Say goodbye to the Legends and Leaders divisions. According to a report from ESPN's Brett McMurphy and Adam Rittenberg, the Big Ten will embark on a widespread realignment, splitting its divisions into geographically based East and West pools.
UPDATE: Sunday, Apr. 28, at 1:22 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
According to Detroit Free Press reporter Joe Rexrode, the Big Ten has officially renamed its divisions:
Joe Rexrode @joerexrode
Big Ten confirms what @ESPN_BigTen first reported, East-West divisions with MSU in East. Also 9-game league sked starting in '16 approved.4/28/2013, 5:15:48 PM
---End of update---
The name change and realignment will take place when Rutgers and Maryland join the conference in 2014. Under the proposal, the Big Ten would keep the Legends and Leaders divisions for next season.
Though still in the preliminary stages, Big Ten presidents and chancellors are expected to approve the changes at a meeting next week. Also on the docket is a move to a nine-game conference schedule for football, resulting in an extra intra-conference game per season.
As for what to expect from the changes, it’s rather simple: Teams in the Central time zone will be in the West division, while Indiana and the remaining six schools will comprise the East.
Here is a look at the proposed divisions, via ESPN:
|Proposed Big Ten Alignment|
While it’s still up for discussion and anything can happen in the coming days to take this off course, these changes have been three years in the making for the Big Ten.
Introduced in 2010, the Legends and Leaders divisional names faced harsh criticism almost instantly. Many in the Big Ten community criticized the alignment for a lack of geographical considerations, while others simply did not like the new monikers.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said the conference would consider changes multiple times, but the names stuck through the 2012 season. However, adding Maryland and Rutgers got the change winds blowing again, and Delany said in January that the conference would look into divisions with more widely accepted names.
"We weren't going to go with 'Bo or Woody,' 'Black or Blue,' or 'Plains or Lakes,'" Delany said (via ESPN). "Obviously, we got some acceptance [with Legends and Leaders], but not as much as we would have liked."
Based on Friday’s report, the Big Ten seems to be playing it safe with its second renaming. By simply renaming the divisions geographically, the conference is taking a traditional approach adopted by nearly every other major conference.