BTN.com staff, April 28, 2013
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."
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.