East meets West: Big Ten unveils new divisions

It’s official: The Big Ten Conference will have new division alignments set to begin in 2014 and nine-game Big Ten Conference schedules for 2016 after the recommendations were unanimously approved by school athletic directors and supported by the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors. In a statement released by the conference, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said, “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.”

We break it all down tonight on “The BTN Football Report” at 7:30 p.m. ET as Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith discuss this topic and interview Delany, too.

Delany added the directors of athletics also relied on the results of a fan survey commissioned by BTN last December to arrive at their recommendation.

  • The new East Divisions: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers.
  • The new West Division: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin.

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart likes the move and wrote:

“I applaud moving away from the stuffy, pretentious and down-right confusing “Legends” and “Leaders” names. They weren’t embraced from the start – in fact, they’ve been roundly mocked – and they never really have caught on since the Big Ten became a 12-team, two-division conference with Nebraska’s arrival in 2011. To this day, I doubt most fans know which teams are in what divisions. Now, if you know geography, you know where your school plays. Simple.”

Read his full column here.

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.

Read the full Big Ten Conference release at BigTen.org.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (28 Comments)
Lacy Brockelsby on 4/28/2013 @ 1:50pm EDT Said:

How will this effect the Michigan/ Ohio State rivalry games every year?

    BTN.com staff on 4/28/2013 @ 1:54pm EDT Said:

    “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.”

Ryan Cataldo on 4/28/2013 @ 2:00pm EDT Said:

When will they be changing the 2014 Schedules…

Zoumonkie on 4/28/2013 @ 2:21pm EDT Said:

The East is the big ten and the west is like the MAC

Doug on 4/28/2013 @ 2:53pm EDT Said:

Hey Zoumonkie, I believe every team is the East division has lost to a team from the MAC

Jeff on 4/28/2013 @ 2:58pm EDT Said:

Yeah, if the MAC played in the Rose Bowl the last three seasons.

Kimberly on 4/28/2013 @ 3:12pm EDT Said:

Michigan and Ohio State should NOT be in the same division!

Luke on 4/28/2013 @ 3:13pm EDT Said:

It might be nice if the Big Ten released the results of that December survey (for transparency sake).

The East is obviously stronger. The Big Ten is somewhat banking on teams like Northwestern, Minnesota and Illinois taking the next step in the West. That’s a big “if”. Hope the Big Ten doesn’t turn the West into the Big 12 North.

shookwriter27 on 4/28/2013 @ 3:36pm EDT Said:

The only that I see is all the traditional powers of the conference are in the Eastern Division.

Steve on 4/28/2013 @ 4:05pm EDT Said:

Add Kansas and Oklahoma, kick Purdue to the east, and voila, central time zone vs. eastern time zone and most importantly, highly competitive

Tim Phillips on 4/28/2013 @ 4:09pm EDT Said:

So, the East will be dominate and the best two teams will not consistently play in the title game.

Travis on 4/28/2013 @ 5:05pm EDT Said:

SEC west used to look like a weak link with Florida and Tennesse dominating the rest. Things are cylical… Now look at the “weak” SEC west. Same will happen in B10.

Mike on 4/28/2013 @ 5:15pm EDT Said:

Kimberly. I think your statement is a sentiment shared by a number of Big Ten fans and placing them in different divisions would seem to achieve more competitive balance. However, the issue is the desire to keep the Ohio State-Michigan game on the last week of the Big Ten season. I think there are a number of Big Ten fans as well who would prefer not to see this game occur only to have it happen again the very next week at the Big Ten championship. This has not happened yet with the current division set up but this could certainly happen fairly often if they are not in the same division over a long span of time. I think placing them in different divisions would require a willingness to give up the tradition of having them play the last week of the Big Ten season and instead move the game to earlier in the season such as the opening of Big Ten play.

Al Pittman on 4/28/2013 @ 5:22pm EDT Said:

This means that Purdue and IU won’t finish the season against each other for the MAC championship, NOT FAIR!!!!!

aroznowski on 4/28/2013 @ 5:29pm EDT Said:

I am not a huge fan of these divisions. First of all, the division names are so stupid and bland. “Legends” and “Leaders” actually have a deep meaning that reflects the mission of the greatest intercollegiate athletics conference in the NCAA. Even “Blue” and “Black” would have been better division names. Secondly, these divisions lack competitive balance. Michigan and Ohio State have brought in so much more talent over the last couple of years than any other Big Ten school that it seems likely that the Wolverines and Buckeyes will dominate the conference for the next decade or so. Michigan and Ohio State are to the Big Ten what Texas and Oklahoma are to the Big 12. The Big Ten West and East look very similar competitively to what was once the Big 12 North and South, respectively. Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Penn State are the four traditional powers, and they are not divided evenly. Even if two programs with more recent success in Michigan State and Wisconsin are added to those four, those six are still not divided evenly. Conference championship games are supposed to be the biggest, most important games of the regular season. However, this alignment leaves me to believe that the Michigan-Ohio State game will often be the biggest and most important. Lastly, it seems like intraconference rivalries with trophies will take a hit. Right now, there are three such rivalries that are not contested annually (Iowa-Wisconsin, Michigan State-Penn State, and Minnesota-Penn State). Going forward, there will still be three such rivalries that won’t be contested annually (Illinois-Ohio State, Michigan-Minnesota, and Minnesota-Penn State), but those three rivalries combined have been around much longer than the previous three rivalries that I mentioned. Well, at least this is finally out of the way. If I were Jim Delany now, I would make sure that Rutgers’s departure from the American Athletic Conference on July 1, 2014, becomes official, and I would add Johns Hopkins to the conference as a lacrosse-only affiliate member and to the CIC so that Big Ten men’s and women’s lacrosse can finally become a reality.

