REPORT: Big Ten will create a non-divisional football setup for USC's arrival in 2024

If you are wondering what will happen to Big Ten football when USC joins the conference in 2024, join the club.

Apparently, the current framework of two divisions — Big Ten East and Big Ten West — will not remain in place when USC and UCLA arrive.

Scott Dochterman of The Athletic, who has covered Iowa Hawkeye football and has good sources within the Big Ten,

reported Monday morning that the Big Ten will stick with its East-West divisional setup in 2023 as a placeholder move to provide temporary stability and eliminate uncertainty about 2023 schedules.

Then, in 2024, the Big Ten will “configure a new model.” Specific details were not provided,

but the article referred to a nondivisional format on multiple occasions.

Here are some notes from the article: NEEDING MORE TIME Dochterman’s report mentions that Big Ten admininstrators want to get rid of divisions but need more time to do so:

NEEDING MORE TIME There was strong consideration to revamp from geographic divisions to a single-conference entity for 2023 but there were too many issues to implement for next season.

TELEVISION NOTE From Dochterman’s story: The Big Ten’s new media rights deal goes into effect in 2023, but CBS will televise only seven Big Ten games because of its previous contract with the SEC. That number jumps to 15 in 2024.

TELEVISION NOTE There will certainly be an emphasis on how to feature USC on the Big Ten’s various TV partners. The nondivisional setup is meant to provide flexibility for showcasing the Trojans across the conference instead of locking them into one part of the conference (the schools attached to the Big Ten West).

MORE BIG TEN TV INFORMATION Dochterman’s story noted the following: Through the first seven weeks, 12 games involving Big Ten teams, including eight league-only games, generated at least 3.5 million viewers. Even in a blowout, the Michigan-Penn State game aired to 6.45 million viewers, second behind only Ohio State-Notre Dame among the most-viewed Big Ten games, and fifth-most overall.

MORE BIG TEN TV INFORMATION The Big Ten is clearly trying to juggle TV ratings with geographic balance in its 2024 schedule when USC arrives, and the conference hasn’t arrived at its exact plan yet.

BIG TEN FOOTBALL POLITICS There are numerous competing needs in setting future Big Ten football schedules.

BIG TEN FOOTBALL POLITICS From Dochterman’s story: Every school has a different idea of rivalry preservation. Michigan, for instance, wants to protect Ohio State and Michigan State annually. Iowa wants to play Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin each year. Penn State has no preference for annual foes.

BIG TEN COMMISSIONER KEVIN WARREN SPEAKS From the story: “I want to make sure whatever decisions we make on that has plenty enough time, because I know how important it is to want to get schedules down and get them out on time so people can plan,” Warren told The Athletic.

EAST-WEST IMBALANCE Dochterman points out: The downside of the status quo is a continual competitive imbalance between the two divisions. The East has won all eight championship games and held a 77-70 advantage in regular-season action entering this season. 

EAST-WEST IMBALANCE Dochterman points out: This year, however, the East has won nine of its 13 matchups and many in decisive fashion.

PLAYOFF BIDS From the story: But the imbalance actually could help the league’s quest to potentially earn a second College Football Playoff bid. For instance, if Ohio State and Michigan are unbeaten, their outcome is competitive and the teams don’t play twice, the loser could earn a CFP berth.


Ohio State football finalizes schedule through 2023