Implications for Luke Fickell with a Division-Free Big Ten in 2024

How does the new format affect our fearless leader?
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In case you missed it, the Big Ten will look completely different in 2024. There are four new additions from the west coast, the East and West divisions are no more, and the top two teams will compete for an automatic bid into the new 12-team playoffs. Phew. It's a lot of change and not necessarily good news for Luke Fickell and the Badgers. So how does it all impact Wisconsin for 2024 and beyond?

No More Divisions

In the previous Big Ten format, the conference was divided into an East and a West Division with the winner of each division playing in the Big Ten Championship. And while the East claimed all 10 of the wins, it still provided teams from the West a fun, engaging and, most importantly, possible path to a conference championship game. With the new format, Wisconsin's odds for playing a Big Ten Championship Game are about the same as mine to become the next head coach of Wisconsin basketball.

Now the two spots in the championship are reserved for the top two teams in the country's biggest conference, a staggering 18-teams (more on that later). To think that the Badgers could be a top two team with the likes of Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon and more seems pretty unfathomable at least for now. It'll make things tough for sure for Luke Fickell. He's basically competing for a mid-level Bowl Game every season, and that might just have to be okay for us.

18-Team Conference

With Oregon, Washington, USC and UCLA joining the party, the new look Big Ten will be the largest conference in the nation at 18 teams. And with that comes a very possibility of getting overshadowed, especially for a team like Wisconsin, that in general, doesn't command national attention.

Oregon and Washington will always have hype surrounding them. UCLA has their issues and will have to navigate life with a new coach, and USC's defense has more holes than Augusta National, but it'll still be tough to share the spotlight with these new programs. Luke Fickell might have to start dating Taylor Swift if the Badgers are to stay nationally relevant.


All in all, this new format will probably provide more challenges than benefits for Fickell and the Badgers. The removal of the division will take away some of the drama of a potential Big Ten Championship (if you can call 59-0 drama). 18 teams is a ton though, and it'll be tougher for Wisconsin to stand out in the crowd.

Ultimately we as fans might just need to be realistic and be happy with our 7th place finishes and enjoy our Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race For the Cure...Bowl.