Report: Big Ten to Realign as East-West, Will Scrap Legends and Leaders

Big Ten
The Big Ten will realign into East and West Divisions. Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten will realign their divisions as East and West and will scrap the Legends and Leaders names beginning with the 2014 season, ESPN has reported.

The divisions will be geographically split and will look very different than their current setup. Michigan and Michigan State will be together in the East, and they will be joined by Indiana, Ohio State, and Penn State. Also joining the East are newcomers Maryland from the ACC and Rutgers from the Big East.

The West Division is highlighted by Nebraska and Wisconsin and looks to be the weaker of the two divisions. Here is a look at the rumored lineups for both the East and West:

East Division

Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Rutgers

West Division

Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, and Wisconsin

The new alignment places virtually all traditional rivalries in the same division. The lone exception is Indiana-Purdue, and that will be a protected cross-division rivalry according to ESPN.

The Big Ten is expected to formally announce the new division lineup as early as next week, and at that time they will also approve the move to a nine-game conference football schedule in 2016.

“We like to play each other, and those are not hollow words,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in February. “We are getting larger and want to bind the conference together.”

A 10-game conference schedule was also under consideration, but likely didn’t gain support because it wouldn’t guarantee teams would be able to schedule seven home games each season.

Delaying the nine-game schedule is a necessity due to the fact that most teams have full or nearly full non-conference schedules through 2015. A switch to nine-games in 2014 would cost schools a lot of money in contract buyouts.

Also under consideration by the Big Ten is the end of scheduling FCS opponents. Although nothing official has been announced, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said in February that the conference will discontinue games against those teams.

“The nonconference schedule in our league is ridiculous,” Alvarez said. “It’s not very appealing.” Alvarez went on to say that Big Ten officials have “…made an agreement that our future games will all be Division I schools. It will not be FCS schools.”

Currently, Big Ten schools have 24 games scheduled against FCS teams from 2014 into the future.

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18 Comments to Report: Big Ten to Realign as East-West, Will Scrap Legends and Leaders

  1. Horrible imbalance. Forget the traditional rivalries, swap Penn State with Minnesota or Northwestern.

  2. EverettHughes

    Kevin, could you make an FCS section maybe?

  3. Sonny

    I’d like to see a FCS division too!

  4. Sonny

    I meant to say, “Section”, not “Division!”

  5. John

    Thank God, the Big 10 learned geography – I don’t think the ACC ever will. If the Big 10 could learn mathematics next, it would be great. The “Big Fourteen” or maybe the “Big North”?

  6. Habardash

    Maryland is going to get killed every year if this rumored lineup holds. Hehehe, I love it!

    • Bill

      Maryland is gonna get killed in any format. Other than IU and Illinois, they would be home underdogs to every other team in the conference.

  7. I think Mich St and Prudue should swap.. letting MSU & MS play the rival game.
    Otherwise the “West” will always be Badgers & Huskers for a long time to come… a very long time

    • Travis B


      please swap MSU and PUR. geographically it isn’t much off the east-west split. plus it will also bring way more competitive balance to the league overall.

      such an easy division, I mean really come on!

    • Travis B

      **easy decision

  8. Brock

    Indiana, Maryland, and Rutgers will never have a shot at even making it to the conference championship. Everyone else at least has a shot.

  9. @dbrunstheworld

    Just as we ask ourselves now “Did the CFL really have a team called the Baltimore CFLers or was that imagination?” or “Did the National Wrestling Alliance really get so ridiculous that David Arquette was Heavyweight Champion?” in 20 years we will be asking ourselves “Did the Big Ten really have names that ridiculous for their divisions?” “Really? Are you sure?”

  10. Herandos

    They should have renamed to “Champions” and “Runner-Ups”

  11. Ray

    Nebraska is used to being in the lesser division, going to the conference championship, and getting trounced, they should feel right at home now…

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