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Radical Realignment 2007: Big Ten

Ramblin' Racket's Jeff got the point when he noted that this year's exercise in radical realignment is "as sensible as possible geographically [and] not as interesting/fun as last year's, but still very fun all the same."

Radical realignment . . . still entertaining, only less so than last year! You know, sort of like the last couple of seasons of "Mad About You."

After emptying the dustpan into Conference U.S.A., I allowed the logic of the map to dictate that the Pac-10 should be confined to the Pacific Coast, the W.A.C. should consist solely of Western teams, the Big West should be given new life, the M.A.C. should be improved dramatically, the S.W.C. should be revived, and the Central Conference should be created. Now, that same rationale guides me to reconfigure the venerable Big Ten in the following manner:

Boston College
Central Michigan
Eastern Michigan
Michigan State
Western Michigan

The reconstituted conference would be more Northeastern than Midwestern, inasmuch as it would consist of the Bay, Empire, Garden, Nutmeg, and Wolverine States. An added bonus to this arrangement would be the league's appeal in the Boston, Detroit, and New York media markets.

Rutgers alumna Kristin Davis was pleased to learn that the Dawg Sports radical realignment proposal had placed the State University of New Jersey in the Big Ten.

I know what you're thinking . . . with all those directional Michiganders and Big East also-rans, how on earth will this be a competitive conference? Well, who says the Big Ten is all that competitive now?

The Maize and Blue have lost to Northwestern three times since 1966, have lost to Illinois three times since 1967, have lost to Minnesota three times since 1968, and have lost to Indiana once since 1968. If given the benefits of increased revenue and heightened media exposure, would the Great Lake State's less storied programs really fare that much worse than the current bottom-feeders of the Big Ten?

Does Central Michigan, which did not post a losing season between 1965 and 1991, truly have a worse football program than Indiana? Would the Chippewas simply be in over their heads playing in a league with Army or Boston College? Recent results suggest that this is not the case: Central Michigan lost to the Hoosiers by a touchdown in 2005, beat the Black Knights by four points later that same year, and fell to the Golden Eagles by seven points in 2006.

While the mid-major Michiganders of the right, left, and middle were still finding their sea legs, though, there would be some fundamentally sound, slobberknocking football being played in the league. Army, Boston College, Michigan, and Rutgers all pride themselves on rock-ribbed line play and there certainly would be some hitting going on in true Big Ten fashion.

Bo and Woody would have been proud. (Image from Ultimate Disney.)

Beyond that, it would be fun to see the Eagles (nee Hurons) of Ypsilanti facing the Orange (nee Orangemen) of the Carrier Dome in a battle of politically rectified mascots . . . particularly if that scrubbed-down showdown took place on the same Saturday as the game between the unrepentant Chippewas of Mount Pleasant and the oddly uncontroversial Spartans of East Lansing.

In addition, annual clashes between the Black Knights of the Hudson and the Scarlet Knights of the Raritan hardly would qualify as novel, since the United States Military Academy at West Point and the State University of New Jersey at New Brunswick have been squaring off on the gridiron since 1891 and they appeared on one another's slates in all but one autumn from 1979 to 1998.

Coming soon . . . the altered Big East.

Go 'Dawgs!