Such a development might be like Army-Navy or Alabama-Auburn, traditional contests which always conclude those schools' regular seasons, being moved to less desirable October dates. The only difference, of course, is that backers of the Buckeyes and Wolverines consider their rivalry to be the best in all of college football, and they just might be right.
Delany, a former basketball player at North Carolina who played on two of Dean Smith's teams that advanced to the Final Four, hasn't been exactly subtle in dropping hints that the particulars of the Ohio State-Michigan game that everyone has become accustomed to is going the way of the dodo bird and the Edsel.
"If Duke and North Carolina were historically the two strongest programs and only one could play for the right to be in the NCAA Tournament, would you want them playing in the season-ending game so one is in and one is out?" Delany said last week. "Or would you want them to play and have it count in the standings and then they possibly could meet [again] for the right to be in the NCAA [championship game] or the Rose Bowl?
"The question is whether you want to confine a game that's one of the greatest rivalries of all time to a divisional game."
The way Delany makes it sound, putting Ohio State and Michigan in separate divisions makes perfect sense, and it probably does, if the only criteria is financial. The addition of Nebraska and a league championship game will bring more money into the Big Ten coffers, and Delany is hardly adverse to improving the bottom line. He created the Big Ten Network in 2007 when ABC/ESPN, the conference's television partner, didn't sweeten the offer it had on the table.
Even Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon is making sounds as if he's resigned to the fact that it's a fait accompli the regular-season finale against Ohio State will soon by history.
"Change is good, and change is going to happen," he said, sort of half-heartedly, in a recent radio interview.
And Ohio State-Michigan isn't the only "rivalry" game that could be affected. There are 17 such matchups in which trophies are awarded to the winning school, from the Little Brown Jug (Michigan-Minnesota) to Floyd of Rosedale (Iowa-Minnesota) to Paul Bunyan's Axe (Minnesota-Wisconsin) to the Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana-Purdue) and, of course, the Land Grant Trophy (Penn State-Michigan State).
The Nittany Lions and Spartans have faced off for the admittedly ugly Land Grant Trophy in the regular-season finale every year since Penn State began playing a Big Ten schedule in 1993, if only because it was determined that they, too, needed a "rivalry" game for a hunk of hardware.
Asked if the Penn State contest had attained the feel of a traditional rivalry, Mark Dantonio, Michigan State's fourth-year coach, said, "It does feel like a rivalry game to us because it's the last game of the season, and so much rides on that last game, bowl implications and what have you.
"I think it would have a different feel if it wasn't played every year, or as the last game of the season. We point toward the Penn State game every year. It's always a high point of our schedule."
Hey, go tell it to the folks at Ohio State and Michigan.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who has championed some of the changes brought about by Delany (a league championship game and use of replay in certain situations), isn't about to draw any lines in the sand concerning the alignment of divisions. He's been through this before; Penn State and Pittsburgh, which used to play the last game of the regular season when the Nits and Panthers were Eastern independents, haven't met on the field since 2000.
"I'm just glad I don't have to make that decision," Paterno said at the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago when asked about how the divisions would shake out. "I think there are a lot of combinations that would be good."
Signs also point to the divisions not being based on geography, but on competitive balance, which could lead to Penn State and Nebraska - the Big Ten's easternmost and westernmost outposts - being placed in the same division.