Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon is preparing fans for the possibility the Michigan-Ohio State will move from its traditional late November slot. (John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)
I'm trying, I'm really trying, but it's hard.
Michigan-Ohio State on a brisk October Saturday afternoon?
Michigan-Ohio State the first weekend in November?
Michigan-Ohio State notthe final game of their regular seasons?
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon on Friday, a day after published quotes from Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith appeared in which he suggested the Michigan-Ohio State game could possibly move from its traditional date as the last game of their seasons, essentially said this: Expect Michigan and Ohio State to be in separate divisions in the newly expanded Big Ten, and their annual meeting probably won't be played on its traditional late November weekend.
Why? Because this way if Michigan and Ohio State were to win their respective divisions and then play in the Big Ten championship game in early December, by playing earlier in the regular season, they would avoid playing on back-to-back weekends.
Now, let's be clear. This information has not been formally announced by the Big Ten, but there is no way Brandon would be this vocal on the subject (he appeared Friday morning on WTKA 1050) if he didn't have a strong indication. Brandon has been meeting with the 11 other Big Ten athletic directors to help determine the divisions.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said recently the divisions could be announced within the month. But listening to Brandon say that Michigan-Ohio State likely will no longer meet in the final regular-season game of their seasons was hard to embrace.
Time of change
No doubt, the rivalry hasn't been much of a rivalry in recent years with Ohio State's dominance, but it is arguably the greatest rivalry in college sports.
And it has been played in late November, sometimes with a Big Ten title on the line, sometimes only the opportunity of ruining the other's season on the line, but mostly, it has been about the tradition, the finality of another year, the Maize and Blue, the Scarlet and Grey. The tradition.
That tradition, it seems, is about to change.
"I think everybody should be prepared for change," Brandon said during the radio interview. "Some people love change and embrace change and look at this as a whole new opportunity to do things a different way.
"And there will be people out there who want it to be the same way it always was because that's the way they like life. I'm just warning everybody change is good, and change is going to happen."
Move makes sense
The logic for putting Michigan and Ohio State in separate divisions and moving the timing of the regular-season game is acceptable and understandable. Yes, Big Ten expansion has made all of this discussion a reality.
But that's logically speaking.
The sentimental me, the traditional me does, in fact, have a hard time embracing this concept. Not that I don't like change, not that I don't understand that some change is good, I'm just not ready to rally around this potential change.