Bill Moos

Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos makes a point during the Dec. 3, 2017, news conference at Memorial Stadium when he named Scott Frost as Husker head football coach.

Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos played catch-up on work after returning from vacation Friday.

In that regard, what does Moos think about the Big Ten divisional realignment chatter by conference media in recent days?

"Tell me more about it," he said Saturday. "You know more than I do."

Division realignment was a topic July 18-19 during Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, with several coaches asked about the subject. It all seemed pretty forced.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said he wasn't aware of any serious discussion among conference athletic directors.

I asked Moos if the subject was ever discussed by league ADs at their spring meetings or, hell, any meeting of late.

"Not at all," he said. "We addressed a year ago the issue of our traditional powers beating themselves up — I think we addressed that fairly well (through scheduling alterations) — but we never talked in any regard about realignment."

Moos, in his second year as Nebraska AD, is a big-picture thinker. He enjoys this sort of topic and understands why it comes up in conversation: The East Division winner has captured every Big Ten Conference championship since the two divisions came into existence five years ago.

The discussion also comes about because the Big Ten has been shut out of the College Football Playoff each of the last two years. But those who push the idea of realignment tend to conveniently leave out that Ohio State's losses to Iowa in 2017 and Purdue in 2018 essentially tabled their playoff chances in the eyes of the selection committee. Yes, Iowa and Purdue are in the West.

The West appears to be on the rise, which makes the timing of the sudden realignment discussion feel like rhetoric and not much else. Scott Frost at Nebraska and Jeff Brohm at Purdue are excellent head coaches, and P.J. Fleck at Minnesota should at least pique your curiosity.

Northwestern has won 15 of its last 16 regular-season games in the Big Ten, although it's true the Wildcats haven't been much of a threat to win the conference crown.

At any rate, Moos has pondered the notion of realignment of Big Ten divisions and arrived at a conclusion.

"Let me tell ya, I like it the way it is," he said. "For one thing, you have to have Michigan and Ohio State in the same division."

He's right on that count. They play the final week of the regular season … now and hopefully forevermore. It is the most valuable television property in the college game. Why would you want to diminish the value by setting up a scenario where they may have to square off a week later in a conference title game? Makes zero sense.

"That's not fair to them," Moos said. "It's like Nebraska having to play Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl (following the 1978 regular season) after they already beat them."

"I guess you could do what Indiana and Purdue do," added Moos, referring to the annual protected divisional crossover game. "But how much of that do you want to do?"

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Exactly. Forget messing with Ohio State and Michigan.

"So, OK, who's the other big-timer in the East?" Moos continued. "It's Penn State. Are you going to throw them into the West?"

My heavens, no.

"You're going to have them come all the way out to play Minnesota and us and Iowa?" Moos said. "That doesn't make any sense."

Especially to fans. It would be a horrendous mistake in the context of sagging attendance in college football.

Moos then recalled a phone call he received from Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany on Moos' first day on the job at Nebraska in October of 2017.

"He said Nebraska's got to get back to being Nebraska," Moos said. "Then you've got that powerful program here in Lincoln along with Wisconsin, which has evolved into one. And Iowa is just plain tough."

Since joining the Big Ten in 2011, Nebraska has played Iowa on Black Friday. The tradition will take a break in 2020 and 2021 before the series resumes on Black Fridays indefinitely.

"You have that big rivalry growing," said Moos, who notes the relative strengths and weaknesses of divisions in sports can be cyclical in nature.

"Give it five years, and I think it'll all even out," he said.

I think it would be ridiculous for a conference of the Big Ten's prestige to alter its divisions for a second time within a 10-year span. What is this, a startup indoor league? If the conversation is media driven (which seems to be the case), well, is that who we want calling the shots?

"Can I put a little editorializing in there without being rude?" said Moos, who had AD stints at both Washington State (2010-17) and Oregon (1995-2007). "The champion of the Pac-12 came from the south for five decades (USC) before there were divisions. And where's the power now? It's Washington, Oregon and Stanford in the north."

So, yes, let the Big Ten's situation sort itself out organically. That appears to be happening as we speak.

That's Moos' stance, and he knows more about it than I do.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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