Not a surprise, but it's now official. Here are the new football divisions:
The changes are that UMass joins the MAC East while BG goes back to the MAC West. Since they went to divisions this is their second stint in the West and third "move" overall. It's part of the Falcons' sporting tradition to continually move divisions like this and I look forward to their MAC East return in, oh, let's say 2016.
In terms of conference play each team will play six intradivisional games and two crossovers. With BG-Toledo finally in the same division there are no more "protected" crossover games, so some of these East-West rivalries might separate a bit. But with balanced divisions they can finally do away with the one absent intradivisional game (for example, BG didn't play East opponent Akron last year).
In terms of competitive balance, I guess UMass is going to inherently drag down the level of competition in the East next year. Now that you have Akron, Buffalo and UMass in one division that create a top-heavy East. Meanwhile BG is very average and CMU remains the "worst" out of the seven so this certainly bolsters the West for the short term.
The weird wrinkle in this: BG remains in the MAC East in other sports (such as basketball) so this will take some getting used to for me. I'm just going to admit preemptive mistakes when I write lines such as "Bowling Green is not the favorite in the East/West this year but next year looks promising, I got a good feeling!"