Christensen: West is what's best for Gophers football team

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 29, 2013 - 8:10 AM

The 2014 realignment should benefit the U program.

hide

Gophers coach Jerry Kill isn't convinced -- or isn't saying so -- that the West is the easier division.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Big Ten West should be a better fit for the Gophers football team than the Legends Division, and not just because it carries a far less conceited name.

The divisional competition won’t be quite as tough, the schedule will get easier at first, and the geographic grouping just makes sense.

So for a program trying to build momentum, the Gophers received good news Sunday, when Big Ten presidents and chancellors voted unanimously to split into East and West divisions for football in 2014, when Maryland and Rutgers join the conference.

Commissioner Jim Delany has not hidden from the fact that the East Division looks tougher on paper with Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State, along with Indiana, Rutgers and Maryland.

The Gophers will be grouped with Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Northwestern, Illinois and Purdue. The Big Ten is requiring each team to play six division games and two crossover games in 2014 and 2015, so here are the immediate schedule benefits:

• For 2014, the Gophers are currently scheduled to play four teams from the East — Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Indiana. Two of those need to be replaced with Illinois and Purdue.

•For 2015, the Gophers were set to play Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State. One of those games will be scrapped to add Illinois, which went 0-8 in Big Ten play last season.

Of course, when reached for comment Sunday, Gophers coach Jerry Kill dismissed the theory that the West will be easier sledding for his team.

“I don’t think any team, whatever side they’re on, can say they got a benefit or not,” Kill said. “Because you don’t know how programs are going to change or what things are going to happen.”

Kill and Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague both expressed satisfaction with the realignment plan for other reasons.

“It was important for us to be in the same division with our geographical and traditional rivals,” Teague said through a team spokesman. “I have to give credit to Commissioner Delany and the conference. They listened to the fans and universities, processed the information and then used that feedback to help make their decision.”

Kill said he likes that incoming Big Ten recruits will still get to play every other conference team at least once in a four-year cycle. That’s because the conference plans to rotate the crossover games.

The only protected annual crossover will be Indiana vs. Purdue. That means there will be more years when Minnesota and Michigan aren’t playing for the Little Brown Jug, and more years when Minnesota and Penn State aren’t playing for the Governor’s Victory Bell.

Those are two of the three trophy games the Big Ten is sacrificing, along with the wooden turtle Ohio State and Illinois play for most years.

But as Kill was quick to note, the Big Ten on Sunday also approved a nine-game conference schedule, starting in 2016. Teams will play six division games and three crossover games.

“When you go to nine games, that changes a lot of things for a lot of people,” Kill said. “That’s why you have a conference. You should play within your conference.”

Delany has implored Big Ten schools to strengthen their nonconference schedules, which runs counter to Minnesota’s recent moves. The Gophers paid $800,000 to get out of a contract to play North Carolina the next two seasons, replacing the Tar Heels with New Mexico State.

Delany told ESPN.com that conference presidents and chancellors also have agreed to stop scheduling FCS opponents.

  • related content

  • Big Ten football realignment for 2014

    Sunday April 28, 2013

    BIG TEN, 2014The Big Ten will realign into West and East football divisions in 2014, when Maryland and Rutgers join...

  • Reusse blog: Big Ten shows no respect for Little Brown Jug

    Monday April 29, 2013

    I'm sure it comes as a great disappointment to Woody Teague and Country Jer that the Michigan game isn't protected in new Big Ten alignment.

  • DAVID BREWSTER Ô dbrewster@startribune.com Monday_10/20/08_studio mug of ] Joe Christensen ORG XMIT: MIN2013020710593248

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay 2 Top 3rd Inning
Baltimore 2
Atlanta 1 Top 5th Inning
NY Mets 0
Cleveland - C. Carrasco 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - J. Danks
Minnesota - T. Milone 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Texas - N. Tepesch 7:10 PM
Houston - C. McHugh
Oakland - S. Gray 9:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Wilson
Atlanta 21 3rd Qtr 6:04
Jacksonville 7
Detroit 3 2nd Qtr 8:56
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 0 2nd Qtr 2:00
Cincinnati 7
Kansas City 0 2nd Qtr 7:10
Green Bay 17
NY Jets 0 2nd Qtr 5:31
Philadelphia 7
St. Louis 10 2nd Qtr 6:15
Miami 0
Carolina 3 1st Qtr 2:24
Pittsburgh 0
New England 0 1st Qtr 1:55
NY Giants 0
Washington 0 1st Qtr 1:28
Tampa Bay 0
Baltimore 0 1st Qtr 15:00
New Orleans 0
Chicago 0 1st Qtr 14:50
Cleveland 0
Denver 0 1st Qtr 15:00
Dallas 0
Minnesota 0 1st Qtr 15:00
Tennessee 0
San Francisco 0 1st Qtr 15:00
Houston 0
Arizona 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 31 3rd Qtr
(9) So Carolina 14
Wake Forest 7 2nd Qtr 7:00
ULM 0
Boise State 0 1st Qtr 11:35
(18) Ole Miss 0
Tulane 0 1st Qtr 14:20
Tulsa 0
Temple 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do in their football opener?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close