During Wednesday evening’s media conference call Commissioner Jim Delany shed some light on the process that the conference used to establish the divisions.
The Commissioner said that they looked to 1993 as the starting point for evaluating a program’s competitiveness within the conference. Delany said the conference started at 1993 for several reasons, including Penn State’s entry into the conference, the decline in scholarship numbers allowed from 95 to 85 (which spread talent within the conference), and the changing media landscape.
The conference clustered the schools into three competitive tiers:
Tier 1 included Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, and Penn State
Tier 2 had Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan State
and Tier 3 contained the rest of the conference: Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois, Purdue, and Indiana.
The conference attempted to balance the amount of teams from each competitive cluster when aligning the divisions. They also prioritized the preservation of rival and trophy games. Last year the conference had 12 rivalry games take place, and with the new alignment, the Big Ten will be able to preserve nine to 10 of them.