Depending on how offensive/hilarious you found “Leaders” and “Legends” to be as division names, today was possibly a long time coming.
The Big Ten announced on Sunday a new divisional alignment — a much simpler “East” and “West” — that will become effective in 2014 in time for the additions of Maryland and Rutgers. The membership of the two divisions will be as follows:
In 2014 and 2015, each school will play the other six members in its division plus two teams in the opposing division. Beginning in 2016, the number of conference members each team will play from the opposing division increases to three as part of a new nine-game schedule — the first since 1984. In the new setup, only the Purdue-Indiana game will be considered a protected crossover game, but the new alignment does preserve 10 of the 13 trophy games in the conference. Perhaps most importantly to many, Michigan and Ohio State will now be in the same division.
Teams from the East Division will host five conference home games during even-numbered years, with West Division teams hosting five conference home games during odd-numbered years. Each school will play each other at least once every four years.
“Big Ten directors of athletics concluded four months of study and deliberation with unanimous approval of a future football structure that preserved rivalries and created divisions based on their primary principle of East/West geography,” said Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany. “The directors of athletics also relied on the results of a fan survey commissioned by BTN last December to arrive at their recommendation, which is consistent with the public sentiment expressed in the poll.”
Considering the criticism the Big Ten was taking from “Legends” and “Leaders”, the conference did a decent job this time around. The East definitely looks like the more top-heavy division, but there’s always going to be at least one gripe.