The Big Ten Conference is now divided into two divisions, each containing six schools.
That makes 12. But the conference is still the Big Ten. In fact, the Big 12 now has only 10 teams, but that is a tale for another time.
The new Big Ten incorporates two divisions, known as Legions and Leaders, to produce a conference championship game at season's end.
This year the title clash will be played in Indianapolis, but do not look for either team from the Hoosier State to be there. If Purdue or Indiana qualify for any postseason action it will be a surprise.
The Leaders Division took a blow to the chin, or rope to the neck (see picture), with the unfortunate news regarding Ohio State and the subsequent separation from coach Jim Tressel.
The Buckeyes appeared to have the answer to the SEC riddle of success in the recent BCS Championship contests with quarterback Terrell Pryor and a host of outstanding lettermen returning from their Sugar Bowl Championship squad of 2010.
Not to be.
The exile of Tressel, the exit of Pryor and the eventual problems that have surfaced regarding the NCAA have left the Buckeyes in the unfamiliar territory known as the middle of the road.
Ohio State will win enough games to qualify for a bowl bid, but the chase for the league championship is in jeopardy and the quest for the BCS title out of the question.
Wisconsin, a heavyweight who is always a bowl committee favorite, looks to benefit the most from the trouble at Ohio State.
The Badgers have a tremendous running game to go with standout receiver Nick Toon. The line will be solid, as always. Defensively, Wisky has all the tools to become one of the finest units in the land.
All Wisconsin lacks is a productive and experienced quarterback.
Guess who is coming to dinner in Madison?
Say hello to sensational quarterback Russell Wilson: of N.C. State fame, already earned his degree in Raleigh, plays professional baseball in the Colorado Rockies organization, and has one year of college football eligibility remaining.
Wilson, a three-time All-ACC player, has passed for 8,545 yards and 76 touchdowns while rushing for 1,089 yards and 17 touchdowns in his career.
Bingo. Wisconsin is the team to beat in the Big Ten, if not the entire country.
Penn State is back in the hunt for major bowl action.
Improved speed, on both sides of the line, has been noted during the spring. Drastic improvements defensively and in the kick coverage give an impression of the return to old time Penn State football.
A relatively soft out-of-conference schedule—only Alabama figures to give this group any competition and that game will be played in Beaver Stadium—should jump start coach Joe Paterno's young Lions to an undefeated record before going into conference play.
Two 6'5" defensive linemen ready to rebound from sub-par seasons are NFL prospects Devon Still and Jack "The Ripper" Crawford. With the emergence of 323-pound James Terry and 6'6" Eric Latimore as run stoppers in the spring contest, Penn State is taking dead aim at a BCS bowl game.
With a horde of returning lettermen in tow, the Nittany Lions will improve upon last year's 7-5 regular season record and contend for the Leaders Division championship.
Look for Penn State to be the sleeper, if you can call a team that with the best coach in the nation.
Illinois has a fascinating coach in Ron Zook, a superior player in sophomore quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase and an offense that can score in bundles.
Illini offensive coordinator Paul Petrino is hoping for a balanced attack operating behind an improved line. Defensively, Illinois hopes to hold opponents to fewer than 24 points a game, which it surrendered in 2010.
Purdue is lacking in every aspect of the game. Blame has vacillated from location dynamics to coaching inefficiencies to lack of support from a nationwide alumni base.
The Indiana Hoosiers can't complain; they are in the same poorhouse.
The Hangman's Verdict for the Big Ten Leaders Division:
No. 1: Wisconsin
No. 2: Penn State
No. 3: Ohio State
No. 4: Illinois
No. 5: Purdue
No. 6: Indiana