Big Ten to rename/realign divisions

Saturday April 20, 2013 11:10 AM
High Contrast Normal Version

From ESPN.com

Legends and Leaders are no more, as the Big Ten will use geography to determine its new divisions and division names beginning in the 2014 season.

The proposed Big Ten West includes the six teams located in the Central time zone -- Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin -- plus Purdue, sources said.

The proposed Big Ten East includes Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers.

"Just take a ruler and a map [and split the 14 teams]," a source said.

Big Ten presidents and chancellors are expected to approve the divisions and division names, along with a move to a nine-game conference schedule beginning in the 2016 season. The presidents and chancellors are expected to vote next week, a league source told ESPN.com.

ESPN.com reported last month that the divisions debate was down to whether Purdue or Indiana would go to the West. Purdue's campus is located west of Indiana's.

The Legends and Leaders divisions will remain for the 2013 season. The Legends: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern; the Leaders: Indiana, Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin.

With the new division format, rivals Indiana and Purdue will be the only protected game between teams from the East and West divisions, ESPN.com reported last month.

A 10-game conference schedule, once considered by the league, is no longer a possibility because of the necessity of teams needing seven home games a year, a source said.

The Big Ten's initial division alignment for the 2011 season was based primarily on competitive balance rather than geography. Teams such as Wisconsin and Illinois were moved in the opposite division from some of their rivals, and several top rivalries, such as Michigan-Ohio State, were protected with crossover games.

When the Big Ten announced the Legends and Leaders names in 2010, it received some negative feedback.

In January, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN he was a "little surprised" by the backlash received when the division names were announced.

"I'm not sure it was a national survey [of people that didn't like the names], but people who hit the 'send' button," Delany said in January. "I don't take umbrage to negative reaction. I don't necessarily change when I hear it. I think on the other hand, we said we would test market it and we have for a couple of years. We have the opportunity to look at it again."

When initially deciding on Legends and Leaders, Delany said the Big Ten "didn't have great options."

"We weren't going to go with 'Bo or Woody,' 'Black or Blue,' or 'Plains or Lakes,'" Delany said. "Obviously we got some acceptance [with Legends and Leaders], but not as much as we would have liked."

ESPN.com's Brian Bennett contributed to this report.

Comments

Please Share Your Zip Code

To listen to 97.1 The Fan or ESPN 1460AM we ask that you provide a zip code so that we may give you the best audio connection possible.

Please enter your zip code:

No thanks