The Big Ten has announced that there will be new division alignments when the conference expands to 14 teams before the 2014 football season. The new realignment means the end of the “Legends” and “Leaders” divisions in favor of the more traditional “East” and “West” divisions.
The need to adjust the conference alignment comes when Rutgers and Maryland are both officially members. Both of those teams are farther east than almost every other team in either division.
While conference President Jim Delaney might claim that the changing of names is simply because the two regions are more readily identifiable, the lack of popularity of the former division names had to play a role as well.
Each Big Ten division will have seven teams with Rutgers, Maryland, Indiana, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State in the East division. Nebraska, Wisconsin, Purdue, Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern and Minnesota will be in the West division.
All of the teams in the East division are located in the Eastern time zone, while all but Purdue in the West division is located in the Central time zone.
The conference also announced that starting in 2016, teams would starting playing nine conference games. At the moment they only play eight games but with the expansion Delaney and company want to make sure that teams are playing at least three schools from the other division every year.
The realignment actually reunites quite a few of the rivalry games that had needed special dispensation to remain active when Nebraska joined the conference and made it a 12 team league. This year the division alignment has teams like Illinois and Northwestern playing in separate divisions.
The conference had proclaimed that there were permanent rivalries such as Illinois-Northwestern and Ohio State-Michigan. There is no word on what is to become of the “permanent” rivalries that were forged by the league such as Nebraska-Penn State.
What do you think of the Big Ten division realignment plan?