As of now, I am in favor of Ohio State and Michigan playing in different divisions.
The Game has already been the B1G Championship Game. The Game has decided the B1G Championship - 22 times. The Game has passed that audition.
People love to invoke the glory of The Ten Year War. Guess what? Each of "Those Games" decided the B1G Championship.
Putting both teams in the same division eliminates that possibility and - over time - will diminish, The Game.
I'm not immovable, however. I can see virtues in the opposing opinion, which many of you have effectively and vigorously, expressed. I'm also reserving some wiggle room, pending the likelihood the Buckeyes and Wolverines face each other in the B1G CG, in 2013. Were it to happen, just what would that be like? I want to see: 1.) how the 2 fanbases handle it; 2.) how the B1G promotes it; 3.) how Fox covers it and 4.) how the wider sports world reacts to it.
Ohio State-Michigan: The Game - B1G Championship Edition, would be truly historic.
Jim Delaney has floated his share of trial balloons, since expansion began. Most infamously, he dared to suggest The Game might be scheduled earlier in the regular season, to avoid playing The Game and The Game - B1G Championship Edition, on back-to-back Saturdays. There was an uproar and he acknowledged it. I believe Jim Delaney is a provocateur. He has to be. His athletic conference is a B1G act.
Ultimately, I see Delaney preserving the annual possibility of Ohio State-Michigan: The B1G Championship Edition. For starters, he wants to avoid embarrassments, like this:
It's inevitable the league will expand to 16, if not 20, teams. This will produce the perfect rationale to keep Ohio State and Michigan separate, because the B1G [and its media partner(s)] will make lots more money.
4 pods will create the need for a B1G semifinal and if Ohio State and Michigan are involved, Delaney gets a one-week buffer between The Game and the B1G CG. The two teams' presence in the championship game, would amount to two weeks of huge PR and tons of revenue for The B1G. Ohio State and Michigan meeting in the B1G CG means a national ratings champion and even more money. Delaney cannot pass up preserving this possibility.
The Game. It means everything. It means more than a rivalry. It means a ton of money for The B1G.
Note - Nielsen Ratings for both B1G CG's:
2011: FOX (7.08 million viewers, #1; adults 18-49: 2.2, #1) tipped the ratings scales on Saturday with its coverage of "College Football: Big Ten Championship Game" (7.08 million viewers, #1; adults 18-49: 2.2, #1) and, a huge drop-off
2012: FOX (5.02 million viewers, #4; adults 18-49: 1.7, #1) topped the demo charts on Saturday with its coverage of the "Big Ten Football Championship: Nebraska vs. Wisconsin" (5.02 million viewers, #3; adults 18-49: 1.7, #1).