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

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Milwaukee 83 3rd Qtr 4:15
Orlando 62
New York 59 3rd Qtr 3:52
Indiana 84
Denver 18 2nd Qtr 7:49
Memphis 32
Chicago 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Montreal 0 2nd Prd 5:36
NY Rangers 0
Winnipeg 2 2nd Prd 3:25
Philadelphia 3
Boston 2 2nd Prd :44
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 0 2nd Prd 16:13
Toronto 1
Dallas 3 2nd Prd 19:30
Ottawa 2
Detroit 1 2nd Prd 17:02
Tampa Bay 2
Columbus 1 2nd Prd 14:21
Florida 1
Nashville 1 1st Prd 5:13
St. Louis 0
Minnesota 8:00 PM
Calgary
Buffalo 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Anaheim 9:00 PM
San Jose
DePaul 72 FINAL
Providence 83
Michigan State 71 FINAL
Rutgers 51
Boston Univ 53 2nd Half 7:00
Army 54
Fla Atlantic 42 2nd Half 5:54
Charlotte 77
Youngstown St 55 2nd Half 8:33
Detroit 55
East Tenn St 48 2nd Half 5:25
Furman 47
Saint Louis 37 2nd Half 9:25
George Mason 49
USC Upstate 71 2nd Half 7:52
Jacksonville 54
High Point 67 2nd Half 3:31
Liberty 40
Central Conn St 53 2nd Half 1:00
Long Island 65
Western Ky 51 2nd Half 4:00
Louisiana Tech 61
Dayton 56 2nd Half 4:00
Massachusetts 60
Chattanooga 59 2nd Half 4:48
Mercer 59
Wofford 47 2nd Half 6:20
UNC Greensboro 38
Maryland 47 2nd Half 6:58
Ohio State 63
FIU 50 2nd Half 5:20
Old Dominion 56
Fair-Dickinson 52 2nd Half 6:50
Robert Morris 68
Mount St Marys 58 2nd Half 5:12
St Francis-NY 54
Bryant 56 2nd Half 5:41
St Francis-PA 62
Northern Ky 62 2nd Half 5:26
Stetson 68
Coll of Charleston 51 2nd Half 4:49
Towson 59
Western Carolina 67 2nd Half 8:20
Va Military 62
Sacred Heart 55 2nd Half 8:01
Wagner 58
Lipscomb 50 2nd Half 5:27
Fla Gulf Coast 64
Kennesaw St 52 2nd Half 6:50
North Florida 71
Appalachian St 20 2nd Half 15:55
Ga Southern 42
Holy Cross 18 2nd Half 20:00
Loyola-Maryland 26
Eastern Ill 30 2nd Half 16:13
UT Martin 49
Jacksonville St 24 1st Half 3:24
Belmont 36
Connecticut 20 1st Half 3:52
Cincinnati 23
Rider 20 1st Half 4:43
Saint Peters 14
SIU Edwardsville 28 1st Half 3:13
SE Missouri St 31
Marshall 32 1st Half 3:31
Southern Miss 22
Tenn Tech 18 1st Half 4:28
Tennessee St 20
Middle Tennessee 19 1st Half 6:39
TX-San Antonio 26
Ill-Chicago 24 1st Half 1:39
Milwaukee 24
Weber State 28 1st Half 3:21
North Dakota 22
Denver 15 1st Half 5:42
North Dakota St 13
IUPU-Ft Wayne 27 1st Half 2:24
South Dakota 22
Louisiana 29 1st Half 7:07
South Alabama 22
Ark-Little Rock 4 1st Half 17:48
Arkansas State 10
ULM 7:30 PM
Troy
Georgia State 3 1st Half 19:40
Texas-Arlington 0
Portland 8:00 PM
Gonzaga
Kentucky 8:00 PM
Missouri
Eastern Ky 8:00 PM
Murray State
UAB 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Idaho State 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
UMKC 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Chicago State 8:05 PM
Utah Valley U
Colorado 8:30 PM
USC
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
Hawaii 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Pepperdine 9:00 PM
Pacific
Santa Clara 9:00 PM
San Diego
Utah 9:00 PM
UCLA
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Montana 9:05 PM
Portland State
Montana State 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Long Beach State 9:30 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Loyola Marymount 9:30 PM
