The days of Indiana facing Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State every year may be numbered.
Earlier this week, the NCAA Football Oversight Committee recommended conferences no longer be required to have divisions to hold a conference championship game. The Division I Council is set to vote on it as soon as next week, and several reports indicate it is expected to pass.
The provision would allow conferences to select their top two teams from the regular season and have them face each other in the league championship game. The East Division of the Big Ten has routinely been superior to the West, and the move towards eliminating divisions is inspired in part by what went down in 2021.
Because of the divisions, the Big Ten championship game featured No. 3 Michigan and No. 12 Iowa. The format left No. 7 Ohio State home to watch, when a win in that game by the Buckeyes could have sent them to the College Football Playoff.
Of course Indiana fans will recall what went down in 2020 and view any move that gives the league discretion with a skeptical eye. Then the Big Ten bent its own rule to put Ohio State in the championship game instead of the Hoosiers.
The elimination of divisions would likely involve a much more balanced approach to scheduling, meaning IU would see much more of Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota and the rest of the current West, and less of Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State.
Any move to eliminate divisions would likely involve the protection of rivalries, meaning Indiana and Purdue would continue to play every year along with Ohio State and Michigan.
Iowa AD Gary Barta indicated in January the Big Ten was already looking at eliminating its divisions.
The ACC is already moving towards a plan that would eliminate divisions for the 2023 season, according to reports.
A similar move by the Big Ten could mean 2022 is the last time Indiana faces the East gauntlet.
Indiana is a combined 2-22 vs. Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State since league adopted the current format in 2014. They have not defeated Ohio State since 1988.
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