New divisions, schedules ahead for football

So the Big Ten Conference will move to two new football East and West divisions in 2014 and a nine-game conference schedule in 2016. In an interview with BTN on Sunday, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said, “Being broader, being larger, geography had to play a larger part.”

Meanwhile, BTN.com senior writer tells our BTN football team not to be so quick to say the East will always be stronger than the West. BTN football analyst Gerry DiNardo prefers the previous set-up was based on competitive balance while Howard Griffith says the East has the edge right now. Find out more about Sunday’s Big Ten Conference realignment, division names, and the nine-game football schedule.

The conference is going with “East” and “West” divisions instead and switching to a nine-game scheduling format after Big Ten presidents and chancellors approved the moves on Sunday. The new division alignments will begin in 2014 when Rutgers and Maryland join the conference, meaning “Legends” and “Leaders” will be a thing of the past.

That will probably come as good news for fans who have criticized those names ever since the league unveiled them in 2010. To many, they were confusing and didn’t help identify where teams play, but that won’t be an issue any more.

[ RELATED: No more "Legends & Leaders" | Dienhart: It's the right move | Sound off on BTN Connect ]

Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers will be in the East division. The West will consist of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. Schools will play six division games plus two against teams from the other division in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, they’ll play three cross-division games.

“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,” Delany said in a statement. “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.

All schools in the East Division are in the eastern time zone and all schools in the West Division are in the central time zone with the exception of Purdue. Each school will play the other six schools in its division plus two teams from the other division in 2014 and 2015, which will serve as transitional years in which the schools will still be playing eight-game schedules.

Beginning in 2016, each school will play three teams from the other division as part of its nine-game schedule. The cross-division games will include one protected matchup on an annual basis between Indiana and Purdue.

With the start of the nine-game conference schedule in 2016, teams from the East Division will host five conference home games during even-numbered years, while teams from the West Division will host five conference home games during odd-numbered years. As a result of the nine-game conference schedule and the Big Ten’s schedule rotation, every student-athlete will have the opportunity to play against every other team in the conference at least once during a four-year period.

The Big Ten is returning to a nine-game conference schedule for all teams for the first time since the 1983 and 1984 seasons.

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7 Comments

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Steve on 4/28/2013 @ 8:58pm EDT Said:

Fantastic! Much better alignment and siginicantly better division names. Too bad everyone has to put up with those awful and embarrassing L&L division names for one more year, but at least they will be going in the trash where they belong soon!
GREAT JOB BIG TEN!! You will be respected again!!!

Nick on 4/29/2013 @ 1:17am EDT Said:

Awesome, now the conference just needs to update its name. B14 maybe? I know Delany has emotional ties to the Big Ten name, but it doesn’t look as though another school will be added for another 14 or 15 years. Also, I feel people will have the same resentment toward big TEN name as they did with the LEGENDS and LEADERS names.

George on 4/29/2013 @ 9:01am EDT Said:

The conference is the BIG TEN, what’s the difference how many teams are included. Big Ten East and Big Ten West makes it easy for everyone to identify. Anyone with a problem with that should follow a conference that is more interested in being cute, versus being practical.

gREG on 4/29/2013 @ 11:25am EDT Said:

The only Problem that I have with this Alignment is that ALL of the POWER TEAMS are in the Big Ten East… It gives the West Teams a better chance of making their way to the Conference Title Game…

Frank on 4/30/2013 @ 12:47pm EDT Said:

So basically we have the Big Ten East, and then the other irrelevant teams… What a disaster

John on 6/12/2013 @ 11:11pm EDT Said:

I think it’ll be a tougher battle on both sides than most realize. Import last years conference rankings into the new system.

WEST EAST
1. Nebraska (7-1) 1. Ohio St (8-0)
2. Northwestern (5-3) 2. Michigan (6-2)
3. Wisconsin (4-4) Penn State (6-2)
4. Purdue (3-5) 4. Michigan St (3-5)
5. Minnesota (2-6) 5. Indiana (2-6)
Iowa (2-6)
7. Illinois (0-8)

There were only 3 teams from each side at or above 50%.

Also add in Rutgers being tied for 1st with 3 other teams in Big East going 5-2 in conference play and 9-4 overall, and Maryland at 2-6 (5th in ACC Atlantic) with 4-8 overall.

Granted Ohio State and Nebraska will both probably dominate their respective divisions, but looking forward to either Michigan, Michigan State or Penn State to give chase in East, with Wisconsin or Northwestern in the West.

Jim LIndner on 10/26/2013 @ 8:38pm EDT Said:

Why not call the new 14 team conference the Big 10-4 reminiscent of the old CB radio lingo?