Big Ten Axes ‘Leaders’ and ‘Legends’ Divisions in Favor of East-West Alignment

1367195313_BigTenBetterThe much debated Leaders and Legends divisions in the Big Ten Conference will soon be no more.

Presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten schools voted Sunday to move to an East/West format beginning in the 2014 season. They also approved a nine-game conference schedule to begin in 2016. These changes are the result of Maryland and Rutgers moving to the conference in 2014.

The divisions will coincide with time zones. The eastern teams will all be located in the eastern time zone, which includes: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers.

All of the western teams, with the exception of Purdue, will be located in the central time zone. The West includes Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney told reporters that geography was the No. 1 factor in the divisional realignment.

“It’s pure geography,” Delany said. “Last time, we were a combination of competitive balance and geography being last. So those names weren’t available to us last time. We didn’t have a lot of discussion on it.”

Delaney also believes the realignment will be good for the fans and the overall competitive nature of the conference.

“We thought the geography was a good way to bind the conference together,” Delany said. “We also wanted to preserve as much tradition as we could, and we do that through the protection of the rivalries. Everybody will play everybody at least once in a four-year cycle, even though it’s a bigger conference.

“It’s good for the fans, it’s good for the players. It strengthens our schedule from the perspective of the postseason and binds the conference together in a powerful way.”

The Big Ten will be the third conference to feature a nine-game league schedule during the 2016 season, joining the Big 12 and Pac 12.

Photo via Facebook/Big Ten Conference

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