the power to help the Big Ten make strides in passing the SEC in conference superiority (at least at some point).
Really, it does.
Gerry DiNardo, Big Ten Network studio analyst, recently told me that with Nebraska in the conference it will up everybody’s game. The division format will cause every team to look at their plan to compete, and it should lead to increased recruiting efforts and could ultimately bring in richer talent and keep top talent within the conference foot print. If it all plays out the way DiNardo believes, then I for one think he is dead on.
The Big Ten is already largely considered to be the second best conference in the country and that’s not all that bad to begin with. All I know is this season is going to be especially fun because it really is the dawn of a new era. Both the Big Ten and Pac-12 will begin division play with new conference members and the Big East is adding TCU (and maybe Villanova or… TEMPLE?) so changes ar taking place everywhere you look.
As far as the Big Ten is concerned here is what we have to look forward to…
Big Ten Championship Game
The first Big Ten Football Championship Game will be played in Indianapolis on Decmeber 3 between the champions of the Legends and Leaders Divisions. For those who can’t remember which is which, Penn State is in the Leaders Division along with Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue and Illinois. For now, the Badgers look to be the team to beat but we will break down teams later this month.
The winner of the Big Ten championship game will receive the conference’s automatic BCS berth to the Rose Bowl unless a BCS championship appearance is on the table. The important thing to know is that no longer will the conference have co-champions. One possible drawback though may be the decreasing opportunity for the conference to send two teams to BCS games. No conference has sent more teams to BCS games that the Big Ten, and the fact that the conference didn’t play a championship game or in December may have been a reason for that. So we will see what negative impact a conference championship game could bring to the Big Ten.
Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska every year
As mentioned already, Penn State is in the same division as the Buckeyes and Badgers and there is little disputing the fact that those are two of the top programs in the conference. As division foes Penn State will continue to play Ohio State annualy and will also be scheduled to play Wisconsin each season, for now at the end of the regular season. The conference has also paired Penn State and Nebraska for a guaranteed crossover match-up on an annual basis. While Legends Division teams such as Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State will rotate on and off the schedule, the Huskers will remain on it forever. This is a great win for Penn State, Nebraska and the Big Ten.
One of the marquee games during most seasons will be the Penn State-Nebraska game and television partners will know it. Cha. Ching. It also brings great exposure to the conference as a result.
Say good-bye to the Land Grant Trophy’s bi-annual appearance in Beaver Stadium as well. I would presume the trophy seies will continue whenever Penn State and Michigan State do meet again, but for now the Spartans can hold on to it and do as they please. The Michigan State “rivalry” was always a little forced since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993. When the Nittany Lions joined they were given two teams to play every year; Ohio State and Michigan State.
Well, at least one series has turned in to a decent rivalry.
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