St Marys-CA
San Francisco 10:00 PM
BYU
California 10:00 PM
Washington St
Louisiana 47 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Saint Josephs 51 FINAL
Saint Louis 52
Appalachian St 77 FINAL
Georgia Southern 74
Niagara 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 65
Old Dominion 80 FINAL
FIU 67
Southern Miss 65 FINAL
Marshall 67
Georgia State 45 FINAL
TX-Arlington 57
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
ULM 51 FINAL
Troy 90
Pittsburgh 45 FINAL
(17) Duke 62
Manhattan 38 FINAL
Marist 77
(6) Tennessee 53 2nd Half 7:47
(10) Kentucky 54
(24) Oklahoma 53 2nd Half 7:14
(14) Texas 51
Nebraska Omaha 47 2nd Half 3:57
IUPU-Ft Wayne 60
UC-Riverside 68 2nd Half 2:38
CS-Northridge 51
Army 58 2nd Half 2:54
Boston U 36
New Orleans 40 2nd Half 0:27
Nicholls 56
Charlotte 32 2nd Half 18:49
Florida Atlantic 39
Towson 54 2nd Half 0:43
Delaware 66
Hofstra 51 2nd Half 7:12
Northeastern 33
New Hampshire 56 2nd Half 1:08
Maine 87
Albany 86 2nd Half 3:40
Vermont 41
Hartford 56 2nd Half 2:21
Stony Brook 55
UNC-Wilmington 58 2nd Half 1:20
William & Mary 61
Clemson 50 2nd Half 11:04
Wake Forest 41
Alabama 42 2nd Half 7:24
(1) South Carolina 70
(23) Syracuse 45 2nd Half 7:17
(8) Louisville 70
Missouri 50 2nd Half 7:57
Florida 39
Iona 61 2nd Half 3:32
Fairfield 72
NC State 63 2nd Half 0:20
Virginia 69
(4) Notre Dame 72 2nd Half 4:13
Virginia Tech 42
(22) Rutgers 50 2nd Half 5:12
Purdue 39
(5) Maryland 76 2nd Half 5:18
Michigan 58
Milwaukee 45 2nd Half 6:12
Cleveland State 52
Wright State 96 2nd Half 4:25
Oakland 81
Jacksonville 50 2nd Half 7:08
USC Upstate 54
North Florida 40 2nd Half 0:17
Kennesaw St 44
Stetson 45 2nd Half 6:10
Northern Ky 56
Loyola-Maryland 48 2nd Half 3:39
Holy Cross 40
Lamar 44 2nd Half 20:00
Sam Houston St 34
Fla Gulf Coast 37 2nd Half 16:06
Lipscomb 23
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
McNeese State 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Vanderbilt 11 1st Half 7:56
(18) Miss State 16
IUPUI 16 1st Half 5:20
Western Ill 30
Abilene Christian 20 1st Half 3:57
Houston Baptist 20
Oral Roberts 17 1st Half 7:10
South Dakota St 20
Louisiana Tech 19 1st Half 7:22
Western Ky 20
TX-San Antonio 19 1st Half 2:12
Middle Tennessee 26
Texas-El Paso 29 1st Half 0:26
UAB 32
Auburn 15 1st Half 3:27
Arkansas 22
Grand Canyon 16 1st Half 6:51
UMKC 19
Illinois 29 1st Half 6:01
(15) Nebraska 22
(20) Iowa 46 1st Half 4:20
Northwestern 37
Utah Valley U 18 1st Half 5:39
Chicago State 21
Green Bay 32 1st Half 3:39
Valparaiso 14
Ole Miss 8:00 PM
LSU
Portland State 8:00 PM
Montana
Sacramento St 8:00 PM
Montana State
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Weber State
Ohio State 8:00 PM
Wisconsin
Northern Colorado 8:00 PM
Idaho State
BYU 9:00 PM
San Francisco
St Marys-CA 9:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Pacific 9:00 PM
Pepperdine
Cal-Irvine 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
San Diego 9:00 PM
Santa Clara
UC Davis 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Long Beach St 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which of these teams is the most frustrating to watch right now?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close