Tom M. on 4/28/2013 @ 5:39pm EDT Said:

What are the Chances the Big Ten will go to a 4 pods of 4 teams when it expands to 16 teams? So each team would have 3 pod games and 2 teams from the other 3 pods so that everyone plays each other Home and Away every 4 years. That would mean a playoff for the Championship to be set up some how.

If the Big ten goes to 4 pods of 4 I’d predict that:
Pod A(West): Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota
Pod B (South): Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern
Pod C (North): Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State
Pod D (East): Rutgers, Maryland, Team X and Team Y.

Also, Can I make the Case to add the University of Toronto and either McGills or Syracuse to the Big Ten. Toronto would add Canadian Eyes to the Big Ten (33 million) Including Toronto is the 5th largest Metro in North America. McGills and Toronto are rivals and Canada’s top two academic institutions, NFL is expanding by two teams in LA very soon, and If it wants to expand to Canada, U of Toronto could be another Tenant to help pay the bills on a new Pro football Stadium. If Toronto and McGills or Syracuse is added Id think they would play Michigan and Michigan State. and Ohio State would play against Penn State, Maryland, Rutgers. OSU and Michigan would have to be protected which is not popular.

How can I get a hold of someone in the Big Ten to advocate for Canadian Expansion verses American Southeast.

Mike on 4/28/2013 @ 5:49pm EDT Said:

Although there has been a pause in expansion, I still think the end game is 16 teams for the B1G and that the last two will still be from the east. I imagine the B1G would watch with interest if a rebranding of the University at Buffalo The State University Of New York, a member of the AAU by the way, to New York State University were to happen.


The addition of UConn, the state of Connecticut’s flagship university, along with the addition of a newly branded New York State University, a research university that is the leading public university in the state of New York and an AAU member and has an FBS football team, would seem to me to be an attractive option to the B1G. I think this would certainly solidify the presence of the B1G as the preeminent conference in the northeast region. and achieve their aim of truly being a bi-regional conference.

aroznowski on 4/28/2013 @ 5:52pm EDT Said:

By the way, here’s something for any SEC homers that may be reading this to chew on. Big Ten member schools have won 1.5 times as many national championships this season as SEC member schools (Source: http://www.ncaa.com/news/ncaa/article/2012-11-11/2012-13-ncaa-national-champions), and the SEC has two fewer member schools than the Big Ten. Penn State can increase that 1.5 to 1.75 this weekend at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.

Bryan B on 4/28/2013 @ 5:59pm EDT Said:

I am amazed at the arrogance of a lot of these comments. Oh, we should all bow down to the East Division because they have ALL the best teams. Someone above called them the “traditional powers”. You mean those same teams that can’t win the Rose Bowl, right? You mean teams like Penn State that will have a road to climb to get back to a power position. You also fail to acknowledge Wisconsin and Nebraska. Didn’t Wisconsin play Nebraska in the title game in 2012? Oh, that can’t be because neither of them are in the East Division. But, hey, you all go ahead on your arrogant ways and I hope your teams all feel the same way. It has been proven time and time again that at almost any time, any Big Ten team can pop up and beat any other team.

Ed on 4/28/2013 @ 7:04pm EDT Said:

Lousy divisions..East -the haves,west-have nots.

Paul on 4/28/2013 @ 7:56pm EDT Said:

When will the 2014-2015 new schedules come out that include Maryland and Rutgers?

buster husker on 4/28/2013 @ 7:58pm EDT Said:

Sounds like a few of you have been living in a box for the last 20 years!!! No team except Ohio State can claim equal or better success to the Badgers during that time. Nebraska has had more success than any other team besides these two!

Rhino2b on 4/28/2013 @ 9:11pm EDT Said:

yeh theyre arrogant idots the Badgers have been the best team the last bunch of years.. Other than last yr Iowa has been the only big ten team that actually won its bowl games while all them East teams got spanked and embarased every time in their bowl games oh and Nebraska is not a traditional power PLEASE.

Jeff on 4/28/2013 @ 9:22pm EDT Said:

Take Urban Meyer out of the picture and the Big 10 scares nobody.

David Czebieniak on 4/29/2013 @ 1:15am EDT Said:

I like the new B1G East-West alignment plus the upcoming 9-game conference schedule, and the eventual elimination of FCS opponents. Awesome stuff! Now, all that needs to happen is add Oklahoma & Kansas to the B1G West Division, and then slide Purdue over to the East Division, and the B1G would be perfect!

Darryl on 4/29/2013 @ 10:00pm EDT Said:

BTN becomes the BFTN – Big Fourteen????

Raymond on 10/28/2013 @ 8:49am EDT Said:

Why did they allow Michigan to move to other division? The divisions are terribly unbalanced. Its laughable. Michigan Ohio State and Penn St. in same division. Why did weak division AD’s allow this. I will NEVER watch another Big 10 game.

Patrick on 12/9/2013 @ 6:16pm EDT Said:

Bad idea. Now you have Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan in one division. One of them will go to the big ten championship against one of the weaker Big Ten teams. It is much better when you have 2 very good schools play in the Big Ten Championship such as this 2013 season. Now the best team in the East will pretty much be guaranteed a spot in the Rose Bowl.