Bonus Reusse: Big Ten should go to two divisions in basketball

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 23, 2014 - 7:02 AM
hide

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany

Photo: Paul Beaty, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Clem Haskins’ first season as the men’s basketball coach at Minnesota was 1986-87. It was also the end of an era when Gophers’ season-ticket holders knew exactly what to expect even before seeing the official Big Ten schedule.

It was a 10-team league (thus, the name) and also the last season when the schedule was set up with travel partners. For years, Minnesota and Iowa would alternate opponents at home on Wednesday/Thursday and Saturday, and then alternate against a pair of opponents on road trips.

The Big Ten’s other “travel partners” in 1986-87 were Indiana-Ohio State, Michigan-Michigan State, Wisconsin-Northwestern and Illinois-Purdue.

There was one change to the Big Ten’s schedule that winter. ESPN’s “Big Monday” of games started its run on Jan. 5, 1987, with a Big East starting the night and the Big Ten following with a game scheduled to tip off at 9 p.m. Eastern.

Indiana’s Bobby Knight, among others, howled mightily about that late start, and the Big Ten declined to renew the “Big Monday” contract after 1991. It is rather hilarious to remember a time when coaches could win a battle with TV on starting times, when you consider that conference teams would now be playing at 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve if Commissioner Jim Delany and the Big Ten Network thought it could provide an extra .3 of a ratings point in Newark, N.J.

The memory of 1987, the last season of a Big Ten schedule intended to provide consistency for fans and maximize the ability to attend classes for players, was the Gophers’ late February trip to Bloomington, Ind., and Columbus, Ohio.

I was covering that trip as both the beat reporter and as a columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Gophers flew in Bloomington on the afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 18, played on Thursday night, and then took a night bus ride the 225 miles to Columbus.

The Gophers were a ragtag bunch that season, and yet they had a chance to beat an Indiana team that would wind up winning the last of Knight’s three NCAA titles.

The key moment came when referee Sam Lickliter awarded possession to the Gophers when a loose ball went out of bounds. It was near the courtside press area. Knight rose up, stomped toward Lickliter and shouted at him profanely for the call.

Lickliter looked at Knight, hesitated, then walked rapidly over to Haskins and said he was changing the call. “Help me out here, Clem, I got it wrong,” Lickliter said.

Clem did not comply. He took off his suit coat and tossed it on the court. Lickliter was so embarrassed by what he was doing to mollify Knight that he did not T up Clem.

Indiana used that possession to get back to even and then won the game 72-70.

The Big Ten gave up its “travel partners” approach after that season, and a Sunday game or two started to appear on the schedule, and then Penn State joined, and then the Big Ten Network took over a half-dozen years ago, and the Williams Arena loyalists are more likely to get a game at 6 p.m. on a Sunday as one of those terrific Saturday matinees on which we were raised.

The additions of Penn State and Nebraska have been a boost for football, but those two traditional mutts of hoops have only weakened the basketball product.

Come next season, there will be 14 teams with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland. Mike Ellis, the Gophers’ assistant AD in charge of basketball, was e-mailed a few questions on future schedules. He talked to the Big Ten office to check on the latest and provided these responses:

1. There has been no discussion at all regarding a divisional setup as in football.

2. The league schedule will continue at 18 games.

3. A school will play five home-and-homes each year, with the remaining eight teams played once — four at home, four away.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Marshall 52 FINAL
Northern Ill 23
Navy 17 FINAL
San Diego St 16
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 0 1st Qtr 4:40
Rice 3
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

<
Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What's your favorite Gophers football uniform colors?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close